Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Feb 26, 2007
Platform  :  SNES
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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A Classic Platformer Is Still Found In Those Pretty Graphics.

The Good

It's impossible to describe Donkey Kong Country without mentioning the graphics. It's the biggest selling point of the game. Even by today's standards, it's a very pretty game, and it's not hard to forget how mind-numbingly awesome it looked back in the day. From the multi-layered graphics with weather effects to the full character animations, it was the type of game that you took out to impress your friends.

Equally on par was the sound and music. The music was very rich and diverse and pushed very close to CD-quality. Sound effects were equally as impressive. Lots of monkey chatter and platformer sound effects, rounded out an already impressive package.

But at the heart of it all was the gameplay. This was a good "Nintendo" platformer, even though this was Rare's baby. The worlds were huge with multiple paths, and plenty of secret areas to exploit and discover. The game also had a fun sense of humor ranging from Cranky Kong to the little in-jokes found throughout the levels. From a Rare standpoint, this was also one of their best titles as the gameplay remained strong, not devolving into a series of "fetch quests" that plagued even their best titles on the Nintendo 64.

The Bad

As good as Donkey Kong Country is, it's simply not a "Mario" game. This statement isn't meant as the end-all that only Mario games are some of the best platformers around, but with all of its perks, the game just lacked those subtle nuances that Mario titles had.

Finding things wasn't quite as accidental. You had to be a pretty bad player NOT to find a large collection of secret areas in Donkey Kong Country. Finding animals to ride was fun, but it didn't have that offensive "oomph" Mario titles did. A player didn't necessarily feel like the tables were suddenly turned in their favor as it was more of a new way to get around.

Donkey Kong Country also had a difficulty that ranged from very easy to viciously hard. One moment, there would be a level that would hand out free lives with generous abundance, the next level would eat those lives as getting through a barrel launching puzzle or a mine cart chase would take split second timing or pure dumb luck.

While the graphics are great, the age in rendering technique shows. It's not enough to ruin the experience, but what blew one's mind over a decade ago, is more subtly regarded with admiration for the technology of the time.

The Bottom Line

When it was released in the early '90's, Donkey Kong Country was a real stunner. It was a beautiful game for its time, and in many regards, it still is. And even without the exploitive depth of the Mario titles, the game does not leave a player wanting for things to see and do.

As the Wii reintroduced Donkey Kong via its Virtual Console, it's pretty easy to see why this game has been so loved over the years. It's a fun game, even without the graphical wizardry, and it makes one yearn for the long since gone Nintendo-Rare relationship of old.

If you've never played it, then you owe it to yourself to give this game a try, especially since Nintendo has made it so readily available. If anything, just to see one of the biggest games to change the face and perception of what the Super Nintendo was capable of.