Welcome to a new edition of 5 Games I’ve Beat.  Today, we’ll take a look at 5 games I’ve beat from the Donkey Kong series.  I’m actually a little hesitant to call it his series, since in two of the games being showcased you don’t even play as DK, but you fight him!  And you gotta rescue him in the other two!  But anyway, they all featured him in some way.

Donkey Kong as he appeared before Donkey Kong Country

The original Donkey Kong was an immensely popular arcade game in the ’80s.  You were actually a carpenter known as Jumpman (who would switch careers to plumbing and be later known as Mario).  Donkey Kong abducted Jumpman’s girlfriend Pauline, and the man in overalls would climb up 100 meters of construction zones to rescue her.  Mario went on to become a hero of the Mushroom Kingdom and an international star, but what about his rival?  Hit the jump to see the games that feature the stupid primate and his shenanigans (because, according to his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, he was going for that meaning when he came up with “Donkey Kong”):

1.  Donkey Kong ’94 (Game Boy)

Well, it’s not actually called that, but that’s the name everyone gives the game to set it apart from similarly-named versions.  Donkey Kong was a big deal back in the day.  It was made to take advantage of the Super Game Boy, a device that let you play Game Boy games on your Super NES.  Thus, you could play in full color.  Well, today we are used to the DS and that no-good PSP, but a decade and a half ago we still played our portable games with monochromatic visuals.

The Super Game Boy border used in the game was based on the actual arcade cabinet of the original Donkey Kong.

Anyway, at first, the game deceives you by letting you think that it is a port of the original game.  You play once again as Mario, who chases after Donkey Kong through the same four levels as before in order to rescue Pauline.  But when you think you’re done, that rascal ape throws a curveball at you and takes Pauline through 96 puzzle-filled levels that test your dexterity and prowess.  Mario gives chase through cities, jungles, deserts, ships, airplanes, and finally a danger-filled tower, using a variety of jumping techniques (he ain’t called Jumpman for nothing), some not before seen in his other 2-D outings like the somersault or the side jump.  His ability to pick up objects and carry them over his head is back from Super Mario Bros. 2 as well.  Most levels have Mario find a key and open a door, but every fourth level you battled DK in order to progress.

This really is a gem of the original Game Boy games.  It’s 10 times better than the classic that made the two main characters famous.  It’s long, fun, and easy to master.

2.  Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Advance)

The year is 1995.  It was the twilight of the 16-bit wars.  For years, the struggle between Nintendo and Sega raged on.  Just when everyone thought the Super NES could not give any more than it already has, players are blown away by Rareware’s re-design of a Nintendo staple.  Donkey Kong Country was here to cement Nintendo as top dog of the gaming business.

DKC was a landmark in videogame graphics.  Without going too much into the technical aspect of it (especially since I don’t feel like researching it), DKC featured a new technology that made in-game models look rendered (only computer games could do that at the time).  It was vibrant.  It was slick.  It was like nothing like we’ve ever seen.  Am I hyping it too much?  Probably not much more than it was back in the day.  In fact, modern gamers contend that the incredible graphics overshadowed the fact that the game was rather easy and repetitive.  If someone hadn’t told me that I never would’ve thought about it.

Donkey and Diddy Kong

DKC is simple:  you play as Donkey Kong (for once) and his monkey pal Diddy in order to get back his banana hoard from the villainous King K. Rool (get it? kruel?).  You jump.  You run.  You ride animal buddies.  You enter bonus stages.  You fight giant bosses… And that’s it.  But it’s very fun.  The challenge here is to find all the bonus stage to obtain the 100% in the game… or is it?  Actually, it’s 101%, because one bonus stage is hidden within another bonus stage!

The version I’m playing here is the Game Boy Advance remake.  The graphics aren’t quite as sweet as they used to be, but I’ve always believed that graphics don’t make the game.  It’s on, like Donkey Kong! (sigh… I know.  That’s lame)

3.  Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance)

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest puts Diddy Kong on the spotlight this time, along with his girlfriend Dixie.  Both monkeys set out to rescue DK from Kaptain K. Rool (I always thought he and King K. Rool were the same guy, but apparently not?).  Along the way, they find bonus barrels and DK coins, which allow them to access secret stages.  Diddy and Dixie have different abilities that set them apart (Diddy can do a cartwheel off a ledge and jump in mid-air, while Dixie uses her ponytail to descend slowly helicopter-style) and when you control both, one can piggy-back the other and be thrown to reach new areas.

Diddy throwing Dixie high in the air.

The level design (with its pirate theme seen throughout) is great and more stylish than in the original DKC.  It is definitely more challenging and sometimes frustrating.  Obtaining the 102% (yeah, that’s right) is no easy task.  The GBA remake for this and DKC1 also has you collecting cameras in-game in order to access a photo album with original promotional art.  That also figures into inclusion for this list.

4.  Donkey Kong Country 3 (Game Boy Advance)

DKC3 has always been a mixed bag to me.  It’s more of the same platforming fun that we come to expect from the Donkey Kong Country series at this point, but I always felt the series was going off track with all the new additions.  It was now up to Dixie to rescue both Donkey AND Diddy (why they were made less awesome in every installment is a mystery to me).  To help, she was followed by her cousin Kiddy, an over-sized infant of a gorilla.  I don’t know about any of y’all, but he annoyed me to death originally.  It was challenging but more often than not hard.  To get the 103% (there is an option to find 105%, but that involved starting over and I had no patience to do that), you once again searched bonus barrels, DK coins (now safeguarded by enemy KOIN), and banana birds (seriously).  The final boss is another K. Rool impersonation, this time a mad scientist, who hid his lair in the depths of Krematoa.  Like in DKC2, the final battle is actually a fake out, and you do battle with K. Rool twice.  Once you find all 15 banana birds and get the gyrocopter, then you can watch the TRUE ending of the game… which I suppose it was meant to be more “funny” than anything else.

Dixie and her annoying cousin Kiddie Kong

Overall, it’s an average game.  It’s fun but frustrating at times, especially in the gimmicky levels (like one where a giant hacksaw chases you, or where bees chase you, or the rocket-barrel level).  And I guess no one liked the original Super NES themes because the Game Boy Advance remake did away with all of the music and used a new score.  I didn’t notice the first time (because my memory stinks) but I do miss the bonus level tune from the Super NES game.

5.  Mario vs. Donkey Kong (Game Boy Advance)

This is the first game I’ve beat for the purposes of putting together this list.  I suppose Nintendo wanted to return both Mario and Donkey Kong to their roots and pitted them against each other in this remake/spiritual sequel (this game was supposed to be an actual sequel to Donkey Kong ’94).  Like in that game, you are Mario and not DK.  Mario now runs a toy company, shelling out the cute Mini Mario toys.  Donkey Kong, while chillaxing and watching TV, becomes a victim of the brain-washing propaganda that makes him want to “buy ’em all” (which I find ironic, considering that’s the kinda stuff Pokemon critics are always charging Nintendo with).  Indeed, DK follows through, but when he realizes the toys are sold out, he instead STEALS the Mini Mario toys from the factory, and Mario himself begins pursuit across six different worlds.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Level 1-3

Like in Donkey Kong ’94, Mario has a repertoire of moves, including a variation of the triple jump (much like in Super Mario 64), the side jump, and grabbing things Super Mario Bros. 2-style.  The first six worlds are divided by 8 stages, further divided by two sections.  In the first, you find a key to unlock a door.  In the second, you must release the Mini Mario toy from a crystal ball.  Each level has a high score, and, if you beat it, you get a star.  These stars unlock Expert levels once you’re done with the main story.  Usually, to beat the high score, you must master Mario’s moves as well as pick up 3 presents scattered through the stage and finish it without dying (or you’ll lose seconds in the timer).  The second to last level has you guiding the Mini Mario toys toward their toy box, and the last level is a confrontation with DK (the number of hits you can withstand is equal to your Mini Mario toys acquired in that world).

And just when you think you’re through with the game, DK steals all the toys AGAIN, and you must chase him once more, opening up six new worlds with 7 stages each.  Each stage only has one section this time around, in which you guide the Mini Mario toy, which has the key to the exit.

All in all, counting together the main worlds, the plus worlds, and the expert levels, you got yourself a total of 102 levels in the game on which to get a high score, plus two epic Donkey Kong battles (at the end, DK gets a toy as a gift from Mario, so all is well).  It is a worthy follow-up to the style introduced in the original Donkey Kong arcade games.

Stay tunned for new installments of 5 Games I’ve Beat.  Don’t forget to leave your comments on the section below, and share with others!

~My Two Cents.

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