The Donkey Kong Country trilogy developed by Rare for the Super Nintendo is one of the shining jewels of the pre-2000s era of gaming. From the titular Donkey Kong Country, along with Donkey Kong Country: Diddy’s Kong Quest and (the most forgettable) Donkey Kong Country: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble, the game achieved what many platformers that Nintendo developed failed to do – create a meaningful game that both encourages skilful play while not being too punishing. Donkey Kong Country is commonly related to the Super Mario series, but the difference is staggering. While Super Mario games are similar to one another and function the same, the Donkey Kong Country series is constantly innovating to create fresh experiences for the player.
Donkey Kong Country: Diddy’s Kong Quest is often considered the magnum opus of the series among fans. The music composed by David Wise is one of these reasons. Wise’s music compliments the settings of the levels and compels the player to continue playing. From the eery and gloomy tune that plays during the Web Woods level, or the happy jig that plays on the pirate ship themed levels, it is clear that the sound design is one of the strong points of the games.
And while so much focus is given to the sound design, that does not mean anything else is lacking. The platforming sections of levels are constantly testing the player on game mechanics, and the rising difficulty curve succeeds in keeping the player engaged. Some levels have the player blasting from barrel to barrel in a sort of pseudo-maze while others test your platforming skills under a series of different conditions and gimmicks, such as ghostly ropes that can dissapear as you climb them, or during a thunderstorm where lightning periodically strikes down from the sky. Some levels even have you play with an animal companion that has its own set of skills so that the game never feels repetitive.
The Donkey Kong Country series will remain as one of Nintendo’s most prominent titles despite its release dating back over twenty-five years.