Donkey Kong Country is without a doubt one of the most unique and original game series’ in Nintendo’s arsenal. This is in large part due to the heavy influence Rare had over the game’s design, but there’s something to be said for how influential that game’s design was on numerous Nintendo franchises to follow.
Donkey Kong as we know it is a direct result of Rare’s interpretation of the character. The original games took so many impressive creative liberties, in designing enemies for the Kong family from the ground up and even the creation of now beloved characters like Diddy Kong and King K’Rool.
Donkey Kong Country set in motion the behemoth that was Donkey Kong 64, which in my opinion is one of the most uniquely designed games in the history of the franchise. Despite all of this, Donkey Kong was not immune to some of the incredibly lengthy hiatus’ that Nintendo puts its star franchises through. It’s been years since we’ve seen a new Metroid game and Prime 4 was only just announced a month ago.
Knowing this, it comes as little surprise that the N64 would spell a lengthy end for the critically acclaimed platformer series, and Donkey Kong Country wouldn’t resurface until the Wii release Donkey Kong Country Returns, and most recently, the Wii U’s Tropical Freeze. But these games weren’t developed by Rare at all.
Retro Studios has had a mixed history with Nintendo, developing both successful and failed titles on their behalf. Yet their Wii rendition of the Kong Isle tales received incredible acclaim and led to them developing a sequel.
The stylistic changes of the series are instantly noticeable. The game ends up becoming a much more flashy experience, less about the quirky nature of the main cast, and more about the dynamic shifts and changes made possible by stronger hardware.
It’s interesting to take the retrospective, and look back at the days of battling Kremlings through Kong Caverns. Still, I have no doubt that we haven’t seen the last of this gaming titan.