Donkey Kong Land
North American box art
Developer(s)Rare
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Designer(s)Andrew Collard
Programmer(s)Paul Machacek
Artist(s)Dean Smith
Composer(s)
SeriesDonkey Kong
Platform(s)Game Boy
Release
  • NA: June 26, 1995
  • JP: July 27, 1995
  • EU: August 24, 1995
Genre(s)Platform
Mode(s)Single-player

Donkey Kong Land[a] is a platform game for the Game Boy developed by Rare and published by Nintendo in June 1995. The game is the handheld sequel of Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), which spawned its own series alongside the SNES series. Donkey Kong Land was enhanced for the Super Game Boy and featured a "banana yellow" cartridge, which was later used for its sequels. Many of the game's background elements, character models, and sound effects retained the same style as those in Donkey Kong Country. Despite sharing common level themes, the level design and story in DKL are different.

The game was re-released for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2014.

Gameplay

Donkey Kong Land is a 2D side-scrolling platform game that borrows mechanics established in Donkey Kong Country and optimized others for use on the Game Boy due to hardware limitations. Similar to its console iteration, the A button is used to jump and swim and the B button is used to roll and grab barrels. The Select button allows the player to switch control between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. However, only one Kong can be displayed on the screen at a time, while the second one teleports in when selected or when one Kong is hit by an enemy.

Mechanics borrowed from Donkey Kong Country include KONG letters, animal buddies, bonus rooms, and collecting bananas to gain extra lives. The player selects levels from a world map; there are four worlds in Donkey Kong Land, each containing seven levels, excluding the first world, which has a total of nine levels. Differing from their SNES counterparts, levels in Donkey Kong Land have only one or two bonus levels within stages.[1] The worlds, and the levels within them, are all unique to Donkey Kong Land, but follow similar level archetypes presented in the original Donkey Kong Country. The names of the levels are not mentioned in the game itself, but can be found in the instruction booklet. Finding all the secrets in a level causes an exclamation mark to appear over its icon in the world map.[2]

Although enemies from Donkey Kong Country return in the Game Boy adaptation, Donkey Kong Land includes original antagonists such as Hogwash, Nemo, Fangfish and Hardhat. Additionally, the game's four bosses other than K. Rool are completely original to Donkey Kong Land.

Super Game Boy

The Super Game Boy, an add-on to the Super NES released by Nintendo in 1994, allows Game Boy cartridges to be played on a television using the Super NES Control Deck. When played on a Super Game Boy, Donkey Kong Land's visuals and audio effects are expanded, and the game is surrounded by a jungle-themed border.

Plot

In the instruction booklet[3] of the game, it is explained that Donkey Kong Land's story takes place directly after the events in Donkey Kong Country. Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Cranky Kong are shown reflecting on their previous adventure. Out of jealousy, Cranky Kong scolds Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong about the success of Donkey Kong Country, implying that it only did so well because of the elaborate graphics and sound on the Super NES. Irritated, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong explain they earned their success because of the fun gameplay and not just the graphics and sound.

Mischievously, Cranky taunts the Kongs that they could not replicate the success of their past game on a monochrome handheld, causing Donkey Kong and Diddy to accept his challenge. Cranky explains that by the following day, he will have called King K. Rool and his Kremlings to steal Donkey Kong's bananas and scatter them across Donkey Kong Island. Determined to prove Cranky wrong, Donkey and Diddy head out to defeat K. Rool and the Kremlings. The duo eventually reach Big Ape City, where they ultimately defeat K. Rool in his penthouse.[2]

Development

Rare began development on Donkey Kong Land as its programmers were working on Donkey Kong Country. The game's visuals were created on Silicon Graphics workstations running PowerAnimator software, using the same "Advanced Computer Modeling" (ACM) technique as in Donkey Kong Country.[4][2]

Reception

Donkey Kong Land has received generally positive reviews by critics, who praised its gameplay and soundtrack while criticizing its large sprites for blending into the backgrounds, making it difficult to see enemies and obstacles.[5][6][7] Victor Lucas of The Electric Playground gave it a 9 out of 10, praising the game's music and controls but noting graphic problems on the Game Boy.[8] On release, Famitsū scored the game a 24 out of 40.[9] GamePro summarized that "Regardless of reductions in scope and cutbacks on technical aspects, DKL has excellent characters sprites that really come alive, huge levels, and a tough challenge that means you won't complete this cart in one sitting." They added that it should be played with the Super Game Boy since "the green-and-white Game Boy monitor just doesn't do this game justice."[10]

Awards

Donkey Kong Land was awarded Best Game Boy Game of 1995 by Electronic Gaming Monthly[11] and GamePro.[12]

Legacy

Sequels

Donkey Kong Land spawned two Game Boy sequels, mirroring the trilogy of games on the SNES. Following the structure of the SNES trilogy, Donkey Kong Land 2 featured Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong while Donkey Kong Land III featured Dixie Kong and Kiddy Kong. However, Donkey Kong Land III was the only game of the trilogy to have a Game Boy Color remaster, which was exclusive to Japan. Most of DKL's music and sound effects were reused in the Game Boy Color remake of Donkey Kong Country.

Re-releases

On 2 April 2014, Donkey Kong Land was released for the Japanese 3DS Virtual Console service via the 3DS eShop. Its two sequels were released on the Japanese 3DS Virtual Console on 16 April 2014, and 17 May 2014 as well. The EU 3DS re-release came to the eShop on 16 October 2014. It was released in North America on February 26, 2015, alongside the Donkey Kong Country trilogy and the other two Donkey Kong Land games.[13]

Notes

  1. ^ Released in Japan as Super Donkey Kong GB Sūpā Donkī Kongu Jībī (スーパードンキーコングGB)

References

  1. ^ "Donkey Kong Land - A Super Nintendo Game On Game Boy? | Donkey Kong Land". VideoGameGeek. Archived from the original on 2019-02-03. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  2. ^ a b c "Donkey Kong Land". Nintendo Power. No. 74. July 1995. pp. 10–23.
  3. ^ "Game Boy Instruction Manuals: Donkey Kong Land". www.world-of-nintendo.com. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  4. ^ "Donkey Kong Land". Nintendo Power. No. 69. February 1995. pp. 88–93.
  5. ^ Frear, Dave (October 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Land Review". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on May 20, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  6. ^ Merrick, Joe (October 21, 2014). "Donkey Kong Land Review". Nintendo Insider. Archived from the original on June 10, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Kamen, Matt (November 10, 2014). "Donkey Kong Land review – visuals are dated, but gameplay stays fresh". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  8. ^ Lucas, Victor (30 August 1995). "Donkey Kong Land". The Electric Playground. Archived from the original on 6 August 1997. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  9. ^ NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: スーパー ドンキーコングGB. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.346. Pg.29. 4 August 1995.
  10. ^ "ProReview: Donkey Kong Land". GamePro. IDG (72): 78. July 1995.
  11. ^ Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide. 1996.
  12. ^ "Editor's Choice Awards 1995". GamePro. No. 89. IDG. February 1996. p. 26.
  13. ^ Sirani, Jordan (February 26, 2015). "Six Donkey Kong Games Arrive on Virtual Console". Archived from the original on December 9, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2019.