Sunday, April 11, 2021

Gettin Kooky with the Donkey Kong Country

I've got a new game suggestion to write about from none other than Angela ShadowGarden from the Legends of the Spiral website fame! She mentioned a certain obsession she has with the Donkey Kong Country series, and wondered if I'd be interested in giving it a look. 

Yup . . . taking a good look!

It was funny because as soon as she mentioned Donkey Kong Country, that old familiar happy tune from the game crept into my head like the earworm it is! YES! I LOVE ME SOME DONKEY KONG COUNTRY!!

After finishing Pokémon Red, one of the first things I did was hook up the old Super Nintendo upstairs and plopped in the Donkey Kong Country cartridge and started hitting those old familiar platformer levels from "the good ol' days."

To me, Donkey Kong country will always be side-related to being newly married to my wife.  Right around the release of DK Country, we had another young married couple that we started hanging out with on the regular: Dan and Melissa.  A couple of nights we took our Super Nintendo over to their apartment, hooked it up, and we all played DK Country the whole night.  Those are really happy memories. Donkey Kong Country with Dan and Melissa was epic. 

The game itself was pretty revolutionary at the time for platformers. The characters looked 3D in a 2D platformer world, the jungle-themed levels started out easy enough, but eventually you were taking on all kinds of different challenges from riding swordfish under the water, to minecart tracks that defy the laws of physics, and then back on over to a nuclear power plant. Not to mention you were introduced to a whole crew of new Donkey Kong characters like Candy Kong and (in typical 90's fashion) Funky Kong.

Oh man! That vernacular! That funky pink cap! That surfboard! That name!

And . . . this little platforming game even spawned a strange little animated cartoon series that lasted 2 seasons. The stranger thing is that supposedly this little 1997 cartoon was the "first all CG TV show made using magnetic motion capture."

I actually remember watching a couple episodes of this on Fox. 

Anyway, playing this game yesterday kind of made all these memories flood back to me, and remembering all the difficulty I had with the minecart levels came rushing back to me as well. The really interesting gate in this game centers around lives and save points. The game liberally gives you new lives in the form of bananas, red balloons, and special animal collection levels, and you're going to need them as there are some really unforgiving jumps and timing involved to get through all these levels. If you don't make it to the next save point, you'll have to start the whole chain of levels over again from the last save point. Brutal! I love it! I could hear my old super Nintendo controller's plastic stressing under my firm and panicked grip running through these old levels. 

I audibly was groaning in pain a few times when I was so close to beating a level and failed at the last moment.  IT WAS GREAT! No, seriously, it's nice when a game still manages to entertain and give you a challenge.

The Stop & Go Station level stopped me -- game over

I took a break from the painfully delightful gameplay and called my local GameStop and also the GameOver Videogame Store (super cool local used game store) to see if they had copies of Donkey Kong Country 2 or 3 . . . or even the Donkey Kong Country 3DS game, but alas . . . they did not.  Then I checked Ebay -- man I really don't like getting into bidding wars with people, but there are two copies with bids on them that would go for about 20-25 dollars right now and arrive here in a couple weeks.

The happiest discovery I made in my hunt is that . . . my son already purchased the Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze game for the Nintendo Switch a year or so ago! I've yet to find some free time to try out this newest Donkey Kong Country game, but it sounds like my review of this series hasn't come to a complete halt just yet.

Happy Dueling!

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