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Donkey Kong Country (Wii U VC) Review Mini

by Zachary Miller - March 30, 2015, 10:06 pm PDT
Total comments: 8


Coming to terms with mediocrity.

When I got a SNES, it was a DKC bundle. My eyes popped out of my skull when I turned that game on—look at those fancy graphics! Rare took CG models and digitized them to run on SNES hardware, then married those sprites against pre-rendered backgrounds to create a very cool world that honestly still stands the test of time. I think DKC looks great considering what it is. The music is also some of the best on the console, with a healthy amount of ambient noise-based tracks as well as classic musical pieces (“Aquatic Ambience” is timeless).

But over the last twenty years, I can’t say the same of the gameplay. A few of DK’s animal friends (Winky, Espresso) have bizarre hitboxes and will occasionally take damage when you jump on an enemy’s head wrong. There are a surprising number of blind jumps and instances of cheap enemy placement. In animal friend bonus stages, Rambi’s timer ticks down twice as fast as the other animals. I’ve never been able to figure out if that’s on purpose or not. A few of the bosses appear more than once, unfortunately repeating their attacks . Having said that, I actually like the bosses in DKC1 more than DKC2; they have more personality, and the boss music is better. The biggest problem, though, lies with the bonus stages: there’s often no indication where they are, and never an indication of how many are in a given stage. In DKC2, there are two or three per stage. In DKC3, it’s two per stage. In DKC1, it’s between zero and five. DKC1 has bonus stages accessed through other bonus stages. It’s ridiculous and requires a FAQ to complete.

This is not to say DKC is a bad game, because it’s not. I enjoy it, but I recognize its faults and I’ve stopped trying to get 101% by finding all the bonus stages. And DKC is a more streamlined game than its sequels: you’re not constantly finding doo-dads or playing mini-games. This is a pure platformer, and I appreciate that. This game also has, arguably, the best mix of Kremlings, and one of the best final boss fights I’ve ever experienced in a video game.


  • Local co-op!
  • Not yet at the collect-a-thon height of its sequels
  • Still looks (mostly) and sounds great.
  • Bonus stages handled poorly
  • Repeating bosses
  • Some cheapness to the difficulty


KhushrenadaMarch 30, 2015

For years, I never was able to 100% DKC. I could do it on DKC2 and DKC3 no problem because they were more clear about the number of bonus stages and do-dads you had to collect. And then one day, I read something that cleared it all up for me. If you have discovered all the bonus levels in a stage, then an exclamation mark will appear after the stage's name on the world map. After that, I then went back into an old DKC save file and saw that sure enough, some stages had exclamation marks and some didn't. So, I started going through all the ones didn't have them and searching them quite thoroughly and I soon found all kinds of bonuses I'd never seen before and 101% the game without a FAQ. I just needed that bit of info.

Now, I don't know how the game has been transitioned through emulation and newer TV screens but playing it on an old square CRT TV, I'm pretty sure you could see any clue as to where a bonus was whether it was a stray banana or special indents in the ground. Still, it's probably been 6 years or more since I last played DKC 1. Maybe I should give it another go around to see. I just remember being so happy at finally completing it when not having a clue of what and where I was missing a bonus.

Art_de_CatMarch 31, 2015

The ! mark made it less of a headache to go back and find missing bonus areas. Still had to resort to a FAQ to find them all the first time around. 

KITT 10KMarch 31, 2015

I never cared about getting a 100% completion on the game, (although one I decided to do so and did it), I just enjoyed playing Donkey Kong Country 1 over and over because I loved it so much.

Ian SaneMarch 31, 2015

DKC is one of those games I keep going back to.  "Hey, I haven't played DKC for a while" and then my brothers and I go through it again.  Using a word like "mediocrity" is selling the game short.  When it was released side-scrolling platformers were a dime a dozen.  DKC was one of the better ones.  If DKC is mediocre then what is Kirby?

KhushrenadaMarch 31, 2015

Quote from: Ian

If DKC is mediocre then what is Kirby?


MagicCow64March 31, 2015

Doesn't that one impossible-to-find-without-help bonus-room-within-a-bonus-room exist as an Easter egg of sorts for Nintendo Power subscribers who got the promotional VHS in the mail?

Luigi DudeMarch 31, 2015

Even though I find DKC 1 to be the weakest of the SNES Donkey Kongs, it's the one I've played the most.  As the review said, the fact it's the most pure platformer of the bunch and bonus stages aren't required to unlock the final levels to get the best ending has me replaying it much more.  I can beat the whole thing in less then 2 hours so whenever I find myself wanting to play a game but not willing to devote a lot of time, it's a good choice.

azekeMarch 31, 2015

DKC1 is ruined by those pointless mini-games that interrupt action each time you collect three golden thingies.

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Genre Action
Developer Rare
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Donkey Kong Country
Release Feb 26, 2015
jpn: Super Donkey Kong
Release Nov 26, 2014
RatingAll Ages
eu: Donkey Kong Country
Release Oct 16, 2014
aus: Donkey Kong Country
Release Oct 16, 2014

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