Genre: Platformer | Players: 1-2 | Developer: Rare
While DK was launched into the star-studded realm of playable characters with this sub-franchise….it didn’t last very long. His little buddy Diddy stole the spotlight almost instantaneously. That Rare saw it fit to cave to ease of use and genericism as soon as the first sequel is ridiculously disappointing. Donkey Kong himself is quite unique in his platforming because of his immense weight. You have to play smarter and more carefully to compensate for his decreased jumping ability and sluggishness. Diddy does have a weakness (bigger enemies will bounce him backwards while taking no damage) but he can still take them out assuming he has the room necessary to roll into them.
Having since played DKC Returns, this game is far easier and less ambitious in terms of secrets and level design than I remembered, but that’s to be expected given that it’s the first game in the series and an SNES release from 1994. It isn’t fair of me to make this comparison outside of stating my preference for the rebooted franchise, I acknowledge. In a vacuum, OG DKC is a fairly difficult endeavor, but for whatever reason I’ve always had near-infinite patience for it. It may simply be because it never feels particularly cheap. If you screw up it’s because you don’t know what’s coming (alternately, don’t remember) or you simply haven’t played it enough. It’s challenging and it’s on you to step up.
That said, you will have to rest your entire enjoyment on the development of that skill if you aren’t the type who is willing to check video walkthroughs to locate some of the bonus rooms that count towards your completion total. The vast majority can be found with eagle eyes and a knowledge of what types of walls are usually breakable, but a few are impossible to find without help or some incredibly serendipitous screw ups. You can achieve 101% and the game IS nice enough to indicate on the map screen when you’ve found all of the bonus rooms in a given level. As far as I can tell the only reward is a slight change to Cranky’s dialogue. Lame.
It may show signs of age and use too many boss re-colors (i.e., any at all), but if you’re visiting for the right reasons this is more than smooth enough to still warrant your time in 2015.
Buyer’s Guide: It was originally on SNES but it’s since been ported to the GBA. It WAS on the Virtual Console, but apparently Nintendo (or some legal remnant of Rare) doesn’t like to make free money. You know what to dooooo~
3½ Friendly Acts of Violence out of 5