I finally beat Donkey Kong Country for the first time today. Not a remake. Not even the Wii U sequel. I am talking about the original SNES game that started it all.
I have always been the type of person that never saw beating a game, or completing it 100 percent, as a goal. I always played video games as if they were just that, games. I win some, I lose some. My goal is always to just have fun. Sure, once you get to a point in the game where you start dying every turn, it’s no longer quit as fun. This is also true for me and chess. I am not very good at chess so anyone with rudimentary skills can defeat me pretty easily. Losing a game doesn’t diminish from my enjoyment. I dare say I’d have to cheat to win at Monopoly, another game I constantly beg others to play despite my not being good at it. I don’t care if I win, lose, or if someone storms out in anger as they flip the board, and often a bird, to get attention. It’s always been about the experience of playing.
I think this is what deters me from so many story-based games. Even if the story is compelling, if I am only “rewarded” with the next act, the next scene or the next chapter based on my skill to solve puzzle, forget it. I don’t have ultra-fast reflexes either. I rarely enjoy playing competitive games for this reason. Unlike board games where there is friendly banter, the smack talking with strangers who haven’t earned the right to belittle me have no appeal to me.
I have no desire to sit in the comfort of my home and let some juvenile bully and berate me because I don’t have the time to devote my life to “git gud” at a video game. I prefer to enjoy life. I would rather play a game of Super Mario World, a few rounds of Tetris, or go back to the safety and familiarity of a Ms. Pac-Man, than I would subjecting myself to the torture of being ridiculed.
I’m kind of an introverted loner by nature. Part of that is I was bullied at school. I turned to video games as a form of escape. For the bullying to following me into my safe space, let me tell you this is one good reason why I could care less if Nintendo ever gets their online plan sorted out. In fact, outside of the Smash Bros. and Mario Kart communities, I would prefer it if Nintendo went back to making systems that didn’t even feature online connectivity at all. I am kind of glad they are now requiring people to pay for it. Not because I hope the service improves. I am just hoping it weeds out the children who feel the need to brag about their conquest of my mother who I assure you is out of their league.
If I was never any good at Donkey Kong Country, why did I keep going back to it? Well for starters, the game doesn’t get hard until quite a few levels into. I can get a good half an hour or more of pure gaming bliss before I start popping DK balloons like a kid at a carnival. By the time the game gets difficult I would either power through a few levels to see if I could reach that next save point, or I would toss the controller at the wall, swear and go back to playing some Minecraft. Oh the days before Minecraft. Those were the dark days indeed.
I think what I enjoy so much about the game is the levels are fun. The graphics are pretty solid even today. Not to mention the gameplay is fantastic. I know people like to talk about the music. I don’t really get that impressed with video game music to be honest so I can’t really comment on how good it is or isn’t. I can say the themes fit the mood of the levels, for the most part, but to be perfectly honest no the tunes aren’t distinctly memorable to me. I enjoy the rest of the game. Except for one thing, the challenge. On the one hand the levels, even the hard levels, tend to be really short. The checkpoints often come at the right time too, just about the time the level is getting good and difficult.
I like the jungle levels tremendously. I don’t mind the cave levels except the crystal cave level I hate that one. I despise the underwater levels and I loathe, with the hatred of a thousand fiery suns, those dreadful mine cart levels. The tree top, desert and mountain levels are thematically enjoyable but tend to be either too bland, or on not very memorable to be honest.
The game itself reminds me of a combination of Pitfall! The Mayan Adventure, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong arcade with a tiny little bit of a Kirby vibe thrown in for good measure it seems. Since I enjoy nearly all of those games enough it tends to make for a great time, even if I spend most of it replaying the earlier levels.