We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

Donkey Kong 64 (Wii U) Review Mini

by James Charlton - April 22, 2015, 7:23 am PDT
Total comments: 26

7

Does it still have style and grace, or is it just a funny face?

Donkey Kong 64 was often talked of as the game where Rareware overdid their tried and tested “collect multiple A to unlock area B” game design formula, even back in 1999! Designed as a 3D update to the classic 2D Donkey Kong Country games, you get to see a lot of familiar enemies and locations, albeit represented in chunky polygons. Donkey and Diddy make a return, along with Dixie and Kiddy lookalikes Tiny and Chunky, as well as the frightening orangutan called Lanky.

The game’s structure is similar to other Rareware 3D platformers like Banjo Kazooie; collect golden things (bananas) to gain access to a new world. But there’s a catch. To fight the boss of each world, you have to feed a hippo regular bananas (stay with me) in order to open a gate. Once you beat the boss, you get a key that unlocks the next world. To recap; get golden bananas, then regular bananas, beat the boss, get the key, go on to the next world. Sounds simple, but the twist (and it’s a big twist) is that the amount of regular bananas required to unlock bosses increases exponentially. Here’s the killer - each Kong has 100 of their own colored bananas to find per level. You actually only need 75 of each color to 100% the game, so you can ignore some, but there’s still a hell of a lot of bananas just to proceed to each successive world.

Collecting the golden bananas is done by accomplishing various tasks; shooting switches, finding hidden areas, helping friendly characters, defeating specific enemies, or even flying through hoops with Diddy’s jetpack. However to get all of the bananas, you are going to need to collect and use even more items, many of which require ammo or other perishable doodads. Crystal coconuts, banana film, musical instruments, pineapples (and four other fruit/nut weapons), banana coins, and orange grenades are all dotted around each level for you to use. Some items and switches are color-coded and require a specific Kong to activate or collect. This leads to a lot of backtracking to a Kong barrel to switch characters. In fact, you will spend most of your time in DK64 backtracking, even to do just the minimum requirments to pass onto the next world. This ultimately ruins the flow of the game, and compared to the masterpiece that is Super Mario 64, it can feel incredibly antiquated and frustrating. The controls are also quite clumsy, especially on the Wii U controllers. You can definitely feel the disconnect between this emulation and old analog sticks such as when walking along a narrow path or aiming in first person.

Despite all these shortcomings and annoyances, this is a charming game. The music is joyous and creates a fantastic atmosphere. All the themes are memorable and reminiscent of earlier Rareware games such as Banjo Kazooie. Other aspects of the audio design are also great, like the sound effects, voice clips and of course, the DK Rap.

It is hard to recommend DK64 in this day and age, yet it is equally hard to completely dismiss it. If you have the time and patience to collect all the things necessary to proceed through this game, and you have a hankering for a 3D Rareware platformer, this is all you’re going to get on a modern Nintendo system. If you are going in fresh expecting this to be a good follow up to Nintendo’s seminal Mario 64, you may find yourself getting quickly frustrated with all the arbitrary barriers and backtracking.

Summary

Pros
  • Great atmosphere
  • The only N64 3D platformer by Rare that can ever come to Wii U
Cons
  • So. Many. Collectables.
  • Some wonkiness to the controls
  • Whole game based around backtracking

Talkback

ClexYoshiApril 22, 2015

my first NWR telethon appearance was talking about this game.

KITT 10KApril 22, 2015

I was so glad when this became available on the Wii U! I loved playing this game! But I do agree that the controls do feel a bit clumsy, but I'll get use to it soon enough.

RPG_FAN128April 22, 2015

Actually the number of bananas required to feed that hippo do not increase exponentially.  They increase linearly.  Levels 1-7 require 60, 120, 200, 250, 300, 350, and 400 bananas respectively.  A least-squares regression line that best fits this data (with accuracy to the hundredths) is:


y = 56.43 x + 14.29


and therefore linear.

Manthony ChopkinsApril 22, 2015

I don't think I have the patience for a game like this anymore. Although I am curious to see how well or not well it has aged.

LucarioApril 22, 2015

Why is collecting thing's seen as a bad thing?
Yes this is a game were you collect things, but the game is built around it so it's fine.

Luigi DudeApril 22, 2015

Quote from: Lucariofan99

Why is collecting thing's seen as a bad thing?
Yes this is a game were you collect things, but the game is built around it so it's fine.

The problem is collecting things with 5 different characters that are all required to get everything.  As the reviews says, this leads to such a ridicules amount of backtracking that to many it becomes pretty tedious in the end.

LucarioApril 22, 2015

but banjo did it good...

ClexYoshiApril 23, 2015

Quote from: Lucariofan99

Why is collecting thing's seen as a bad thing?
Yes this is a game were you collect things, but the game is built around it so it's fine.

it's not just backtracking for 5 characters, but also backtracking so they can collect stuff with new abilities they got in old levels that you had to collect stuff in order to buy. it's collectibles like the Rareware coin and the Nintendo coin that force you to play games from 1982 on one life, with the punishment for failure being booted out of the game.

For better or for worse, there is a TON of game here. the levels are so darned huge that the devs felt the need to plop teleporters all over the place in the game to get you around, which is usually enough to get you somehwat nearby where you need to go to do a thing with a specific character's specific upgrade, but often times it's not the most ideal skip travel, especially considering that then you're also potentially skipping bananas that are on the way.

Ian SaneApril 23, 2015

The funny thing is that Super Mario 64 isn't really about collecting.  Oh you collect stars but stars are just a visual representation of an objective.  Collecting a star is effectively completing a level.  Rare narrowed in on the star collecting as the goal for their own 3D platformers (except Conker which is not-surprisingly the best one they made).  That's like if you made Super Mario Bros. clones where you keep sliding down flagpoles because you thought THAT was the point of the game.

You did collect coins in Mario 64 but those coins also replenished your health and gave you a free life if you collected 100.  The notes in Banjo and bananas in DK64 do absolutely NOTHING.  They're solely collectables.

broodwarsApril 23, 2015

I miss adventure games designed with such a focus on exploration and discovery. Donkey Kong 64 WAY over-does the collectibles, but playing it now I still appreciate exploring a large open environment designed around finding secrets. It's unfortunate that the Mario series went back to bland linearity again with Galaxy 1, with only Ratchet & Sly really providing counter programming.

KhushrenadaApril 23, 2015

Quote from: Ian

You did collect coins in Mario 64 but those coins also replenished your health and gave you a free life if you collected 100.

And a star. If you wanted to 100% the game, then you needed to collect 100 coins in every world for the star it would get you. That often required scouring the whole level to find enough for 100 coins like knowing where the timed Blue Coin button was and even collecting all 8 red coins again to get 16 coins for your total. Thus, your analogy/example is a bit flawed. Rare didn't focus on star collecting or constantly sliding down flagpoles. If anything, they focused on the collect 100 coins to get a star as the point of a 3D platformer and used it as the reason to explore a world or level.

Quote from: broodwars

I miss adventure games designed with such a focus on exploration and discovery. Donkey Kong 64 WAY over-does the collectibles, but playing it now I still appreciate exploring a large open environment designed around finding secrets. It's unfortunate that the Mario series went back to bland linearity again with Galaxy 1, with only Ratchet & Sly really providing counter programming.

I do too. After Super Mario 64, the second game I played on my Nintendo 64 was Donkey Kong 64 (which chows you how long in the N64 life cycle it was until a got one.) However, I preferred DK64 more and played it more and beat it at 101% with all 201 golden bananas a few times over. I've only done 100% on Super Mario 64 3 times. Heck, I even would get all 100 small bananas for each character in every world because I enjoyed scouring the levels for every hidden secret. To me, that is just a challenge of the game and I like that type of challenge, I guess.

I've made a big post before about Super Mario Galaxy and commented previously on other occasions about how I dislike it and find it to be one of the lower tier Mario games for me. Sunshine has the blue coins to collect in every level which is sort of Rare-like but, having played it again recently, it isn't implemented as well as Rare when doing this sort of collecting.

Now that I think about it, once Rare went to Microsoft, there have been few 3D platformers I've played since. There are the Mario 3D games that have come out since which I've played but, other than those, most platformers have gone back to 2D oddly enough. It's a shame because I like exploring large worlds trying to discover every trinket. Maybe that's partly why I like the Metroid Prime games so much. I consider them more as a 3D platformer to explore and get all the items then a first person shooter.

Triforce HermitApril 24, 2015

The item collecting I find to be a weak argument because of how many resources are scattered all over the map.

Backtracking....yeah I can't argue that. Click-Clock Woods is the worst example of this. You go one path which you have to go through 10 times, once with each character during night and day.

Ian SaneApril 24, 2015

Quote from: broodwars

I miss adventure games designed with such a focus on exploration and discovery. Donkey Kong 64 WAY over-does the collectibles, but playing it now I still appreciate exploring a large open environment designed around finding secrets. It's unfortunate that the Mario series went back to bland linearity again with Galaxy 1, with only Ratchet & Sly really providing counter programming.

Yeah, it bugs me that Nintendo seems to have decided that linear is the only way to go.  They have both a 2D and 3D Mario series going and yet BOTH of them are linear.  Donkey Kong's linear, Kirby's linear, Wario's linear, Yoshi's linear.  No one has more platformer series going at a time than Nintendo and yet not one of them is that Mario 64 exploration style.  I really like the Galaxy games and they were totally the right game after I had gotten burned out on the Mario 64 blueprint but now I'd like to play a game like that again but Nintendo isn't making any.  Why not?  Oh, right, because NSMB was the big seller so when you have a big hit you now make EVERYTHING play like it.  By the way that bit of criticism can be directed at damn near every videogame company.  Of course during Rare's heyday it was the opposite - Super Mario 64 was the big hit so EVERY platformer now had to play like it.

broodwarsApril 24, 2015

And it's not just that Nintendo's platformers these days are linear, but they're also linear with a time limit so I never feel like I can truly relax and just explore. Even if the time limit is very manageable, there's still this countdown timer in the upper-right corner to remind me that I'm on a leash.

Triforce HermitApril 24, 2015

Freedom to explore is "too confusing for new players."

Luigi DudeApril 24, 2015

Quote from: Ian

Yeah, it bugs me that Nintendo seems to have decided that linear is the only way to go.  They have both a 2D and 3D Mario series going and yet BOTH of them are linear.  Donkey Kong's linear, Kirby's linear, Wario's linear, Yoshi's linear.

Looks like someone never bothered to collect all the treasures in either of these game.  Wario and Yoshi are only linear if you just follow the main path but trying to 100% them requires a ton of exploration since they have large levels with lots of optional paths filled with things to find.

Yeah the exploration isn't required but that doesn't mean shit.  If you're playing a Wario and Yoshi game without exploring the entire levels then you're doing it wrong since you'll miss the majority of the actual content in these games since both series are designed with exploration in mind as their biggest gameplay selling point.

broodwarsApril 24, 2015

My issue w/ the Yoshi games, though, is that their collectibles are hidden in such a way that you have to play the level absolutely perfectly (including not getting hit) to get them all, and often you only get 1 shot at a given collectible so if you **** it up you might as well just start the entire 15 minute level all over again. It's just tedious. Hopefully Yoshi's Wooly World ditches a lot of that since you don't have Baby Mario to worry about.

At least the first Yoshi's Island had items that gave you a second chance if you didn't play perfectly (star boosters, magnifying glass). Especially now with the Wii U version where it's easy to cheese the restore point function in bonus areas.

pokepal148April 25, 2015

I'm on the water level and its a bit annoying (dangit Lanky, just jump through the DK ring) but I'm enjoying the game so far.

Mop it upApril 25, 2015

I can't help but think one reason I feel N64 platformers hold up well and are still fun to play is because there aren't really modern equivalents to compare them to. There's nothing new out there to show how these games have aged. This was always one of my fave genres so I'm sad to see the 3D platformer has just about disappeared, especially this type.

I've always wanted to see a Kirby game in full 3D but that still hasn't happened. I have no idea how well it would actually work out, but I'd still like to see an attempt.

Ian SaneApril 27, 2015

Quote from: Luigi

Quote from: Ian

Yeah, it bugs me that Nintendo seems to have decided that linear is the only way to go.  They have both a 2D and 3D Mario series going and yet BOTH of them are linear.  Donkey Kong's linear, Kirby's linear, Wario's linear, Yoshi's linear.

Looks like someone never bothered to collect all the treasures in either of these game.  Wario and Yoshi are only linear if you just follow the main path but trying to 100% them requires a ton of exploration since they have large levels with lots of optional paths filled with things to find.

Yeah the exploration isn't required but that doesn't mean ****.  If you're playing a Wario and Yoshi game without exploring the entire levels then you're doing it wrong since you'll miss the majority of the actual content in these games since both series are designed with exploration in mind as their biggest gameplay selling point.

You're focusing too much on semantics.  Technically the NSMB games aren't linear either because some levels have alternate exits.  But the gameplay is clearly not the Super Mario 64 style.

pokepal148April 27, 2015

Quote from: Ian

You did collect coins in Mario 64 but those coins also replenished your health and gave you a free life if you collected 100.  The notes in Banjo and bananas in DK64 do absolutely NOTHING.  They're solely collectables.

Besides let you into Boss Doors, and getting you banana medals which you need 15 of to beat the game you're right, they do absolutely nothing.

The game is getting much more interesting with all 5 Kong's unlocked I have to say,

Ian SaneApril 27, 2015

Quote from: pokepal148

Quote from: Ian

You did collect coins in Mario 64 but those coins also replenished your health and gave you a free life if you collected 100.  The notes in Banjo and bananas in DK64 do absolutely NOTHING.  They're solely collectables.

Besides let you into Boss Doors, and getting you banana medals which you need 15 of to beat the game you're right, they do absolutely nothing.

The game is getting much more interesting with all 5 Kong's unlocked I have to say,

Needing x amount of y to get past an arbitrary door is a doodad that does nothing.  Compare it to the coins in Super Mario 64 where they restore your health.  Those coins do something that affects your game directly.  They're not just a doodad that fills a counter for you to get past a door later.  Rare assumed that collecting stuff to fulfil an objective was the point of Super Mario 64 but that's really a very small part of that game's design.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, April 27, 2015

$#%# the original Donkey Kong game. Jumpman's falling to his death from two feet difference sucks. It's like me getting out of my chair, touching the floor, and dying because of that. #$%# that Nintendo coin.

pokepal148April 27, 2015

Quote from: Ian

Quote from: pokepal148

Quote from: Ian

You did collect coins in Mario 64 but those coins also replenished your health and gave you a free life if you collected 100.  The notes in Banjo and bananas in DK64 do absolutely NOTHING.  They're solely collectables.

Besides let you into Boss Doors, and getting you banana medals which you need 15 of to beat the game you're right, they do absolutely nothing.

The game is getting much more interesting with all 5 Kong's unlocked I have to say,

Needing x amount of y to get past an arbitrary door is a doodad that does nothing. 

But the door is open now! that's something! You couldn't get through the door before but now you can. You call that nothing? 

Ian SaneApril 27, 2015

Quote from: pokepal148

Quote from: Ian

Quote from: pokepal148

Quote from: Ian

You did collect coins in Mario 64 but those coins also replenished your health and gave you a free life if you collected 100.  The notes in Banjo and bananas in DK64 do absolutely NOTHING.  They're solely collectables.

Besides let you into Boss Doors, and getting you banana medals which you need 15 of to beat the game you're right, they do absolutely nothing.

The game is getting much more interesting with all 5 Kong's unlocked I have to say,

Needing x amount of y to get past an arbitrary door is a doodad that does nothing. 

But the door is open now! that's something! You couldn't get through the door before but now you can. You call that nothing? 

Yeah, and in DK 64 having so much of the gameplay revolve around "collect 10 million of these otherwise useless thingies to open this" became tiresome.  And, again, that wasn't really the point of Super Mario 64 and I feel Rare missed that.

Share + Bookmark





WiiU

Game Profile

Genre Action
Developer Rare
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Donkey Kong 64
Release Apr 16, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Donkey Kong 64
Release Apr 02, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Donkey Kong 64
Release Apr 01, 2015
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+

Related Content

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement