Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I Love Donkey Kong

Oh, Donkey Kong. You started off as Nintendo’s first Mario villain. But you’ve gone on to become a platforming hero in your own right. And you’re my favorite Nintendo franchise, outside of Smash Bros. of course.

I’ll never forget the fond memories of playing Donkey Kong Country with my sister. Once she was done with the NES, which I referred to as the regular Nintendo, my sister was the one who got me into video with games like DKC on the Super Nintendo. I’ll always give her credit for that.

Then, oddly enough, there was Diddy Kong Racing for the N64. After beating every time trial, adventure mode and mirror mode challenge they threw at us, me and my sister spent way too much time trying to unlock Donkey Kong, who is not the game. That still makes no sense.

The music is great too.

Donkey Kong 64, while today somewhat chided for its needlessly padded length and absurd rap opening, was far too much for my childhood mind to handle. I was completely blown away and overcome by its scope. Unfortunately I’ve still never played all like 200 hours of it.

During the GameCube era, the wait was long for the Kong’s re-appearance, probably due to the sale of their former chief developer Rare to Microsoft. However, while Donkey Konga’s drum rhythm game was neat, the drum controlled 2D platformer Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is an amazing game and my favorite GameCube game of all time (behind Smash Bros. of course. I enjoy playing DK in that game as well.) Words can’t describe how weird and wonderful that game is but I’ll tell you this. After making this game, Nintendo’s Tokyo team made the Mario Galaxy games which should tell who how incredible a studio they are.

Outside of the DKC remakes, the handhelds never got much love. But DK Jungle Climber on the Nintendo DS is another great example of how DK games are great at being unconventionally controlled platformers.

And just last summer we had Donkey Kong Country Returns by the developers of the Metroid Prime series, and the only good thing to come out of Texas, Retro Studios. It looks beautiful, controls different from Mario but to me feels weightier and better, and has some of the most incredible level design applied to a 2D game. It takes such advantage of the fact that everything is made of polygons and therefore does not have to map to a 2D grid.

Oh, Donkey Kong. I love you enough to forget Donkey Kong Barrel Blast ever happened. Just keep on keeping on.

Also this exists. I have it on tape.

King of Kong is a great movie.

How weird is it that Nintendo owns the phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong"?


  1. Donkey Kong is the bomb. I'd agree that he's a very versatile character. And I loved DK64 to death. I think it's the first game in which I actually collected everything that was available.

    Rock on, Donkey Kong.

  2. Donkey Kong was one of my first arcade memories, and I have been playing the game on and off for nearly 30 years. i while back I got myself a MAME cabinet and this works really well, and you get to use the original arcade controls.

    Keep up the blog!