Donkey Kong Country: 20th Anniversary Tribute

Donkey Kong Country SNES
The glorious Donkey Kong Country on the SNES.

Two decades ago on this day, Donkey Kong Country was released in Europe on the SNES. Our esteemed editor, Mr. Wapojif, was but 10 years old at the time.

Now this game was a big deal way back in 1994 as the pre-rendered 3D graphics were unlike anything seen before in console gaming.

Donkey Kong Country

British developer Rare, handed the Donkey Kong license by Nintendo, went all out with new technology to create a unique gaming experience.

It was a sensation and became the SNES’ second bestselling title.

The game was, essentially, a standard platformer with an edge—those fancy new graphics. They really did capture the attention of the world, as it didn’t seem possible for the SNES to do that!

All rather tame now, of course, and the main focus is on British composer David Wise‘s incredible soundtrack.

He was talent spotted by Rare creators Chris and Tim Stamper in the 1980s (he played them a few of his songs on a keyboard in the store he was working in and was hired!) and some of the compositions from the game have past into gaming legend, dragging the Donkey Kong Country along with it.

Putting it mildly, it’s all a nostalgic trip for us this 20th anniversary and we, like the lunatics we are, still listen to the DKC soundtrack to this day.

The game is also good, although over-hyped at the time and, although enjoyable, it’s actually quite a simplistic and disappointing affair.

Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto even criticised it as so. Reminiscing can be fun, and seeing as Tropical Freeze was released on the Nintendo Switch recently it’s all been rather groovy! Nintendo and Rare had a close relationship in the 1990s.

The Japanese giant nurtured the mysterious British company, who would pay them back in dividends as they went on to create iconic classics such as the legendary Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64.

Anyway, Rare certainly took notice for the sequel (in what would become a famous SNES trilogy) as Donkey Kong Country 2 improved immeasurably on the first outing, although didn’t match the first title’s commercial success.

However, other than Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze it remains the high point for the series.

The Soundtrack

Even more legendary than the game is the soundtrack. David Wise took an unusual route, moving away from the type of chirpy, boopy music you’d expect with a game like this.

Instead, he went emotive with pounding drums, pulse racing dance music, and at other times incredibly sedate and beautiful chill out music. It’s a triumph!

Wise would, of course, later grace the sequels Donkey Kong Country 2. And with Donkey Kong Country 3, which advanced the series into an unusually dramatic experience.

The highlight was, no doubts, DKC 2—its soundtrack is regarded by some as one of the greatest in gaming history!

And the game is a work of genius. We have nothing but huge respect for the man who created it the soundtrack, plus the developer behind this legendary title.

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