• Donkey Kong Country


  • Action Platformer


  • Nintendo


  • Nintendo

Release Date:

  • 11/21/1994 (US, SNES), 11/4/2000 (US, GBC)


  • Super NES, GBA, GBC

Box Art Credit:

  • Wikipedia

Systems Used:

  • GBC, Snes9x on a Mac


  • This was the first entry specifically written for Carbon-izer GAMES.

On Wikipedia:

A funny thing happened in regards to me and Donkey Kong Country. Many were sold back in the mid-1990s with Donkey Kong Country's then-amazing pre-rendered graphics, keeping the SNES going through 1994 and 1995 while Sega was wasting their time with nonsense like the 32X. But for me, my first exposure came in December 2000 when my brother got it for Christmas for his Game Boy Color. It's an interesting experience. When you compare it to the SNES version, it's amazingly bad. The graphics (scroll down here to see some examples, it's mid-way through the page) are terrible, the sound is terrible, and the bonuses (like mini-games) are not worth it at all. They even aped (term used in lieu of "copied" for use as an incredibly lame pun) the Donkey Kong 64 menu. It is heavily based after (graphics and sound) by the Game Boy's Donkey Kong Land, a DKC-inspired romp on the original Game Boy (it's not a port by a long shot), and even in Japan, it wasn't advertised as Donkey Kong Country, it became Donkey Kong 2001.

The SNES version looks great.

The upshot of this is that when playing Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, it looks and feels amazing. Granted, the controls are a bit different (in the SNES version, it's far harder to make that first jump across the palm trees--in fact, the GBC version is easier overall). The graphics on the SNES are obviously going to look dated today, but it definitely looks better than the Game Boy Color version. The funny thing though is that by all consensus, a third version of the game, for Game Boy Advance, is the worst version. It has the controls of the Game Boy Color version but washes out the graphics (to compensate for the lack of backlight) and has inferior music. While the Game Boy Color version is weak but attempts to push the limits (there's some slowdown too), the Game Boy Advance version is the worst.

But how is the game? To be honest, I feel like it's motivated by nostalgia. It's certainly a different play experience than the Mario series, and the sequels are better in terms of level design. Let's just put it this way: when you finally finish the game, there's not a lot of motivation for 100% completion unless you're just one of those players. For Super Mario 64 released than less than two years later, that's different. I still pick up and play Mario 64 from time to time. Not so much Donkey Kong Country. I finished DKC on the SNES very recently, and I'm onto Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. After that? Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble. And after that? Probably nothing. I'm not going to replay them for all the secrets they hold, there's others worlds to explore.

The GBC version borrows heavily off of the N64 game.

The graphics are great (the SNES version that is), but they're pre-rendered: a trick used in the early 1990s to make it seem like their systems are far more powerful than they actually are. Myst used a similar trick, and thousands were duped into what amounted to a fancy slideshow (hey, I don't hate it, but I'm just pointing out facts).

Anyway, Donkey Kong Country is definitely a must-play for Nintendo fans but it doesn't hold up quite as well today as Super Mario World or Yoshi's Island. Of course, my cynicism could be because I've run through DKC twice and probably burnt out by it. One more thing of note. Donkey Kong Country was popular enough to spawn a TV series, originally made in France and eventually spreading to Japan and America. Unfortunately, while full CGI (something mildly impressive in the mid-1990s), it only appeared in the U.S. after Donkey Kong Country 3 was released, so it was never very popular. Just as well, since the writing is awful, voice acting is atrocious, CGI is terrible, songs are terrible, just about everything about is AWFUL.

December 12 2013