Which one was your favourite? The Donkey Kong Video Game or the TV Series?
When a movie or TV Series becomes so popular, they normally tend to make something else with it, like a video game, toys, or animated version of the same. Donkey Kong Country did the other way round.
The Donkey Kong Video Game became a massive hit in the ‘80s through to the ‘90s; this made them come up with a TV shows on the same in 1997. It is hard to succeed in both, but they tried.
Today’s review, unlike the previous ones, will be a two in one kind of review. We will look at both the Donkey Kong Country Video Game that was released in 1981 and the Donkey Kong animated TV series that premiered in 1997.
Donkey Kong Country Video Game (1981)
The simplicity of the game made many people fall in love with it back in ’90. In the game, the hero Jumpman (aka Mario) was trying to save a princess in Jeopardy, called Pauline, from the giant ape called Donkey Kong.
The two (Mario and Donkey Kong) later became the most popular game character in Nintendo’s history. Donkey Kong very popular back in the days of arcade video games. I would spend my holidays playing the game the whole night. It never got boring because some levels were just hard to pass through. You could spend the whole night trying to manoeuvre your way.
Donkey Kong (DK) is among the top games that dominated the ‘90s if you happened to own a Game Boy console back in the days, then Donkey Kong must have been one of your cartridges. Throughout the game, there were mini-games; if you complete them, you were given some extra life. To make this work, you were supposed to use the saved games.
The game controls allowed you to roll into enemies, hit them or tag them off, and turn to either Diddy or Donkey. The set was a dark and stormy night, and Diddy Kong was on watch to make sure Donkey Kong’s precious store of banana is not destroyed.
To go through the battle level, the player must either save Pauline from Donkey Kong (DK) or kill DK by using his barrels. The player would throw the barrel or be assisted by an animal to slay the enemies.
For me, “Donkey Kong Country: Diddy Kong’s Ques” was my all-time favorite, and until now, I love the original game in the series. I landed on the game last week; a friend was going through his old junk. And I did enjoy playing it, after all those years. That made me decide to write about it this week.
The Super Nintendo was arguably the best game console back in the days. Before Nintendo, my only exposure to games was either playing on my neighbour’s NES or his ZX spectrum. I also enjoyed playing on the Speccy before Super Mario came in.
The Donkey Kong Country was very much hyped in the ‘90s, especially since it was launched around Christmas. Basically, around that time, the cost of such items tends to hike.
The game had nice visuals that still hold on today. It was always a treat for the eyes, with improved graphics, if compared to its peers back in the days.
The controls and the effects on the game were just on another level. It was a game ahead of its time. Controlling the Donkey and his friend Diddy while flying across different worlds to take out King K. Rool and his devious Kremlins and recapture Donkey’s banana board was just a tantalizing experience.
In addition to the single-player mode, there was also the option of co-op mode where one player controls Donkey and the other controls Diddy, and you were required to tag it out again depending on which Kong you wanted to control at any given time. There was also a multiplayer option where each player controlled his team of Donkey and Diddy to see who completes the game in different ways, and it gave people a chance to have a friend in one of the two multiplayer modes.
This allowed the second person more input than in a game like Sonic the Hedgehog, where the second player could only control the tails in certain situations, making it feel less like a team effort. You wouldn’t run into issues like Tails’ invincibility, basically breaking all the boss fights.
Now that I have mentioned boss fights, this was one area where Donkey Kong Country didn’t bring a lot to the table with the later bosses in the being palette-wrapped versions of the old bosses that were not particularly hard to dispatch either in their original or later forms.
The most interesting part of the game and by far the worst obstacle to handle, was when the oil drum spits out enemies at you until it gives up on life and spontaneously combusts in shame because of the armadillos and snakes that it threw at you didn’t get the job done. Besides the lousy bosses, though, the gameplay in Donkey Kong Country was decent with a good mix of normal platforming, swimming, and even some dangerous trips in the cart when the need arises.
Some of the levels were risky, including the first level of the snow world, where you have to stop wild bees while you are being shot from one rapid-spinning barrel to another. Here, I have died like a thousand times trying to get through that level.
One outstanding feature of the game is its soundtrack from Davis Wise and Eveline Fischer. It had the best music ever to hit the SNES. The sound was comforting to eardrums, i.e., the eerie Aquatic Ambience and the pulsating Fear Factory.
Playing through the game last week game me a warm, nostalgic feeling and reminded me of the good old days when you didn’t need a supercomputer with a massive GPU to enjoy a game! Donkey Kong Country remains one of the best games of the time. However, kids of today would be frustrated with playing the game.
How about the TV series, was it any good? Mhh….not that much, I would say! At least not as much as the game was.
Donkey Kong Country TV Series (1997 - 2000)
Several parts of the series, like the Crystal Coconut, appeared in later Donkey Kong Video games like Donkey Kong 64, which was released a year after the show started airing on Fox.
Donkey Kong Country ran for three seasons with 40 episodes. Unlike the Mario-based TV shows before it, the DK show followed an episodic format. Throughout the series, though, several episodes were aired out of order from the original release, i.e., “Bad Hair Day” was aired as the third episode when it was showing in the USA.
Season three of the DK had some improvement, like using newer and sleek animation types and removing the use of title screens for the introduction of the episodes. Like the Mario cartoons, every episode featured one or two original songs based on events on the episode performed by the cast.
This was one of the first TV shows to be entirely computer-animated, reflecting the graphical style of video games. The CG visual effects of the show were just amazing. The series acquired a massive following back in the days, especially form the kids who had played the video game.
I remember there was a commercial for the Game Boy Color remake of the original Donkey Kong Country video game featuring Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Rambi the Rhino (even though no Animal Friends appeared in the series) battling General Klump and Krusha over the giant edition of the portable gaming system, all depicted with remodelled versions of their designs from season 3.
The DK TV series had a brilliant storyline that captivated me to watch even though I had already rated it lower in quality compared to the game. All the same, it is a great show that I would recommend you watch. At least after playing the Donkey Kong Country game.
And did i mention that my kid sis is still waiting to see a donkey in the show? She is now binging on season 2, and still, she hasn't seen a donkey!!
How would you rate the TV show on a scale of 1 – 10? Me eight-ish.