They HYPE for Donkey Kong Country was HUGE! As a loyal Nintendo Power subscriber growing up, I remember opening up my mailbox to find a jungle covered box with a video cassette all about Donkey Kong Country! When I first saw the box, I thought they had send me the game! I was disappointed when I opened it up, but still ended up getting on the hype train! Surprisingly I never owned the game until a few years ago, initially trading games with friends to play it. Considering Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze was just announced for release on the Switch, I thought it would be fun to go back to where the game series first began!
In terms of the story, it is quite basic but nevertheless explains why Donkey Kong must go on an adventure! King K. Rool has stollen all of Donkey Kong bananas! Now Donkey Kong and his pal Diddy Kong must travel across the island to get them back! That is the story – and thats okay because the platforming and gameplay drive this game.
The game is a 2D platform at its core. Most stages have you guiding either Donkey Kong or Diddy, jumping over pits, blasting from barrels, stomping on bad guys, and swinging from vines! There sheer variety in actions makes the game very engaging! Whenever you get hit by an enemy, either D.K or Diddy run off (depending on who you were controlling), and if both end up running off, you loose a life! If you are down to one monkey, you can often find barrels filled with your friend, which allows you to take another hit. This 2-hit max makes the game very challenging at times if barrels are hard to come by (and they are in latter levels), but also very rewarding when you finally get through a tough stage!
Both Diddy and Donkey Kong also have different abilities, with Diddy being able to jump higher and further, and Donkey Kong with the ability to destroy big tough enemies. Occasionally, the game also allows players to find animal friends scattered throughout the levels such as a rhino, ostrich, frog, and dolphin. The animals grant abilities to help get to hard to reach areas and can be controlled in bonus rounds to get as many free lives as possible! Overall, the controls are really tight which helps make the game fun to play. There is also a multiplayer mode but it acts similarly to Super Mario World – only one player can play at a time. This felt a bit archaic compared to contemporary platform games that allow the function, but the game was nevertheless enjoyable.
The game has seven different worlds, all of which with vastly different themes. While While levels within a world often share an aesthetic, each feels unique by the implementation of interesting gameplay mechanics to keep the gameplay varied. For instance, there are many mine levels, but some utilize lights to prevent enemies from running around (see above), while others force you to collect gasoline to power a moving platform, while others allow you to actually drive a a mine cart! My one gripe with the levels were that some of them had poor camera position so that it was hard to determine where you were suppose to jump – this did not occur regularly, but was very apparent in the snowy mountains levels.
Each world also has a boss at the end – and this is where I found that the game stumbled a bit. The bosses were uninteresting and too simple as they were often just enlarged versions of regular enemies. The game also reused some of the bosses with a different colour pallet which was also disappointing. The last boss was the exception though, as he had some interesting patterns to learn! I wish there were more bosses like King K. Rool!
In terms of graphics, this is one of the best looking games on the system. The graphics seemed to capture everything in 3D, giving the characters and levels much more depth than what was traditionally seen in SNES games. The game also displays a ton of different environments, all of which look great! My favourites include the underwater environments and the ice caverns. Overall the music in this game is fantastic, but these levels in particular have music that really help immerse the players in the world! The sound effects are also fun and fit well with the wildlife found in the game.
In summary, this is a great 2D platforming game that still looks and sounds fantastic, and plays great. The game is challenging but fair, and has tight controls. Later entries into the series fix some of the issues I had with the game including better camera position and better bosses, but overall it is still worth playing today and is still reasonably priced! If you have never played this game, give it a try! I give this game a final score of 8/10.
Finale Score: 8/10