After playing Donkey Kong Country Returns, I had a craving to go back in time and experience the game that started it all. Proud of the fact that I had completed what I considered to be a fairly challenging game, I thought playing the original Donkey Kong Country would be a cakewalk.
Of course, I was wrong. The margin for error in Donkey Kong Country was much smaller than I remembered. That, or I’m getting old and losing my touch with platformers.
Several controller crushing hours later, I really remembered what it was like to feel proud of beating a level. Sparse checkpoints coupled with frequent make it or die moments left me feeling tense and anxious. Would I die and go back to start, or would I make it, only to die at the next challenge after that? Regardless of how many times I died, I got progressively better.
A challenging difficulty wasn’t the only appeal of this classic SNES game. Even for it’s age, it still performs well and retains a kind charm that even diminished graphical capacity can’t seem to snuff out, not to mention its superb soundtrack. A stark contrast to the chirpy music of competing platformers, Donkey Kong Country had a much more earth tone and beat. It was still catchy, and managed to capture the atmosphere despite the archaic technology.
In order to appreciate the games today, it’s good to know where they’ve come from.