Donkey Kong 64

Abstract

I don’t usually write reviews—though my strong opinions and OCD really compel me to do so more often—but I feel like Donkey Kong 64 really needs one.

Donkey Kong 64 is the main Donkey Kong game for the Nintendo 64 and follows the SNES line of Donkey Kong Country games, albeit in 3D. It’s a pretty good game, but it has it’s issues.

Pros

DK64 has some really good parts:

  • A lot of gameplay.

    DK64 has a lot of gameplay in various ways. Unlike some games, you definitely feel like you get your money’s worth. It has the main storyline with the overarching theme (beat K.Rool by running around and reaching goals), but it also has quite a lot of other sub-goals and mini-games. There’s also a lot of stuff to collect, weapons to use, and places to explore as well as different characters along with their special abilities, and even two animals to play as. If you are a 100%-gamer, there is definitely a lot of game available. You definitely do not feel ripped off with this game. (Actually, while I thought it would take a really long time to play through, I was surprised to achieve—near—100% in just two weeks, totaling ~65 hours of in-game time. Of course by then, I was already tired of it anyway.)

  • Familiarity

    Being a Donkey Kong game, it has a lot of similarity to other Donkey Kong games, so long-time fans will be able to jump right in and enjoy the things they liked about past games (though personally, I have not yet played the DKC games :-|). It is also very similar to Super Mario Bros. 64, so if you enjoyed that, then you get more like it. (It is also similar to the GameCube game Super Mario Sunshine, so if you have already played that, like I have, then you get that bonus as well.) In addition, it has a couple of levels of the original Donkey Kong arcade game as well as Jetpac, so you get a blast from the past in that way too.

  • Environment

    The tropical island environment is just lovely. The beautiful sun, sand, plants, and water is so alluring and inviting, it really makes me want to move to a tropical island. The same applies to Super Mario Sunshine which has a similar island with intoxicating beaches.

Cons

Unfortunately DK64 also has some really annoying problems (some of which are actually pros that are poorly implemented and result in aggravation):

  • Overwhelming

    While the amount of gameplay is a good thing, there is just so much of it, that it gets to be feel very cluttered. There are several characters, a bunch of locations, and countless items. Between the weapons (shooters and instruments), the regular and golden bananas, the regular and special coins, several types of mini-games, orange bombs and crystal coconuts, fairies, blueprints, numerous moves and combos, and so on and so on, it really feels overwhelming. This is made worse for those of us who want/need to get 100% completion in games. To some degree, you do become accustomed to most of it, but it still feels uncomfortable cluttered, constantly wondering if you got everything or missed anything.

  • Rip-off

    Similarity to other games can be a good thing, but DK64 takes it to a problematic extreme. There are (too) many places where it feels exactly like other games, especially Mario 64. There are several places like the slide races, the island, moves, etc. that are so similar to Mario 64, that it is almost as though they just copy-pasted them from the other game and merely changed the textures. The similarities are so strong, that several different walkthroughs have called them out. (In turn, Mario Sunshine may have been influenced DK64.)

  • Unwieldy

    Like many of the other early 3D games of the time (particularly Mario 64), the controls for both the character and the camera are frustratingly difficult to use and poorly implemented. Moving the character around is often a real chore due to the way the controls work. This is really annoying, especially when it makes it difficult if not impossible to accomplish some tasks. The camera certainly does not help either because whether it is automatic or “manual”, it is often in the wrong place, making things like flying through rings likewise difficult or impossible. The awkward camera also makes it difficult to see some things like balloons that would be easy to see in real life (just tilt your head), but require a concerted effort to see in the game (which of course requires your knowing it is there in the first place). The controls are bad enough that players may throw their controllers in frustration.

  • Bizarre Goals

    Most of the game was pretty straight-forward and there wasn’t too much confusion on what needed to be done. However, there were several places where something that needed to be done (like some of the gold-banana games) were absolutely not intuitive and would not occur to a player. Likewise, it was not obvious howto use the dirt-piles because the move required to expose them seemed like a generic attack move that had nothing to do with the dirt patches. Another example is how in one of the Splish Splash Salvage mini-games, the vines swing down in so that you can reach the coin above water only after you get the underwater ones. The second fight with Army-Dillo was frustrating because it was not clear that you should just keep pounding on him towards the end, rather it seemed more like you had to do something else like jump on him to fly out or something; this happens several times in the game where you end up over-thinking a task, expecting it to be more complicated and clever than it actually is.

  • Lanky

    Lanky Kong was just annoying. From his goofy persona to his, literally, lanky gait and awkward movements, he was annoying to use and provided no significant benefit and had no real point. At least Chunky was big and strong. 🙁

  • Too Hard

    Most of the game isn’t too bad. There are a few parts that are really challenging like the DK arcade (especially the second time), the double-car Minecart Mayhem mini-game, or some of the races. However, most of these are doable with a little (or a lot) of practice. Unfortunately at least one of the tasks is nigh on impossible, the aptly named “Beaver Bother!”. This mini-game requires herding a small group of Gnawty Beavers and getting them to fall down the hole in the center. Unfortunately this is effectively impossible because no amount of snapping at a single beaver will get them to fall in the hole; getting them to fall in requires getting them in a position where one is next to the hole and cannot move away because it is blocked by another beaver. Since there are only four beavers in the arena (five in the “Creepy Castle” versions), it is difficult to get them in the right position. Worse, if you fall in the hole, the game is over and you have to start over. With enough practice, it is possible to get four or five down there, but the game requires 12, and with a 60 second time limit (45 in the “Creepy Castle” versions), it is flat out impossible to do. Having even one of this mini-game is bad enough, but Rare actually put it in the game three times! What were they thinking‽ Did they do any playtesting at all‽ 😮

  • DK Rap

    The DK Rap that is performed in the opening sequence is almost, almost amusing, but it is painfully clear that it was written by non-rappers. Throughout the song, there are several places where it keeps pausing for a beat, resulting in a stuttering effect, as though they could not think of a longer word to use to have enough syllables to keep the rhythm smooth.

Summary

Overally, Donkey Kong 64 is a fun, engaging game but has a few issues that make it frustrating. You feel like you get your money’s worth, and if you play it fast enough, you should be able to get through it before the novelty wears off and the problems take over.

In just a couple of weeks, I got up to 98% (198 gold bananas, all regular bananas (and medals), both special coins, all crowns, all fairies, all keys, all blueprints, and all but 29 banana coins). The only thing left other than the final fight with K.Rool, is to get the remaining three gold bananas, but unfortunately they are the three “Beaver Bother!” bananas which means that I will likely be unable to get 100% in the foreseeable future—maybe it can be left as a quick “casual game” for later on. 🙁

Music List

Music([])
E Nomine
Fettes Brot
Nightwish
micky 3d
Imagine Dragons
Arash (Melody)
Paul Cauthen (Everybody Walkin’ this Land)

Legend / Key
Pre (()Impression before starting (eg “hype”)
Start ([)Impression during early parts
Mid ()Impression through most of it; current impression
End (])Impression at end (or towards the end)
Post ())Final, overall impression
Didn’t finish; quit
Not applicable; haven’t/hasn’t started yet; have not heard of it
Hate(d) it; was/is a mistake/waste of time; dreading it
Negative feelings; a chore; not looking forward to it
Neutral feelings; no opinion; can take or leave it
Positive feelings; want more; looking forward to it; heard good things
Love(d) it; worthwhile; can’t wait for it

Movie List

Movie([])
Twilight
Inception
Rat Race
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Legend / Key
Pre (()Impression before starting (eg “hype”)
Start ([)Impression during early parts
Mid ()Impression through most of it; current impression
End (])Impression at end (or towards the end)
Post ())Final, overall impression
Didn’t finish; quit
Not applicable; haven’t/hasn’t started yet; have not heard of it
Hate(d) it; was/is a mistake/waste of time; dreading it
Negative feelings; a chore; not looking forward to it
Neutral feelings; no opinion; can take or leave it
Positive feelings; want more; looking forward to it; heard good things
Love(d) it; worthwhile; can’t wait for it

Video Game List

Game([])
American McGee’s Alice
Bubblet!
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
Clive Barker’s Jericho
Clive Barker’s Undying
Don’t Starve
Donkey Kong 64
Feeding Frenzy
Forever Worlds
Ghost Recon
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Ghost Recon: Desert Seige
Ghost Recon: Island Thunder
Gunman Chronicles
Half-Life
Insaniquarium Deluxe
Insaniquarium
Kingpin
Kiss Psycho Circus
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Max Payne
NiBiRu: Age of Secrets
Painkiller
Prey
Project IGI 2: Covert Ops
Project IGI
Quake 3 Arena
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Safecracker
Scratches (Director’s Cut + Last Visit)
Sentinel: Descendants in Time
Sérious Sam: The First Encounter
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 4
Silent Hill
SiN
SiN: Wages of SiN
Snug
Starcraft
Tomb Raider
Unreal Tournament 2003
Unreal Tournament 2004
Unreal Tournament
Word Harmony

Legend / Key
Pre (()Impression before starting (eg “hype”)
Start ([)Impression during early parts
Mid ()Impression through most of it; current impression
End (])Impression at end (or towards the end)
Post ())Final, overall impression
Didn’t finish; quit
Not applicable; haven’t/hasn’t started yet; have not heard of it
Hate(d) it; was/is a mistake/waste of time; dreading it
Negative feelings; a chore; not looking forward to it
Neutral feelings; no opinion; can take or leave it
Positive feelings; want more; looking forward to it; heard good things
Love(d) it; worthwhile; can’t wait for it

Television Show List

Show([])Notes
$H!* My Dad Says
2 Broke Girls
10 Things I Hate About You
30 Rock
Alias
Alphas
American Dad
American Horror Story
American Pickers
Anger Management
Animal Practice
Archer
Arctic Air
Auction Kings
Awkward
Bad Education
Battlestar Galactica
Ben and Kate2
Better Off Ted
Big Bang Theory, The
Bionic Woman (2007)
Black Donnellys, The
Boardwalk Empire
Bob’s Burgers
Body of Proof
Bones
Booth at the End
Borgias
Brand X
Brickleberry
Bunheads
Cajun Pawn Stars
Californication
Cape, The3
Caprica
Castle
Chicago Fire
Chicago PD
Chicago Med
Chuck
Citizen Khan
Cleveland Show, The
Cold Case
Community
Copper
Corner Gas
Cougar Town
Criminal Minds
CSI
CSI: Miami
CSI: NY
Day Break
Defenders
Dexter
Dirty, Sexy, Money
Doctor Who (2005)
Dollhouse3
Drive
Eastwick
Elementary
Eli Stone
Endgame
Eureka4
Face/Off
Family Guy
Flash Forward
Game of Thrones
Gates
Geordie Shore
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Mine
Glee
Go On
Good Guys, The
Good Luck Charlie
Gossip Girl
Gravity Falls
Greek
Grey’s Anatomy1
Guys With Kids
Hannah Montana
Harry’s Law
Hart of Dixie
Hawaii Five-0
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
Hills, The1
Hot Set
House M.D.
How I Met Your Mother
Inbetweeners
Jersey Shore
John Doe
Key & Peele
L.A. Complex
Las Vegas
Last Resort
Law & Order
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Law & Order: Los Angeles
Law & Order: SVU
Legit
Life on Mars
Life Unexpected
Lost Girl1
Lost
Mad Men2 3
Major Crimes
Make it or Break it
Melissa and Joey
Miami Med
Middle, The
Mike & Molly
Mob Doctor
Moone Boy
Moonlight
Mr. D
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
My Name is Earl
Mythbusters
Nashville
NCIS Los Angeles
NCIS
NCIS New Orleans
Neighbors From Hell
New Girl1
New Normal
Nine Lives of Chloe King, The
Nine, The
No Ordinary Family
Numb3s
OC, The
Oddities
Office, The (2004)
Office, The (2005)
Outsourced
Parenthood
Parks and Recreation
Partners
Pawn Stars
Pawnathon Canada
Person of Interest
Persons Unknown
Phineas and Ferb
Playboy Club
Pretty Little Liars
Prison Break
Private Practice
Pushing Daisies
Raising Hope
Reaper
Revenge
Revolution
Ricky Gervais Show, The
Ringer
River
Robot Combat League
Rules of Engagement
Running Wilde
Scandal
Scret Circle, The1
Secret Life of the American Teenager, The1 2 3
Shameless UK
Shameless US
Simpsons, The
Six Degrees
Skins (UK)
Skins (US)
Smash
South Park
Starate Atlantis
Stargate SG-1
Stargate Universe
Stranded
Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The
Suite Life on Deck
Surface
Swingtown
Switched at Birth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
The Mindy Project
Three Rivers
Torchwood
Two and Half Men
Ugly Americans
Unsupervised
Up All Night
V (2010)
Valleys, The
Vampire Diaries, The1
Vegas
Walking Dead, The
Warehouse 13
Wizards of Waverly Place
Workaholics

Legend / Key
Pre (()Impression before starting (eg “hype”)
Start ([)Impression during early parts
Mid ()Impression through most of it; current impression
End (])Impression at end (or towards the end)
Post ())Final, overall impression
Didn’t finish; quit
Not applicable; haven’t/hasn’t started yet; have not heard of it
Hate(d) it; was/is a mistake/waste of time; dreading it
Negative feelings; a chore; not looking forward to it
Neutral feelings; no opinion; can take or leave it
Positive feelings; want more; looking forward to it; heard good things
Love(d) it; worthwhile; can’t wait for it
1Only watching because it has attractive girls
2Only watching because of OCD
3Boring