Mario Vs. Donkey Kong

The overall charming simplicity and the generally competent level design of Mario vs. Donkey Kong make it easy to notice that the game was never meant as a grand statement or as a fierce competitor for the crown of best Game Boy Advance title, but was – instead – planned from the get go as a kind of effort that is ideal to a handheld setting. The abundance of content found in it is delightful and the way its brief puzzle-platforming stages were made to be cleared within a handful of minutes turn it into an ideal portable experience. Consequently, although it is not technically impressive, for its lovable visuals lack in scenario details and its audio leaves something to be desired in terms of quality, it is very enjoyable to play through. Furthermore, it rescued, from almost total obscurity, a gameplay idea that was tucked away in an overlooked Game Boy title and made it available to a new generation of gamers, who were able to – through it – revisit, in fresher colors and in a new expanded format, the historic duel that, from inside an arcade cabinet, put Nintendo on the map.

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Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

That wish to be bigger and to stand out is certainly the hidden theme of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. It is easy to understand why, back in 1996, the game was seen as a drop following two titles that left big marks in the minds of gamers all around the world. Hindsight, however, reveals an adventure that although not as excellent as that of Donkey Kong Country 2, for it boasts a lesser – yet excellent – soundtrack and fails to reach the same level-design excellence, shines pretty brightly in the hall of the best platformers of its generation. By understanding that its prequel did not leave much room for improvement, it spends a big amount of its running time trying to find ways to excel, and it comes out of it with an impressive overworld, a fantastic challenge, and a stunning collection of inventive stages that use all tools the franchise had established in magnificent and original ways. As a result, even if the timing of its release may have harmed it, the years that have passed ever since have allowed Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble to emerge as a giant of the platforming genre.

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Donkey Kong Country

That does not, obviously, mean Donkey Kong Country is a bad game. It is, actually, a major finding; a discovery of a universe of gameplay possibilities that, before it, simply did not exist. It transformed Donkey Kong from a usually mindless villain into a hero of his own vast and rich world, and it constructed an adventure that ranks among the Super Nintendo’s best platformers. The fact it comes out rather bruised from a comparison to all its sequels speaks more about their stunning quality than about Donkey Kong Country itself. Its gameplay has been improved; its visuals have been taken to higher heights; and its soundtrack, of very unique instrumentation and tone, has inspired much better ones. However, its birth paved the way to a historic franchise that is an integral part of the gaming vocabulary, and the resulting adventure is – by all means – still a fantastic and enjoyable gameplay experience, even if other Donkey Kong Country games end up amounting to packages that are more complete, well-balanced, and creative. It is, after all, only natural, because they have all had a pretty spectacular base upon which to build; and it was here that those original pillars were put in place.

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Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Jungle Beat is, in the end, a forgotten gem of Nintendo’s rich lore. The fact it was created for a system that was not a widespread success and the general difficulty of playing it in its best state, which requires the acquisition of a pair of bongos that does not have any use outside a couple of other forgettable games, makes it easy to understand why it is rarely mentioned. Anyone who finds a way to play it, though, will be in for one of those unique and unexpected experiences that only a company like Nintendo can provide. Jungle Beat makes use of a control scheme that is, in theory, absolutely ludicrous for a platformer. However, when it is all said and done, it is able to use the nature of that accessory as a way to embed features and quirks of musical games into the fabric of a platformer; creating, as such, a sidescroller that is more about pulling off perfect combos by beating on a couple of drums with extreme precision than it is about beating the bad guy sitting at the end of the game.

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Donkey Kong Country Returns

Ultimately, though, what the issues of Donkey Kong Country Returns reveal is that the aspects in which the game falters are only perceived as weaknesses because they are inevitably compared to the best of what was offered during the classic trilogy that inspired it. Individually, none of its building blocks stand as the best to have ever appeared in a Donkey Kong Country game, but at the same time, save for its soundtrack, bosses, and mini-games, all of them rank away from the bottom and in pretty respectable positions. The result is a modern classic that, without any legacy to live up to, would come out nearly unscathed from even the most rigorous evaluation. With the exception of Diddy’s Kong Quest, none of the Donkey Kong Country games that came before it clearly surpass it. As such, Donkey Kong Country Returns stands among the best sidecrolling platformers not only of its generation, which was quite prolific in its production of great games of the genre, but also of all time.

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Forgiving The Unforgivable

Through so many years of so many letdowns, it is clear that some fans turned their backs on Nintendo either due to one of those doubtful moves or because of the sum of all parts. However, the number of people who decided to forgive, wait and develop – once more – trust in the company’s abilities were fairly rewarded. For every appealing Eastern game that was not localized to the West there was an incredible RPG; for every year that Samus stayed in the limbo there were five hours of gameplay in the fantastic trilogy that followed the lull; for every horrible Mario game there was an adventure featuring the plumber that blasted into historical greatness; for every ridiculous song in Donkey Konga there was a stage exploding in creativity in Donkey Kong Country Returns and its sequel; for every CD-i Zelda game there were many unforgettable Hylian adventures; for every inadequate Star Fox game there was a new IP or a fun adventure starring a reborn Kirby; for every botched up relationship with third-parties there were unexpected partnerships that resulted in incredible titles; and for every disastrous system there were more than plenty of successful ones.

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Donkey Kong 64

It is hard to deny the greatness of Donkey Kong 64. As a game that, even before release, wore on its sleeve the intention to be as big as technologically possible, it delivers in every single way. Given games of its kind would sadly fall out of favor during the generations that followed, it has remained as the largest and most demanding collection-based platformer ever since then, with no palpable contestants in sight. It is a game that may occasionally go overboard in its quest for scope and challenge, an exaggeration that will alienate many souls that will drown in backtracking and frustration. But the bottom-line is that it is fun. It does not aim for immensity for the sake of being big; it does so to make room for the insurmountable amount of ideas it sports. It is not a hollow behemoth, but a juggernaut exploding with spectacular moments.

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The Right Way

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when that tide began to shift and developers started looking at sidescrollers differently, but on the Nintendo camp that turnaround could easily be traced back to 2006’s New Super Mario Bros. The first original Mario sidescroller in a whopping fourteen years, the game – as its title plainly indicates – was marketed as a return to the stripped down platforming basics of the Super Mario Bros. trilogy.

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E3 2015 Predictions: It Could Happen Edition

After taking a look at the games whose appearance at E3 would surprise absolutely no one, it is time to set our sights on titles that stand in the middle ground separating the absolute locks from the farfetched dreams. These are games belonging to hugely important franchises, and while in some cases their existence is known all around the industry, in others it is simply possible to assume there is a chance they will show up due to the fact they will eventually inevitably come. One thing is for sure, at least one of those titles will be invited to the big E3 2015 ball.

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The Mustard Of Your Doom

Other than ambitions and eventual resources, the extent of villains’ evil plans knows no bounds. That is why, when transposed to the gaming realm, where nearly everything is possible, we are sometimes confronted with megalomaniac plans that include either world domination or its darker and more twisted counterpart, universal destruction. Although some of the villains to have appeared on Nintendo-exclusive games do hold such goals, the wacky nature of many of those major titles has allowed the creation of some quite extravagant and noteworthy individuals.

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