Donkey Kong Country RetroActive Review

Donkey Kong Country picture

Donkey Kong Country

Original Release Date: 1994

While Donkey Kong is a relatively well known icon in gaming, he’s been largely overshadowed by the vastly more successful Mario. However, he did have his time in the spotlight in the 90s with the release of his first standalone title, Donkey Kong Country.

Donkey Kong Country is a 2D side scrolling platformer very similar to Super Mario World in its overall structure and gameplay. There are a number of differences, however. First, the game utilizes pre-rendered computer generated images and models for its graphics, and the effects hold up surprisingly well. It gives the game a unique atmosphere that sets it apart from other SNES platformers, and is right up there with Super Mario World when it comes to having a distinct, creative, and timeless art style.

The controls are very responsive, the difficulty is reasonable, and any and all deaths are entirely on the player. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s always because the player knows they made a mistake, rather than because the game made them fail. The game has a variety of environments and challenges for the player to overcome, and keeps consistent elements in each area while avoiding feeling repetitive.

The only real issue with the game is the same issue I had with Super Mario World, namely the lives system. The lives system is annoying, because all it does is force the player to wade through the same content over and over again if they make too many mistakes. However, the availability of extra lives and the inclusion of mid-level checkpoints and mid-world save points make this a relatively minor annoyance rather than a constant frustration that cripples the entire experience. (Looking at you, Megaman X)

Despite a few minor flaws here and there, Donkey Kong Country is a solid game. It’s creative, memorable, and is right up there with the likes of Super Mario World in terms of overall quality. I didn’t have high expectations going in, but the game genuinely surprised me, and made me glad that I gave it a fair chance.

How well it holds up       4/4

Personal Enjoyment       3/5

Overall quality                9/10


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