Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country is a sidescrolling platform game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1994. It was developed by Rareware and published by Nintendo. The game stars Donkey Kong and his sidekick Diddy Kong, as the two travel across Donkey Kong Island to recover their Banana Hoard, stolen by the Kremlings and their leader, King K. Rool.
Donkey Kong Country reintroduced the Donkey Kong series (alongside the 1994 Game Boy game released a few months prior) after a nearly decade-long hiatus. The game also introduced Donkey Kong's modern design, his supporting cast and enemies, musical cues, and gameplay mechanics that most of the following Donkey Kong games as well as Donkey Kong's appearances in Mario spinoff titles would build upon. The game's success spawned multiple sequels and spinoffs, a 40-episode 3D animated series, a chapter book adaptation, manga adaptations in Mario-related publications such as Kodansha's Super Mario manga and Super Mario-Kun, and other merchandise. Donkey Kong Country was notable because of its pre-rendered sprites that were converted from 3D CGI models on Silicon Graphics workstations, inspiring future video games to do the same.
The game was remade for the Game Boy Color in 2000 and was also remade again for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. Both remakes feature some extra Bonus Games and the ability to save in the overworld. Donkey Kong Country was ported the Wii's Virtual Console in 2006 and 2007. On November 25, 2012, for reasons unknown, Donkey Kong Country its sequels were delisted from the Wii Virtual Console, but on October 30, 2014, the games were relisted in Europe and Australia. Donkey Kong Country was released on the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2014 and on the New Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console in 2016. It is one of the 21 games included on the Super NES Classic Edition.
In 1995, a specialized competition variant named Donkey Kong Country Competition Cartridge was manufactured for use in various video game tournaments held throughout 1995. After that, the few existing cartridges were sold in a Nintendo Power subscriber catalogue, and the carts have since become a collector's item.
During a stormy night on Donkey Kong Island, Donkey Kong orders Diddy to guard his Banana Hoard for his "hero training" until midnight. While watching for predators beneath the darkness, Diddy hears noises outside. He nervously asks, "W-w-who goes there?!". An ominous voice tells the other to seal Diddy in a barrel, kick it into the bushes, and steal the bananas. Diddy gets ambushed by Kremlings, some of which he manages to defeat with his cartwheel attack until being overpowered by Klump. He seals Diddy in a DK Barrel and kicks it across the jungle. The Kremlings load the entire Banana Hoard onto their vehicles and carry them through the jungle, dropping behind trails of bananas.
The next morning, Donkey Kong wakes up by a loud calling of his name. Realizing that he slept through his watch, Donkey Kong quickly exits his tree house, only to find Cranky Kong outside. Cranky prompts Donkey Kong to check the Banana Hoard for a "big surprise". Inside the Banana Hoard, Donkey Kong finds out that all of his bananas were stolen, with only a few discarded peels lying around. Cranky mocks Donkey Kong for shirking his responsibility, noting that Diddy is also gone. Meanwhile, Donkey Kong is in disbelief over his stolen bananas and rages that the Kremlings stole all of them. Donkey Kong vows to bring payback upon the Kremlings and recover his Banana Hoard.
Cranky breaks the fourth wall by questioning why the "game idea" involves finding Diddy and rescuing bananas instead of a damsel in distress. Donkey Kong tells how Diddy wishes to be a video game hero like Donkey Kong. Cranky believes neither of them are suitable for being video game heroes, and he goes on to brag about his popularity during the arcade era. Deeming the adventure "ridiculous", Cranky believes Donkey Kong would be lucky to even sell ten copies of the game. Donkey Kong gets mad at Cranky and insists on going on an adventure to save Diddy and recover the stolen bananas. Donkey Kong leaves and follows a trail of bananas along his way. Cranky briefly hestitates but then follows after Donkey Kong. Cranky mumbles that Donkey Kong may need his help and further mentions that kids do not have respect for their elders anymore.
In the first level, Donkey Kong releases Diddy Kong, who tags along during the adventure. Together, the Kongs travel through various areas, including jungles, mines, forests, temples, snowy mountains, caves, and factories. With assistance from Cranky, Funky, and Candy Kong, the two Kongs eventually a large pirate ship, the Gangplank Galleon, where are confronted by the Kremling Krew's leader, King K. Rool. After Donkey Kong and Diddy defeat King K. Rool, Cranky congratulates them and tells them to check the Banana Hoard. They do so, finding that the bananas have been returned.
In the Game Boy Advance remake, the introduction cutscene for starting a new save file is an abridged version of the instruction booklet story. The ending to the remake was altered; after King K. Rool's defeat, Cranky, Funky, and Candy congratulate Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on their victory. King K. Rool soon recovers, forces them off the ship and sails away, vowing to return.
The game introduces the "tag-team" system, where Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong follow each other throughout the levels. The Kong in front is the one currently in play, while the other Kong follows behind. If the Kong in play is injured, he quickly runs off the screen (or falls off the screen in the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance remakes), and the other takes its place. If this happens, only one Kong is on the screen at a time. If the lone Kong is injured by an enemy, the player loses an extra life and must restart the level either from the start or from the activated Star Barrel. Any Kong that is missing can be recovered from a DK Barrel. When either the Kongs are freed from a DK Barrel, he goes behind the Kong in play. The player can press to switch characters, in which case Donkey Kong high-fives Diddy to switch places with him, or vice versa.
In the Game Boy Color remake, only one Kong appears on screen at a time, like the Donkey Kong Land games. If both Kongs are in the group, the one not in play is represented by a DK Barrel icon at the bottom-left corner. By pressing , the player can switch characters, which shows the Kong in play being moved to the DK Barrel icon while the other Kong moves out to appear on-screen.
The basic moves that Donkey Kong and Diddy can perform include jumping, rolling/cartwheeling, climbing, and swimming. The most commonly used basic abilities are the jump and roll moves, both of which allow the Kongs to cross gaps and defeat enemies. The roll and cartwheel act as the same move but can only be used by Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong respectively. The respective Kong can perform their roll or cartwheel from a ledge to do a longer jump in midair, effective for moving across abysses. Ropes are the only object that the Kongs can climb up or down on, allowing them to reach items or higher areas. Some ropes start moving across a gap when the Kongs cling on it while some others remain stationary. The Kongs can only swim during underwater levels.
Aside from the rolling attack, the Kongs also have some different abilities. Diddy is faster and more agile than Donkey Kong, but he is not as strong, which makes it harder for him to defeat Armys, Krushas, and Klumps. Donkey Kong is stronger and slower than Diddy and can perform a unique move, the Hand Slap. The move allows Donkey Kong find hidden items or objects in the ground or on treetops, but it can also be used to defeat enemies.
Another difference between the two Kongs is how they pick up and throw barrels. When Diddy picks up a barrel, he holds in front of him, protecting himself from enemies in the way. Donkey Kong holds a barrel over his head, which leaves him vulnerable to enemies in the front. Donkey Kong can throw barrels slightly farther than Diddy, allowing him to hit an enemy from a distance. When the barrel hits into an enemy, it breaks. If the Kongs throw a Steel Keg against a wall, they can jump on the barrel and balance on it as it rolls along.
When selecting a new file, the player can choose either single player or multiplayer; once the player selects a mode, they cannot change it unless they delete it and start a new one. In multiplayer, the first player controls Donkey Kong while the second player controls Diddy Kong. In multiplayer, if either Kong is hit, the other player must press a button to take over with their Kong (in the Game Boy Advance version, the other player must press , as instructed on the screen). The game keeps a score for both players, to keep track of how many levels they have completed.
There are a few Kongs who help Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong along their journey, and they each appear in one of the supporting locations.
Aside from the supporting Kongs, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are also assisted by Animal Friends during the game. Each Animal Friend is prisoner in an Animal Crate with their likeness on it. The Animal Friends only appear in certain levels, and the Kongs cannot take them to other levels. Every Animal Friend has their own unique abilities.
Various types of enemies appear throughout the levels, attempting to get into Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong's way. The Kremlings are the main enemies of the game.
At the end of every world, the Kongs must fight a boss, each guarding a portion of the stolen bananas. Most of the bosses are a larger version of an enemy.
Barrels are the most common object in the game. There are many different types of barrels in the game, each with its own purpose and use.
During their adventure, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are assisted by three other members of the Kong Family who operate their own location in every world.
In the Game Boy Advance remake, all three areas were changed.
Like Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country's levels and worlds are accessed from a world map. The main overworld is Donkey Kong Island, where the Kongs can travel between the worlds they have visited. Every world has a progression system where the Kongs must complete a level to unlock the next and so forth until reaching the boss level at the end. Every world has five to six levels. After the Kongs complete the boss level, they unlock the next world. The Kongs can return to the main Donkey Kong Island map by either defeating the world boss or by renting Funky's Jumbo Barrel.
A head of either Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong appear on the location of every world and level that either Kong has completed. A Kritter head appears only on the next level or world that the Kongs have not yet completed. In the Super Nintendo version, there is a glitch in single player mode where if Diddy completes a level and then Donkey Kong completes it afterward, his head does not appear on that level.
Most levels have Bonus Levels in them, two or three on average. They allow the Kongs to collect items and prizes. While it is optional for the Kongs to enter the Bonus Levels, entering every Bonus Level is required for 101% completion. Unlike the Super Mario series, the Kongs are not required to traverse a whole level to reach the end boss.
Note that the following table lists the levels in the original order from the Super Nintendo and Game Boy Color versions.
Differences in other versions
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Three different versions are known to exist for the North American release.
In Trick Track Trek, the moving platform doesn't fall instantly once it reaches the end of the line. Otherwise, it is v1.0.
Game Boy Color
Donkey Kong Country was remade for the Game Boy Color in 2000. It was released in Japan under the title, Donkey Kong 2001 (ドンキーコング2001), and as the name implies, it was released there in 2001. There are several differences, some of which are because of the Game Boy Color's limited hardware capabilities. Differences include:
Game Boy Advance
Another remake of the game was made for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. It more closely resembles the original version, since the Game Boy Advance has 32-bit technical capabilities. Even so, the game features several differences from the original:
Bonus Level Early Exit
This glitch can only be done in the Game Boy Advance version. The Kongs must go to the first Bonus Level found in Platform Perils and stand underneath the fourth barrel and a little to the right of it. Now, the Kongs have to hit this barrel when the G is not showing up. If they do it right, they will lose the bonus level as usual, but they will end up walking out early, not showing their Mini-Game defeat animation. This can be done with either Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong.
Enguarde Warps Colors
First, the player has to go to Croctopus Chase. Then, after the parts where the Kongs are carried from one place to another by the blast barrels, the Kongs will have to find Enguarde and get on him. Then the player has to go back through the level until the Kongs reach the last blast barrel that the apes were shot from. By simply getting in that barrel and getting fired out, the player can perform four different glitches:
As this new red Enguarde, the player has to have Diddy follow behind him (if Donkey is behind the player, the player will have to press twice and the Kongs should switch). Then, the player has to press and the player then has to press . This results in Enguarde transforming into an oddly colored Donkey Kong that hovers in the air while the player is left controlling the Kongs once again. The player can redo this with DK following behind the player while the player is controlling Enguarde, and a normally colored Diddy should be hovering in the air instead of the oddly colored Donkey Kong.
The leadup to Donkey Kong Country's creation started in the summer of 1993. While visiting Rare as a part of a globe-travelling journey to find potential quality games in development, Tony Harman of Nintendo of America saw a Tech Demo showing an animated, computer-rendered boxer punching. Rare was experimenting with 3D animation at the time as they found the then-popular digitization technique too restrictive. Impressed by the demo, Harman lobbied for Nintendo to collaborate with Rare, and, with the help of Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto, managed to convince them. Nintendo approached Rare with the mandate to make a game that would have "better graphics than Aladdin" (presumably referring to the popular 1993 Sega Genesis game, which was lauded for its impressive graphics and animation hand-drawn by Disney animators). They recommended that it should star Donkey Kong, as they thought that the character and his universe were less explored than other Nintendo properties and that thus Rare could have greater creative freedom while making the game.
A team of 12 people were assembled for the project, which was the most Rare had assigned for a single game at the time. Gregg Mayles cited Super Mario Bros. 3 as his chief inspiration, saying that he wanted to imitate its structure while also providing smooth and flowing level designs that skilled players could navigate quickly. A team of developers were sent to the nearby Twycross Zoo to observe the movements of real gorillas, but found that it would not suited to the fast-paced platformer they wanted to make. The team created around fifteen different styles of movement for Donkey Kong, including ones based on rabbits and frogs, before arriving at the current animations, based loosely on the movements of horses. The Kremlings originated from another project Rare was developing at the same time (which, according to Rareware employee Gregg Mayles was from a canceled adventure game named Jonny Blastoff and the Kremling Armada.) , but were transplanted into the game as Rare found that they were a good fit for Donkey Kong Country's aesthetic. The developers also wanted the screen to be as "clutter-free" as possible, which lead to the creation of a "buddy" character so that the player could take more than one hit, inspired by the "big Mario returns to little Mario" system of the Super Mario games. Donkey Kong Jr. was first considered for the role, but he was changed into a separate character as Nintendo felt Rare's redesign looked too different.
Rare demoed an early version of the game at Nintendo's headquarters in Kyoto. Reception of the demo was mixed, with Gunpei Yokoi remarking that the game looked "too 3D". However, Shigeru Miyamoto approved of what was done with the project. He and his staff gave advice to Rare on how to improve the game, with one of the results being the implementation of the Hand Slap move a few weeks before completion.
Game Boy Advance remake
The Game Boy Advance remake was coded from scratch. The developers extensively playtested the port to make sure the physics and controls were true to the original version, though some deviations were made to improve some mechanics and the level design.
Some of the floppies containing the original graphic assets were lost, while the surviving ones were disorganized and mostly unusable. To remedy this problem, team members ripped the sprites using an emulator. Most of the backgrounds were redone from the ground up to fit the Game Boy Advance's screen resolution, scale, and color palette.
At the time of its release, Donkey Kong Country received universal acclaim by critics and audiences, with the game being praised for its visuals, controls and replayability. The massive hype it received due to its innovative use of pre-rendered 3D sprites and subsequent commercial success has been credited with extending the SNES's lifespan and help the system stay relevant in the face of the next-generation Sega Saturn and PlayStation consoles. The Game Boy Color remake was similarly praised for taking a graphically-impressive title and putting it to the platform in a complete and technically competent form, in contrast to other unsuccessful attempts at directly porting or remaking home console games for handhelds. The game was placed 39th in the 100th issue of Nintendo Power's "100 best Nintendo games of all time" in 1997 and it was rated the 90th best game on a Nintendo system in their top 200 games list in 2006.
Following Rare's acquisition by Microsoft, Donkey Kong Country experienced a period of backlash. Electronic Gaming Monthly placed the game in their top 10 overrated games list (despite the publication previously awarding it the 1994 Game of the Year award), and, in their review of the GBA version, stated that the game did not hold up. Similarly, GameSpy placed it ninth on their list of the top 25 most overrated games of all time. Regardless, the Game Boy Advance and Virtual Console re-releases were still positively received.
Donkey Kong Country ended up selling more than expected, since the game was released at the peak of the 16-bit era. The game had an extremely successful first day at the stores, and sold 9.3 million copies worldwide, making it the third best selling game on the Super Nintendo, following Super Mario World and Super Mario All-Stars. To date, it is the best selling Donkey Kong game and overall Rare's best selling game.
References to other games
References in later games
Pre-release and unused content
Early previews video show minor differences, such as items in different spots, different level palettes and the Krusha and Klump enemies being invulnerable to attacks they are vulnerable to in the final game.
Unused data still present on the cartridge include several sprites (including one enemy featured in the sequel), enemy palettes swaps and an early script which depicts Cranky Kong as a friendlier character.
Donkey Kong Country was developed by a team of 12 people, the largest development staff of any Rareware game at that point. Rareware co-founder Tim Stamper was the director while Gregg Mayles served as the designer.
The game had a team of 3 composers working on it. Eveline Fischer composed the tracks "Simian Segue", "Candy's Love Song", "Voices of the Temple", "Forest Frenzy", "Treetop Rock", "Northern Hemispheres" and "Ice Cave Chant". Robin Beanland's sole contribution was the Funky's Flights theme (a holdover from the arcade version of Killer Instinct ). David Wise handled the rest of the soundtrack.
Names in other languages