RELEASED: June 1995
AVAILABLE ON: GB
Donkey Kong Country was a huge success that Nintendo immediately wanted to capitalize on by carrying the rejuvenated Donkey Kong franchise over to their handheld, but there was no way the Game Boy could've run half of a port of the 16-bit mammoth of a game. Instead, they assigned Rare on a mission to create a whole new game, a handheld sequel to Donkey Kong Country, that would naturally be stripped down of many core elements and advanced gameplay, but still appeal to the previous title's fans by its look alone. Donkey Kong Land is decent handheld entertainment, but it feels like it was primarily meant to ask consumers a question: "think it's time to buy a SNES already?"
And so I became one with the tree
Cranky Kong grows tired of hearing about Donkey Kong Country, and makes a bold statement: the game was a big hit only because of its impressive graphics and sound, and Donkey and Diddy would never make it in an 8-bit game. To prove this, he persuades King K. Rool to steal the Kongs' banana hoard once more, and challenges Donkey and Diddy to another quest, this time on the 8-bit Game Boy.
|Please, let go of the rope at |
the right time this time.
There's no denying that being able to recreate the ACM sprites and uphold the framerate of the original SNES game on the Game Boy are accomplishments. However, I guess that at some point of development, Rare tried to overdo it, they tried to best themselves and forgot that the product was to end up in the hands of players. There are levels which have no background art at all, while others are so detailed that they're almost unplayable - due to the playable characters' sudden disappearance into the background. They become one with it. In the Monkey Mountain region, you might have to resort to the camera itself to figure out where Junior or Diddy is. Even if that isn't so hard, you sometimes really have to work to see all the dangers ahead. As a neutral note, some of the level designs are taken from Donkey Kong Country 2, which was in development and bound for a release about five months after this game.
|Surprisingly, movement in |
water is smoother than the
movement on land.
The gameplay strikes the untrained as decent, to people like me who have played Donkey Kong Country on the SNES for well over a half of their lives, it's more or less one's worst nightmare. What we know even before we try it, is that one very important button is gone, the Y button. In this case, it only means that one of the least essential abilities, Junior's ground slam is ousted. You can still run, roll and do a cartwheel... these abilities are all assigned to one single button just as before, but here it may and will become a problem due to the unstable traction. There are really no huge gameplay differences between Junior and Diddy, they are both just as agile. I think the sole purpose of squeezing two playable characters into this particular game was to grant you two health points.
|Climbing these nets is a |
nightmare come true.
There are no "extra" Kongs in this game, and the plot of the game is only referenced in the manual. Rambi the rhino and Expresso the ostrich return as animal buddies; Winky and Enguarde's methods of movement alone would've killed the capacity, I guess. Rambi and Expresso usually appear in bonus levels only. The bonus levels are quite few in numbers. I don't know for certain, since I didn't go for the 100% completion (first time in this franchise) - but in this game, it seems to be more important to find all Kong letters, and these coins that have Junior and Diddy's faces on them. Some special bonus levels give you a chance to easily gain a huge amount of bonus lives, and these coins are used as currency in them.
|Welcome to the land of the |
snow and ICE.
Donkey Kong Land is certainly not bad, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who has instant access to the big games in the franchise. It just doesn't feel good to play it. I think Rare should've consciously downgraded the graphics by a lot, to a more classic standard and go for an entertaining game - instead of an initially good looking game, that turns out a graphical mess and not a very fun or smooth gameplay experience. In spite of my disappointment, I'm heading into the sequels with moderate hope.
GRAPHICS : 7.0
SOUND : 9.2
PLAYABILITY : 6.8
LIFESPAN : 6.0
CONCLUSION : 6.6
The game cartridge is coloured banana yellow.