Great Games – Donkey Kong Country

North American Box Art

This game was one that I had always heard about, but I never had a Super Nintendo growing up. However, the day that I acquired an SNES classic, I got my opportunity to playthrough this graphically defining platformer.

Donkey Kong riding Rambi, one of the “animal friends” found throughout the game.

There are many design choices that make this game quite memorable and starter a new approach to looking at platformer titles. The most obvious design feature would be the rendered 3D sprites on a 16-bit console. The game had more realistic nature to the characters and items throughout the environments that really appealed to the eyes. The active life bar of using Diddy Kong to show low health was a new, interesting approach to the traditional life meter that many platformers used even after the original Super Mario Bros. The inclusions of partners to help you clear levels and the various bonus rooms found throughout the game all have unique characteristics and personalities, which always makes for challenging level designs. While on the topic of level designs, the nearly 40 side scrolling areas all have elements and art assets that make them interesting to explore and give more diversity to this game. I especially appreciated their designs being that of ecosystems, which explains the choices for where certain enemies will appear. The enemies and boss designs hold true to this idea of the diversity in level designs as no two enemies are alike. The music composed for this game fits extremely well and the track Aquatic Ambiance speaks for itself throughout any of the water levels.

Donkey Kong’s swimming animation in one of the water themed levels.

Overall, the design choices made for Donkey Kong Country is one of the reasons why it became the third best selling game of all time on the Super Nintendo and widely regarded as one of the best video games of all time. Rare was able to imagine an already well established character it something more by creating a unique set of abilities and further expanding upon his capabilities as hero instead of an antagonist.

Donkey Kong faces one of the game’s bosses in order to reclaim is banana horde.

I would highly recommend anyone who has a Super Nintendo or an SNES classic to play this game once and appreciate how a game from 25 years ago stills holds its own against today’s market of video games.

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