Review: Donkey Kong 64 (Nintendo 64)

Donkey Kong 64 is just like every other 3-D platformer out there, but bigger. It has the requisite “save the world” story, involving K.Rool kidnapping Donkey Kong’s friends and threatening Kong Island with a large weapon of mass destruction. During the course of the game, DK must free the other four kongs (who can then be controlled by the player), deactivate the laser, and defeat K.Rool in a final, lengthy battle.

 

The game also has the requisite wide-open world, filled with levels to unlock and explore. All the platformer staples are here, including a jungle level, desert level, and ice level, and a haunted castle.

And then, of course, there’s the stuff to collect. Scads and scads and scads of stuff.

Besides such things as ammo, crystal coconuts and health power-ups, which aren’t necessary to complete the game, but do make it easier, the player must also acquire 100 bananas and 5 golden bananas per character per level, which are required to gain access to levels and level bosses. Since there are five playable characters in the game, this means that there are 500 regular and 25 golden bananas to collect in each level.

Multiply that by 8 levels, and DK64 becomes a monkey nightmare. Of course, you don’t HAVE to collect them all (this ain’t Pokemon), but you will, if you want to achieve a 101% completion rating (and, no, that is not a typo).

Then there are various miscellaneous artifacts like blueprints, battle crowns, banana fairies, and two special coins, which are, for the most part, optional, but also contribute to that completion rating.

Aside from all the stuff, DK64 also features a wide array of mini-games to play and win (and win you will, if you want those golden bananas). These games are extremely fun to play, but seemingly come in one of two difficulty ratings: extremely easy or frustratingly difficult.

Herein lies the problem with DK64. It is extremely enjoyable and fun to play, but in the few instances where you get stuck, you get stuck in an very frustrating manner. I’ve already mentioned the mini-games, some of which will have you swearing and contemplating hurling your Nintendo 64 out the window, but the bosses also fall into this category.

For the most part, you can figure out how to defeat a level’s boss by using a bit of brain work, but there are a couple which, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong, unless you consult a strategy guide.