Donkey Kong Country (1994)

Donkey Kong Country (1994)

Back in 1994, the Super Nintendo was in full swing, with the Nintendo 64 a few years off, Rare came out with Donkey Kong Country. What became a franchise and brought Donkey Kong back into relevance and also launched a cartoon using CGI (which was awful). But this platformer also used pre-rendered graphics allowing for some “realism” that was all the rage at the time.

I ended up picking up the first Donkey Kong Country a bit later as I got the second game for Christmas when it came out and only near the end of the console’s life span did I finally pick the first game in the series up at a garage sale or a second hand store. My friend David had the first game, and I remember being blown away by the graphics back when it was new. It was such a cool and interesting platformer and all these years later, I still find new and fun things in it, that makes me still enjoy it to this day.

As I started on being a more active Retro game streamer, I was looking through my LaunchBox collection; LaunchBox for those who don’t know, is a piece of software called a Front End, that houses all the roms into a nice viewable collection. As I pursued LaunchBox to find something to play on stream, I came across the first Donkey Kong Country. It’s a series that I’ve passed over many times, thinking to myself “I want to go through that entire series some day”. Well that day finally arrived, as I thought there would be nothing better than playing that game on stream, and hopefully I could have a good enough time, that I’d continue on with all three games on the Super Nintendo, even maybe the Donkey Kong Country Returns games too.

As I loaded the game up and started off on my journey, I started getting a few people in chat watching me and asking me questions. With a platformer, timing is everything, and as I answered some questions about myself, or games that I liked, or my own history with the game… I found myself effortlessly completing level after level. Each stage requiring precision was second nature and there were only several times where I had to actually stop my mouth from flapping and concentrate on the task at hand.

As I  leaped off of ropes and was hurled through the air by floating cannon barrels, I found myself grinning from ear to ear. This game felt just as good to play; with precise controls and easy to master jump timings as it did back when I originally played it as a kid. The music, beautifully composed by David Wise, brought in a flood of memories of childhood. Even when I was older, I found myself reminiscing about some of the tunes such as Aquatic Ambiance and burning CDs full of video game midi files to play in my first car.

While some may say the graphics “aged poorly”, I have a fondness for it. You can call it nostalgia if you want, but back in 1994. Pre-rendered graphics were still a new and fairly unventured territory for video games, and seeing these “3D characters” represented as sprites looked so “real” that we couldn’t believe something that good looking was running on a home console like the Super Nintendo.

I only streamed the game a few nights in a row to cap off some productive winter days, I ended up at King K.Rool’s pirate ship almost without effort. Fighting him was a chore, but I eventually got there, and yes, I was totally fooled by the fake out ending at first. It was only after the fake credits started rolling that I realized that the boss fight was not over. About a dozen or so tries later the king was defeated and Donkey Kong’s Banana Hoard was restored to its proper place. I sat and pondered over the game as the real credits rolled, and then started up the second game, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. I ended up playing through the first full world/section, but that’s a story for the next review (once I beat that game on stream!).