Donkey Kong 64 Review

For Nintendo 64

By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne

Rating: Good
   Donkey Kong 64 is a great attempt at re-creating one of the best game 
series of all time, but I couldn't help but wish that it were more like 
Donkey Kong Country and less like Banjo-Kazooie.  Rare wouldn't necessarily 
need to make it a side-scroller, but they should have at least made it more 
tight and focused like Donkey Kong Country and Crash Bandicoot.
   The control in Donkey Kong 64 is great for the most part.  Swinging from 
vines is a breeze, and executing moves becomes second nature after a while.  
It's also nice that you get an Expansion Pak with the game at no extra cost.  
Donkey Kong 64's graphics are the best that the N64 has ever seen.  The 
polygons never break up, there are no frame rate hick-ups, and the colors 
are as vibrant as they've ever been on the N64.
   As good as the control and graphics are, there's still no getting around 
the fact that Donkey Kong 64 is a blatant rip-off of Banjo-Kazooie (which 
was a blatant rip-off of Super Mario 64).  Rare made Donkey Kong Country 
unique instead of ripping off Super Mario World, and they should have done 
the same thing with Donkey Kong 64.  Apparently, Rare didn't have enough 
self-confidence to do anything but stick with what was certain to get them 
some quick and easy money.
   Donkey Kong 64's levels are too big for their own good.  Donkey Kong 
Country always let you know where you were and where you needed to go next, 
but it's not uncommon to feel lost and confused while playing Donkey Kong 
64.  The huge size of the levels, the lack of a run button, and the 
horrible camera all combine to make it a pain in the butt to accomplish 
fairly simple tasks.  The camera makes it particularly hard to see where 
you're going when you're swimming underwater.
   One of the more annoying aspects of Donkey Kong 64 is the fact that it 
forces you to collect massive amounts of bananas.  This is made all the 
more annoying by the huge sizes of the levels.  Besides being mindless and 
boring, the constant hunt for bananas makes Donkey Kong 64 seem like more 
of a chore than a video game.  
   The wild goose chase for bananas is just one of the things that causes 
Donkey Kong 64 to be much more focused on exploration than action.  There 
are hardly any enemies in the game, and all you usually you have to do to 
kill the ones that are in the game is walk up to them and punch them a few 
times.  On the other hand, the bosses are really awesome and prove that 
this game could have been awesome if it had an increased emphasis on action.
   Donkey Kong 64's multi-player mode is almost as bad as Jet Force 
Gemini's.  Due to the huge arenas and the lack of a run button, it can take 
what seems like hours just to get to your opponent.  When you do finally 
get to them, you'll find that the weapons you have at your disposal are 
bland and unimaginative.  To be fair, Rare was creatively limited in this 
respect because they couldn't include any of the violent weapons that are
usually found in deathmatch modes.
   If Rare had sprinkled in a lot more of Donkey Kong Country's classic 
gameplay elements and focused on action instead of exploration, Donkey Kong 
64 could have been an excellent game.  As it is, it's still one of the best
N64 games of the year, but that's not saying much.

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