Donkey Kong Country
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Donkey Kong Country is a sidescrolling platform game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1994. The game stars Donkey Kong, along with his buddy Diddy Kong, as the two travel across Donkey Kong Island to recover their Banana Hoard, stolen by an evil crocodile named King K. Rool and his Kremlings. The game was notable for its innovative use of pre-rendered 3D CGI models converted into sprites, a property which garnered the game much hype and acclaim.
Donkey Kong Country was a massive success, selling over 9 million copies on the SNES alone and single-handedly driving the adoption of pre-rendered sprites in video games. The game was a turning point for the Donkey Kong series, reintroducing it (alongside the 1994 Game Boy game released a few months prior) after a nearly decade-long hiatus and cementing Donkey Kong as a franchise in its own right by introducing Donkey Kong's modern design as well as his supporting cast and enemies, musical cues, and gameplay mechanics that would form the basis of most following Donkey Kong games as well as Donkey Kong's appearances in Mario spinoff titles. 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 many toys and other merchandise.
The game was remade for the Game Boy Color in 2000 and was also remade again for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. The two remakes feature some new Bonus Games, the ability to save in the overworld, and several other new elements. Donkey Kong Country was also released on the Wii's Virtual Console in 2006 and 2007, the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2014, and the New Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console in 2016. The trilogy was delisted from the Wii Virtual Console in November 2012 for unknown reasons until it was re-released again in Europe and Oceania on October 30, 2014.
During a stormy night on Donkey Kong Island, Diddy Kong is told by Donkey Kong to guard his Banana Hoard for his "hero training" until midnight, when Donkey Kong will take over. While watching for predators beneath the darkness, that young monkey becomes attacked by Klump the Kremling (Krusha in the GBA version). The villain traps the monkey inside a DK Barrel, kicks him across the jungle, then steals the Banana Hoard along with the other Kremlings, dropping a fruit trail on the way. Next morning, a loud calling of his name wakes Donkey Kong. Realizing that he has slept through his watch, the big ape quickly exits his tree house, only to find Cranky Kong, who tells him hints about the Kremlings stealing the hoard. Donkey Kong soon realizes that both his Banana Hoard and Diddy Kong are missing and sets out to find them. After finding Diddy in a barrel, both Donkey and Diddy head out to find the stolen Banana Hoard.
On their travels, the two heroes tread through deep jungles, mines, forests, temples, snowy mountains, caves, and several other regions of the island, fighting many enemies and bosses on the way. With assistance from Cranky, Funky, and Candy Kong, the primates eventually reach a large ship known as the Gangplank Galleon, where they meet the Kremling Krew's leader, King K. Rool. The Kongs soon "defeat" the foe, only to find the king to get back up and fight with a new set of attacks. However, the duo manages to bring him down a second time, this time defeating the crocodile once and for all. After King K. Rool's defeat, Cranky Kong congratulates the heroes, who then tells them to check the Banana Hoard. They do so, finding that the bananas have been returned.
In the Game Boy Advance remake of the game, a short cutscene is seen at the beginning of the game when DK's bananas are stolen and after King K. Rool's defeat, where Cranky, Funky, and Candy Kong congratulate the apes on their victory. King K. Rool soon recovers and forces them off the ship, sailing away.
The game introduces the "tag-team" system, where Diddy and Donkey Kong follow each other throughout each level. However, the member in the front of the group is the Kong in play, so the other Kong simply follows behind the other. If the hero in play is injured, he quickly runs off the screen, and the Kong behind him takes his place as the character in play. In cases like this, only one Kong is on the screen at the time, as the other is defeated. If the lone Kong is injured by an enemy, the player loses an extra life and must restart the level from the beginning or by the Star Barrel. Fortunately, any Kong that is missing can be recovered by breaking open a DK Barrel; however, these special barrels do not appear many times in most levels. When a hero is freed from a DK Barrel, he heads to the back of the group behind the Kong in play and is not able to be controlled until the Kong in the lead is injured, or if the player hits to switch characters, in which case Donkey Kong high-fives Diddy and switches places with him, or vice versa.
Only one Kong appears on the screen at a time in the Game Boy Color version of the game, and a DK Barrel appears at the corner of the screen instead when there is more than one Kong in the group. Also, the Kongs do not run off the screen in the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance remakes as they rather fall off the screen.
While both Kongs have different abilities, they have the same basic moves. Both Donkey and Diddy are able to jump, roll (or cartwheel), climb, and swim to pass through levels. The most commonly used basic abilities are the jump and roll moves, which help the heroes cross gaps and defeat enemies. While rolling is often used to pummel into weaker foes, it can also be used as part of the super-jump technique. Both characters can use this move by simply rolling or cartwheeling off a cliff and jumping in mid-air. This gives them both a longer jump to cross wider abysses.
Other than jumping and rolling, the Kongs can also use their climbing and swimming abilities to traverse levels. Climbing can only be done on ropes, which can swing the primates over gaps if they cling onto them. Some ropes are stationary, which means that the Kongs can take advantage of their climbing abilities on them to head up the rope to a higher area. Another move both Kongs can perform is their swimming ability which can only be done inside of the water in the underwater levels.
Both Kongs also have some different abilities, as well as different stats. Diddy is faster and more agile than Donkey Kong; however, he is not as strong as him and has difficulty defeating stronger enemies such as Krushas and Klumps. Donkey Kong is stronger and slower than him, and he also has his own unique move called Hand Slap. The Hand Slap move allows him to defeat enemies and find hidden objects in the ground or on treetops.
Another difference between the two Kongs is how they pick up and throw barrels. When Diddy Kong picks up barrels, he holds them in front of his body, protecting him from any enemies in his way. However, Donkey Kong holds barrels above his head, leaving his whole body vulnerable to enemy attacks. Additionally, Donkey Kong throws his barrels slightly further than Diddy, making Donkey Kong more likely to hit enemies from another distance. If the primates throw a Steel Keg against a wall, they are able to jump on the barrel as it rolls back and balance on it.
The other members of the Kong Family clan in these special areas which assist Donkey and Diddy while they are adventuring.
Items and objects
Collectibles and mechanisms
During their adventure, Diddy and Donkey run in a variety of collectibles and objects, some helpful, and some harmful. Many of these objects are listed below.
The most common objects in Donkey Kong Country and its series are barrels. Many different barrels appear throughout this game, each having a different purpose and use. Below shows these uses on the barrels.
Donkey Kong Country features many levels in which the Kongs must successfully complete in order to reach the final boss, including boss levels. The levels are separated into worlds, such as the Kongo Jungle, and each world features five to six levels and one boss stage. Every non-boss level is home to possibly up to five Bonus Levels, which can optionally be found to finish the game 100%, or to simply collect extra goodies such as Banana Bunches. Unlike in the Mario series, the player does not have to traverse a whole level to reach the boss. Every level also has its own theme, or "environment." For example, levels such as Barrel Cannon Canyon are marked as "Jungle" levels, as they take place in a jungle.
Note that the following table lists the levels in the original order on the SNES version of the game.
The game features two playable characters who try to return the Banana Hoard. Below are these two characters and a description on them.
Besides the two playable Kongs, there are also some non-playable apes who help them out in the game's special areas. The table below describes these helpers and names them.
The supporting Kongs are not the only ones to aid Donkey and Diddy in their quest; the wildlife also help. Each Animal Friend is prisoner in a crate with their likeness on it. The Kongs can only use the Animal Friends in certain levels, meaning that the Kongs leave their helpers once they exit a level. Each buddy has different abilities, as shown below.
As with all other Donkey Kong platformers, Donkey Kong Country features many different kinds of enemies, who try to defeat the Kongs throughout every level. Below shows the enemies' names, descriptions, and first and last level appearances.
A boss is found at the end of every world and guards a portion of Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard. Each boss (excluding King K. Rool) is a bigger version of a generic enemy and requires more work to defeat. Below lists these bosses in order of appearance and gives a brief description on them.
Differences in other versions
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Three different versions are known to exist for the North American release. Here is the quickest way to know which version of the game a player might own, starting with v1.1:
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 ported to 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 was released there in 2001. There are still several differences, some of which are because of the Game Boy Color's limited hardware capabilities. Differences include:
Game Boy Advance
Another port of the game was made for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. It is a faithful conversion, even more so than the Game Boy Color version, since the Game Boy Advance's technical capabilities surpass that of the Super NES. Even so, the game features many changes from the original. Some changes in this game include:
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.
A specialized competition variant featuring an assortment of random levels and a point counter 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. Due to its rarity, this version is a valuable collector's item.
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 port was similarly praised for taking a graphically-impressive title and porting it to the platform in a complete and technically competent form, in contrast to other unsuccessful attempts at directly porting home console games to 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.
Remakes and ports
Game Boy Advance port
The Game Boy Advance port of the game 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.
SNES Classic Edition
Donkey Kong Country is one of the 21 titles included on the Super NES Classic Edition.
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.
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.
Names in other languages