Finally the Super Nintendo cult classic is available on the go. One of my absolute favorite games as a child, Rare's Donkey Kong Country on Game Boy Advance rolls back the years, all the way to 1994 when it was released. While a graphical breakthrough at the time, played on a home console, its now demoted to a pocket system, still with crystal clear, simple graphics that made it so successful. Its not just the graphics that made the game though, the music made a massive contribution too with a soundtrack of over 20 different themes for the menus, minigames and levels. The songs fit in seamlessly due to the many jungle like noises, exotic melodies and effects (anyone who's played this game remembers the underwater levels and the hypnotic music that made it so unforgettable). People who havent played the original, won't necessarily be as swept away or impressed, considering the original is a source of nostalgia for many, but they would still find addictive amusement in the games engrossingly difficult levels, blurry minigames and rich environments. Speaking of which, the landscapes in game are lush, vibrant areas that make use of all colours, a deep marine blue for lakes, rusty red for dusty caverns and mines, yellow for sunny temple ruins, green for thick forrest/jungles/polluted ponds.. its pure eye candy.
The gist of the game is to get through each level going from left to right, as your trusty ape companions Donkey or Diddy Kong. Collecting bannas (collecting 100 adds 1 Life), letters (that spell out K.O.N.G) and halfway checkpoints. The main goal is to get to the very end of the level, avoiding holes and enemies (lizards, rats, snakes, crocodiles, beavers) and onto the next by any means - you can find rhinos, ostriches, swordfish or a frog (all available in minigames to give you more lives by collecting gold within levels). You can sprint, fly, swim and jump your way to completion with these friendly critters and even use them to find otherwise inaccessible areas. You often face bosses towards the end of zones, that offer different types of gameplay. The main plot however is paper thin as many older games were - you just have to get through the levels (and survive) and eventually find enough bananas to satisfy Donkey Kong. Press A to jump, B to roll or hold to sprint, use the directional pad to move about, the triggers to swap characters (Donkey Kong can knock out stronger enemies, whilst Diddy Kong can sprint faster and is much more agile). The game has a standard save option when far enough into certain zones and even a little minigame not found on the original, where you basically hook octopi out of the water.. its not very fun and a bit of a pointless addition, the only blemish on an otherwise brilliant rerelease.
The only differences between the orignal SNES version and this, the GBA re release, are the musical change (due to the Gameboys speaker) and the aforementioned unnecessary fishing game, which some people may find fun. Other than that, nothing has changed and the game is now available to play away from a tv screen and wired console and concerning the varied length of the levels, you can get away with playing it on the bus, train, long journeys in general etc and still never tire of it, plus its rated +3 by PEGI so everyone can enjoy it. One of the best Nintendo games available, in 1994 and at present.
Donkey Kong Country was one of the games that sealed Rare's reputation as one of the finest developers of the 90s, though they've recently slipped somewhat, their classic Super Nintendo titles remain excellent games in nearly every respect and Donkey Kong Country is one of their finest.
Donkey Kong Country takes Nintendo's earliest mascot and makes him the hero of the game. The plot is paper thin but goes like this, Donkey Kong lives in the Jungle and has a massive horde of bananas. One day his bananas are missing and he goes the get them back. Along with new sidekick Diddy Kong, the player travels on a whirlwind adventure through some of the best designed and most beautiful platform levels ever made.
Gameplay is very strong, in fact this was probably the best platformer of the 90s that didn't have Mario in the title. You control either Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong, freely switching between them at any time. You work your way through the levels, clearly feeling the influence of Sonic the Hedgehog as they have a bit of a track feel to the them, fighting baddies and collecting bananas. Both your simian heroes play differently, Diddy is more limber but lacks the strength to fight all the foes you might encounter, Donkey can't reach quite so many out of the way platforms but is a match for any foe. This dual gameplay style along with the tag-team gameplay is great fun. Every so often the game also treats you to some ridable jungle animal, the most fun being the rhino that charges towards your goal like nature's tank.
Levels are also nice and different, the Jungle levels early on soon develop into caverns with mine carts to ride around in and lagoons to swim through. It never gets dull and the supporting characters you meet along the way are some of the funniest in any game I've played.
Visually this is a stunner. For this game Rare pioneered the technique of pre-rendered graphics. Instead of using simple two dimensional, hand drawn sprites, they prepared very sophisticated 3D models and animated them. Then the animation is converted into the game's characters, levels, backgrounds. Donkey Kong Country was part of the early 3D gaming craze thanks to this optical illusion, despite offering nothing in the way of 3D gameplay. The machines used to render the original 3D models were very powerful for the time and far outstripped any kind of rendering possible in real time. This meant that when true 3D gaming was introduced a few years later on the Playstation and Nintendo 64, despite offering true 360 degree environments, it didn't look as good as the game on offer here.
I've mentioned before that possibly the greatest use for the Gameboy Advance was running ports of games previously for home consoles, if there's a proof of this then it's Donkey Kong Country. This game plays and feels identical to the original and even more importantly, it looks identical. To have what was once a powerhouse of a game running on a handheld was very impressive when this was released and it's still pretty nice now. It makes great use of the hardware, though it's worth noting that the brightness has been bumped up a fair bit. No doubt this was done to improve the look on the first GBA systems without any form of backlight, what this means is that when played on a GBA SP or Nintendo DS, this game looks a little washed out. It's not too bad but it does put a little dampener on and otherwise lovely looking game.
Donkey Kong Country is just as fun now as it was in the 90s, it's a great platformer and still looks wonderful. If you own an Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS or DS lite and don't own this, then you should. DSi and DSi XL owners are excluded again, I'm afraid.
This is getting a little hard to find now and will probably be around the £10-£15 mark on Amazon. It's worth it though.
Donkey Kong Country my favorite game that ever hit on the SNES it first came in 1994 and also came to the Game Boy Colour in 2000. In 2003 it came to Game Boy Advance and developed by the only people that can make a great Donkey Kong Game Rare Ltd.
If anyone played the Super Nintendo version will enjoy this as well this game has the same levels but it has also been improved. The add on parts to the game feature mini games such as Candy's dance place as in the SNES version she was a save point in this version it is no longer. The game now also gives you the background story of the game which the SNES version never gave you.
The story of the game is that King K Rool has taken the Kong's Banana Horde which leaves Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong to go through various different levels in order to get them back. Through out the game you will go into the Jungle, Underwater, Mine Carts and so on till eventually the end where you will fight King K Rool on his ship. The music and sound are good but we know not as great as the SNES version but still is very well for the Game Boy Advance.
Rare has done a great job as always and when you look at Sonic Genesis/Mega Drive (which was released in America only) also on Game Boy Advance and how bad that was compare it to this and you will see the great deal of effort put into this. If you want a great fun game this classic is must buy for the Game boy Advance