Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country
Dkc snes boxart.jpg
North American box art
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Tim Stamper
Designer(s) Gregg Mayles
Artist(s) Steve Mayles
Kevin Bayliss
Writer(s) Gregg Mayles
Dan Owsen
Composer(s) David Wise
Eveline Fischer
Robin Beanland
Platform(s) Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Platforming
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Donkey Kong Country is a side-scrolling platformer video game developed by Rare, featuring the character Donkey Kong. It was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994. Following an intense marketing campaign, the original SNES version sold over 8 million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling SNES game. It was the first Donkey Kong game not produced or directed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the character's original creator; instead, it was produced by Tim Stamper, although Miyamoto was still involved with the project.[1]

The game later found its way on the Game Boy Color in 2000, the Game Boy Advance in 2003 and on Virtual Console in 2006.



The object of Donkey Kong Country is to make it through 40 different side-scrolling levels (41 in the Game Boy Color version) and recover the Kongs' banana hoard, which has been stolen by the Kremlings.[2][3] Each level is uniquely themed and consists of varying tasks such as swimming, riding in mine carts, launching out of barrel cannons, or swinging from vine to vine.[3] Players lose a life if they get hit by any enemy or fall off the screen. To defeat an enemy, players can either execute a roll, jump or groundslam (a move reserved only for Donkey Kong). However, some enemies cannot be taken down like this, so the player must throw a barrel or use the assistance of an animal. Enemies vary in difficulty, usually becoming tougher to take down as the game progresses. When the player has lost all their lives, the game is over. However, the player can gain additional lives by collecting items scattered throughout the levels, including bananas; golden letters that spell out K–O–N–G; extra life balloons; and golden animal tokens that lead to bonus levels.[4] There are also many secret passages that can lead to bonus games where the player can earn additional lives or other items.[5]

Players of Donkey Kong Country control one of two characters: Donkey Kong or his nephew Diddy. The player can switch between characters if they are both on the screen. Donkey Kong is the larger and stronger of the two, and can defeat enemies more easily. Diddy Kong is faster and more agile, but not as powerful.[6] In several levels, players can gain assistance from various animals, who are found by breaking open crates. These helpers include Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish, Winky the Frog, and Squawks the Parrot. Each animal can be found in an appropriately themed level: for example, Enguarde can only be found underwater, and Squawks will be found in caves.[3][7] Some animals can also give players access to bonus games.[6]

Map of the first half of the first world, Kongo Jungle.

The game can be played solo or by two players. In two–player mode there are two types of play: "Contest" and "Team". In Contest mode players take turns playing each level as quickly as possible; the object is to complete the most levels in the fastest time. In Team mode both players instead play together, with one player controlling Donkey Kong and the other controlling Diddy. According to the game's instruction manual, this is a good way for inexperienced players to play alongside more experienced players.[8]

Donkey Kong Country uses a series of map screens to track the players' progress. Between each level, players control their character on the map screen, navigating to the next level they want to play. Each level on the map is marked with an icon: unfinished levels are marked by Kremlings (the game's main enemy), while friendly areas are marked by members of the Kong family.[8] Every individual world map screen has one boss enemy at the end of the course, which must be defeated to travel back to the main map screen of the whole island. It is possible to access previous world maps without defeating the boss by finding Funky Kong, who will let you borrow his barrel plane. Players use this ability to select the world from the main screen, then the level within it. During play the game interface hides most game-related information, such as the number of bananas, letters, and animal tokens collected, as well as the number of lives remaining. When an item is collected, the relevant information briefly appears on the screen.[9]


In Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong, together with his nephew and sidekick Diddy Kong, must recover his stolen hoard of bananas from King K. Rool and the Kremlings. Upon investigating the empty "Kong's Banana Hoard", located directly underneath his home in the Kongo Jungle, Donkey Kong embarks on an adventure throughout his native Donkey Kong Island. While collecting bananas on the island's vastly different regions, Donkey Kong must defeat many enemies, including the reptilian Kremlings, and other hazardous creatures native to the island. Aiding him in his quest are some of the other Kongs: Diddy accompanies Donkey Kong on his quest, Cranky provides hints (and comic relief), Candy operates the island's save points, and Funky offers a means of transportation around the island. Also assisting Donkey Kong at times are various 'animal buddies' (Rambi the rhino, Expresso the ostrich, Enguarde the swordfish, Winky the frog, and Squawks the parrot), each with their own unique abilities. After progressing through the island's different areas, Donkey Kong ultimately arrives at a pirate ship called Gangplank Galleon, where Donkey Kong's nemesis and the leader of the Kremlings, King K. Rool, awaits with Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard. Upon his defeat, the game ends with a final shot of Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard restored to its former glory, filled with bananas once again.


Before Donkey Kong Country's production, Rare's Chris and Tim Stamper programmed experiments with a Silicon Graphics workstation, with their initial focus centred on a boxing game. After impressing Nintendo with their progress, Genyo Takeda was dispatched to Japan to advise then-president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi. Following talks between Yamauchi and Rare, Nintendo acquired 25% of the company, which culminated in the production of a new title using the SGI technology. The Stampers expressed interest in making a game based on Donkey Kong and were given Nintendo's consent.

The Donkey Kong character was also redesigned with a distinct, three-dimensional physical appearance. While borrowing the red necktie introduced in 1994's Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, the character featured a new look that would become the standard still used over a decade later on the Nintendo GameCube, Wii, and other Nintendo consoles.


As a part of Nintendo's marketing campaign, a 15-minute VHS tape titled Donkey Kong Country: Exposed was sent to subscribers of Nintendo Power magazine.[10] Hosted by comedian Josh Wolf, the video shows a brief tour of Nintendo of America's headquarters in Redmond, Washington and footage from the game when it was in the final stages of development. Several game testers provide tips on how to access bonus levels and perform tricks throughout the game. Various interviews promote the level of graphical complexity as being revolutionary for game systems at that time. A segment at the end of the video reminds viewers that the game is available only on Nintendo's 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System console and not on rival 32-bit and CD-ROM based consoles (e.g., Sega 32X and Sega CD) that boasted superior processing power. In a "hidden" section at the end of the cassette, the host of the video opens a door and discovers that Nintendo of America testers are playing an early development version of the Killer Instinct arcade. A character resembling Chief Thunder is shown with notable differences.


The first level of Donkey Kong Country.

The game was revolutionary in that it was one of the first games for a mainstream home video game console to use pre-rendered 3D graphics. It was a technique that was also used in Rare's Killer Instinct. Many later 3D video games also used pre-rendered 3D together with fully 3D objects. Rare took significant financial risks in purchasing the expensive SGI equipment used to render the graphics. A new compression technique they developed in house allowed them to incorporate more detail and animation for each sprite for a given memory footprint than previously achieved on the SNES, which better captured the pre-rendered graphics. Both Nintendo and Rare refer to the technique for the creating the game's graphics as "ACM" (Advanced Computer Modeling).


Donkey Kong Country also had a popular soundtrack which was released on CD under the title DK Jamz. Composers Robin Beanland, Eveline Fischer and David Wise collaborated on this ensemble of jungle music. The diverse composition consists of over 20 tracks.

The soundtrack was also the focus of an OverClocked ReMix collaboration titled Kong in Concert, later praised by Wise.[11]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 90.50%[12]
Review scores
Publication Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly 9.25 of 10[12]
Game Informer 9.5 of 10[12]
IGN 8.5 of 10[13]
Nintendo Power 4.5 of 5[12]

Donkey Kong Country was very successful on release, receiving critical acclaim and eventually selling 8 million copies.[14] Later, the game was released as a pack-in game in the Super Nintendo "Donkey Kong Set" (which contained the console, controller, connections and the game). This facilitated sales of over a million copies, making it a Player's Choice re-release title around 1998. The SNES version received a 90% score, while the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance received a 78% score at GameRankings.[15]

It won several awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly in their 1994 video game awards, including Best Super NES Game, Best Animation, Best Game Duo, and Game of the Year.[16] However, it was also considered by the magazine to be one of the Top 10 Most Overrated Games of All Time before their 200th issue anniversary in 2005.[17] The game also made the #9 spot in GameSpy's 2003 list of the 25 most overrated games of all time.[18] Despite this, it was also rated the 90th best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list in 2006.[19] It also received a Nintendo Power Award for 'Best Overall Game' of 1994 and two Kid's Choice awards, one of each for 'Favorite Video Game' of 1994 & 1995.



In 2000, a version of Donkey Kong Country was released for the Game Boy Color. The GBC version had a new stage in Chimp Caverns, "Necky Nutmare", as well as a revamped and longer Winky's Walkway. The GBC version had some of the music scrapped and replaced, often with music that originated in Donkey Kong Land. In 2003, another version of the game was released for the Game Boy Advance. This version had increased brightness, at the cost of contrast and colour saturation, to make the game easier to see on an unlit LCD. Both games had some new features, including new minigames, hidden pictures, and a Time Trial mode; additionally, the GBA version had multiplayer games. Both versions also had lower sound fidelity and a number of minor changes. Candy Kong no longer runs a save point, so players can save the game in any area.[citation needed].

The Super Nintendo version 1.1[citation needed] was released on the Virtual Console for the Wii in Oceania on 7 December 2006, Europe on 8 December 2006, and North America on 19 February 2007.



  1. ^ "E3: 2010"
  2. ^ Donkey Kong Country Instruction Booklet. Nintendo. 1994. pp. 4–7. SNS-8X-USA 
  3. ^ a b c Provo, Frank (2007-02-23). Donkey Kong Country (Wii). CNET Networks. Retrieved 2009-04-14 
  4. ^ Donkey Kong Country Instruction Booklet. Nintendo. 1994. pp. 18–19. SNS-8X-USA 
  5. ^ Donkey Kong Country Instruction Booklet. Nintendo. 1994. pp. 22–23. SNS-8X-USA 
  6. ^ a b Thomas, Lucas M. (2007-02-20). Donkey Kong Country Review. IGN. Retrieved 2009-04-14 
  7. ^ Donkey Kong Country Instruction Booklet. Nintendo. 1994. pp. 24–25. SNS-8X-USA 
  8. ^ a b Donkey Kong Country Instruction Booklet. Nintendo. 1994. p. 8. SNS-8X-USA 
  9. ^ Donkey Kong Country Instruction Booklet. Nintendo. 1994. pp. 9. SNS-8X-USA 
  10. ^ Donkey Kong Country: Exposed. [VHS]. Nintendo. 
  11. ^ OverClocked ReMix. "Industry Recognition - OCRWiki". OverClocked ReMix. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Donkey Kong Country Reviews". Game Rankings. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  13. ^ Schneider, Peer (2007-02-20). "IGN: Donkey Kong Country Review". Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  14. ^ Frank Provo (2003-06-11). "Donkey Kong Country Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  15. ^ "Donkey Kong Country for Game Boy Advance". Gamerankings. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  16. ^ Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide. 1995. 
  17. ^ "1UP's 2005 list of the 10 most overrated games". 1UP. 2005-04-04. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  18. ^ "GameSpy's 2003 list of the 25 most overrated games of all time". GameSpy. 2003-09-20. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  19. ^ "NP Top 200". Nintendo Power 200: pp. 58–66. February 2006 

External links

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