N64 Review: Donkey Kong 64
Review by: Namek (namek@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: N64
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Adventure
 # of Players: 1-4
 Size: 256 Megabits
 Developer: Rare Ltd.
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Controller Pak: Yes
 Rumble Pak: Yes
 Transfer Pak: No

 Release Date:
 US: Nov 22, 1999
 EU: Dec 6, 1999

Screenshots:

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Final Score:
9.4/10

Reviewed on: January 1, 1970

Donkey Kong 64 is amazing, there's no way around it. The gameplay is great, the controls are smooth and intuitive and the ambient sounds are simply amazing. Rare has delivered what they promised - a great game to usher Donkey Kong into the world of 3D.

DK64's story is pretty standard fare…the infamous K. Rool has kidnapped Donkey Kong's friends and stolen his golden bananas, and so Donkey Kong must find and defeat the aforementioned K. Rool…

The gameplay that carries this story is also fairly typical for a platformer, if by fairly typical you mean anything but typical. While Donkey Kong 64 does feature some of the platform jumping that defines the genre, the game is actually much more puzzle-oriented than most platformers. Granted, the puzzles are, for the most part, extremely easy, but they are at least a break from the platform-jumping tedium that most platformers force gamers to play through.

In fact, the main portion of DK64 is exploration and collection of various objects, such as bananas, keys, crowns, friends, and so forth. In this sense, Donkey Kong 64 is much more like a monkey-Zelda than a 3D-platformer.

In fact, Donkey Kong 64 is even more epic is scope that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time. I'll put it this way…do you remember how long it took to defeat Jet Force Gemini? Donkey Kong 64 is going to take you longer…

Like JFG, DK64's epic scope is going to frustrate some gamers. However, I still refuse to complain about a company making a game 'too long.' Think of it this way, you'll definitely get your money's worth from Donkey Kong 64. There's a lot of gameplay here, and most of it is rock-solid.

The graphics that back up DK64's outstanding gameplay are lovely, but they're not quite as jaw dropping as one would expect from a title that requires the N64 Expansion Pak. As a matter of fact, the visuals in Rayman 2: The Great Escape are completely up to par with DK64's scenes, and in some areas Rayman 2 looks better. That said, Donkey Kong 64's graphics certainly aren't bad, and some of the large area do provide the 'wow' that one would expect from a Rare title…

The sounds that provide the ambient backdrop for DK64's lovely graphics are fairly cool (I won't mention the 'DK Rap'). You'll hear the faint sounds of birds chirping, the soft ripple of a flowing stream, and even the wind rustling through the trees. The effect is quite impressive.

All in all, Rare's latest is quite an impressive game. Sure, it's not as groundbreaking as its forefather was on the SNES, but it is still a great title. It seems that the platformer gods have smiled on the N64, as we've landed some of the best platformers ever in the last month. Between Donkey Kong 64, Rayman 2: The Great Escape, and Rocket: Robot on Wheels, the N64's the system to have for platformer fans.

-- Namek (namek@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: If you have an N64, you'll want to buy this game. Right now. What are you waiting for?