Donkey Kong Land

aka: Super Donkey Kong GB
Moby ID: 4401
Game Boy Specs
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Description official descriptions

In a modification of Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong teams up with his buddy Diddy for new adventures and gorilla antics. Facing high-flying pigs, killer bees, and reptilian Kremlings, the simian duo swings back into action on the Game Boy. The two Kongs each have similar abilities when compared to the SNES game. This game isn't exactly a remake of DKC; for instance, there are new levels and enemies, and Candy Kong does not save your game: instead you must collect all four Kong letters.

Spellings

  • スーパードンキーコングGB - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Game Boy version)

36 People (30 developers, 6 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 15 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 49 ratings with 4 reviews)

Not a bad attempt to re-create the SNES classic...

The Good
Although based on the SNES title Donkey Kong Country, I liked the fact that Rare created a different type of game instead of a direct port. The new levels (including my personal fav based on a city landscape) are very well designed for the most part, and the boss characters hold a little bit of a challenge compared to the SNES coutnerparts.

Graphically, I found this a mixed bag. Sure, this is a Game Boy game we're talking about, but you can clearly see Rare put in the hard hours to make sure the main characters control, move and look perfect, even without colour. In my mind, it's the most detailed Game Boy game I've ever seen (at least as far as platform games go).

The Bad
There are times where the characters are hard to tell from the backgrounds, which can become a problem when attempting to complete certain challenges. It didn't stop me from playing straight through, but it did become confusing at times.

The sound effects are a little less then expected for such a game. There are some nice renditions of the original score from Donkey Kong Country, but they aren't perfect. And a lack of character sounds doesn't help either. Still, what they were able to achieve on such small a cart should be awarded. It sounds better then a majority of other games on the system.

It's also a pitty that the two player mode was dropped for the Game Boy series. I doubt it would have been possible though.

The Bottom Line
DKL is a fantastic achievement for the Game Boy, keeping in mind the limitations of the system. There are some minor problems that spoil it a little, but I enjoyed every minute.

Game Boy · by Kartanym (12419) · 2003

"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.

Game Boy · by So Hai (261) · 2008

A Rare success!

The Good
They say first impressions are everything... Well, not exactly. At first DKL impressed as a portentous wonder: I can't believe I'm playing Donkey Kong Country on my Game Boy!
The graphics are really good, not only I can tell everything from everything else but after a while it starts to look like the beautiful pre-rendered 3D sprites, animation and backgrounds of the original. I thought I was playing on Super Nintendo... Maybe an overstatement...
Though Rare made good use of the same Silicon Graphics tools they developed DKC on the SNES with, and according to lead programmer Paul Machacek, they even took advantage of Game Boy's "higher-than-NES" capabilities for handling sprites... Yes! apparently that was the case:
The Game Boy could do some things graphically better than its 8-bit older brother! He even claims that the game looks better on the original GB than on a Super GB (and that I can believe for sure, cuz you know, the Super GB colors suck!)

I took a moment to listen to the music and hum to the amazing David Wise iconic tunes - with even some new ones - ported into the cheapest sound hardware ever. The team was way into development of DKC2 for the Super NES when they started this sequel, and a sequel it is, that has 34 original levels in the familiar DKC universe setting but also new locations, new enemies and bosses; with great re-playability on behalf of the secret bonuses and the completion percentage system. All of which makes a fair game time for your money.
The game is so long that the cartridge even has some save files, finally putting to good use those damn Kong letters that now you need to collect in order to save (though at the same time it's kind of annoying when you can't because you haven't found one of the letters after finally beating a particularly difficult level).
But the most impressive part is how the characters - you can only see and control one at a time - feel while jumping and climbing, moving and rolling... It's not perfect. But I was expecting a floating, flickery, laggy mess... And there is some of that, definitely loses some of the kinetic energy the series is known for... But so many platformers get it wrong, and DKL got it right!
It even has some animal buddies! Is there anything Rare couldn't do back in those days? ...

The Bad
And then you begin to play and the issues of making a Game Boy follow-up for one of the most technically challenging games of the 16-bit era begin to appear.
At times DKL becomes borderline unplayable. The enemies appear suddenly out of nowhere, sometimes the game doesn't remember you collected a Kong barrel, resulting in cheap deaths; a simple fall into thin air could mean sudden death out of the system's short memory, the hit boxes are horrible... All of these ramp up the challenge in an already extremely difficult platformer. And I mean Hard!

The Bottom Line
Yes! This is not the original. But neither just a cheap port, this is its own game with its faults and merits and even some new interesting platforming ideas; I would have loved this as a child, the whole thing reeks of ambition like the feverish dream of a mad genius programmer. Apparently first impressions ARE everything and I'll be damned if this doesn't feel like a full DKC game on a Game Boy and again: isn't that freaking amazing!?

Game Boy · by pelida77 (36) · 2022

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Where to download the soundtrack for Donkey Kong Land? Michael B (303) Dec 30, 2008

Trivia

Cartridge

Instead of the standard grey, this game was released on a banana-themed Yellow coloured Game Boy cartridge.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by lechuck13.

Nintendo 3DS added by GTramp.

Additional contributors: Freeman, gamewarrior, So Hai, Patrick Bregger.

Game added June 27, 2001. Last modified September 21, 2023.