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Donkey Kong 64 (abbreviated as DK 64) is a platformer video game developed by Raremarker and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was released in North America on November 22, 1999 and in Europe on December 6, 1999. The game is a follow up to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Donkey Kong 64 follows the adventures of the titular Donkey Kong and four of his simian relatives as they try to win back their hoard of Golden Bananas and banish the evil King K.Rool and his cronies from the vicinity of their island. Players can control all five Kongs in eight individual levels as well as a greater worldmap, a multiplayer mode, and several minigames.

Donkey Kong 64 was the first game to require the Expansion Pak, which provides more RAM for enhanced graphics and more expansive environments (in future games, the Expansion Pak was entirely optional, with the exception of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask). Donkey Kong 64 went on to become a Nintendo 64 Player's Choice title.

Gameplay

Donkey Kong, exploring the Jungle Japes level
The game is a 3D adventure with strong platforming links, similar to that of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. There are a total of five playable Kongs, each with completely unique (and upgradeable) abilities. The player starts out with access to Donkey Kong only, then goes on to unlock each of the other four Kongs as part of the gameplay (in the order of Diddy, Tiny or Lanky, and then Chunky). Unlocking all 5 Kongs is necessary to defeat character-specific bosses in each level. Each new Kong that is freed can be accessed as playable through tag barrels that are scattered throughout each world. Additionally, each Kong is represented by a colour which works alongside the game's unique collecting system where objects such as bananas and coins can only be collected by the Kong who has that colour on the object. The colours are as follows: yellow for Donkey Kong, red for Diddy, purple for Tiny, blue for Lanky, and green for Chunky.

Each playable Kong has several types of things to collect. First and foremost are the Golden Bananas. There are five Golden Bananas per Kong in every level that only that specific character can get. (One Golden Banana per Kong per level can be collected by delivering the colour-appropriate blueprint to Snide after getting them from the Kasplats.) The Golden Bananas are used as payment to get past B.Lockers that guard the entrance to every new level.

Each character can also find 100 colour-appropriate bananas per level - single bananas, bunches of 5, or balloons to be popped that are worth 10. The regular bananas are necessary to unlock boss fights, to acquire Boss Keys. Boss Keys in turn are used to free K.Lumsy, who in his excitement often unlocks new levels to be completed.

A third important thing to collect is character-specific coloured coins. With these coins, each Kong is allowed to buy essential combat items: Cranky Kong's special ability potions, Funky Kong's guns, and Candy Kong's musical instruments (as well as upgrades of the same). All of these skills and supplies are necessary to complete the game, either just by killing enemies or because of specific pads and switches that needed to be activated.

Other items to be collected are ammunition for guns, orange grenades (usable by all 5 Kongs, and rather self-explanatory) and Crystal Coconuts, used to fuel Cranky's special abilities.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer can be played by up to four players at one time. It features three arenas, one special arena and six gameplay modes. The five playable characters from the single player adventure are used in the multiplayer mode, along with a secret character, Krusha. If only two players play in the special arena, random baddies will appear to make the game more difficult.

Plot

King K. Rool is trying to destroy Donkey Kong Island with a large laser called the Blast-O-Matic, but it malfunctions after a crash that puts his floating, mechanical island face-to-face with Donkey Kong Island. To buy some time, he captures some of the Kongs and locks them up. He then steals Donkey Kong's precious hoard of Golden Bananas. As Donkey Kong frees his fellow apes, they set off to recover the bananas and defeat King K. Rool and his army of Kremlings and other evil creatures.

Characters

Promotional art for Donkey Kong 64, illustrating the protagonists
  • Donkey Kong, the titular character and the first playable character in the game, is a large, muscular Mountain Gorilla who wears a red monogrammed necktie, and his weapon of choice is the "Coconut Cannon".
  • Diddy Kong, who debuted in Donkey Kong Country, is a monkey in a red baseball cap and T-shirt, the latter bearing a yellow star on the back, his weapons are the "Peanut Popguns" (pistols that fire peanuts).
  • Tiny Kong is a Chimpanzee, and younger sister of Dixie Kong from the Donkey Kong Country games. Just like her sister, her pigtails allow her to temporarily float through the air, and unique to Tiny is the ability to shrink in size to fit into places the other Kongs cannot reach, her weapon is a "Feather Bow" (a crossbow that fires sharp feathers)
  • Lanky Kong, a newcomer in the Donkey Kong series, is a Sumatran Orangutan whose long arms allow him to handstand. He can also inflate himself to float. His weapon of choice is the "Grape Shooter" (similar to a blowgun).
  • Chunky Kong, the older brother of Kiddy Kong and cousin to Tiny Kong, is a strong yet cowardly Eastern Lowland Gorilla who can lift heavy objects, but (as explained in the theme song) is slow and unable to jump high, and his weapon is a "Pineapple Bazooka" which is the most powerful gun on the game.


Other characters include Cranky Kong who sells the Kongs various new moves via his potions, Funky Kong, who sells them guns, Snide the weasel, who was formerly King K. Rool's henchman before he was fired and thus collects blueprints for the Kongs, and Candy Kong, who supplies the Kongs with musical instruments. Some other notable characters are K. Lumsy, who opens up levels, Squawks, who points things out, brings you Golden Bananas when his attention is attracted, and can carry Tiny to new heights. There is also a Banana Fairy Queen, who requests that the Kongs rescue her citizens and in exchange teaches the Kongs an invincible technique. Collecting Banana Fairies unlocks many new options outside of one-player mode, including cheats.

Rambi and Engaurde appear in the game. Donkey Kong can turn into Rambi the Rhino in Jungle Japes. He can batter into objects and immediately kill any enemy. Lanky Kong can turn into Engaurde the Swordfish in Gloomy Galleon. He can swim at high speeds, leap out of the water, and strike with his "sword".

The game has several antagonists as well. The main villain is the Kong's main antagonist, King K. Rool, who tries to destroy DK Isle. The level's bosses are Army Dillo (a heavily-armoured armadillo who is the boss of Jungle Japes and Crystal Caves), Dogadon (a giant dragonfly who's the boss of Angry Aztec and Fungi Forest), Mad Jack (a gigantic jack-in-the-box who is the boss of Frantic Factory), Pufftoss (a large Blowfish who is the boss of Gloomy Galleon), King Kut Out (a cardboard cut-out of K. Rool who is operated by two Kremlings and is the boss of Creepy Castle), and the final, extremely difficult boss, King K Rool (disguised as a boxer that each Kong must fight). The game's secondary antagonist is a Minecart Kremling [Krash], not actually a boss and has nothing to do with King K. Rool, and operates mines throughout Jungle Japes, Fungi Forest and Creepy Castle.

Music

The intro cut scene of the game features a full-length song with vocals, called the "DK Rap". The line "His coconut gun can fire in spurts. If he shoots ya, it's gonna hurt!" was named the fourth worst game line ever in the January 2002 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Also the rap contains the word "hell" being spoken out loud during the rap and is the first Rare game to use mild language (Conker's Bad Fur Day had strong language since it was rated M for Mature where DK64 was rated E for Everyone). It was also used in Donkey Konga and as the background music for the Kongo Jungle stage in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but was remixed and "hell" was replaced with "heck". The song is performed by James W. Norwood Jr., who used several different voices and effects for the remix in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but used the same voice for the original Donkey Kong 64 version. An official soundtrack was also released.

Reception

Donkey Kong 64 was released to generally positive reviews. Review scores range from 80% to 100%, with an average of 88% on review aggregate site Game Rankings. The most commonly cited issue was the lacklustre multiplayer mode and unwarranted tediousness and difficulty of some parts. GameSpot claimed "it lacks enough 'wow factor' to exert the revolutionary influence that Donkey Kong Country had" and IGN reports that while it is "not the leap and bound that Donkey Kong Country was for Super NES, [it] is still an excellent platformer all the same".

References


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