Donkey Kong Country[a] is a 1994 platform game developed by Rare and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The game centers on Donkey Kong and his friend Diddy Kong, who are on a quest to recover Donkey Kong’s stolen banana hoard from King K. Rool and the Kremlings.
Development began shortly after Rare founders, brothers Tim and Chris Stamper, ran experiments with a Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstation to render 3D sprites. Nintendo became interested in Rare’s work and acquired 49% of the company, leading to the production of a game for the SNES using Alias and SGI technology. The Stamper brothers expressed interest in creating a standalone Donkey Kong game and assembled a team of 12 developers to work on the game over 18 months. Donkey Kong Country is the first Donkey Kong game that was not produced or directed by the franchise’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, though he was involved with the project.
Following an aggressive marketing campaign, Donkey Kong Country received critical acclaim and sold more than nine million copies worldwide, making it the third best-selling SNES game. It was ported to the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance consoles, and was made available for Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Donkey Kong Country is the first game in the Donkey Kong Country series and was followed by two sequels on the SNES: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest in 1995, and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! in 1996.
The player controls Diddy Kong (top) in “Jungle Hijinxs”, the first level of Donkey Kong Country.
Donkey Kong Country is a platforming game in which the player guides protagonists Donkey Kong (DK) and Diddy Kong (Diddy) through 40[b] side-scrolling levels. DK and Diddy are the game’s main characters and the only playable characters. The player can switch between Kongs if both characters are present. The main modes of travel are running, jumping, and rolling; all of which both characters are capable. DK and Diddy have different advantages; DK defeats enemies more easily[c] and has a handslap move that reveals hidden bunches of bananas, while Diddy is faster, smaller, and can jump higher than DK can.
Levels contain enemies, bananas, and other objects and collectibles. Enemies can be defeated by stomping, rolling, barrel-throwing, and by using an animal. The game has a variety of enemies, each with varying skills and defenses; for example, the crocodile-like klaptraps must be stomped on because of their forward-facing jaws; rolling into them will cause the player to lose a Kong. Bananas are the most common collectible; collecting 100 bananas grants the player an extra life. Bananas also guide the player through the levels and sometimes indicate the presence of another collectible or hidden area. Other collectibles include K-O-N-G letters and extra life balloons, which both help the player gain extra lives. When an item is collected, a corresponding counter briefly scrolls. Barrels are common objects; an element retained from the first Donkey Kong game. Wooden barrels can be picked up and thrown to defeat most enemies and reveal bonus rooms. Barrels with a red DK icon revive a Kong when one is absent. Barrel cannons propel the player-character in the direction the cannon is facing. In later levels, the player must time the releases between barrel cannons to progress. Barrels covered with stars allow the player to resume progress from his or her position in the level.
Bonus rooms are hidden in almost every level.[d] They are accessed by destroying walls and entering hidden barrel cannons. Bonus rooms contain challenges in which the player-character can earn additional lives and items, and sometimes gain shortcuts through the level.