Back in 1994, Rare made a name for themselves when they released Donkey Kong Country on the SNES. It totally blew
away any competition and it set a new standard for games in general. Now, some 6 years later, Rare have once again
released Donkey Kong Country, except this time it's on the Game Boy Color. But is it possible to take a breathtaking
16-bit SNES game, trim off the fat, release it on the 8-bit Game Boy Color, and still have an excellent game? Well
I decided to find out for myself. Now upfront, I'll tell you all that I never got to play Donkey Kong Country on
the SNES so it was entirely new to me when I played it on the Game Boy Color.
Donkey Kong Country is a pretty straight forward platformer. Basically this
means that anyone can pick it up and know how to fully play it within minutes. This made it a lot more enjoyable
because you weren't bogged down in complex story, confusing levels, or complex controls. The main idea of the game
is to collect as many Bananas as you can on your journey through each level. If you see a bad-guy you have the
choice of jumping on his head or rolling over him. There's also different types of barrels you can use to do a
multitude of things including knocking over bad guys and blowing holes in the ground or walls. For a simplistic
game, there is a ton of variety in the levels. From jungle levels to snow levels, from swimming levels to mine
cart levels, this game seems to have it all.
The two main characters, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, can be switched between at any time, presuming you have a
Buddy Barrel up your sleeve. Both of them have slightly different abilities so the key is to use them to their
skills to the best extent. There is also a host of other characters you can use
on certain levels if you find their box. They are: Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish,
Winky the Frog and Squarks the Parrot. These characters can often be used to reach secret areas that the Kongs
normally can not. You can also unlock bonus levels starring these characters. Other characters featured within
the game are Cranky Kong (who'll give you gameplay hints if you listen to him long enough) and Funky Kong who's
able to take to any previous level in a matter of seconds.
Speaking of Bonus levels, there are also the Kandy Kong levels. Play with the lovely Kandy (ahem) and you can gain
bonus bananas and earn medallions. Get enough Medallions and you can unlock bonus Multiplayer-games. What's that
I hear you say, multiplayer-games? That's right, Donkey Kong Country on the Game Boy Color features a lot more
than just the standard platform adventure game. There's also mini games that you can access from the main menu
that you can play either solo or versus a friend via the link-cable. The two games you have to choose from at the
start are Funky Fishing and Crosshair Cranky. Want more? Donkey Kong Country also includes printer support. There's
a full alphabet you can print out and there's pictures that you can find in the main adventure game.
As I mentioned before, the controls are simple and straight forward. I am
yet to find a single problem with controlling DK. He jumps when you want him to, lands where you expect him to
and stops when you want him to. Also, unlike what other reviews have claimed, I never once had problems with collision
Basically, you know that it is impossible to get SNES graphics on a Game
Boy Color, no matter how hard you try. With this in mind, Rare have actually managed to produce a very good looking
title. From the opening to closing credits, Donkey Kong Country shines all the way. The in game graphics look very
similar to Donkey Kong Land that was released some time ago on the black and white Game Boys. However the inclusion
of color makes everything a lot clearer and crisper. Still shots from this game do not do it justice. This is one
game that has to be seen in motion to be fully appreciated. The only thing that I have found to gripe about is
that every so often there will be a glitch in the graphics. It's hard to explain, but needless to say, it sometimes
occurs when sprites overlap each other, or along the trajectory of a shooting barrel. This however is such a minor
complaint that it's easy to look over on an otherwise great title.
Sound & Music
Again, because have never played Donkey Kong Country, I can not comment
on whether they digitized the sounds perfectly or if they got the exact right music. I can say however that they
have managed to produce music that is easy on the ears and doesn't get repetitive too easily. The sound effects
are mainly blips and bleeps though, but they have included some sampled Kong sounds so that the sound effects as
a whole feel well suited for a game of this style.
Donkey Kong Country is one of those games that comes around every once in
a while that prove that a decent looking game can also have great gameplay. In fact, it was probably the most fun
I've had playing a platformer on the Game Boy Color since Super Mario Bros DX. The inclusion of mini-games mean
that if you're totally stuck in the main game, you can still have fun with the cart in your Game Boy. The multiplayer
and printer support are just icing on a very delicious cake. If you've already played the original SNES game to
death I'm not sure how much fun you'd have with the Game Boy Version. If, however, you're like me and you've never
played the original, or if you're a Donkey Kong freak (like some people I know), then I thoroughly recommend this
title. It's definitely destined to become one of the flagship titles of the system.