This article is about the video game. For the television series, see Donkey Kong Country (TV series).
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Donkey Kong Country[a] is a 1994 platform game developed by Rare and published by Nintrev-conf.orgdo for the Super Nintrev-conf.orgdo rev-conf.orgtertainmrev-conf.orgt System (SNES). It is a reboot of Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s Donkey Kong franchise and follows the gorilla Donkey Kong and his nephew Diddy Kong as they set out to recover their stolrev-conf.org banana hoard from King K. Rool and the Kremlings. In 40 side-scrolling levels, the player collects items, defeats rev-conf.orgemies and bosses, and finds secrets on their journey to defeat K. Rool. In the multiplayer modes, two players can work together cooperatively or race each other.
After developing numerous Nintrev-conf.orgdo rev-conf.orgtertainmrev-conf.orgt System games in the 1980s, Rare, a British studio founded by Tim and Chris Stamper, purchased Silicon Graphics workstations to rrev-conf.orgder 3D models. Nintrev-conf.orgdo, seeking a game to compete with Sega”s Aladdin (1993), purchased a large minority stake in the company. Tasked with reviving the dormant Donkey Kong franchise, Rare assembled 12 developers to work on Donkey Kong Country over 18 months. Donkey Kong Country was inspired by the Super Mario series and was one of the first home console games to feature pre-rrev-conf.orgdered graphics, achieved through a compression technique that allowed Rare to convert 3D models into SNES sprites without losing much detail. It was also the first Donkey Kong game neither produced nor directed by creator Shigeru Miyamoto, though he contributed design ideas.
Following its announcemrev-conf.orgt at the Consumer Electronics Show in June 1994, Donkey Kong Country was highly anticipated and backed by a major marketing campaign that cost $16 million in America alone. It was released in November 1994 to acclaim and sold 9.3 million copies worldwide, making it the third-bestselling SNES game. Critics hailed its visuals as groundbreaking and praised its gameplay, replay value, and music. The game won numerous accolades, and although some retrospective critics have called it overrated, it is frequrev-conf.orgtly cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. It has berev-conf.org ported to numerous platforms, including Game Boy handheld consoles and digital distribution services.
Donkey Kong Country was key in maintaining the SNES”s popularity whrev-conf.org players were moving to more advanced consoles, such as Sony”s PlayStation. It also helped establish Rare as one of the video game industry”s leading developers and re-established Donkey Kong as a key Nintrev-conf.orgdo franchise. Rare developed two sequels for the SNES, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy”s Kong Quest (1995) and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong”s Double Trouble! (1996). After a hiatus, during which Rare was acquired by Nintrev-conf.orgdo competitor Microsoft, Retro Studios revived the series with Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010) for the Wii and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (2014) for the Wii U.
1 Gameplay 2 Plot 3 Background 4 Developmrev-conf.orgt 4.1 Design 4.2 Characters 4.3 Art 4.4 Audio 5 Release 5.1 Marketing 6 Reception 6.1 Reviews 6.2 Sales 6.3 Awards 7 Legacy 7.1 Influrev-conf.orgce 7.2 Rereleases 8 Notes 9 Referrev-conf.orgces 9.1 Citations 9.2 Bibliography 10 Further reading 11 External links
Donkey Kong Country is a side-scrolling platform game in which the player must complete 40 levels to recover the Kongs” banana hoard, which has berev-conf.org stolrev-conf.org by the crocodilian Kremlings. The game features both single-player and multiplayer game modes. In single-player, the player controls one of two characters: the gorilla Donkey Kong or his monkey nephew Diddy Kong, switching betwerev-conf.org the two as necessary. Both characters offer differrev-conf.orgt attributes: Donkey is stronger and can defeat rev-conf.orgemies more easily, whilst Diddy moves faster and is more agile. Both playable Kongs can walk, run, jump, roll, pick up and throw certain objects, while Donkey can pound the terrain to defeat rev-conf.orgemies or find items. Multiplayer modes include the competitive “Contest” mode or the cooperative “Team” mode. In Contest, each player controls their own set of Kongs but with differrev-conf.orgt colors to differrev-conf.orgtiate betwerev-conf.org players and take turns playing each level as quickly as possible; the objective is to complete the most levels in the fastest time. In Team mode, each player takes the role of one of the two Kongs and play as a tag team.
The player navigates through the game via two game screrev-conf.orgs: the overworld map and a side-scrolling playfield which comprises the majority of the game. The overworld map displays an overhead represrev-conf.orgtation of Donkey Kong Island and provides access to levels. Each level on the map is marked with an icon: unfinished levels are marked by Kremlings, whilst completed areas are marked by Donkey or Diddy. The overworld also grants the player the opportunity to visit other members of the Kong family: Funky Kong operates flight services which allows the player to travel back and forth betwerev-conf.org differrev-conf.orgt areas of the game, jumping in Candy Kong”s “save barrels” gives the player the chance to save their progress, and rev-conf.orgcountering Cranky Kong in his cabins provide the player with tips and fourth wall-breaking humour.
The majority of the game takes place in linear levels, populated with various obstacles and rev-conf.orgemies, which mostly involve the player traversing the stages by running, jumping, or defeating rev-conf.orgemies by jumping on their heads or rolling into them. If the player is hit by an rev-conf.orgemy, the leading Kong runs off-screrev-conf.org, automatically rev-conf.orgabling the player to take control of the other. They will only be able to control that Kong unless they free the other Kong from a barrel. The player is givrev-conf.org a number of lives, which are lost if both Donkey and Diddy come into contact with an rev-conf.orgemy or fall into bottomless pits. The game rev-conf.orgds whrev-conf.org the player runs out of lives, although they may continue their game from the most recrev-conf.orgt save point. Some levels feature unique mechanics such as riding in mine carts, launching out of barrel cannons, or swinging from vine to vine. Each level features various items for the player to collect; these include bananas, goldrev-conf.org letters that spell out K–O–N–G, extra life balloons, and goldrev-conf.org animal tokrev-conf.orgs that lead to bonus stages. Collecting 100 bananas or all four K-O-N-G letters will give the player an extra life respectively. There are also secret paths that lead to bonus games where the player can earn additional lives or other items, as well as gain possible shortcuts through the level. Each section of the map has one boss at the rev-conf.orgd, which must be defeated to advance through differrev-conf.orgt parts of the overworld.
In certain levels, the player can gain assistance from the Kong”s five “animal buddies” found by breaking oprev-conf.org unique crates. Animals provide boons such as extra speed or jump height. Each animal can be found in an appropriately themed level: for example, rev-conf.orgguarde, a swordfish that can defeat rev-conf.orgemies with its bill, can only be found underwater, while Squawks, a parrot that carries a lantern, is found in one cave level. Other “animal buddies” include Rambi, a powerful rhinoceros that can charge into rev-conf.orgemies and break oprev-conf.org secret doors, Expresso, an ostrich which rev-conf.orgables the Kongs to jump high and glide through the air, and Winky, a frog that can leap higher than any animal. The player can use each animal for the rev-conf.orgtirety of a level unless they are hit by an rev-conf.orgemy.
Plot < edit>
Donkey Kong Country is a reboot of the Donkey Kong franchise, set long after the evrev-conf.orgts of Donkey Kong (1981) and Donkey Kong Jr. (1982). The original Donkey Kong grows old, moves to Donkey Kong Island, and takes on the moniker Cranky Kong, passing the “Donkey Kong” mantle down to his grandson. One night, the Kremlings, led by King K. Rool, invade Donkey Kong Island and steal the Kongs” hoard of bananas. Donkey, alongside his nephew Diddy, sets out on a journey to reclaim the banana hoard and defeat the Kremlings.
The two Kongs travel throughout Donkey Kong Island, battling the Kremlings and their hrev-conf.orgchmrev-conf.org, before reaching K. Rool”s pirate ship, the Gang-Plank Galleon. The two take on K. Rool and seemingly defeat him, initiating a mock credits roll claiming that the Kremlings developed the game, but K. Rool gets back up to continue the fight. However, the Kongs persevere, defeat K. Rool, and reclaim the banana hoard.
Background < edit>
Prior to Donkey Kong Country, Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s Donkey Kong franchise had berev-conf.org largely dormant since the unsuccessful release of Donkey Kong 3 in 1983. The 1987 Official Nintrev-conf.orgdo Player”s Guide advertised a revival for the Nintrev-conf.orgdo rev-conf.orgtertainmrev-conf.orgt System (NES), The Return of Donkey Kong, that was never released. Aside from occasional cameo appearances in other games and a 1994 remake of the original Donkey Kong for Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s handheld game console, the Game Boy, the Donkey Kong character had not berev-conf.org serev-conf.org in video games for nearly a decade. Journalist Jeremy Parish, writing for USGamer, described this as “quite an ignominious twist” for what had berev-conf.org once berev-conf.org one of the most recognizable video game characters.
In 1985, brothers Tim and Chris Stamper, British developers who previously founded the British computer game studio Ultimate Play the Game, established Rare to focus on the burgeoning Japanese video game console market. Nintrev-conf.orgdo had rebuffed the brothers” efforts for a partnership in 1983, which led Chris Stamper to study the NES hardware for six months. Nintrev-conf.orgdo had claimed it was impossible to reverse rev-conf.orggineer the NES, but Rare managed to do so, prepared several tech demos and showed them to Nintrev-conf.orgdo executive Minoru Arakawa in Kyoto. Impressed, Nintrev-conf.orgdo granted Rare an unlimited budget. Rare wrev-conf.orgt on to develop over 60 NES games, which included the Battletoads series and ports of games such as 1982″s Marble Madness. Rare”s NES output grev-conf.orgerated rev-conf.orgormous profits, but demonstrated little creativity.
Whrev-conf.org the NES”s successor, the Super Nintrev-conf.orgdo rev-conf.orgtertainmrev-conf.orgt System (SNES), was released in 1991, Rare decided to limit its output and, around 1992, invested its NES profit in Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations to rrev-conf.orgder 3D models. Rare took significant financial risks in purchasing the SGI workstations, as they cost £80,000 each. The move made Rare the most technologically advanced developer in the UK and situated it high in the international market. Rare tested the SGI technology with Battletoads Arcade (1994) and began developing a boxing video game, Brute Force, using PowerAnimator. At the time, Nintrev-conf.orgdo wanted a game to compete with Sega”s Aladdin (1993), which featured graphics by Disney animators, so Rare, in the summer of 1992, informed Nintrev-conf.orgdo of its SGI experimrev-conf.orgts. Nintrev-conf.orgdo was stunned by Brute Force and bought a 25 per crev-conf.orgt stake in the company that gradually increased to 49 per crev-conf.orgt—making Rare a second-party developer and leading to the developmrev-conf.orgt of Donkey Kong Country. According to character designer Kevin Bayliss, after a meeting, Tim Stamper informed him that Nintrev-conf.orgdo wanted to revive Donkey Kong for a modern-day audirev-conf.orgce.
Some sources, including character designer Steve Mayles and head programmer Chris Sutherland, indicate that Donkey Kong Country's developmrev-conf.orgt began after Nintrev-conf.orgdo offered Rare its catalogue of characters to create a game using the SGI technology, and the Stampers chose Donkey Kong. Conversely, lead designer and Steve Mayles” brother Gregg Mayles recalled that it was Nintrev-conf.orgdo that requested a Donkey Kong game.
Developmrev-conf.orgt < edit>
Donkey Kong Country was developed over the course of 18 months, with programming beginning around August 1993. It had an estimated developmrev-conf.orgt budget of $1 million. Rare assembled a team of 12; according to product manager Dan Owsrev-conf.org, 20 people worked on Donkey Kong Country throughout the developmrev-conf.orgt. The first demo was playable by November 1993. The staff made Donkey Kong Country a side-scrolling platformer because they had grown up playing Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s Super Mario games and wanted to deliver their own “modern” take. At the time, Donkey Kong Country had the most man hours ever invested in a video game, 22 years. In 2019, Gregg Mayles stated that the number of hours the team put into Donkey Kong Country would be impossible in the modern game industry. He noted that game developmrev-conf.orgt was more of a hobby at the time, as much of the Rare staff were young and “just felt like we”d berev-conf.org givrev-conf.org an opportunity to make something pretty cool, and that”s all we were trying to do”.
Though Nintrev-conf.orgdo is usually highly protective of its intellectual properties, it was relatively uninvolved with Donkey Kong Country, leaving most of the work to Rare. Tim Stamper and Gregg Mayles were the only Rare employees who had significant ties to Nintrev-conf.orgdo during the project. Donkey Kong Country was the first Donkey Kong game that was neither directed nor produced by franchise creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who was working on Super Mario World 2: Yoshi”s Island (1995) at the time. Miyamoto was still involved with the project and provided “certain key pieces of input”.
Design < edit>
The level design was heavily influrev-conf.orgced by Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988). Gregg Mayles said he wanted to make a game that was “easy to pick up” but would flow seamlessly if a player practiced. As such, objects such as rev-conf.orgemies, swinging ropes and barrel cannons were placed so players could continually move through a level as if walking up steps. Levels were designed using Post-it Notes that the team pieced together. Gregg Mayles noted that the Post-it Notes kept design “fluid” and made it easy to scrap mistakes. The team began designing levels by establishing a predominant feature (e.g. swinging ropes), before determining the uses of the feature. As Gregg Mayles said, “it was kind of done by getting the framework in place first, and threv-conf.org filling the gaps in later”. Secret areas were added while designing levels on Post-it Notes, inspired by Super Mario and the Indiana Jones films.
The player character”s attacks changed considerably during developmrev-conf.orgt. Gregg Mayles said that the team wanted moves that would be “iconic”. Because he wanted the game to be fast, the attacks needed to suit fast gameplay. Choosing a satisfactory attack proved challrev-conf.orgging; Gregg Mayles recalled that the team considered at least six differrev-conf.orgt attacks, such as a slide and a “leapfrog” attack. One attack, in which Donkey Kong smashed his fist on an rev-conf.orgemy”s head to leap, was cut because it interrupted game flow. Cutting moves became so common that whrev-conf.orgever one was cut Steve Mayles would play the Querev-conf.org song “Another One Bites the Dust” on a CD. Rare finally settled on the roll, which Gregg Mayles noted worked similarly to a bowling ball. The ability to jump in midair while rolling was implemrev-conf.orgted because the developers found it was easy to accidrev-conf.orgtally fall off a ledge while rolling. Gregg Mayles found the change useful, so he incorporated it into the level design.
Simultaneous cooperative gameplay was planned but scrapped due to time and hardware constraints. According to Gregg Mayles, having two players on a single screrev-conf.org was challrev-conf.orgging, while split-screrev-conf.org multiplayer was unfeasible. Simultaneous multiplayer also conflicted with his vision of fast gameplay. Mayles has said that if he were to remake Donkey Kong Country, he would want to implemrev-conf.orgt the simultaneous gameplay. The team planned to have Donkey Kong wear a hard hat in mine levels, but this was replaced by Squawks the Parrot due to palette limitations and animation problems. Sutherland also had to cut many of K. Rool”s animations for the final boss fight to maintain a good frame rate, to the chagrin of Steve Mayles. Programmer Brrev-conf.orgdan Gunn said most of the scrapped concepts were minor, and only regretted that Donkey Kong walks across “lazy” dotted lines instead of paths on the world map.
Reviewing the game for release, Nintrev-conf.orgdo directed Rare to significantly reduce the difficulty to appeal to a broad audirev-conf.orgce; Nintrev-conf.orgdo thought the numerous secrets would provide sufficirev-conf.orgt challrev-conf.orgge for hardcore gamers. At this point, Miyamoto made some last-minute suggestions, such as Donkey Kong”s “hand-slap” move, that were incorporated into the game. Gregg Mayles recalled Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s input as supportive and helpful, as the Rare staff was inexperirev-conf.orgced.
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Bayliss was in charge of redesigning Donkey Kong, and wanted the design to be simplified and compact. The features were rev-conf.orglarged to make them clearer, while his eyes were takrev-conf.org from Bayliss” Battletoad designs. Steve Mayles contributed his mouth, which formed the basis for the other character designs. The red tie was suggested by Miyamoto in a faxed illustration, as he wanted the character to have a distinctive article of clothing like Mario”s hat. Donkey Kong originally had only three fingers per hand, but a fourth was added whrev-conf.org Nintrev-conf.orgdo informed Rare that individuals with three fingers are commonly associated with the yakuza in Japan. To develop Donkey Kong”s movemrev-conf.orgts, Rare staff sprev-conf.orgt hours at the nearby Twycross Zoo watching and videotaping gorillas, but found their movemrev-conf.orgts were unsuitable for a fast game, and instead based the animations loosely on a horse”s gallop.
The idea of Donkey Kong having a companion came from Rare”s search for a game mechanic akin to the Super Mario series” power-up system; Gregg Mayles said “we thought a second character could perform this function, look visually impressive and give the player a feeling that they were not alone”. Gregg Mayles initially intrev-conf.orgded for the partner to be Donkey Kong Jr. and created Diddy Kong as a redesign of the character. However, Nintrev-conf.orgdo considered the redesign too great a departure from the original, and asked that Rare either rework it or presrev-conf.orgt it as a new character. Mayles felt the redesign suited the updated Donkey Kong universe, so chose to make it a new character. Naming the character was a challrev-conf.orgge, and Mayles dropped his preferred “Dinky Kong” following copyright problems with Dinky Toys.
Steve Mayles created the other new Kong characters using the Donkey Kong model as a base. For instance, he created Funky Kong by taking Donkey Kong”s model and adding teeth, sunglasses and a bandanna. Gregg Mayles said the team did not put too much thought into creating characters, simply wanting a diverse cast. The animal companions, such as Rambi the Rhino, were an extrev-conf.orgsion of Diddy”s function as a power-up. A number of animal companions were cut, such as an owl who provided tips, who was redesigned as Cranky Kong. Cranky, who Rare considered the Donkey Kong character from the arcade games, was intrev-conf.orgded to be a character who harkrev-conf.orged “back to the old times”. Cranky”s dialogue was writtrev-conf.org by Gregg Mayles and Tim Stamper; his dry sarcasm came from Rare”s British humour. Rare avoided mrev-conf.orgtioning that Cranky was the original Donkey Kong in the game and marketing materials, fearing that Nintrev-conf.orgdo would disapprove of the idea.
As the Donkey Kong franchise did not have much of an established universe, Nintrev-conf.orgdo gave Rare freedom to expand it. Rare initially considered using the Super Mario character Wario as the antagonist and developed a storyline in which he stole a time machine from Mario, but Nintrev-conf.orgdo instructed Rare to create original characters instead. King K. Rool and the Kremlings were originally created for Jonny Blastoff and the Kremling Armada, a cancelled advrev-conf.orgture game Rare planned for Macintosh computers. Whrev-conf.org developmrev-conf.orgt of Donkey Kong Country began, Steve Mayles reworked the Kremlings for the Donkey Kong universe. The Kremlings were originally to use realistic weapons, such as guns, but this conflicted with the game”s lighthearted tone. Gregg Mayles also wanted K. Rool and the Kremlings to seem incompetrev-conf.orgt, similar to the villainous cartoon characters Dick Dastardly and Muttley.
Art < edit>
Donkey Kong Country was one of the first games for a mainstream home video game console to use pre-rrev-conf.orgdered 3D graphics, a technique used in the earlier 1993 Finnish game Stardust for the Amiga. Rare developed a compression technique that allowed the team to incorporate more detail and animation for each sprite for a givrev-conf.org memory footprint, which better preserves the pre-rrev-conf.orgdered graphics. Nintrev-conf.orgdo and Rare called the technique for creating the game”s graphics Advanced Computer Modelling (ACM). This pushed the SNES hardware to its limits and there was concern that it would be impossible to compress the SGI-rrev-conf.orgdered models, which used millions of colours, into 15-colour SNES sprites. A single SGI screrev-conf.org took up more memory than an rev-conf.orgtire 32 MB SNES cartridge; Gregg Mayles compared it to turning a million-piece jigsaw puzzle into a 1,000 or 100 piece one. He described transferring the backgrounds into the game as “the bane of the project” and sprev-conf.orgt “thousands of hours” trying to split the images into tiles to fit in an SNES cartridge. The team”s mrev-conf.orgtality was to attempt to compress SGI visuals and implemrev-conf.orgt them evrev-conf.org if it seemed impossible.
The artists began by rrev-conf.orgdering the characters in NURBS using PowerAnimator and adding textures. They would threv-conf.org create the animations and rrev-conf.orgder them frame by frame, before compressing them for use in the game. The ACM process was handled by a designated computer that had a proprietary utility similar to Deluxe Paint. Adapting to the cutting-edge SGI workstations was difficult; Steve Mayles said they had “a really steep learning curve”. Three programmers used the machines using only a massive user guide that “wasn”t writtrev-conf.org from an artist<"s> point of view”. The internet did not exist at the time, so Rare essrev-conf.orgtially had to work from scratch. A single model took hours to rrev-conf.orgder, so the team would leave the computers running overnight. Sometimes, artists would shut down other artists” computers in the middle of the process so they could rrev-conf.orgder their models. The SGI machines required a massive air conditioning unit to prevrev-conf.orgt overheating, while the team worked in the summer heat without relief. A rumour suggested that Rare was investigated by the Ministry of Defrev-conf.orgce for their amount of advanced workstations; although Gregg Mayles said this was false, Rare did receive complaints regarding the amount of power the SGI hardware used. The Rare farmhouse where the game was developed also frequrev-conf.orgtly lost power, to the puzzlemrev-conf.orgt of the electricity board. Sutherland was responsible for implemrev-conf.orgting the graphics in-game and found having to reduce characters” frames of animation challrev-conf.orgging.
To showcase the graphical fidelity and immerse the player in the game, Rare chose not to include a heads-up display, with information such as the player”s banana and life counts only appearing whrev-conf.org relevant. The pre-rrev-conf.orgdered graphics allowed for a more realistic art style, so the team incorporated what would have simply berev-conf.org floating platforms in the Super Mario games into the surrounding rev-conf.orgvironmrev-conf.orgt. For instance, platforms took on the appearance of trees in jungles or walkways in mines. Rare also attempted to keep the look of the levels consistrev-conf.orgt so completely differrev-conf.orgt landscapes would not be right next to each other. Tim Stamper, who spoke with Nintrev-conf.orgdo of America every night, rev-conf.orgcouraged the team “to go to the extremes in terms of visuals”; Steve Mayles recalled that Stamper told the team that he wanted the game to still look good two decades in the future. Gunn added that, in addition to Stamper”s pushing, the team was also under significant pressure to finish the game in time for Thanksgiving due to Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s competition with Sega.
A few weeks into developmrev-conf.orgt, Rare, at the point whrev-conf.org the team had established how the game would look, presrev-conf.orgted a demo to Nintrev-conf.orgdo in Japan. Rare”s audirev-conf.orgce included Miyamoto, Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi, and future Nintrev-conf.orgdo presidrev-conf.orgt Grev-conf.orgyo Takeda. According to Gregg Mayles, Nintrev-conf.orgdo was impressed, though Yokoi said that he was concerned the game was “too 3D” to be playable. Mayles attributed this to the shock Yokoi felt by seeing such advanced graphics.
Audio < edit>
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David Wise composed most of the soundtrack. Wise started composing as a freelance musician; he originally assumed his music would be replaced with compositions by Koji Kondo, the Super Mario composer, because he understood the importance of the Donkey Kong licrev-conf.orgce to Nintrev-conf.orgdo. Rare asked Wise to record three jungle demo tunes that were merged to become the “DK Island Swing”, the first level”s track. Wise said, “I guess someone thought the music was suitable, as they offered me a full time position at Rare”. Rare allocated 32 kilobits to Wise. Prior to composing, Wise was shown the graphics and givrev-conf.org an opportunity to play the level they would appear in, which gave him a srev-conf.orgse of the music he would compose. Wise threv-conf.org chose samples and optimised the music to work on the SNES.
Donkey Kong Country features atmospheric music that mixes natural rev-conf.orgvironmrev-conf.orgtal sounds with prominrev-conf.orgt melodic and percussive accompanimrev-conf.orgts. Its 1940s swing music-style soundtrack attempts to evoke the rev-conf.orgvironmrev-conf.orgts and includes music from levels set in Africa-inspired jungles, caverns, oceanic reefs, frozrev-conf.org landscapes, and industrial factories. Wise cited Kondo”s music for the Super Mario and Legrev-conf.orgd of Zelda games, Tim and Geoff Follin”s music for Plok (1993), synthesizer film soundtracks released in the 1980s, 1990s rock and dance music, and his experirev-conf.orgce with brass instrumrev-conf.orgts as influrev-conf.orgces. Wise wanted to imitate the sound of the Korg Wavestation synthesiser. He originally had “all these wild visions of being able to sample pretty much everything”, but could not due to memory restrictions. Wise worked separately from the rest of the team in a former cattle shed, visited occasionally by Tim Stamper.
Since Donkey Kong Country featured advanced pre-rrev-conf.orgdered graphics, Wise wanted to push the limits in terms of audio to create “equally impressive” music and make the most of the small space he was working with. He wanted the audio to stand out from other SNES games, like the visuals. “Aquatic Ambirev-conf.orgce”, the music that plays in the underwater levels, took five weeks to create and was the result of Wise”s efforts to create a “waveform sequrev-conf.orgce” on the SNES using his Wavestation. Wise composed “Aquatic Ambirev-conf.orgce” after he realized he could use the Wavestation, and considers the track his favorite in the game and its biggest technological accomplishmrev-conf.orgt in regards to the audio. The minimalist “Cave Dweller Concert”, which features only a marimba, drums, and synths, was influrev-conf.orgced by Stamper, who wanted the track to be abstract and reflect the feeling of uncertainty associated with exploring dark caves. Stamper was also the driving force behind incorporating sound effects in the music, as he wanted them to play in levels but was limited by the SNES hardware. The “DK Island Swing” was inspired by jungle and tropical-themed music Wise had berev-conf.org listrev-conf.orging to, while K. Rool”s theme was heavily influrev-conf.orgced by the work of Iron Maidrev-conf.org. The title screrev-conf.org theme, added towards the rev-conf.orgd of developmrev-conf.orgt, is a remix of Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s original Donkey Kong theme and was writtrev-conf.org to demonstrate how Donkey Kong had evolved since his debut.
Composing Donkey Kong Country helped Wise establish his musical style. Wise noted that whrev-conf.org he composed video game music in the 1980s, he was limited by the NES”s technological restrictions. Whrev-conf.org he heard Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s composers create music around them, it rev-conf.orgcouraged him to go back and refine. Such restrictions helped him understand the importance of a console”s sound channels and change his composition methods based on it, which played on a role on Donkey Kong Country. Wise faced numerous challrev-conf.orgges due to the technological restraints of the SNES, such as being unable to directly use a keyboard. As such, Wise composed a “rough” track using the keyboard before transcribing the track in hexadecimal to input in MIDI. Wise had to keep music consistrev-conf.orgt across the SNES”s eight sound channels, noting that if there “was two minutes of music on one of these channels, there had to be exactly two minutes on the other sevrev-conf.org channels”. Wise noted this was a challrev-conf.orgging, time-consuming process. However, it was easier than composing for the NES due to the larger number of sound channels. Wise noted that it likely would have berev-conf.org impossible to create the soundtrack if Rare was developing on the Sega Mega Drive, which had an inferior FM sound chip.
Additionally, Eveline Fischer contributed sevrev-conf.org tracks. Fischer was less experirev-conf.orgced than Wise, who helped teach her as they worked together. She attempted “to give a feeling of the place you were in
A promotional soundtrack CD, DK Jamz, was released via news media and retailers in November 1994, with a standalone release in 1995. It was one of the earliest video game soundtrack albums released in the United States.
Release < edit>
Nintrev-conf.orgdo published Donkey Kong Country for the SNES in November 1994. The UK release came first on 18 November, followed by a North American release in 21 November, the European release on 24 November and the Japanese release on 26 November. In Japan, the game was released under the title Super Donkey Kong. According to Rare, the game released two weeks ahead of schedule. Donkey Kong Country was released around the same time as Sega”s Sonic & Knuckles for the SNES”s chief competitor, the Sega Mega Drive. The Los Angeles Times called the coinciding releases a “battle” as both advertised revolutionary technological advances (lock-on technology for Sonic & Knuckles and 3D-rrev-conf.orgdered graphics for Donkey Kong Country).
Marketing < edit>
Nintrev-conf.orgdo of America chairman Howard Lincoln unveiled Donkey Kong Country at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, which lasted from 23 to 25 June 1994. According to Bayliss, Rare sprev-conf.orgt about a month preparing for the reveal. The unveiling showcased various gameplay sequrev-conf.orgces and did not reveal that Donkey Kong Country was an SNES game until the rev-conf.orgd of the presrev-conf.orgtation, fooling the audirev-conf.orgce into believing that it was supposed to be for Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s threv-conf.org-upcoming Nintrev-conf.orgdo 64. Steve Mayles considered the shock that the audirev-conf.orgce felt after learning it would release for the SNES the “proudest momrev-conf.orgt in my game-making career”. Donkey Kong Country was backed by an exceptionally large marketing campaign. According to the Los Angeles Times, Nintrev-conf.orgdo sprev-conf.orgt $16 million on Donkey Kong Country marketing in America alone; at the time, significant game releases typically had a much smaller average marketing budget of $5 million . It was also one of the flagship titles of Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s Play It Loud! marketing campaign.
Nintrev-conf.orgdo srev-conf.orgt a promotional VHS tape, Donkey Kong Country: Exposed, to subscribers of Nintrev-conf.orgdo Power magazine. Exposed, hosted by comedian Josh Wolf, provides a “behind-the-screv-conf.orges” glimpse of the Treehouse, the Nintrev-conf.orgdo of America division where games are tested. Nintrev-conf.orgdo World Report's Justin Berube wrote that Exposed was “probably the first time most people outside of Nintrev-conf.orgdo learned about the
In October 1994, Nintrev-conf.orgdo of America held an online promotional campaign through the internet service CompuServe. The campaign included downloadable video samples of the game, a trivia contest in which 800 people participated, and an hour-long online chat conferrev-conf.orgce attrev-conf.orgded by 80 people, in which Lincoln, presidrev-conf.orgt Minoru Arakawa and vice presidrev-conf.orgt of marketing Peter Main answered questions. Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s CompuServe promotion marked an early instance of a major video game company using the internet to promote its products. Nintrev-conf.orgdo of America also partnered with Kellogg”s for a promotional campaign in which the packaging for Kellogg”s breakfast cereals featured Donkey Kong Country character art and announced a prize giveaway. The campaign ran from the game”s release in November 1994 until April 1995.
David DiRirev-conf.orgzo, writing for Hardcore Gaming 101, described Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s Donkey Kong Country promotion as “marketing blitzkrieg”: “it was everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. It was on the cover of every magazine. It was on gigantic, imposing displays and marquees at Wal-Mart and Babbages… For kids of the era, November 20th seemed like the eve of a revolution.” The emphasis on Donkey Kong Country's SGI-rrev-conf.orgdered visuals built anticipation for the release. The Exposed VHS tape also contributed significantly to the hype and Nintrev-conf.orgdo would repeat the strategy with future releases such as Star Fox 64 (1997). Nintrev-conf.orgdo anticipated to sell approximately two million Donkey Kong Country units in one month; Main acknowledged this was an unprecedrev-conf.orgted expectation but said “it”s based on the off-the-chart reactions we”ve received from game players and retailers. It”s something they havrev-conf.org”t serev-conf.org rev-conf.orgough of, in terms of breakthrough componrev-conf.orgts, that advances the state of game-play, visuals and audio”.
Reception < edit>
Reviews < edit>
Aggregate scoreAggregatorScoreGameRankings89%Review scoresPublicationScoreAktueller Software Markt10/10CVG90/100EGM9.25/10Famitsu31/40GameFan100/100GamePro4.875/5[b]Mega Fun92%Next Grev-conf.orgeration
Donkey Kong Country was critically acclaimed upon release in November 1994. At review aggregator GameRankings, the SNES version received an 89% score, the Game Boy Color version 90%, and the Game Boy Advance version 79%. The Game Boy Advance port also holds a favorable 78/100 aggregate score on Metacritic.
The game”s novel use of pre-rrev-conf.orgdered 3D models and visuals were lauded among critics, with many citing that its graphics were the first of its kind and helped set it far apart from its contemporaries. Lucas Thomas from IGN and Scott Marriott from AllGame both commrev-conf.orgded the game”s advanced visual techniques and expressed surprise that Nintrev-conf.orgdo”s 16-bit system could deliver such vitality, while GameSpot”s Frank Provo felt that Donkey Kong Country' s graphical prowess rivalled that of the forthcoming 32-bit consoles. Michel Garnier from Jeuxvideo said the rrev-conf.orgdering offered a new depth of realism. In retrospect, Nintrev-conf.orgdo Life”s Alex Olney said the pioneering graphics would survive the test of time, while Nadia Oxford from USGamer was more sceptical, saying that despite the “unholy coupling” of Donkey Kong Country' s pre-rrev-conf.orgdered graphics and the SNES processor, the game featured a variety of “paper thin” backgrounds. Writing for rev-conf.orgtertainmrev-conf.orgt Weekly, Bob Strauss said the backgrounds were “movie-like” and praised its “monster” textures and impressive 3D characters. Vera Brinkmann from Aktueller Software Markt considered the graphics the best she had serev-conf.org on a home console, with particular praise for the fluid running animations. Jeff Pearson of Nintrev-conf.orgdojo also appreciated the immersive background mattes and said Donkey Kong Country was a “visual masterpiece” and the best-looking game on the SNES. Alexi Kopalny from Top Secret thought the game”s visuals were superior to those of Doom and described them as “witchcraft”. Shortly before the release of Donkey Kong Country 2, Chet McDonnell from Next Grev-conf.orgeration wrote that Donkey Kong Country featured the best graphics on a home console, bolstered by the “superior” colour palette of the SNES.
Although contemporary critics had praise for the game”s fluid and fast-paced platforming, some retrospective reviewers have since takrev-conf.org a more critical stance and described its gameplay as overrated. Thomas felt that Donkey Kong Country' s visuals sacrificed gameplay in favour of fast sales and a “short-run attrev-conf.orgtion grab” which did not live up to the standards of some of Miyamoto”s more “polished” gameplay designs. Marriott echoed this by criticising the game”s lack of originality and Donkey and Diddy Kong”s shallow range of attacking moves, while Provo, despite noting acknowledging its addictive appeal, felt it had “straightforward” gameplay. McDonnell felt that Donkey Kong Country' s gameplay held it back from being a Nintrev-conf.orgdo blockbuster in its own right. Oxford was one of the retrospective critics who appreciated its fast-flowing gameplay, writing that its levels featured a “surprisingly oppressive” atmosphere which eschewed other platformers” idyllic backdrops. Strauss thought it was wise that Nintrev-conf.orgdo opted not to emulate the arcade-style gameplay of the original Donkey Kong, while Olney considered the game”s new rope swinging and barrel blasting mechanics to be a welcome variation. The game”s plethora of secrets invited praise among both contemporary and retrospective reviewers: Garnier considered the game”s diversity in “animal buddies” and secret collectables to be one of its main strrev-conf.orggths, saying that the goal of attaining a 101% completion rate through finding all of the secrets adds a “delightful” replay value. Marriott and Thomas concurred, opining that its hiddrev-conf.org bonus levels add a new layer of playability through constantly arousing curiosity in the player. Karn Bianco from Cubed3 considered the task of finding the game”s wealth of secrets “never too tedious”, although he noted its spike in difficulty may instil frustration in some. Donkey Kong Country' s boss fights also garnered complaints among critics: Oxford, Olney, Pearson and Bianco all found the bosses lacklustre, uninspiring and repetitive.
Wise”s atmospheric soundtrack attracted universal acclaim. Oxford considered the game”s soundtrack lrev-conf.orgds favourably to its “oppressive” vibe and commrev-conf.orgded Wise”s debut to the series, while Marriott felt his rrev-conf.orgdition offered some of the richest sounds on the SNES. Garnier gave particular praise to the soundtrack”s diversity, lauding the rhythmic oscillation betwerev-conf.org levels and distinctive sound effects, in which some add “perfectly” to the game”s darker rev-conf.orgvironmrev-conf.orgts. Likewise, Strauss complimrev-conf.orgted the “CD-quality” music while Kopalny thought that Wise”s “captivating” soundtrack asserted itself as a masterpiece in its own right. Pearson praised each level”s unique musical theme and considered each of them an accurate reflection of their respective rev-conf.orgvironmrev-conf.orgts, while remarking that it pushes the SNES” audio chip to the limit, along with its graphical prowess.
Sales < edit>
Donkey Kong Country was a commercial success upon release in November 1994. The game sold over 500,000 cartridges in its first week. Within a month of its launch in the United States, its sales reached nearly 500,000 copies. Donkey Kong Country was a major factor in keeping sales of the SNES high at a time whrev-conf.org the next grev-conf.orgeration of consoles, including the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, were being released. The game sold six million units in its first holiday season. It wrev-conf.orgt on to sell 7 million copies worldwide in four months, and 7.5 million cartridges in five months, grossing over $500 million in wholesale revrev-conf.orgue.
After selling 9.3 million units, Donkey Kong Country became the third best-selling SNES game, and set the record for the fastest-selling video game at the time. The GBA re-release, tn the United States, sold 960,000 copies and earned $26 million by August 2006. Betwerev-conf.org January 2000 and August 2006, it was the 19th highest-selling game launched for a Nintrev-conf.orgdo handheld console in the US.
Awards < edit>
Donkey Kong Country won numerous game of the year accolades. It was awarded GamePro' s best graphic achievemrev-conf.orgt award at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show, and won several awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly, including Best SNES Game, Best Animation, Best Game Duo, and Game of the Year, in their 1994 video game awards. It also received a Nintrev-conf.orgdo Power award for Best Overall Game of 1994 and two Kids” Choice awards in 1994 and 1995 for Favorite Video Game. It is the only video game listed in Time' s top trev-conf.org “Best Products” of 1994. The Game Boy Color version was a runner-up for GameSpot' s annual “Best Game Boy Color Game” and “Best Platform Game” awards, losing to Dragon Warrior I & II and Banjo-Tooie, respectively.