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Celebrating gaming characters of 2016

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I see your Corvo and raise you a Nathan Drake

It’s been a long and hard year for a lot of people, but one thing that hasn’t suffered this year is gaming, and specifically, gaming characters. Diversity in gaming has been a huge issue that has dragged way behind other mediums, and it’s still an ongoing one that needs rectifying. However, this was a year worthy enough for us to be proud of; gaming is growing up, and so has its characters. What follows is a celebration of game characters of all forms, no matter what way they are rendered, whether or not they have dialogue or voice acting. Each entry contains some original amateur pixel art created specifically for this feature. There are countless characters that are also worthy of recognition that couldn’t fit into this feature but we’d love to hear some of your favourite characters portrayed in gaming this year. Enjoy.

[The descriptions that follow contain MINOR SPOILERS for the events of Uncharted 4, Quantum Break, Firewatch and Ace Attorney Spirits Of Justice.]

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Elena Fisher/ Drake
Award: Most Emotionally Resonant Character
Game: Uncharted 4
Performed by: Emily Rose

imageUncharted 4 is home to the best written and realised characters this year, but Elena is a standout for the medium. Elena has always been a fan favourite, and in previous entries was regularly used as the stakes for what Drake could lose. Uncharted 4 finally stopped resetting their relationship at the start of each game, and posed the question of what their lives would be like if Drake kept his promise at the end of Uncharted 3. An early chapter shows the monotony of their relationship; Drake is bored at his job and Elena is unhappy at the type of journalism she’s working on. They clearly have big – but REAL – relationship problems, they put up idle small talk and deflect issues instead of talking them out, resorting to playing a video game to distract from the problems. There’s something scarily human about Elena and Drake’s interactions that gamers aren’t used to in games. What makes Elena special is how she grounds the narrative; she’s the brick of the relationship, and in the end she is what time and time again pulls Drake back from insanity. The prospect of losing her, not through death, not through bullets, but from her walking out of Nate’s life is the most human and well-written loss gaming has achieved this year, and it’s all thanks to Elena’s portrayal. After all nothing worthwhile is easy.

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Nathan Drake
Award: Best All-Around Developed Protagonist
Game: Uncharted 4
Performed by: Nolan North

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It would be remiss to leave out Drake in this two-sided relationship, and how we will miss him. Nate has always been that likeable, charismatic character, spouting smart-aleck quips during death-defying stunts, all the while slaughtering hundreds of people. But he’s never felt like more than a cartoon character; he’s the hero, after all. In Uncharted 4 though, he’s not the hero, he doesn’t save the world from annihilation, and he doesn’t rescue the lady. He lies, he deceives, and he spends half the game feeling guilty. The game’s best sequence of set pieces is masterfully followed by a scene that is heartbreaking. You, like Drake, get pulled into this adventure, both enjoying yourself and reminded of the cost at which it comes. Elena’s reveal sends everything tumbling, but the biggest shock is when Drake refuses to take stock of what he did, and fails to apologise. He holds back tears as Elena closes the door on him. The ‘sorry’ does come in another of the game’s best scenes, and in the same moment Elena forgives him, because in some form she does enjoy the adventure too. Naughty Dog continues to show up just about every other developer when it comes to character dialogue and writing. Drake has never been so likeable than in the final installment, and it’s not because of his one-liners – it’s because for the first time, he’s relatable, he’s human, and he grows as a character.

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Wrench
Award: Most Entertaining Character
Game: Watch Dogs 2
Performed by: Shawn Baichoo

imageNow, I know what you’re thinking: of course I would list the character I gushed about already, in addition to doing an interview with the actor who played them, but you’d be dead….. Wrong! No, not wrong…what’s the word I’m looking for…that’s it! Right. Who would have thought that the sequel to the game that had one of the worst gaming protagonists would be praised for its diverse and entertaining cast? Wrench is just one of the fantastic characters in the game, alongside the Protagonist and Josh, but somehow stands out, as he has the biggest laughs in the game, and manages to bat (or sledgehammer) off stereotypes with insight into his social anxieties. At the same time, his character design is, from a pure visual front, inspired (literally inspiring for multiple cosplayers), the juxtaposition of a punk-looking hacker wearing a spiked jacket, while also having a mask displaying emoticons (including a winky face) is a look rarely seen in video games.image Sure, some people hate him (old men yelling at clouds mostly), but often is the case that the most successful characters are ones that not everyone gets on with, despite having something to say about them. Most importantly, there’s something very uplifting about a character who suffers from social insecurity being not only self-assuring, but also being represented in a AAA release. Don’t start smashing things with sledgehammers, though… unless it’s a copy of the first game.

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Apollo Justice
Award: Biggest Character Growth
Game: Ace Attorney: Spirits Of Justice

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Though Phoenix Wright may headline this Ace Attorney installment, it turns out that Apollo Justice is the real star, even moreso than the game with his name on the box. Spirits of Justice (okay, they managed to get his second name in the title) drops the ball with Nick, somehow managing to yet again relegate his character to bluffing his way through every case despite him being an experienced lawyer. Poly, however, manages to get an interesting character arc, where we also learn about his origins as well as get touching story about his family. He even manages to out-bluff ‘Wright’ at his own game – within his own game. The game develops his abilities, and though he started out as not very self-assured, by the last case he finds his confidence. The ending really cements his importance to not only this game, but to this series. For a character with hair that looks like an antenna, he sure is charming. We can only hope it’s not the last we see of him, because he might just be the most interesting character they have right now.

 

Beth Wilder
Award: Best Secret Hero
Game: Quantum Break
Performed by: Courtney Hope

imageIf there’s one thing Remedy can be relied on with every game they release (whenever they finally get around to it), it’s the ability to create quirky, relatable, and entertaining characters. In some ways, Quantum Break turns down the zany from both Alan Wake and Max Payne (although it still acknowledges that the games all exist in the same universe), but its cast of characters are still worthy of note. Jack Joyce might be the game’s protagonist, but Beth Wilder is one of the most tragic game heroines of the year. For Jack, the events of time shutting down and the impending ‘end of time apocalypse’ consist of nothing more than one day of his life – give or take a couple of trips through time and…. ohdearjumpingfrogs, it all starts getting very confusing – but for Beth Wilder, she’s spent most of her life preparing for it. She witnesses the end and has to live through years of her life all over again knowing that she can’t change the future. She has the knowledge of 9/11, but despite her best effects, it can’t be changed, nothing can be changed, everything in time has already happened, will happen and is happening. It’s what makes the game one of the cleverest and most-considered takes on a time travel narrative; it sets its rules and sticks to them (looking at you Bioshock Infinite). The thing is, somehow Beth doesn’t give up, even when we see her at her most defeated, when she’s shouting at a Jack who can’t understand what she’s been through as he reaches out to hold her hand, her letting it slip away. Through that, there’s still a glimmer of hope, but it’s not hope for her. After it seems the game has forgotten her, it makes sure to end the game with her in mind. After all, if she held out hope maybe there’s a chance time really can be changed, eh Jack? Most importantly she likes Toto.

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Trico
Award: Best Gaming Bond
Game: The Last Guardian

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Trico might just be the most well designed NPCs in gaming. The way it behaves, the animations and its growth throughout the game, is a marvel to behold. To anyone who has had a pet that they confided in, that was a friend, the bond you form with Trico is all too familiar, an emotional attachment that makes you want to reach into the screen and put your arms around that beak. The journey you take with Trico is more than anything a journey of friendship, the strength of which surpasses the boundaries of language, species and size. It replicates all the emotions of owning a well-loved pet: the fear when they get lost, the sadness when they become ill, the comfort they provide when you feel depressed, and the numerous frustrations when they ignore you. The game took nearly 10 years to develop, but Trico makes that time worthwhile.

The Last Guardian is ultimately about the way unlikely relationships form. It’s about all the positive aspects of life, an experience that will remind people why we keep fighting when times are tough. It’s special. We’re unlikely to play a game like it again. It’s going to be a divisive game; it always was, and Trico will also play into that, as mileage will vary. There are valid complaints directed at the game, numerous in fact, but Trico alone saves it. More than any other game this one is defined by a single character and an emotional attachment. People may deliberate over its framerate, but a year from now players will still think about Trico, and that’s the legacy of the game. It’s a bond that we will not forget.

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Geralt of Rivia
Award: Best Monotone Character
Game: The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
Performed by: Doug Cockle

imageIs this cheating? Putting aside the fact that the Blood and Wine DLC is better and has more care in it than most full games, two years in a row The Witcher 3 has been showing up most games, and as an extension, so has Geralt. CD Projekt Red used this opportunity to tell one last story with Geralt, and they made sure it would do justice and examine the whole basis of who he is. The DLC ventured to show a different side to the character, a more human, lighthearted attitude, and as the trope goes, a ‘being too old for this sh*t’ questioning of retirement. For the first time, Geralt is given a home, and there is something very bittersweet about the idea of him settling down and taking a breath from his monster-slaying days. Blood and Wine is home to one of the best scenes in the whole of The Witcher, and it’s not some epic battle, but instead what the series does best: just two characters talking, striving for a life they never knew. This may be the last time we see the character, but the way they closed his chapter couldn’t have been more perfect. Take that rest Geralt – you’ve earned it.

 

Dr. John Wakefield
Award: Best Use of a Handful of Pixels
Game: The Last Door Season 2

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Granted that there will be a lot of ‘what, I’ve never even heard of it’ questions, but The Last Door Season Two is one of the most interesting indie horror games this year. Donning a pixel art aesthetic that manages to capture all the atmosphere and dread of a Lovecraftian horror story, and with an episodic structure that keeps you hooked, that alone makes it worthy of attention. Dr. Wakefield, who was briefly introduced as the doctor to the protagonist of the first season, must now track down what happened to his patient, Mr. Devitt. Although he may not be the most in-depth or emotive character compared to the other ones previously named here, this list is to celebrate all different types. Wakefield is a rather mundane character, a Doctor after all, and so is obviously out of his depth when revealing the mysteries of the occult (maybe he should apply to the Scooby Doo gang next). The game is home to countless mysterious and engaging characters, which is a feat to pull off considering the limitations of the art style, being made up of a handful of pixels and text boxes for dialogue. It just goes to show that you don’t need a big budget or 3D rendered environments to craft an intriguing world filled with characters that creep you out more than any jump scare could. Most of all though, it’s just a game worth playing.

 

Henry and Delilah
Award: Best Talking Head Duo
Game: Firewatch
Performed by: Rich Sommer (Henry), Cissy Jones (Delilah)

imageIf there’s one thing Firewatch excels at it is the dynamic between Henry and Delilah, two characters that never meet once in the game. What an achievement of writing and voice acting, that conversations solely had over radios are hugely effective in developing two fascinating and flawed people. This is without factoring in the gut-wrenching opening that had you teary-eyed over a couple of text screens. A wide variety of complaints were thrown at the game, most common of which was how the it concluded. Granted, there is a good basis in the criticisms, as the ending was limp, and these two characters just move on with their lives without much deliberation.image, but at the same time, it was an intentional piece of design, a comment on real life; we often craft or fantasise about drama that isn’t really there, and what we dream of is always more interesting than the reality of life. At the end of the day, you can’t run from your problems forever; they’ll be waiting for you. As strong of a connection Hank and D had, it’s easy to embellish a relationship that is nothing more than the friendship of co-workers. Some aspects were disappointing – as intended – but Henry and Delilah showed that disappointing isn’t always bad, and there’s always something good to take away.

 

The Boy from Inside
Award: Best Visual Storyteller
Game: Inside

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Inside is a masterclass in visual storytelling. Its vague and ambiguous themes are conveyed without words, relying only on what you can see and piece together as the vessel through which the adventure is told. The boy you play doesn’t even get gifted with a name, similarly to Playdead’s previous indie hit, LIMBO. Instead, characterisation is communicated through animations. Playdead doesn’t do things by half measures, and just about every contextual interaction is accompanied by a bespoke animation. When the climax hits, it’s one of the most shocking and exhilarating sequences depicted this year in gaming, and it all centres around the boy and the deftness of beautifully executed animations and visual design. Characters don’t always need to be talking nonstop with photorealistic faces for us to be invested in their plight, and Inside proves that.

 

The Overwatch Ensemble
Award: Most Diverse Cast
Game: Overwatch

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Blizzard’s audio-visual design is almost second to none. Their games appeal to both hardcore competitors and casual players, one of the biggest draws being a slick and vibrant art style that stands out from the competition. Similarly to Hearthstone, the visuals in Overwatch are cartoony, but the game’s biggest achievement is its characters. Somehow Blizzard has managed to give personality to each and every playable hero. There’s a character for everyone, and not just in their play style but also in the diversity they represent. They might just be the most attractive lineup of people in a game, representing different body types, genders, nationalities, and even species. Clearly, the amount of time spent making sure you can tell each one apart based on their silhouette has paid off. It’s no surprise that there’s a plethora of porn and fan fiction for each of the heroes (in just about every conceivable sexuality and ‘kink’), as they’ve they’ve captured the imaginations of everyone. If there’s anything that says ‘I’ve made it big time,’ it’s to have all your characters in an orgy of the filthiest porn known on the Internet. *All Overwatch porn viewed over the course of writing this was for research purposes and not viewed out of enjoyment. That sounds plausible enough.*

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All the pixel squiggles present in this feature are original squiggles created by the author Oliver Rebbeck. Do not use without express permission from the original creator, and so on. *I’m sure you know the drill*

 

 

 

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One day it struck Oliver what his true calling in life was; to become a millionaire celebrity while doing nothing. Unfortunately YouTube has enough of those, so until then Oliver will have to deal with writing about games. He has experience writing for several games sites, talking nonsense and working on a novel when sanity can gain traction. Currently dancing through life until the impending death of the sun consumes us all. Likes sandwiches.

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This Heart’s on Fire: ‘Death Stranding’ and Heartman

‘Death Stranding’ has no shortage of your standard Kojima weirdos but one that almost no one is talking about is the eccentric Heartman.

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Death Stranding Heartman

*This article contains spoilers up to and including Chapter 8 of Death Stranding*

Over the course of Hideo Kojima’s wildly ambitious Death Stranding there are a whole cavalcade of intriguing and intoxicating characters for players to meet and acquaint themselves with. From the guy with the weird goalie mask to the lady with the magical umbrella, there is no shortage here of your standard Kojima weirdos but one that almost no one is talking about is Heartman.

Portrayed by writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn, best known for Drive, Heartman brings the game to a dead halt when you finally meet him face to face in chapter 8 but the reprieve comes as a welcome comfort to the player. Having just crossed a treacherous mountain range and survived a second trip to Clifford Unger’s war-torn beach, most players will welcome a little down time, and Heartman is there to provide it.

Death Stranding
It’s immediately clear that Heartman’s home is something special from the moment Sam walks through the door. Lit with a ring of holographic fire, the foyer of the mansion is immediately welcoming in the hostile environment of the snowy mountains. However, it also has a sort of clinical detachment to it. This is by design, as reality for Heartman is merely a distraction — downtime to be filled.

Yes, Heartman comes with the tragic backstory players will no doubt be expecting but, like most of them in Death Stranding, his is a real treat. Delivered partly through voiceover and partly through flashback, Heartman reveals how he lost his family to a terrorist attack while in the hospital for a heart operation. When he flatlined during the operation, though, he was able to find them on the beach before being whisked away back to reality.

Obsessed with finding them again and joining them, Heartman now spends his life in 24 minute intervals: 21 minutes of life, 3 minutes of death. Every 21 minutes Heartman journeys to the beach by flatlining himself with a personal AED, only to be resurrected 3 minutes later. During those 3 minutes though, where time is altered by the elastic effect of the Death Stranding, he seeks out his family and makes observations on how the beaches and the after life work.

Death Stranding
Bizarre as all of this is, it makes Heartman a truly fascinating character. Since his life is mainly confined to 21 minutes at a time, he has collected hundreds of books, movies, and albums which can be experienced during that tiny window of time. His study is brimming with them, stacked on the ceiling high bookshelves that surround his work area. Also in the study are eerie recreations of frozen corpses, old family photos, and a host of other curiosities, each of which will earn the player likes from Heartman for noticing them.

Of course, this is the most interesting part of the meeting. As Heartman continues to explain his theories, a counter occasionally appears in the bottom corner of the screen, showing how long Heartman has before he will flatline again. When the moment of truth finally comes, he lays himself down on a chaise lounge, turns over a golden hourglass and dies before your eyes. As the Funeral March begins playing from an old record player, Sam must keep himself busy for 3 minutes while he waits for Heartman to return to the land of the living. It’s a truly brilliant moment, as a counter appears in the bottom corner again, and the player must simply take in Heartman’s eccentric home from a first person perspective for 3 minutes uninterrupted.

What would be boring as sin under the wrong direction becomes a welcome moment for the player to just sit and absorb this strange, yet comforting, place. Then, after three minutes have elapsed, Heartman reawakens and picks up from where he left off as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He even breaks the 4th wall as he continues to talk, swatting away the timer when it appears on screen again and adding likes to your counter in real time.


There’s really nothing like the meeting with Heartman in all of Death Stranding — but then, there’s nothing like Death Stranding really in the realm of gaming either. With its long periods of walking between haunted destinations and its deliberately cryptic mythology, the game is like a series of tone poems and intellectual treatises mashed together into a post-apocalyptic courier sim.

Heartman then, with his heart-shaped lake and pink-lit study, is just one more piece of Kojima’s mad puzzle here but what a piece he is. Who would have thought the most normal looking member of Death Stranding‘s bewildering cast would end up also being one of its most interesting? Certainly not this writer. Still, Heartman and his eerie, purgatorial existence make for one of the nicest surprises in the game.

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Five Best New Pokémon Designs from ‘Pokémon Sword and Shield’

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Much like Pokémon Sun and Moon before, Pokémon Sword and Shield is an adventure full of fascinating surprises. Some of those many surprises across the Galar region are the new pokémon you will come up against. While many of the designs in the eighth generation were a sorry sight to behold, here are five that should stand the test of time as welcome additions to the ever-growing franchise.

Flapple

When I first encountered an Applin, there was a stark realization across my mind that Pokémon had ran out of ideas. Here I was, with my then Sobble, about to fight an apple with eyes. It was about as baffling as the ice cream cone back in Black and White, which looked as if it was designed by a child. But for not the first time, I was wrong, and instead of becoming three apples or a pear, Applin actually has a fantastic evolutionary journey.

Throw a sweet apple at Applin, and it’ll evolve into a Appletun, which is an interesting evolution in its own right. But when you throw a tart apple in its direction, it evolves into something so much better, with the result becoming the Flapple we see above. A tiny dragon using the broken apple it burst out of to flap around in the air is a creative concept to say the least, and certainly helped to change my early judgement on the apple core pokémon.

Sirfetch’d

Farfetch’d has been an unfortunate pokémon ever since its illustrious debut on Pokémon Red and Blue. A weak pokémon that was rare by virtue of being delicious, Farfetch’d has been a pokédex filler ever since. Luckily, in the Galar region, the Farfetch’d are a little more feisty, with a new typing to match.

With a little patience and a shovel of goof fortune, you can evolve your Galarian form Farfetch’d into Sirfetch’d if you manage to deal three critical hits in one battle. The odds are increased if you catch a Farfetch’d holding a leek, and then further increased at level 55 when your Farfetch’d learns leaf blade. For what it’s worth, the hard work does pay off. Sirfetch’d is a fantastic design and suits the theme of Pokémon Sword and Shield honorably. The evolution that Farfetch’d always needed has been worth the two decade wait.

Galarian Corsola

For all the demonic ghost pokédex entries and back stories, the Galarian form Corsola hits most close to home. While the change is largely a new colour and a sad face, the reasoning can be a little more tragic.

There are no secrets about the destruction of the coral reefs across the world due to climate change. It only takes a change of a degree in temperature for the coral to expel the algae that gives them their unique colouring and become the bleached white. While the coral isn’t dead immediately, if left in that state, it does eventually starve to death. Hence Galarian form Corsola represents more than the sum of its parts, and its a clever message Game Freak has left in Pokémon Sword and Shield about the destruction of our ocean ecosystems.

Grapploct

Ever since Hawlucha, I have a bias towards Mexican wrestling pokémon. They’re fantastic. Clobbopus and Grapploct are no exception, and the only reason I’ve chosen Grapploct over Clobbopus is because of way Grapploct swam like a hungry Olympic swimmer to announce my destruction.

While its base stats are actually average, the confidence it showed to pursue me on my journey across the sea certainly left a stain. The design of Grapploct itself is so consistent with fighting type pokémon that it’s one of the least lazy designs in Pokémon Sword and Shield, and for all the prayers to Arceus, there are some hopelessly lazy designs in this generation.

Corviknight

This is going to be huge statement that might rile up a number of pokémon fans, but for me, Corviknight is the best designed bird pokémon. The whole concept fits the brief, from the armour on its head, to its seamless fit into the inspiration behind the region.

It’s no secret that the Galar region was inspired by England, from the train system to the architecture, there are pieces of Ol’ Blighty everywhere in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Some of those influences are seen in the pokémon themselves, and none express that more than Corviknight. The raven has a lot of folklore behind it, particularly its presence in the Tower of London. It is said that if the ravens were to leave the tower, then the destruction of England is imminent. As such, not only does Corviknight look like a formidable bird pokémon, it actually has a clever reason behind its design.

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‘Donkey Kong Country’ – Still as Difficult, Demanding and Amazing to This Day

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Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country: 25 Years Later

Back in 1994, Nintendo was struggling with their 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which wasn’t selling as well as they’d hoped it would. With the release of the Saturn and Playstation on the horizon, the Super Nintendo needed a visually impressive and original title to reinforce its market dominance. After three years of intense competition and heated rivalries, Nintendo desperately needed a hit that could prove the Super NES could output graphics on the same level as the forthcoming 32-bit consoles. They teamed up with Rare to produce Donkey Kong Country, a Mario-style platformer, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Donkey Kong Country is a game held in high regard and with reason. Monumental! Monstrous! Magnificent! Use any term you want, there’s no denying how important this game was for Nintendo and Rare. The graphics for the time were above and beyond anything anyone would imagine possible for the 16-bit system. For a two-dimensional side-scroller, Donkey Kong Country conveys a three-dimensional sense of dept. The characters are fluidly animated and the rich tropical environments make use of every visual effect in the Super NES’s armory. Each stage has its own theme, forcing players to swim underwater, navigate through a misty swamp, swing from vines, or transport DK using a set of barrels (cannons) to advance. And let’s not forget the mine cart stages where you ride on rails and use your quick reflexes to successfully reach the end. Every level has little nooks and crannies too, hiding secret areas and passageways that lead to bonus games where you can earn bananas and balloons, which you can trade in for additional lives. And in Donkey Kong Country, you’re not alone; your simian sidekick Diddy tags along for the adventure. You control one character at a time, and each has his own unique strengths. Donkey Kong can dispatch larger enemies with his giant fists, while Diddy can jump a little higher than his bulky cousin. It isn’t the most original platforming feature, but it works. The two heroes can also rely on various animal friends to help guide them through their adventure. Predating Super Mario World: Yoshi’s Island, Diddy and DK can also ride on the backs of Rambi the Rhino, Winky the Frog, Enguarde the Swordfish and more!

What’s really impressive about Donkey Kong Country is how it has withstood the passage of time. In 1994, Donkey Kong Country’s visuals were spectacular with its rendered 3D models, lively character animations, detailed backgrounds, and a lush jungle setting, and while some would argue the game is dated, in my eyes it still looks great to this day. Kong has heart, and he’s willing to show it in a game made with wit, excitement and moments of visionary beauty. Meanwhile, the soundtrack by David Wise is guaranteed to win listener’s over. Practically every piece on the soundtrack exudes a certain lyricism that has become a staple of Rare’s games – from its upbeat tropical introduction to the unforgettable climax which secures its place as one of the Super Nintendo’s most memorable boss fights. The result is an apt accompaniment to the colorful characters, tropical landscape, and tomfoolery that proceeds.

What really stands out the most about Donkey Kong Country after all of these years is just how challenging this game is.

But what really stands out the most after all of these years is just how challenging this game is. Donkey Kong Country is a platformer you can only finish through persistence and with a lot of patience. Right from the start, you’re in for one hell of a ride. In fact, some of the hardest levels come early on. There are constant pitfalls and Donkey Kong can only take a single hit before he loses a life. If your companion Diddy is following you he will take over but then if he takes a single hit you lose a life and it’s back to the start of a level. Needless to say, the game is unforgiving and requires quick reflexes and precise pattern memorization to continue. This game requires so much fine precision that it will definitely appeal to hardcore platforming veterans looking for a challenge and those that do are in for one hundred eighty minutes of mesmerization, astonishment, thrills, chills, spills, kills and ills. The only real downfall of Donkey Kong Country is the boss battles. Yes, Donkey Kong Country gave us some memorable villains such as Dumb Drum (a giant Oil Drum that spawns enemies after it hits the floor), and The Kremling King (who is responsible for stealing Donkey Kong’s Banana Hoard), but these enemies have very basic attack patterns and far too easy to defeat.

It’s one of the rare, great works of art that stands up endlessly despite repeated playthroughs, each time revealing something new.

Donkey Kong Country

Along with its two SNES sequels, Donkey Kong Country is one of the defining platformers for the SNES. The game looks great and sounds great and the platforming, while incredibly difficult, is still very fun. Rare did the unexpected by recasting a classic Nintendo villain as the titular hero and it paid off in spades. It’s one of the rare, great works of art that stands up endlessly despite repeated playthroughs, each time revealing something new.

The beauty of the original is that there’s more to it than the oversized gorilla. Donkey Kong Country is truly amazing!

– Ricky D

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