Donkey Kong Country (Really) Returns: A Rare Treat

These days, it can be a little sad to be a fan of Rare and their games. Whenever they try to make a game in the same vein as their old popular classics, Microsoft has become notorious for cancelling the projects. Really, the only new appearances that their characters get to make these days are cameos in things like Minecraft and Sonic & Sega: All-Stars Racing.


The one ray of hope for the Rare fans has always been the Donkey Kong series. In 1994 Rare reinvented the series with Donkey Kong Country giving it a beautiful new aesthetic, changing Donkey Kong from the villain to the hero (passing off the past villainous acts as having been done by his grandfather) and introducing a huge cast of memorable new characters. As the Donkey Kong series existed before Rare started working on it, when they left Nintendo in 2002 to work for Microsoft (due to a buyout), Nintendo kept hold of the series.




Initially, the series suffered a lot from this transition. Without Rare at the helm, lots of different companies made Donkey Kong games, but they were either music based games, climbing games, or games which went back to the style of the pre-Rare days. Anyone who wanted something else in the Donkey Kong Country style would have to wait quite a while.


Finally, in 2010, the fans got what they wanted in the form of Retro Studio’s Donkey Kong Country Returns (and its 2014 sequel Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze) which, as I am sure you can guess, was a return to the Donkey Kong Country style of game. But some things were still missing: many members of the Kong family were absent, while there were previously a large number of ‘Animal Buddies’ you could ride, it was now cut down to one and most noteworthy of all, the series antagonists, the Kremlings, were completely removed.




Well, for those who still felt they were missing something, there’s some very good news; the three Donkey Kong Country and three Donkey Kong Land games created by Rare, for SNES and Game Boy respectively, are all due for release on the European Virtual Console for 3DS and Wii U this month. This is wonderful: not only does it give us a chance to re-experience the old classics, but also potentially have our first experience of the slightly more obscure Land titles. By buying this game, those who miss the features omitted in the two most recent titles can show that there is still a strong interest in them and that it would be worth their while if Nintendo and Retro Studios were to re-incorporate them. This release will also be a relief to many fans who (after the Country titles were removed from the Wii’s download service in 2012) were worried that some copyright issue had arisen which prevented them from being made available.


So, if you’re a fan, why not download them as soon as possible? Even if you already have the cartridges, having a download is a good idea because their memories won’t last forever. And, if you’ve never played any of this series before, these games are a wonderful experience and are well worth the small cost of a Virtual Console download.

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