New screens honor the legacy of Donkey Kong Country - but WHY?

Lo and behold, almost half of today’s screenshots came with a wonderful little surprise: Classic pics from Donkey Kong’s greatest games! You see, GamesRadar wasn’t embettering up the internet yet when Donkey Kong was originally blowing minds back on pre-GameCube platforms, thus we don’t have a lot of shots archived from those games unless we capture them ourselves (or steal them, assuming someone on the internet has more time to make old-school screenshots than we do).

Above: Roots

You might find this hard to believe, but our daily schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for replaying the Donkey Kong Country series. Plus, it’s very, ahem… “Rare” for publishers to pass along big, new shots from old games. Obviously, GamesRadar knows full well that “what’s come before” is crucial to understanding why the new stuff matters. Old gamers get to relive fond memories and younger players endure a little history lesson disguised as an editorial feature(use dick jokes and Twilight references and they won’t know they’re learning!) So, thanks to whomever sent these to me today, we can take a bold look at Donkey Kong’s visual legacy!

Donkey Kong | 1981


Above: You know this. It's in your DNA

Donkey Kong burst onto arcade floors everywhere in 1981, and nothing’s been the same since. Designed specifically to appeal to American audiences, the success of, essentially, the first platformer ever eventually made household names out of both Nintendo and Mario.

Above: DK never gets credit for being quite the matchmaker

The smash hit was followed up by Donkey Kong Jr., which turned DK Sr. into the damsel in distress, and an NES release. And as much as we appreciate these screens: C’mon, Nintendo… no love for Donkey Kong 3?

Donkey Kong Country | 1994


Above: Rambi the Rhino will be rideable in Returns! This caption brought to you by the letter R!

After years of co-star status Nintendo put Donkey Kong into the incredibly capable hands of Rare. Using a Silicon Graphics workstation, the UK developer managed to pump “3D” into the SNES during a time when CD technology had declared the platform dead and Pixar’s Toy Story was melting the minds of the general public with what pixels could pull off.

DK’s transformation into sidescrolling star once again put him back in the spotlight after a decade without a starring role. Nintendo rewarded Rare by purchasing a giant stake in the company. Rare rewarded Nintendo by selling 8 million copies of Donkey Kong Country. Possibly not in that order…

Donkey Kong Country 2 | 1995

Following the success of the original, Diddy’s Kong Quest traveled from the jungle to the ocean. Although, strangely enough, without a playable Donkey Kong? Spiritually in tune with Donkey Kong Jr., young Diddy was charged with rescuing DK from captivity, and he received help from blonde bombshell, Dixie Kong.

Above: I wish I was in Dixie, hooray, hoor… Wait, don’t type that! BAD FINGERS

David Wise returned to compose the music, and with unforgettable tracks like “Stickerbrush Symphony,” it’s still widely regarded today as one of the greatest VGM soundtracks ever made. People didn’t seem to mind the missing monkey, and the payoff was similar to the previous game: Donkey Kong Country 2 became the second highest selling game of 1995, and the sixth best seller on the SNES altogether.

Above: Giant memorable bosses are a staple of the series

Donkey Kong Country 3 | 1996


Above: Because if you're not fighting a giant spider, are you sure you're playing a videogame?

And here’s where the luster wore off, as it tends to do with the third entry in annually released sequels. Even without the ability to play as Donkey or Diddy Kong, replaced this time by the universally beloved Kiddy Kong, DKC3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble was still largely indistinguishable from the two previous titles. And it certainly didn’t help that the game now had to go up against a full swing competition involving both the Saturn and PlayStation.

Above: I was joking up there. Everybody hates Kiddy

To its credit, Donkey Kong Country 3 was far more open-ended in the way players could tackle levels, and also came with a couple of nifty additions like hidden coin puzzles and progress tracking, but it was pretty clear that the once mighty DKC star was entering a descent. That said, the game still received favorable reviews and moved millions of cartridges. Barring the GB ports and rereleases, the Country then went underground for almost fifteen years…

Above: BACK!

Which brings us to Donkey Kong Country Returns! It’s not just a clever name; it’s essentially the first true sequel to the original. DK’s got new moves, Diddy’s grown a jetpack in the meantime, and they’ve been tossed into brilliantly realized levels colored with more vibrancy than most games bother to attempt these days. The fact that a mere crop of pixilated screenshots could send an extremely busy adult into the diatribe you see above is a testament to the lasting legacy Donkey Kong and his Country has left on gamers of my generation.

Above: Can't wait

But what does it all mean?

Perhaps that's all these screens were meant to do… or do we have unlockable classic titles to look forward to when DKCR arrives on US shelves November 21st?! (Knowing Nintendo, probably not. But that’d be awesome). Whatever, they’re all on the Virtual Console already anyhow. Grab a fresh ‘nanner to remove the bad taste left in your mouth by Donkey Kong 64 and Barrel Blast… Donkey Kong Country Returns is the real deal. Get excited.

Oct 14, 2010

Donkey Kong Country Returns - five new levels revealed, SNES-style gameplay intact
Hands-on with even more of the great ape's 21st century comeback



The Top 7… Nintendo games not made by Nintendo
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Game music of the day: Donkey Kong Country 2
GR's ongoing tribute to the beloved world of videogame music


  • yetanotherCid304 - October 18, 2010 2:42 a.m.

    @kidkatana: Thanks, i almost forgot about that damn arrmadillo! That poor guy never quit!
  • yetanotherCid304 - October 18, 2010 2:39 a.m.

    Too many collectables, too many characteers, the donkey rap...DK64 had everything going agaist it. Yet, i couldnt stop playing it. As for Returns, i am glad that nintendo is going back to DKC's roots it its next instalment. I just hope that they do this for other classic nintendo franchises (mainly metroid and zelda)
  • FanofSaiyan - October 15, 2010 8:50 p.m.

    My first console was a SNES, and some of the first games I played were the DKC series. DKC1 was great, DKC2 (and it's secret ending) were a blast to play with plenty of difficult platforming challenges. DKC3 was also a great game (with another secret ending ;) ). Here's to hoping that DKCR reboots the franchise (and hopefully have a secret endng).
  • Cleanser247 - October 15, 2010 5:57 p.m.

    Damn, good times!
  • philipshaw - October 15, 2010 3:51 p.m.

    Great article Chris,I will get this game but I may wait to Christmas to save me some money
  • deathrea - October 15, 2010 2:14 p.m.

    Aside from a few sections, DK64 was alright. That said I'm really looking forward to this.
  • Tenfey - October 15, 2010 2:13 p.m.

    Banana Slamma.
  • KidKatana - October 15, 2010 10:44 a.m.

    @ NeelEvil True, but I think the main problem was that it ignored the DKC legacy - you know, the little things that games do to keep people loving them, like the noise in Zelda when you solve a puzzle or the MGS exclamation mark. It just didn't have the charm of DKC. Well, that, and the fact that its levels were inferior copies of Banjo Kazooie's, it introduced incongruous special moves like guns and musical instruments, its collectibles could only be picked up if you were playing as the right character (and were required to advance the story), and it recycled bosses A LOT. But hey, if that's your cup of tea...
  • NeelEvil - October 15, 2010 10:15 a.m.

    I think the hate for DK64 stems from the fact it was released long after Rare did Banjo-Kazooie & aside from multiple characters it essentially played like a re-skinned version of BK.
  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - October 15, 2010 8:22 a.m.

    Haha that Dixie Kong caption was hilarious. Funny thing is you can pretty much dress Diddy Kong up in Dixie's clothes in Smash Bros Brawl if you're yearning for some cross dressing monkey action Chris.
  • elpurplemonkey - October 15, 2010 6:39 a.m.

    Holy Fuck I want to play this already. And I loved DK64 at the time- but I don't doubt that I'd probably be bored by it if I went back to play it. Good for its time. Don't worry about your personal betrayal Chris- you did it for the luls, I can respect that.
  • slimjim441 - October 15, 2010 4:45 a.m.

    I love Retro Studios. They've never made a bad game. Yes, they've only made 4 games including DKCR, but still.
  • BlindMarksman - October 15, 2010 4:36 a.m.

    Don´t let Peer Pressure get the best of you Chris! Say what YOU think about the game. If you love it, don´t be afraid to say so.
  • Hotdiddykong - October 15, 2010 4:31 a.m.

    As for the screenshots. as you said, we'll never know the real reason but if i had to guess, its to show that DK really is returning considering all the dissapointing shit he's been through since rare left. DKC series,Dk64,and MAYBE Jungle beat were the only games DK was a real star in (I like King of swing and jungle climber though) Its great to see DK back, him and Diddy together again really puts a tear in a 17 year olds body like mine. Considering DKC was my first video game i ever remembered playing first as a kid.
  • Hotdiddykong - October 15, 2010 4:28 a.m.

    Dk64 was pretty much one of the best games on N64 next to Goldeneye and Ocarina of time! Change your statement if you think DK64 was great too chris! That game really packed a punch, what with the expansion pack and come on, the Final boss was pretty much the most epic thing ever to happen in video game history! a BOXING RING!
  • superrey19 - October 15, 2010 2:51 a.m.

    DK64 was awesome. Never found the last Golden banana i needed in order to fight K.Rool :(
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - October 15, 2010 2:44 a.m.

    you should write what you think, your name is the one on the article.. and i didn't like dk64.. too many ugly characters
  • WillisTron - October 15, 2010 2:33 a.m.

    * General statement questioning the hate for DK64
  • Imgema - October 15, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    Donkey Kong 64 was great. Sure, it was a bit tiresome with all these collectibles, but a "bad taste in the mouth"? Not at all. As for DKCR, the one thing that i want to know about is the music. I really hope we don't get generic "jazzy" tunes with a few remixes that also sound like jazz. DKC series is known for its atmospheric tunes and this new game has to continue the trend.
  • PatrickRockz - October 15, 2010 2:09 a.m.

    Remove the bad taste from Donkey Kong 64? what are you talking about? I loved that game.

Showing 1-20 of 36 comments

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