By TGB 33 Comments
The reason why I've brought up the subject is that Donkey Kong Country is the game I was most excited about playing when I was a kid. Even in the hard days of the N64, when Zelda OoT was the only shining beacon that sustained me while my friends were playing Final Fantasy VII, that level of excitement could never match DKC. That was for one simple reason. I had the Rare behind the scenes promotional video. That video was perhaps the most brilliant piece of advertising I've ever come across in my life. Donkey Kong Country, at the time, was the game that graphically set the SNES apart from the genesis. While some valid complaints can be made about the Rare cartoony style of art, the game itself was so beautiful. The backgrounds were so lush and Donkey Kong and Diddy looked so good running through that first level in that old VHS tape. The game was the one game that really turned the heads of the average audience, I don't think that any console game had that impact again until Mario 64 and Tomb Raider.
The best thing about the tape was that the marketing people knew what the best level was, the first mine cart level. Seeing that a level like that could exist on my SNES made my little head explode, I wanted to play that level soooooo badly that I always rewind the tape to look at it 3-4 times before I could continue on to the other stuff. The tape also did a nice job of introducing all of the secrets and making me excited about exploring every part of every world to find cool items and mini-games. I don't think the game ever fully lived up to my sky high expectations, but it was pretty close. That mine cart level was just as good as advertised, though the later ones didn't quite have the same charm. Donkey Kong Country deserves to remembered as one of the great platformers of the 16-bit era. Though perhaps not as adept gameplay wise as some of the Sonic and Mario games of the time, it was a great deal better then the other fare we were getting with Mascot platformers like Aero the Acro-bat and Bubsy. Now if you excuse me I've got an old VHS tape I need to become reacquainted with.