Donkey Kong Country (Super Donkey Kong in Japan) is a video game developed by Rare (then known as Rareware), featuring the popular arcade character, Donkey Kong. It was released for the SNES in 1994. It became available through Nintendo's Virtual Console service on December 7, 2006 in Australia, December 8, 2006 in Europe, December 12, 2006 in Japan, and February 19, 2007 in North America.
The game was produced by Tim Stamper. This was the first Donkey Kong game that was not produced or directed by Shigeru Miyamoto. Following an intense marketing campaign, the original SNES version eventually sold over 9 million copies, making it the third best-selling game on the system (trailing Nintendo's Super Mario World and Super Mario All-Stars).
In this game, Donkey Kong must recover his stolen hoard of bananas from King K. Rool and the Kremlings. His banana hoard is located in a cave just underneath his house. He has the special help of his best buddy, Diddy Kong, who idolizes DK. Cranky Kong lends some advice along the way. Funky Kong and Candy Kong also lend a hand. For the first time, Donkey Kong's home environment, Donkey Kong Island, is unveiled to the player.
Prior to the title's production, Rare's Chris and Tim Stamper had begun programming experiments with a Silicon Graphics workstation, with their initial focus centered around a boxing game. After impressing Nintendo with their progress, Genyo Takeda was dispatched to Japan to advise then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi. Following talks between Yamauchi and Rare, Nintendo acquired 25% of the company, which culminated in the production of a new title using the SGI technology. The Stampers expressed interest in making a game based on Donkey Kong, and were given Nintendo's consent.
The game was revolutionary in that it was one of the first games for a mainstream home video game console to use pre-rendered 3-D graphics. It was a technique that was also used in Rare's Killer Instinct. Many later 3-D video games would also use pre-rendered 3-D together with fully 3-D objects. Rare took significant financial risks in purchasing the expensive SGI equipment used to render the graphics. Both Nintendo and Rare refer to the technique for the creating the game's graphics as "ACM" (Advanced Computer Modeling).
Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto once criticized Donkey Kong Country, stating that "Donkey Kong Country proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good." Miyamoto later apologized, saying he had been too harsh due to Nintendo pressuring him at the time to make Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island more like Donkey Kong Country.
Donkey Kong Country also had a popular soundtrack which was released on CD under the title DK Jamz. Composers Robin Beanland, Eveline Fischer, and David Wise collaborated on this ensemble of jungle music. The diverse composition consists of over 20 tracks.
The soundtrack was also the focus of an OC ReMix collaboration entitled Kong in Concert.
The game plays much like typical platforming games of its day. One noticeable difference is the inclusion of two simultaneous main characters: Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. Each Kong can take one hit (they leave the screen and are 'kidnapped'); once both are gone, a life is lost. The two have different abilities and strengths; Donkey can slap the ground and unveil secrets, as well as defeat stronger enemies, while Diddy is faster and more athletic. The player can switch between them via a "tag" feature that would be reused throughout the series. Donkey is best used in caves, because there are stronger enemies in caves (according to the manual). Diddy is best for "acrobatic" levels.
There are six worlds: Kongo Jungle, Monkey Mines, Vine Valley, Gorilla Glacier, Kremkroc Industries Inc. and Chimp Caverns (as well as one final level, Gangplank Galleon). Due to the game's graphical abilities, the levels all look quite varied from each other, with one being a snowstorm-ridden mountain, and another being a dangerous factory. The Kongs' goal was to get to the end of the level. Throughout the levels, they can collect bananas (100 give an extra life), K-O-N-G letters (collecting all four in a single level earns an extra life), extra life balloons (different colored balloons give one, two, or three additional lives), or golden animal tokens, which send them to an animal ally-themed bonus level. The tokens come in the shape of the four different animal allies. To gain access to a bonus level, collect three of the same type of token to be sent to the appropriate animal-themed level. It is not necessary to collect three of the same type of token in a row as the game stores how many of each token you have collected.
As with the Mario series, the Kongs can beat typical enemies simply by jumping on them. They can also throw barrels, slap the ground to turn enemies into a banana, or somersault/cartwheel to knock them out. There are normal barrels, 'DK' barrels (which have the 'kidnapped' partner inside and act as normal barrels if the player already has both Donkey and Diddy), steel kegs (which will bounce off walls and can be ridden on), blast barrels which launch the character like a cannon, continue barrels that feature white stars on the side of the barrel and which allow the player to start at the location of the barrel instead of the beginning of the level when they lose a life and, and TNT barrels which destroy enemies and certain walls with a powerful explosion. A prevalent part of the game are barrel cannon courses, where the player must navigate the Kongs through cannon-like blast barrels, also seen in the game Super Smash Bros. Brawl