“The following is a contributor post by the Moronic Cheese Mage.”
The ultimate Christmas gaming memory for me is back in late 1994. I was 10, the SNES was the console to have, and Rare’s Donkey Kong Country was causing all sorts of hype in the media.
Upon its release in November, the reviews were glowing… but my evil parents made me wait until a month later to get my hands on it.
Rare was handed the license by Nintendo. Having forked out a tonne of money on a batch of new technology, it was under pressure to deliver something special.
The hardware the British developer bought was so expensive it actually put the future of the business at risk.
But when those pre-rendered 2D graphics appeared in games magazine previews everyone lost their cool. I was one of them, eagerly awaiting this thing for Christmas Day. I was so impossibly overexcited I couldn’t sleep.
I remember waking up my parents ridiculously early so we could open our presents. The only thing I gave a damn about was the game. And when I did finally get to play it, I was initially confused.
The level selection screen briefly made me think that was the central body of the game. “Well, this is disappointing…” I thought. Until I pushed the A button to begin the first level. And it all flowed seamlessly from there.
Earlier in the year, we went to Barbados for our summer holiday. The first water level, with its backdrop running into the distance, reminded me of the sand I’d seen under water whilst swimming. Plus, that music.
At the time, I thought the game was incredible. Certainly David Wise’s astonishing soundtrack is still exceptional. But looking back now it’s clear Rare was preoccupied with getting the graphics right above and beyond everything else.
The result is a surprisingly short, but good fun, platformer. But the game was a massive hit and has left me with a major emotional attachment to the series. It represents my childhood as much as Super Mario and Zelda.
And to Rare’s immense credit, with Donkey Kong Country 2 only a year later it set an incredible new standard. It’s arguably the best 2D platformer on the mighty SNES, building on its illustrious predecessor in every department.
But, the sequel wasn’t the title that wowed me one snowy Christmas morning in 1994. And that idiotic young lad who sat open mouthed staring at the TV, now 34, can appreciate Donkey Kong Country for some much cherised memories.
The Moronic Cheese Mage is also known as Wapojif. That’s Mr. Wapojif to you. He’s a self-deprecating humorist with his head on straight. For silliness and surreal humour, definitely find your way to his blog at professionalmoron.com.
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