Donkey Kong Country - GBA

Got packs, screens, info?
Viewed: 2D Side-on, Scrolling Genre:
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Rare Soft. Co.: Nintendo
Publishers: Nintendo (GB/US)
Released: 6 Jun 2003 (GB)
9 Jun 2003 (US)
Ratings: PEGI 3+, ESRB Everyone
Connectivity: Link Cable


Perhaps Nintendo's finest era, the early 90's witnessed the release of a great number of destined SNES classics. Games like Super Mario World, Mario Kart, Super Metroid, Star Fox and Street Fighter 2 are just a few of them. But few have been met with as much anticipation as Donkey Kong Country. Early screenshots amazed, and developer Rare's visual techniques wowed the industry. The game was finally released in 1994 and sold very, very well. But its success wasn't purely down to graphical prowess and startling animation...

Donkey Kong Country's plot is about as inspired as the original Donkey Kong of 1981. Quite simply, a group of crocodile pirates has stolen the famous monkey's banana hoard, so you'll not be surprised to hear that you've been charged with the task of stealing them back. What is worth mentioning here though is that the events that transpired way back in the 1994 SNES release have been more elaborately showcased for the GBA port, complete with speech bubbles new backdrops.

With the aid of sidekick Diddy, DK's quest begins here. Your adventure as the player begins and ends as a hardcore side-scrolling platform experience. Indeed, even the very first level plays host to oncoming crocs that must be stomped on, hard-to-reach platforms, hidden areas and valuable collectibles including those infamous 1UPs. Once you finish your first level, you'll return to the world map where your adventure is plotted as you progress. You are free to revisit previous levels, and as you journey you'll be stopped by family members such as Cranky Kong and Candy Kong who will give you hints and tips as you get deeper into the adventure. Bosses are intermittent, and on the whole pose little threat to the dozens of 1UPs you've already collected. The real threat comes in the game's standard levels, Rare's famously fiendish level design is at its best in Donkey Kong Country and can often leave players frustrated. But the satisfaction that comes with the completion of such levels is far more rewarding.

The use of barrels is the most prolific gameplay element of the adventure. They can represent explosives and check points, but they also serve as a means to reach other platforms and are often necessary to complete certain stages. Jumping into barrels and firing DK out of them like a cannon ball becomes a common activity very quickly, and in many levels you must jump from barrel to barrel with impeccable timing in order to survive. Brilliant stuff.

With regard to visuals, the GBA port is a perfect conversion of the SNES original and more. The graphics look exactly as we remember them all those years ago and there are even several improvements that, although easily overlooked, do make the game look even more presentable and polished.

There are two features in the GBA version that are completely new to Donkey Kong Country - mini-games and Time Attack Mode. The former is merely a selection of two small single or multi-player games that comprise of rhythm, dancing and fishing. Your objective is to score as high as possible and both can be played by two players with the aid of a link lead. Time Attack mode simply pits players in predetermined levels from the main adventure against the clock. Your challenge is to finish the level with as many points as possible by killing enemies, collecting bananas and uncovering time bonuses.

Donkey Kong Country is by no means an essential purchase if you've had the privilege of playing the SNES version, but it's always nice to indulge in a little nostalgia every now and then. For those who missed the opportunity to play Rare's masterpiece in all its 2D glory, now's your chance. Don't miss it.