playing brawl has caused me to add several games to my ever-increasing list of games to play, one of which was the classic SNES platformer donkey kong country, thanks to my newfound interest in that great ape acrobat diddy kong. the general consensus on the game nowadays seems to be that when it was released DKC wowed gamers with its amazing graphics, but that its lauded gameplay seems overrated in retrospect. i felt this way about the original sonic game, and like sonic (and a lot of other games) the original DKC also seems to be overlooked nowadays in favor if its sequel.
so, first off, being my first donkey kong game i was pretty amazed at how much this iteration defined the character of donkey kong and his supporting cast (including has arch-nemesis king k. rool) that has endured. previously donkey kong had had only a supporting role at best, and rareware did an admirable job taking the original character as a starting point and really fleshing out his universe.
as for the game itself, i found the game has aged remarkably well. the graphics are still impressive and the controls feel good. the sprites are large but work well, and the enemies, music and sound, and levels are well designed (although there are some rather cheap areas that are maddeningly annoying). the buddy system, in which you switch between donkey and diddy kong on the fly, is a bit under-utilized but still worthwhile, as are the animal buddies you get to use. the use of barrels to blast the characters through the levels also reminded me of sonic and helps give the game a similar sense of speed. the main spin jump attacks of the protagonists also reminded me of sonic, but all the similarities don’t feel too derivative and the main game doesn’t overstay its welcome.
however, the requirements to get 100% completion, by finding all the hidden rooms, definitely feel like extra padding and are oftentimes quite tedious, esp. when taking into account the fact that there’s no system to track your progress in-game or even tell you which levels you haven’t fully conquered yet. as it was i think i finished the game less than 60% complete, and after tracking down some pretty obscure secret rooms i had little motivation to hunt for the rest of them. still, all in all this is a classic in video game history and certainly a better-than-average platformer in general. so i guess i have yet another series that i’ll be working my way through. there are worse problems to have i suppose. 😉
– lucas m. thompson’s review of the virtual console rerelease
– entry at wikipedia
– manual at replacementdocs.com
– youtube video of the 100% ending
– this FAQ at IGN tells you the # of hidden rooms in each level so you can find them yourself.