Review by Sour
"Kong! Kong! Donkey Kong!"
This is a review of one of the greats for the N64, Donkey Kong 64. When it came out, it came out with a graphics expansion pak that you had to replace the old one with. There's a small panel on the top of the console where the pak resides. If you have an N64 and want to get this game, make sure that you have this pak as it's required to play the game. This game had quite a large ad campaign, Target, I believe it was, was mailing free tapes of game-play of DK64 to try and suck people in. I was one of the lucky recipients myself of something so seemingly random, and was quite glad it happened because I went out and bought the game with no regrets!
Story: 8/10: It's a fairly simplistic story, but it works just fine nonetheless. King K. Rool has once again stolen Donkey Kong's banana horde, and you're on a quest to recover the Golden Bananas. In addition to this, King K. Rool kidnapped all of Donkey's friends. Diddy Kong, Tiny Kong, Lanky Kong, and Chunky Kong. You'll end up rescuing them all and of course you get to play as them! More on that in the game-play section. A simple story, and it works without being over-the-top even as many games of this time kept wanting to expand on story lines and character development, this game kept it simple, making it coherent enough for players of all ages!
Game-play: 10/10: Here's where the game really shines. Not only do you get to play as Donkey Kong, but all of the other aforementioned Kong's are playable too! Each character has their own weapon, special "power", and musical instrument. Sometimes songs by a certain character will have to be played to open up new areas, etc. Diddy plays a wicked electric guitar while Tiny plays the flute. It's pretty diverse and the game actually makes you use all of the characters at some point.
Each character, as I mentioned, has a special ability. Tiny Kong for instance, can use her pigtails to spin like a helicopter to help her glide to a location and make some difficult jumps. And each character has their own weapon. Diddy dual-wields pistols that shoot peanuts out, for instance. Some switches may require his particular weapon to activate. Others may require something more heavy, like Chunky Kong's bazooka. Of course you can use these weapons against enemies too which can make mowing them down *very* fun. You even get coconut bombs that can blow enemies out of their pants and out of the water.
The controls are pretty smooth and shouldn't give you much hassle here, plus the camera angle is full controllable. Or you can leave it in a fixed position, your choice. The difficulty here is actually somewhat surprising however, actually challenging the players quite a bit. You'll find yourself having fun but the game doesn't baby you either.
There are a couple of Easter Eggs as well, one of them being the original arcade version of Donkey Kong! I was pretty shocked and happy when I came across this. So you'll be getting a slight nostalgia fix here as well :)
Graphics: 10/10: Due to the required graphics pak, this game has excellent graphics for the N64. Environments and characters are far more detailed than the typical N64 game at the time. The graphics and colors are smooth and crisp, and not so much polygonal like most of the consoles' games. It's actually amazing, what they pulled off here, given the limitations of the N64. This wouldn't be the first N64 game to have great graphics, as others had them without the pak, but this game, and most of those games' releases were towards the end of the N64's shelf time. Still, great nonetheless.
The environments also closely resemble that of Banjo-Kazooie, another great game produced by Rare. So if you've played B-K, you'll definitely feel like you're in a familiar environment.
Sound: 10/10: Another place that shines amongst the rest. There's an intro song that was studio recorded (a singer and everything) that sounds absolutely amazing. Said musical number also introduces you to the characters, in case you're new to the series, and it's for the new Kongs as well, giving them a well-deserved introduction. The sounds and music in this game provide a stellar atmosphere, and all of the tracks fit with their environments/situations. Some are silly while others are dark and brooding. The game provides ambient sounds too. Birds chirping, waves crashing on the beach, all to help you immerse yourself into the game and it's environment.
Overall: 9/10: This game is without a doubt one of the best for the Nintendo 64. It boasts great graphics and great game-play mechanics, as well as the fitting and ambient sounds and music. It's a strong entry to the series and definitely worth the cash. You should be able to find a pretty cheap used copy if you shop around. Without a doubt, buy this game if you don't have it already, just make sure you have the required graphics pak and enjoy!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/08/10
Game Release: Donkey Kong 64 (US, 11/24/99)
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