“Madness and Meyhem in this 3-D Gorilla Thriller!”


Publisher: Nintendo + Revolutionary pre-rendered graphics
+ Awesome music
+ DK returns for some excellent platforming
Developer: Rareware
Genre: Platformer
Released: 11/24/94  
ESRB: K to A

- Collect-a-thons start here
- Some enemies seem like they appear out of nowhere

Platforms: SNES

What’s the story: After 10 years, Donkey Kong Country marked the return of everyone’s favorite video game gorilla, Donkey Kong. The game was developed by Rareware and is arguably the most successful game in the company’s history. Using expensive Silicon Graphics technology (a huge and expensive risk taken by Rare), DKC was the first game in history to use pre-rendered 3D graphics. The tech used in DKC made it one of the best looking games of all time…at the time.


As for the story, you play as Donkey Kong (and sidekick Diddy Kong) on a quest to find your horde of Bananas, which have been stolen by nemesis King K. Kool and the Kremlings. DK and Diddy must progress through 40, 2D sidescrolling stages taking the 2 apes all over Donkey Kong Island to get them back. Pretty basic but loads of fun.

retro_review_dkc_08 What’s to like: It took just one look at DKC back in 1994 to realize this game was something special. Its graphics were unlike anything seen before, and the game’s soundtrack was simply rocking. It’s true that Rare had quite a few great games before (R.C.Pro Am, and Battletoads Double Dragon are the first that come to mind), but it wasn’t until DKC that the company became a force to be reckoned with, and Nintendo wisely purchased the company.

retro_review_dkc_14 Donkey Kong Island has a map similar to the one found in Super Mario World, and that’s awesome. There are a total of 40 stages to complete, and they are all different from one another. You begin in the jungle, move through caves in a mine car, swim, and tackle mountains of snow just to name a few different types. Variety is of utmost importance in a platforming game.

retro_review_dkc_05 Another important aspect in a platforming is, well, the platforming. If you’re not jumping on the heads of enemies “Mario style”, then you’re jumping into a barrel and aiming to shoot yourself perfectly into another barrel. If it’s not barrel shooting, then its swinging or riding in a mine car. There even 3 different type of animals to help you traverse some of the games stages; Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish (found only underwater), Winky the Frog, and Squawks the Parrot (found only in caves). These helpers are an awesome addition to the game.

retro_review_dkc_04 DK also has many members of his family helping throughout the game, most notably Diddy Kong. Diddy is the only other controllable family member and he can actually be controlled by a second player in the game’s 2P mode. DK can find Diddy hidden inside barrels. When broken, Diddy pops out to lend a hand with the platforming. If you happen to be hit while using DK, Diddy will take over, giving you what is almost like, another life.


retro_review_dkc_11 What’s not to like: There’s not much to not like here. If anything, the game just doesn’t hold up in the graphics department like Super Mario World, Zelda, and Super Metroid, but we are really not faulting it for that. At the time, DKC was the most amazing looking 2D Game we’d ever seen. DKC is also somewhat of a collect-a-thon and one of the first. For instance, there are letters hidden throughout each level that spell out K-O-N-G that players can find. Collecting things was still fairly new in terms of gameplay, so this isn’t really a bad. What is bad is that Rare absolutely abused collecting in just about every game they released after DKC. Check out a few stages from Donkey Kong Country in the video below.



Donkey Kong Country was the biggest SNES game at the time of its release, weighing in at 32 megs. Take one look at it and it’s easy to see why. The pre-rendered graphics, and rocking soundtrack are only the beginning – a game needs more than that to be successful. Good thing DKC contains some of the best elements in a platformer ever released on the great SNES. This year marks the game’s 16th anniversary, and if you’ve never played it, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. Being the # 1 selling game in the systems history means its fairly cheap, and easy to find. DKC is also available on the Wii VC, and is well worth the cash. Pick it up today and see why people went bananas for it over a decade and a half ago.

User Score: [ratings]