Donkey Kong 64 – Definitive 50 N64 Game #21

The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games

The N64 Expansion Pak accessory doubled the 64’s RAM – from 4MB to a whopping 8MB. The expansion pak is inserted into a port on the top the console. A passthrough Jumper Pak originally contained in the port is removed and the Expansion Pak is inserted in its place.

Donkey Kong 64 is one of the few N64 games to actually require the Expansion Pak. The game was apparently meant to work without it, but an unfixable bug prevented this. As such, DK64 was bundled with the accessory. The Expansion Pak also offers enhancements in numerous other games – improving resolution, frame rate, colours, and other graphical elements.

Although it was Mario 64 that kicked off the 3D platformer craze – it was Rare that really took the ball and ran with the concept. After the fantastic Banjo Kazooie, the developer returned to the franchise that had made it a star back on the Super Nintendo – Donkey Kong.

This time around King K. Rool has set his sights on destroying Donkey Kong Island using his Blast-O-Matic weapon. The only thing is, his incompetent henchmen smash the thing before he can put it to good use. To distract his nemesis, K. Rool has DK’s banana hoard stolen and kidnaps his friends and relatives. Cue gameplay.

Over the course the game, you’ll rescue the kidnapped Kongs, and they’ll promptly join your cause. DK64 allows you to play as so many more Kongs than ever before. In addition to DK and Diddy, performing for you are Lanky, Tiny, and Chunky.

Each character has his or her own unique weapons, instruments, and abilities. Diddy wields peanut popguns, Tiny plays the saxophone, and Lanky can stretch his arms and reach the otherwise out-of-reach.

You’ve got to switch between all of the Kongs regularly to take advantage of all these unique skills.

More than that, each of Donkey Kong 64’s seven massive worlds contains numerous character-specific collectibles. Each Kong has an associated colour, and only they can collect items of that colour.

Get this – there aren’t, say 100 bananas in each stage, no, there are 100 green bananas just for Chunky, and the same goes for every other character. That makes for a total of 3500 bananas in the game, about half of which you’ll need just to beat it. And that’s not nearly all, there are character specific action pads, targets, coins, and blueprints, and, and, and!

Perhaps most frustratingly of all are the Rareware and Nintendo coins. In addition to all the expected minecart and animal buddy minigames features in DK64, there are also versions of the ZX-Spectrum game Jet Pac and arcade classic Donkey Kong. You need to complete challenges in both to get the coins in order to get the final fight with King K. Rool.

Here’s the thing – frankly, I hate Donkey Kong 64. The game is the peak of the collect-a-thon gameplay that was pioneered, and gloriously fun in Mario 64, but became ever more tedious as the N64 generation wore on. But I get the appeal if it’s your thing.

There’s one other thing I have to mention – DK64 is remembered for 3 things: being bundled with the Expansion Pak, featuring collect-a-thon gameplay, and… its introductory song. The DK Rap is unrivaled in the history of gaming as both the mediums catchiest and most hilariously terrible song.

Rare continued to labour in the 3D action-platformer genre after DK64 as well – with Banjo Tooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, but we’ll get to those games a little later on this list.

Let me know what you think of Donkey Kong and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe. Check back next week for entry #20 on the Definitive 50 N64 games!