Donkey Kong Country Review (GBA): Stephen Miniviews

A revolutionary SNES classic ported to the GBA!

Donkey Kong Country is a platforming game. It was released on 6th June 2003 for GBA. It was developed by Rare and published by Nintendo. The game is a port of the original Donkey Kong Country game, which was released on 21st November 1994 for SNES. The original game was also ported to the GBC on 4th November 2000 and was later re-released on the Wii Virtual Console, Wii U Virtual Console and the New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, in 2007, 2014 and 2016 retrospectively. The SNES game was mostly famous for being one of the first home console games to use pre-rendered 3D graphics, and Rare’s design of the Donkey Kong character would be used in all future games that featured him in it.


In Donkey Kong Country, you are able to control one of two available characters, Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong, as you play in over more than 40 different side scrolling levels. Each level is uniquely themed, consisting of different tasks, such as riding in mine carts, swinging from vine to vine or launching out of barrel cannons. Donkey Kong is the larger of the two and can defeat enemies easier than Diddy can, but Diddy is the faster of the two and is more agile than Donkey is. Many enemies appear on each level and they all vary in difficulty, with them usually becoming harder to kill when you get further into the game. To defeat an enemy, you need to either do a roll or jump, though Donkey Kong can also use the hand slap. However some enemies cannot be killed in this way, which means you have to throw a barrel at them or use the assistance of one of Donkey Kong’s animal friends, such as Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich and Squawks the Parrot. You begin with a minimum of 6 lives and you can loose a life if you get hit by an enemy or if you fall of the screen, and if both characters are on the screen at the same time, you are able to switch between the two, though if one of the characters has lost a life, you are only able to play as the character who is still alive. If you loose all your lives, the game is over, though you are able to get extra lives by collecting items that are found throughout the levels, such as bananas, golden letters and extra life balloons. You can also take part in bonus games, where you are able to gain shortcuts through a level, or receive extra lives or other items.


The story of the game is that Donkey Kong is at his home, when he finds out that his ‘Banana Hoard’ has gone missing, as it was stolen by King K. Rool and the Kremlings. He then starts to embark on a journey to recover it and on his journey he is helped by some of the other Kongs, as Diddy Kong accompanies Donkey Kong on his quest, Cranky Kong provides hints, while Funky offers transportation around the island. On his journey, Donkey Kong collects bananas from the vastly different regions, while also defeating enemies, such as the reptilian Kremlings and other hazardous creatures that are native to the island. The game uses a series of world map screens to show the progress you are making, where you are able to control the characters on it, so you can navigate to what level you want to play next. There are two map screens, one for the area you want to go to, and the other for all the levels that feature inside an area, and each area has its own boss enemy at the end, where you must defeat it to be able to travel back to the main map screen of the world island. A few changes were made from the original SNES version to the GBA version, such as the GBA version had increased brightness, with lower contrast and colour saturation, along with new minigames, hidden pictures, a time trial mode and a couple of multiplayer modes, and you are now able to save the game in any area.


Donkey Kong County was positively received, with most critics giving the game a 7/10 or 8/10 (70% or 80% out of 100%), while the original SNES version received many 8/10 and 9/10 reviews. The game was praised for its graphics, audio, gameplay, the new features that were included and for being a good port of the original SNES game. The game was criticized for its graphics (they were both praised and criticized), the level design and the inconsistent difficulty that was in the game. In my opinion, I think that Donkey Kong Country is a good game, and after looking at comparisons between this version and the SNES version, I can also say that it was a good port of the game. I can also see why the original game was praised so much when it first came out, though playing the GBA version of this game was my first experience of playing Donkey Kong Country, and I think that the game is really good fun, so go pick it up!


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