This still remains true today, as he has become iconic and one of the most recognizable faces of any franchise in gaming. And all because he just wanted to get his banana hoard back.
DKC is the first game in the series that is a true platformer, side-scrolling and all. Compared to the previous games in the series before hand, this is the biggest jump in change of direction the series will ever face. If I had to quantify it, I would compare it a lot to the innovative style of Mario 64 compared to the previous Mario games. It was that groundbreaking.
Before I owned my own SNES, I had to play it over at my cousin's house. When he got DKC, we sank countless of hours into it, especially on the nights when I would sleep over at his house. We beat the game backwards and forwards, learning where each and every secret was and how to collect everything possible. We knew that game.
Several months after its release, our local Blockbuster store had a promotion they were doing for Donkey Kong Country, where they hosted local tournaments for the game. It was touted as a "competitive, tournament" version of the game, where there was just the first level to play, but slightly redesigned. The goal was simple, or so I thought: to score as many points as possible on one single run, with the highest scores being posted for all to see. I signed up, of course, but I used my cousin's name. Why, you ask? Well, there is a good reason for it, I assure you that.
You see, they didn't tell you ahead of time what was so different about this special version of the game, or how you went about scoring points. So I signed up as my cousin so I could do a play-through without any pressure or worry of failing, just to see what it was all about. It's a good thing I did, too, because I was totally caught off guard by the game. The level was filled with bananas, and you scored points by collecting bananas, hard to reach balloons and getting as far as possible into the level in the given time, which I think was a minute. The level itself was practically unchanged, except for the fact that all the secret routes and hideouts were closed off, which meant if you were like me and thought it was a good idea to go after those, you simply wasted precious seconds. Oh, and the one special barrel you have to fall into a pit to find? Yeah, that was gone. And guess what happened when you died? Your run was over.
So with that, I came back the following weekend, signed up as myself, and rocked that game like I knew what I was doing. Because I did. I ended up getting second place for the whole store, which ultimately meant nothing, but it was cool seeing my name up on the big leader board.
As weird as it sounds, Donkey Kong Country was my first official attempt at competitive gaming. And I kind of, sort of, cheated. I don't feel great about it, but I don't feel horrible at all, considering I didn't get rewarded anyway.
Tonight, playing Donkey Kong Country reminded me of all those nights spent perfecting the game, and while I couldn't sit down and write down all the secrets, once I start playing it it's like I have been playing nonstop for years. That's a fun feeling, too. If only I could get some sort of award for still being awesome. Oh well, this blog will have to do.