Is it Time for Another 3D Donkey Kong Game?
Nintendo is one of the many companies embracing the massive sidescrolling movement of the last few years. There was a time, however, when Nintendo prominently featured 3D platformers on its consoles. Super Mario 64 was the first of these, and soon popular titles such as Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day followed. But there was one franchise that braved 3D territory once, only to return to its sidescrolling roots and never look back. Donkey Kong games are among the most enjoyable platformers that you can find on Nintendo consoles, and the latest release, Donkey Kong Country Returns, is an excellent homage to a period in gaming when 2D platformers were challenging and almost sadistic.
But it's time for Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and the rest of the crew to return to the free roaming dimension they only dared to enter once before. It's time for a proper sequel to Donkey Kong 64.
Donkey Kong Country will forever go down as one of the most iconic games on the Super Nintendo. Its fresh platforming gameplay, impressive visuals, and enjoyable tropical soundtrack struck the perfect chords in most gamers who played it, and it continues to garner praise from fans new and old to this very day. Donkey Kong 64 may not have pushed boundaries for 3D platformers like that game did for 2D platformers, but it did manage to provide an enthralling jungle adventure that's still fun after all these years.
Donkey Kong 64 featured expansive levels that simply begged players to explore every inch of them. Roadblocks encouraged numerous visits with upgraded weapons and items. Collectible bananas were strewn literally everywhere. Most importantly, though, Donkey Kong 64 offered a great sense of discovery. Reaching new heights, rescuing DK's buddies, and finding all of the Golden Bananas resulted in a feeling of satisfaction that was as massive as the game's world.
Then there were the bosses. Like Donkey Kong Country on the SNES and Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, Donkey Kong 64 forced players to engage in battles against massive creatures. Weaknesses had to be discovered and exploited, and attack patterns had to be formulated. The boss fights in Donkey Kong 64 managed to convey a retro vibe despite the game's 3D environments. Simply put, battling giant baddies was refreshing and familiar all at the same time.
Creating a modern 3D Donkey Kong game would be no small feat. Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel are easily two of the top 3D platformers on the Wii right now, so adding a new game within the same genre would definitely be a challenge considering those games' successes. But just like Donkey Kong Country Returns has managed to stand tall alongside games such as Kirby's Epic Yarn and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it wouldn't be impossible for a new 3D Donkey Kong title to yield positive results as well.
The first thing Nintendo has to do is stay focused on what fans want while keeping the company's own goals in mind as well. Super Mario Galaxy gained notoriety for playing like a tried and true Mario game while introducing new elements to the series. A new entry in the Donkey Kong franchise would have to do the same. Fans want vine-swinging, tree-climbing, monkey combat, hundreds of collectible items, and a memorable soundtrack. Nintendo would have to mix these features with some fresh ideas of their own to deliver a memorable experience not unlike Super Mario Galaxy.
It's no secret that companies like Team Ninja, HAL Laboratory, Good-Feel, and Retro Studios have all contributed to Nintendo's success with stellar games like Metroid: Other M, Wario Land: Shake It!!, and others. Who should Nintendo choose if they decide to take DK and co. the 3D route once more? Any of the above candidates are more than qualified, and with Retro having recently worked on Donkey Kong Country Returns, they could possibly be the best choice. Of course, Nintendo could always develop the game in-house.
It's time Nintendo brought the Kongs back for another 3D platforming adventure. They could do it on the DS or even the 3DS (how fitting!), but the obvious choice right now would have to be the Wii. There's no doubt that fans are grateful for the recent emphasis on sidescrolling platformers. After all, these titles are a great ode to gaming's past. But there's also no denying that a return to 3D platforming is in order. Countless gamers want Donkey Kong 64 Returns. How about it, Nintendo?