Donkey Kong Country

From TheAlmightyGuru
Jump to: navigation, search
Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country - SNES - USA.jpg

SNES - USA - 1st edition.

Developer Rare
Publisher Nintendo
Published 1994-11-18
Platforms Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, SNES
Genres Action, Platformer
Themes Adventure, Cartoon
Series Donkey Kong
Multiplayer Alternating co-op, Alternating versus
Distribution Commercial

Donkey Kong Country is a platformer developed by Rare and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on 1994-11-18, then ported to the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. The game is a reboot of the Donkey Kong franchise which greatly expanded the universe.

In the game, Donkey Kong's horde of bananas has been stolen by crocodile King K. Rool and his minions. The player plays as Donkey Kong and his nephew Diddy Kong as they team up to defeat Rool and retrieve the stolen bananas.


Won?Yes. 56% completion.

I remember seeing this game in advertisements and thinking the lauded pre-rendered graphics looked just awful. I didn't care much for previous Donkey Kong games, so I had little interest in this game, and none of my friends bought it either, so I didn't play it at the time. As the sequels came out, I kept hearing about the games, and were told they were good, but made no effort the play them. I think a friend of mine had the game in the mid-1990s, and I watched him play it briefly, but that was it. In the early 2000s, when SNES emulation matured, I tried the game out in an emulator and did not care for it at all. Many years later, I decided I would give the game a chance and see if it really was worth all praise it received, but found it quite lacking.


Video Game Review Icon - Enjoyment.png Video Game Review Icon - Control.png Video Game Review Icon - Appearance.png Video Game Review Icon - Sound.png Video Game Review Icon - Replayability.png
4 4 6 8 6

Best Version: SNES

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • David Wise created an amazing soundscape for this game. Many of the tracks work beautifully as background music and as stand alone songs.
  • Although the prerendered graphics look pretty bad, the animations are very fluid, better than most other games of the time, and some of the movements of Donkey and Diddy are pretty funny.
  • Each level has secrets, sometimes a lot of them. These are enjoyable to find and help keep the game interesting for longer.
  • The two player team mode, where you can swap controls to another player when you have both characters, is kind of interesting.


  • Despite advertising (and critics lauding) impressive graphics, I think there are a lot of problems with them.
    • The 3D rendering software used by the game is far too weak to look good. Because it can't handle natural textures like leaves or hair, everything looks like it's made of plastic. Traditional hand drawn sprites would have been much better looking, even if it meant sacrificing the fluid animation.
    • Typically, when using cartoon graphics, a dark outline is drawn around the exterior of a character which really helps the player know how collision detection works, but there isn't much of an outline with these graphics, so you will frequently takes hits on enemies or hazards until you just sort of intuit when a collision will occur. No doubt, the artists noticed this problem, so they increased the shadow contrast dramatically to add darker regions resulting in a look that remind me of a Caravaggio painting.
    • Making all the backgrounds so detailed often distracts from the foreground. It's sometimes difficult to tell what is a pit and what can be stood on.
    • The game advertises the graphics on the box and in the game as "3-D," which is disingenuous.
  • The controls have some problems.
    • Taking a hit or rescuing a primate from a barrel briefly freezes the game which throws off your timing. When this happens while you're jumping or when an enemy is nearby it makes it much easier to take a hit or fall.
    • Running and attacking use the same button, like in Mario games, but, unlike Mario games, attacking forces you to move forward. So, if you're near a ledge that you want to run and jump over, and you press the run button, you will also attack and fall into the pit.
    • When you take a hit and have Diddy or Donkey in reserve, the secondary character will always jump when it becomes active. If this occurs when you're falling over a pit, it's nice because you can make a longer jump, but, otherwise, it just makes it harder to control.
  • The camera tracks the player based on the direction they're moving, but, in areas where the player needs to rapidly turn around, it doesn't immediately follow. This happens a lot on narrow ledges where you want to see what's ahead of you, but the camera won't reveal the other side of the pit. A similar thing happens when you're going up or down at a diagonal.
  • The enemies don't have much personality. They're mostly just generic jungle animals with puns for names.
  • Lives were still the norm at the time, so I don't fault the designers, but this game doesn't need lives or a game over mechanic. Since a player can move around the levels in the over world, and since there are several early levels where a player can easily farm lives, a player can always go back and do so as their lives dwindle to prevent a game over. However, having to do this is quite boring.
  • Saving is poorly implemented. You have the ability to backtrack on the map to the last save point, and, since a game over resets you back to the last time you saved, it benefits the player to save between every level, and, if they die, reset the game; effectively save scumming to give the player infinite lives. The slow booting screen makes this tiresome, but it's certainly better than having to replay a bunch of difficult levels because of a game over. Had they only allowed the player to save after milestone levels, or just got rid of lives altogether, this wouldn't be a problem.
  • What is going on with Dixie Kong's body? Why does she have a human physique when none of the other animals do? The designers tried using her for sex appeal in a game targeting young boys, but it kind of backfires with the bad 3D rendering.
  • As an extra kick in the teeth, after you defeat King Drool and the credits roll, he gets up and, if you're not ready for it, will likely kill you after you think you've won!


  • The level design is atrocious. I wasn't loving the game early on, but I wasn't hating it either, until I reached the first mine cart level. This brought back all the frustration of Battletoads. Suddenly, you're playing a runner with very little control over your character, you just have to perform to a lot of rapid fire button presses and reflexively avoid fast moving obstacles which means lots of deaths until you memorize the level. A little bit of this is okay, but the it drags on throughout the entire game. Later you have to time moving barrels to shoot your character to other targets over giant pits or through zingers, or try to make jumps onto moving platforms in the dark, or when your view is occluded by snow or mist, or make dozens of jumps onto moving platforms across huge pits, and so on. Each of these levels is a long gauntlet where a single error will kill you. And, since even the longest levels never have more than one checkpoint, each time you die, you have to do it all over again. This is obnoxious tedium.
  • Because the game uses large sprites, the player's window into the game world is quite small. Enemies which appear from the edges of the screen do so with very little space between them and the player's character making it much easier to take a hit. In fact, many levels are purposely designed to have enemies jump out from the sides to kill the player. So, until you've memorized the level, you have to slowly inch your way through the map as to not get hit by a cheap shot which is very tiresome.
  • The graphics in the GBC port look awful.





Review - What's So Great About Gaming?
GBA - Longplay - 101%.
GBC - Longplay - 101% + Bonus.
SNES - Longplay - 101%.

Play Online

Game Boy Advance (Europe), Game Boy Advance (USA), Game Boy Color (Japan), Game Boy Color (USA), SNES (Europe), SNES (USA)


Strong female character?FailThe only female, Dixie Kong, was designed to look like a pin-up.
Bechdel test?FailThere is only one female.
Strong person of color character?FailThere are no human characters.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Toki
Japanese (Super Famicom) スーパードンキーコング Supa Donki Kongu Super Donkey Kong
Japanese (Game Boy Color) ドンキーコング2001 Donki Kongu 2001 Donkey Kong 2001


Link-MobyGames.png  Link-Wikipedia.png  Link-StrategyWiki.png  Link-GameFAQs.png  Link-TVTropes.png  Link-TCRF.png