Rather than post this in the review section, which I undoubtedly proclaim that no one would read if I did, I decided to just feature this little play-by-play on my own blog. I'd call it a Let's Play, but I didn't take a billion photos while I played, so I guess you're stuck with a boring-old retrospective. I'm going to be typing this in the same style as my completely bogus Pokemon Channel review, so if you don't like rambling or giant walls of text, I suggest you steer clear.
I'll go ahead and start this post off with a brief summary of my past with Donkey Kong 64. As I've mentioned in a gazillion of my lists, I loved this game to death as a kid, despite the unnatural amount of distaste I see for it in the community's eyes. Sure, I'm kind of a sucker for platformers (especially 3D ones; I grew up in the 64 age, after all), but Rareware knew exactly what I was craving and worked with Nintendo to shape several massive worlds, five distinct player characters and a plethora of collectible items required to finish the game. It certainly shaved a lot of my spare time as a kid, and now that I've stumbled upon it again, I decided to finish what I started (I never really did beat DK64 as a kid, mainly because of the stupid Donkey Kong Arcade minigame, but I'll get to that later) and see if my high expectations still uphold to this day.
No more dilly-dallying, it's time to find out what Donkey Kong 64 has in store for me. First off, when I power on the game, the first thing I get treated to (besides a stampede of logos) is none other than...
...a cheesy rap video. Great.
At least this one in particular isn't gratingly annoying. In fact, the song is actually kind of catchy.
So they're finally here
Performing for you
If you know the words
You can join in too
Put your hands together
If you want to clap
As we take you through
This monkey rap
Honestly, the feelings I have for the opening rap are the same that I have for Vanilla Ice. Sure, if you take the time to examine it, it's corny and dumb, but if you listen to it with an open mind, it gets stuck in your head and you can't get it out.
I should probably stop dwelling on the opening rap and get to the game, but before I do, I'd like to point out a particular lyric in one of the last verses:
He may move slow
He can't jump high
But this Kong's
One hell of a guy
...Yeah, the song writer managed to sneak in a minor swear word. In a Donkey Kong game, no less. Fortunately for the sake of humanity, this game isn't pulling a Shadow the Hedgehog; that's the maximum amount of potty mouth you'll get out of Donkey Kong 64.
After you go through... whatever the hell that was, Donkey Kong lifts up a barrel and you're directed to the main menu. Oddly enough, Donkey Kong 64 also has a deathmatch-styled multiplayer component, although if my memory serves, in order to unlock it, you need to find at least one crown in the single-player adventure. Sucks, but at least the crowns aren't that hard to obtain, and the multiplayer isn't that great to begin with. Let's just go ahead and select a new save file, which DK64 supports three of.
We're treated to a lovely image of the wildlife around DK Isles frolicking about in the air and the water when the scene suddenly changes to K. Rool as he helms his self-shaped island boat thing. He gloats a little bit about his marvelous plan to capture and destroy the Kongs for good... then his idiot minions crash the boat into a rock in front of DK Isles. He calls in his guards, which gleefully assure him that Donkey Kong's cohorts have been incarcerated and his impressive hoard of bananas has been stolen... wait, what? Didn't they JUST NOW find DK Isles in the middle of the ocean? How did they manage to get a hold of the Kongs in thirty fucking seconds, let alone snatch up all of Donkey Kong's bananas (which there are 201 of)? Were they all just swimming in the ocean with their heads up their asses for no damn reason?
Oh well. Can't start out with them all, I suppose. Anyways, K. Rool lets out another MANIACAL LAAAAAAAAUGH, and then we cut to DK working out at home when his parrot buddy Squawks bursts in and informs him of K. Rool's evil deeds. Donkey Kong, presumably, gets up and begins his journey to kick K. Rool's scaly ass. Firstly, however, since the exit is blocked off by a floor switch, he needs to learn how to perform a ground pound, because we all know that that's completely impossible for Donkey Kong to handle.
Of course, this wouldn't be a proper Donkey Kong game without some familiar faces from the old Country trilogy. First up (besides Squawks) is Cranky Kong, and I swear, this senile butt-muncher comes off as the least helpful person in the world, not to mention a pretentious dick. He drones on about you being lazy and having your friend and bananas captured, and then he tells you he conjured up a potion which allows Donkey Kong to exit the starting area. But, of course, in the traditional Animal Crossing sense of tutorials, he forces you to go through a series of tutorials covering a few aspects of the game. To be fair, it's nice that DK64 is trying to get me accustomed to the feel of the game, but why isn't the tutorial optional? MANY games I've played have the tutorial be an optional part of the game (even some made before DK64, like Kirby Super Star), so why not here?
In any case, I get that shit done and head back to see Cranky. Just as he promised, he hands me the potion and I get out of there.
The first thing you'll notice about Donkey Kong 64 when you step into the hub world is that the environments easily dwarf those found in Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. If you plan on going anywhere in this game, you better pack up a lot of food and gear, because you'll be travelling for quite some time on foot in this game.
The first task Squawks burdens you with is to check out that small island in the middle of the water. Never mind the fact that your Kong friends are missing and that you need to find golden bananas, that's all secondary shit. No, instead, go to this random floating island next to K. Rool's ship. (to be fair, the first world's entrance is still blocked off)
Inside, you find a giant behemoth crocodile known as K. Lumsy, but as it turns out, he defected from his task of annihilating DK Isles, so K. Rool locked him up in a giant cage. Okay, here's another thing I'm going to complain about; K. Lumsy is fuckoff ginormous. I'm not just talking giant, I'm talking Godzilla-giant. How did K. Rool even manage to fit him in that dinky little island, let alone cage him up? K. Lumsy could have just sat on him and his crew and we would have been done with this mess.
Never mind that. What he asks us to do is find the keys to his cage so we can free him and he can embrace his revenge upon the other Kremlings. And there's eight of them. Looks like Nintendo's pulling a Super Mario Bros. on us and giving us eight worlds. Again. At least the scope of them seems to be large at this point. Anyways, Donkey Kong agrees, and K. Lumsy happily dances around, which causes a giant boulder to blow up outside. I'd question the physics of this event and how illogical they seem, but it's a Rare game, which is generally akin to Spongebob Squarepants on the ridiculousness level, so I'll shut up.
And so we trek into Jungle Japes, the first level of the game. Before I begin the next few paragraphs, I'd just like to state that I'm not going to talk about every single movement and area in the level, only the things that interest me and the things I find rather odd.
In each level, you find a total of three buildings, inhabited by Kongs that give you moves required to progress through the game in exchange for coins (except for Jungle Japes, which only has two). The first one, Cranky, has already been covered previously (he gives you different actual moves to perform, similar to Bottles from Banjo-Kazooie), but the next one is Funky Kong's Armory. In this little shop, he outfits your player characters with weapons and ammunition (which are, humorously, made out of wood and cheap materials), as well as periodically handing out upgrades such as a larger ammunition clip. Also, he's not a douchebag like Cranky, so I usually like visiting his store. The third is Boob Ko - I mean, Candy Kong, who deals with giving you instruments which are also required to beat the game. She also helps out by giving you melons (and by upgrading your maximum health. Ba-dum-TISH).
Now that I've explained that, let's move on into Jungle Japes, a level set in, well, a jungle. Your primary objective when you start up the level is to find and rescue Diddy Kong, Donkey's cohort from the Country trilogy, by hitting three coconut switches with the gun you receive from Funky's Armory. As a playable character (there are five total in this game, by the way), Diddy Kong is slightly more agile but isn't as strong, much like the Country games. Once you rescue him, you're free to explore Jungle Japes as both characters, although you won't be able to explore some areas of the level, since they're blocked off by switches you can't press yet.
Now let's get into the noteworthy stuff. First off, Donkey Kong gains a move which allows him to shoot himself into the sky. Provided he finds a pad with his name on it, of course, but it's still funny seeing Donkey Kong launch himself into the air with no force behind it. You use this to complete bonus stages above the clouds by blasting between barrels (again, another callback to Donkey Kong Country), and sometimes you need to finish these bonuses to open up more areas in the level. Diddy Kong, on the other hand, gets a measly headbutt attack. Lame.
Speaking of Diddy Kong, one of his Golden Bananas (the bananas required to open up stages) requires you to ride a minecart through a dozen twisting caves AND collect 50 coins, for some reason. Let me tell you, me and minecart levels do not mix, and this game's isn't any different. The fifty-coin challenge is incredibly steep for an early level in the game, and to get some of them you have to lean left and right while avoiding other obstacles like this one fucker who keeps trying to beat you with a club. Also, if you don't go through the course fast enough, bomb carts spawn behind you and make you lose coins on contact, like most of the other obstacles. If you try and go through carefully, you'll get blown up and lose coins. If you go too fast, not only will you risk running into more shit, but you could potentially miss a lot of coins on the way. You have to find kind of a balance, and while the first minecart ride isn't too bad, the later ones throw more crap at you, and you can't afford to get hit more than once or twice.
There's also a point in the level where you can find a box and turn into Rambi. Again, this is a minor issue, but why does DK turn into Rambi? Isn't he a separate friggin' entity from Donkey Kong? Haven't we established that in Donkey Kong Country? Whatever. Anyways, you use him to bust down some huts which contain switches you can slam. However, you can't slam all of them yet, because the other Kongs are missing. Great.
Another thing I forgot to mention is there's actually a fourth building, Snyde's Shack. This building, unlike the first three, doesn't give you anything for trading coins, but instead houses a weasel named Snyde, who was kicked off the project of building K. Rool's super weapon even though it was pretty much completed. Now he too wants revenge against that slimy bastard, but in order to figure out how to work the super weapon he needs the blueprints that K. Rool's top Kremlings had stolen from him. In each level, there are five of these abnormal Kremlings called Kasplats, who carry the blueprints with them. They correspond to each Kong's blueprint depending on their hair color, and defeating one nets you a blueprint. However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, you can only pick up a blueprint if you're playing as the Kong who has the same banana color as the blueprint. Man, Snyde must have cracked down on security of those blueprints...
In any case, let's get down to the boss battles. To earn a key to K. Lumsy's cage, you need to fight the level's boss. However, in order to do that, you have to help a pig reach the key on top of the door because she's too small, and to do that, you need to find enough regular bananas (no, not the Golden ones) to feed to the hippopotamus standing on top of a piston that pushes the other pig up depending on his weight, and to do THAT, you need two of Raleigh's treasure keys, which are heavily guarded! ...Wait, shit, wrong game.
So yeah, if you thought all of those bananas were for high scores or something, think again. They're required to finish the game, too. That leaves us with, what, four different collectibles to keep track of throughout this game? It also doesn't help that the levels are gigantic to begin with.
Anyways, the boss of the first level is an armadillo decked out with a hard shell and two giant fireball cannons. The game calls him "Army-Dillo." Ha, ha, ha. Very clever, game. The boss shoots giant fireballs at you, although they're surprisingly easy to dodge as long as you keep strafing the boss. After he's done, he proceeds to put on his idiot pants and start laughing, which is your cue to chuck an explosive barrel at him. You know, if you think about it, if K. Rool just removed the barrel generator, the fight would be pretty much impossible for DK. I guess sentient crocodiles must have very low IQs.
This process repeats until the boss loses his shell and runs off like a coward, leaving you with the key. When you take it back to K. Lumsy, he dances around some more and opens up another level, Angry Aztec.
That's all I'm gonna type for this part. It's relatively tame compared to some of the upcoming ramblings, but until then, I'm MisterBananaFoam, and I'll be back with some more of this Retraux-Spective.