To show why I think Donkey Kong Country is a great game, my review will be, for lack of a better term, long.
In the game Donkey Kong Country the premise is very simple: You play as a gorilla named Donkey Kong who is on a quest to take back his lifetime supply of bananas from the villianous King K. Rool (subtle, I know). Joining DK on his adventure is his monkey nephew Diddy Kong. While the story is simple, and somewhat goofy, the varied enviroments and quirky cast of characters make it an adventure you would want to experience again and again. Of course, that is just the story. Time to talk about what make this exciting expedition shine: the gameplay.
The gameplay in donkey Kong Country is, like the story, very straight forward. You move up, down, left, and right on a 2D plane while travelling through stages of various lengths in multiple areas of the island in which the characters live on. With each area having multiple stage in them. All the while dodging hazardous obstacles and taking out K. Rools minions. When playing, you have the ability to play as both Donkey Kong and Diddy and you can switch between the both of them anytime you want by simply pressing Select.
Donkey Kong does not jump very far horizontally or vertically but, thanks to his large size, he is the only one who can defeat some of the bigger enemies in the game. Plus, he has an easier time grabbing some higher placed objects because of the fact that, whenever he jumps, his arms shoot straight into the air.
Diddy Kong, while not as strong as his uncle, can run at greater speeds and jump higher and farther than him. He is a pure speed run character who is used by those that like to have their reflexes do the talking.
The most special thing about both of them though is the fact that they act as the health bar. You see, like a traditional 2D platformer, they can only be touched once before they are captured. Notice that I used the word "captured" and not defeated or killed. That is because you can get back tthe Kong you lost by breaking barrels with a large DK emblem on them that are placed one or multiple spot(s) through out a stage. That means: while the player can only have two slivers of haelth at any given time, they do not have to worry, because there is always at least one DK barrel in every level. I think that is a very clever and fair way to handle health.
Now to talk about the most important aspect of any platformer: The controls. The controls in DKC are actually quite heavy and precise. Which makes them different than other platformers of the time, eg Super Mario World. This might take getting used to for some people.
DKC has multiple techniques that you can use to get through a level. The two most basic ones are ones are the run and the jump. There are also two other ones you must learn that you must learn if you are to be successful in the game. They are the roll and the super jump. All of thesemoves the player can learn naturally as they play through the game.
The roll can be performed by tapping the run button while moving forward. This technique is especially useful for Diddy, who must use it to defeat some of the larger enemies in the game. For he cannot beat them by jumping on their heads like his uncle.
The super jump, while not necessary to complete the story, is needed if you want to find some of the secrets in the game. To perfome a super jump, you must first roll off of a ledge. Then, while the character is still in their roll animation, you must press the jump button. This will catapult the Kong farther forward than they would when jumping normally.
Now to talk about some of the support cast. First the other members of the Kong clan and what they do.
Cranky Kong (who is Donkey Kong's father in this game and the original DK) is a stereotypical old man. His not so sunny disposition can provide a few good laughs as you play the game. But under the crusty facade is a treasure trove of information. Everytime you go see him, he will tell you a riddle that points towards a secret in the level he is talking about. I really like this because of the fact that it hepls the player without holsing their hand.
Next up is Candy Kong, Donkey Knog's girlfriend. Her stops act as the save points in the game. This is where my biggest complaint comes in. You do not have the ability to save until you reach. But you can not reach her unitl you beat, on an average, four-five stages in a row per area. This can make the later areas in the game particularly frustrating. Enter the next Kong who hepls when you're in a jam: Funky Kong.
Funky owns a plane that allows you to travel to the areas on the island that you have previously visited. This does make things easier when you have not reached Candy yet in the area you are in, because you can go back to a previous save spot. Like Candy though, you still have to clear multiple stages before you can reach him. This is where my second biggest complaint pops up. Sometimes you cannot reach him before Candy. In a few of the areas he is found after you reach her. Which renders is servies, at that point at least, moot.
Other than those complaints, I really like how this game gives things like hints, fast travel, and save points, lifes of their own. Even though the conditions to reach them can be a little bothersome
The last group of secondary characters I am going to talk about are the animal buddies. These animals can be found in crates in cartain levels and, when they are freed, you are able to ride on their backs. Doing this give you access to the special abilities they have. It is a very clever twist to the traditional power up system and it helps get secrets that you would normally not be able to. Speeking of secrets, that is what I'm going to critique next.
The secrets in the game are completely secondary and they all focus on one thing: extra men. While more extra men is always a good thing to have, it makes the secrets feel like they were lazily added in when they all lead to the same thing. But I do appreciate that it is not necessary to find any of them in order to complete the game.
Now to rate the length. The length of this game is both long and short. It is long if you are constanly dieing or are trying to complete all 101% of the game. The latter of which can take well over 10 hours without a walkthrough. But on the flip side if you know what you are and you ignore the secrets, it could take you no more than an hour to beat. That is what I love about the length: you decide it. There are no fluff levels that are thrown in to give the game an artificial length (I'm looking at you Grand Theft Auto and Assassins Creed). Instead, the length is dependent on your own skill level.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to talk about to things that go perfectly together. Art/Graphics style and the music.
The graphics in this game, for their time, were phenomenal. They were a psuedo-3D style that really gave the game a distinct feel. As for the art, well, it managed to do something that very few games have done. It managed to look both kid friendly and... How do I explain this? Kind of grimy and dark all at the same time. It really is a unqiue game visually. Of course it is not without it's hiccups. Since it tries to look 3D while being on a system that could not really support those kind of graphics very well, it does not look as crisp and clear as games like Yoshi's Island or Sonic the Hedghog.
Now about my favorite part of the game. The Music and Sound Effects. You have to hand it to David Wise. He managed to create a Soundtrack that flowed so well between each level, area, and menu. And the sound effects are top notch. Almost everything in the game has their own unique sound to them. From the bananas, to the bad guys, to the secrets, to Donkey and Diddy. The sound effects breath life into all of them.
And that is it. If I had to give this game a rating, even with the issues i think it has, I would still give it a 5/5 stars, a masterpiece rating, two thumbs way up. No matter how you slice it, I think it is an incredible game. I also think it is one of the few games someone should play at least once in their life.
Thank you for reading this wall of text. I hoped you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a good day!