Donkey Kong Country Brings SGI Graphics and More to Super Nintendo – November 21st, 1994 – Today in Video Game History

Donkey Kong Country Super Nintendo

Donkey Kong Country (DKC) was somewhat of a gamble for Nintendo. For one, it had been years since home console gamers saw a Donkey Kong game. Earlier in 1994 Nintendo released Donkey Kong for their Game Boy handheld. That title was closer to the 1981 arcade classic, just with more levels. Donkey Kong Country on the Super NES (SNES) was quite a departure from that tried and true formula. Much like Mario before him, it was time Donkey Kong branched out into 2D action platforming.

An ape by any other name

Donkey Kong Country introduces us to the extended family of apes. The beloved Donkey Kong from the 1981 arcade game has grown old and retired to Donkey Kong Island. Now known as Cranky Kong, the former arcade master has passed the famous moniker down to his grandson.

The evil Kremlings invade Donkey Kong Island and steal the stash of bananas. That is a big no-no. That leaves Donkey Kong and nephew Diddy Kong to take back what is theirs.

A Rare game indeed

Donkey Kong Country was developed by Rare, a British game developer. Working with Nintendo on Donkey Kong Country required the purchase of Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations. These SGI setups were used to render the graphics of the game. Other computers downgraded the graphics to something the SNES could handle easily.

This process would be used by Rare with the two subsequent DKC sequels, also on SNES.

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Donkey Kong Country had meat on its bones

There are about 40 levels in Donkey Kong Country. They run the gamut of usual action adventure scenarios. Tropical/average weather to winter to water focused, and more were packed into this Super Nintendo cartridge.

Taking cues from Super Mario World (SNES) and Super Mario Bros 3 (NES) DKC has an over world map. Here is where you can meet other Donkey Kong Island denizens, some helpful, others not so much.

A gamble that paid off

We must remember; it had been over a decade since Donkey Kong starred in his own game. Even then, it was mostly in name only as he was not a playable character.

This was a breakout title for the character – much like Super Mario Bros was for Mario. Both times it paid off quite well for Nintendo as these characters rebooted into major franchises.

Sure, Donkey Kong is not exactly a household name like Mario is, but the character has a great success rate. Most of the games featuring the Nintendo ape are quite good and were well received by fans.

Where did you encounter Donkey Kong? Was it Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo? Maybe the arcade game or the Game Boy update? Maybe your first encounter was on the Wii or Wii U. Let me know in the comments below.

Carl Williams

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