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Donkey Kong Land (Game Boy)

85
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  So Hai (338)
Written on  :  Mar 14, 2008
Platform  :  Game Boy
Rating  :  4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars

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Summary

"An APEaling Game..."

The Good

This Gameboy title "Donkey Kong Land", is a version specifically made for this platform. Note the title is not "Donkey Kong Country", but "-Land" instead. What you find inside this cartridge (it's a bright banana-yellow colour, by the way), is a kind of remix of different aspects of the Super NES titles and it's sequel. Players take control of Donkey and Diddy, and climb and roll through many different areas. The goal? Well, to take down King K. Rool once again.

How on earth could they compress the brilliantly animated and vivid-coloured world of the the "Country" games onto a Gameboy cart? Well, of course, the technical limitations on on this system are immense in comparison, but, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how well the Rare team captured the spirit and (almost) all of the fun of the original games. Firstly, I will make a note that this review is based on the original release, (not the Colour Gameboy game).

The first thing you see is fairly impressive, a title screen that really makes the absolute best use of the Gameboy's grey-scale palette. Donkey, Diddy and Rambi are presented in the full 3D light-modeled style that set the original "Country" so far above it's predecessors. Three save-slots are available, and right away, you're thrown into World One "Gangplank Galleon Ahoy!", (there are four in total: "Kremlantis", "Monkey Mountains and Chimpanzee Clouds", and finally "Big Ape City").

Now, unlike the Super NES game, the Gameboy only has one character on-screen at once, hitting SELECT switches your player. You still collect barrels marked with "DK" to refill your second-character, and you still collect hordes of bananas that, presumably King K. Rool has left scattered once again. Enemies in this game are a little tougher than on the consoles, and it's not uncommon that you miss-time a jump or fall victim to the screen-scrolling peculiarities that I noticed - you really do fall VERY quickly in this game, (from memory, it's faster than the screen scrolls).

Because of the such detailed environments, you can't help but notice just how jam-packed the screen is with detail, particularly in the jungle areas. In fact, it's so dense, that often you cannot even distinguish just what you need to be killing, collecting, or avoiding. This however, passes once you've moved into some of the later more sparse levels. The gameplay itself really is of the highest quality, and it flows very well for such a light-weight system as the Gameboy. The rolling and jumping fluidity that made "Country" such a fun game is transposed pretty well here, but admittedly, it does feel different. I believe that you jump higher than you do in the other games.

The great appeal in "Land" is it's completion system. Just beating the final boss does not equate to 100% completion. Those famous Donkey Kong secrets are still hidden away throughout every level - some in plain view, some are very subtle and quite impossible to find on your first time through. Rare has improved the replay value by doing this.

The Bad

Of all the platform-games on the Gameboy, this has got to be the first true innovator. Those looking for an extension of "Donkey Kong Country" should be quite happy with game. Just be aware of the various downgrades that were made in order to fit the game on. Every major aspect of game-design has been limited somehow here: the graphics the sound (music is brilliant, by the way), and the length are really much, more concise than any Super NES game - but only a fool would expect other wise.

The Bottom Line

I remember reading at the time in "Nintendo Magazine System" that the gameplay was actually improved from the console game. That seemed very impressive, and I'm afraid to say that I do not believe that to be true. However, this cartridge is not a cash-in, it's a great game in it's own right.