Just when everyone thought the Super Nintendo could be pushed no further, a little company known as Rare came along with a game based on the original Miyamoto classic property, DONKEY KONG. DONKEY KONG COUNTRY was a revolution, in many ways beginning the era of collectormania gameplay aspects, as well as sporting some of the best graphics seen on the Super Nintendo to that point, just when everyone thought the console had been maxed out.
While the game was released on the Game Boy Color, much of it was stripped down to get it to work on the handheld. In the pattern of re-releasing all of the great Super Nintendo games on the GBA, Nintendo and Rare have released DONKEY KONG COUNTRY on the Game Boy Advance SP with some special features, including new mini-games and a save anywhere feature.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY in many ways is a fairly straightforward platformer, along with some tricky mine-cart levels and levels where propelling yourself from rotating barrel to barrel is the name of the game. The thing that made the game unique was the large amount of hidden areas where you could play minigames, along with plenty of hidden power-ups in the levels. To complete the game with 100%, you couldn't just blaze through it, rather, search out all of the mini-games that were carefully hidden by Rare.
This was a fresh concept back in 1994. In addition to that, the game has incredible graphics, first rendered and then brought over to 2d. In addition, the soundtrack is still considered to be one of the best ever. So now we've ported this game to the year 2003 and the Game Boy Advance, but something has gone wrong.
I suppose my biggest complaint is that the gameplay just doesn't quite do it for me anymore. Perhaps this is because I've played through the game a few times, but it just doesn't seem as great now. It's probably also because I'm tired of running through and collecting massive amounts of things. Whielt he gameplay is still fairly solid, it just isn't quite as fun as it used to be. It didn't blow me away and make me want to play for hour after hour.
The graphics are the other major letdown. There was a very cool shiny look to the original, everything stood out really nicely and the weather effects on the game added tons. But due to the Game Boy Advance screen, there was a major amount of color lightening/brightening that was done to make it playable. Thus the shiny look of the original is gone, and you're stuck with what feels like the cheap knock-off version. The game has seriously lost something in the translation. The soundtrack is mostly intact, although it won't ever sound quite as good through headphones as it would over a stereo system.
On the up side, there are a few new modes, the ability to save anywhere, and pieces of snapshots to collect. But that doesn't make up for what feels like a game we did play a decade ago and has grown a bit old, in both appearance and gameplay style.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY is still definitely worth playing, but don't think this is the same girl you took out 9 years ago. She's aged, and not quite as gracefully as one would have hoped.