June 22, 2000
Review: A rare vision of the DK series on N64
Finally, Donkey Kong 64 is in a store near you. Finally, you will play the game that those Britts at Rare have been making during 2 1/2 years. Finally, you will get to play possibly one of the best platform games ever made. And Finally, you will get to play with monkeys...in a videogame, of course.
DK64 is a very complete platform game. It borrows a lot of stuff from platform games already out in the market, and that is good, but that shows DK64's lack of innovation. Besides that, the game is smooth, unique, excellent...almost a masterpiece. I don't say that only because I like platform games. The game is very addictive. Once you get into it, collecting bananas, saving the some of the characters in the game, fighting bosses, playing minigames...the fun is almost endless. There is so many things to do in the game that if you get stuck somewhere, there is ALWAYS something else to do, and believe me on this. But let's get onto the details, shall we...
When you take a look at the visuals in DK64 are some of the best you will ever see on the N64. Spectacular lighting effects. When you walk close to the torches, your shadow actually changes shape and direction, until you walk away from it, and your shadow disappears, the lighting in the storm close to K.Rool's ship, the lanterns, that are constantly moving, the sunflares...a lot of things, that makes the game look even better than the already great graphics. The textures...smoooooth....bah, Donkey Kong is made of polygons? Of course he is, but you can't see them until you look at him really close, but nobody does such a thing, looking a gorilla that close is just disturbing. Colorful and imaginative graphics.
The jungle level and the ice caves level look really good, the colors are well complemented with their backgrounds, stuff that Rare knows how to do well. In general, DK64's graphics are Banjo-Kazooie's graphics, with way better lighting effects, smoother graphics, better framerates (God bless the Memory Expansion pack) and more detail. DK64 is really loyal to it's SNES counterparts in the graphics department. DK64 looks better than any of the games coming to the N64 this holiday season.
The control is smooth, as smooth as DK's skin. If you fall down from that tree, it's your fault, you can't blame the game's control. It's a real pleasure to be jumping around with responsiveness like this. The basic moves are combinations between buttons A, B, and Z. Cranky Kong will teach you later in the game harder and more useful moves. The C buttons are used to control the camera, but when button Z is pressed, the C buttons are used for special weapons. C up let's use your musical instrument, with C left, you can use your gun, C down let's you take photos from fairies that you should take to unlock some secrets, and C right is for some orange-grenade action. R keeps the camera behind your character, very useful in bridges and dangerous areas. As you can see, nothing complicated, you will easily get used to it.
The audio is good, but again, it's more or less like Banjo-Kazooie. I was expecting something in the ways of the DKC series. DKC series had some real catchy tunes, some of them with cool sound effects, and some techno music involved in them. On the contrary, DK64 has some cute melodies, unlike the aggressive tunes from, let's say, DKC2. That really bothers me, because it takes away that fast-paced feeling that the old DKC series had. DK64 sounds too "slow", if there's a word to describe it. The music doesn't give you that action, it just doesn't suit to the game. After all that whining, let me tell you that DK64 sounds terrific in Dolby surround sound, it helps you get more into the game. Try it. The music also changes according to the place you are entering, like BK. Sound effects, again, one of the best you have ever heard, courtesy from Rare.
All the monkeys and characters make different sounds, funny sounds. Watch and hear the Kongs in the selection screen, that's something really funny, because all of them have different reactions when you choose them. Some of them like it, but others look like they would prefer to stay inside the barrel...Sound effects is one of the strongest points of the game, I really enjoy them.
Was I satisfied? In one word: Yes. This is easily one of the best 3D platform games ever made. Everything in this game is stunning. Funny animation (just let the controller rest for a moment, so you can see what they do), spectacular graphics, excellent lighting effects, good music, smooth control...it's just a marvel. However, if you were trying to find something along the lines of the old DKC series, you will be disappointed. DK64 focuses more on exploration and adventure than action. But most of you, will love it.
DK64 has tons of replay packed into it. Bananas to collect, Banana medals that Cranky will use at the end of the game, colored medals for each character, so they can pay the services from the rest of the Kong family, fairies, pieces from the sketch of K.Rool's weapon, keys, tons and tons of bananas...you won't get tired from this game for a long, long time. You can play a lot of minigames in the 1 Player mode; some of them are real fun to play. All that is without mentioning the multiplayer mode. The multiplayer mode is good, but could have been better. The Expansion pack allows great frame rates in 4 player battles, and that is excellent, because you can enjoy the multiplayer mode at it's fullest, with no slowdowns or anything that could spoil the experience. Excellent replay value shown here!