Game Overview: 16-Bit All-Stars Runner-Ups Part 3 / Sony: MGS4 Launch

Here we are at the last of the 16-bit era’s all-stars that couldn’t quite crack the top three.

This game is distinctly famous for Shigeru Miyamoto claiming that this game “proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good,” which he later apologized for claiming that he was expressing some frustration at Nintendo pressuring him to make changes to Yoshi’s Island to make it look more like this game. Another, more obvious clue, is that I talked about this game in my instruction manual editorial. Our last runner-up is Donkey Kong Country.

Runner-up: Donkey Kong Country

This will be one of the few times that you hear me say this, but Shigeru Miyamoto is wrong. Donkey Kong Country was the much lauded return of Donkey Kong to the video game spotlight and what a job it did. They looked at the aesthetic of the original Donkey Kong and they absolutely brought most of that to this new game. The most obvious transition from original to SNES was the strong use of the barrel. Donkey Kong’s chief weapon in the first level makes a return as one of the most prolific items in the game. You save progress in them, fly around the world map in them, rocket through the levels in them, regain party members from them, and have a projectile attack a la the original game. The mortality of the player characters were even brought over from the arcade game with both Donkey and Diddy dying after one hit, much like Mario (Jumpman) did back in the day.

I love Donkey Kong Country because it took the conventions for how a platformer is done, pulled from Mario 3 and Mario World, and took it to brand new heights. Sure, it didn’t have the branching paths of SMW or the innovative power-up management system of SMB3, but it had pets done way better than Yoshi, tight, almost simultaneous two-player action, secrets hidden around every corner, and that trademark Rare humor (or should I say humour?) that’s long since left the company (probably left when the Stamper brothers left).

DKC was and still remains one of the coolest Christmas presents I ever got. I still have the t-shirt that came with the game as a pre-order bonus (thanks Mom!). If you’ve never played it, you should go back and try it out.

A great Sega-bashing commecial:

The kid in this commercial is wearing the t-shirt I got as a pre-order bonus:

One of my favorite video game intros:

Wow, what a journey the 16-bit era was. My most formative gaming years spanned this generation, setting up my future video game habits and tastes, most notably, my voracious love for RPGs. This era’s a real tough one to follow, I mean a good chunk of my top games of all time came out of this period. Tune in tomorrow to see which console games make my top three in the post-16, pre-current gen time period. I can tell you right now, regular readers of my blog won’t be surprised by the number one game, but can you even come close to guessing what else will be covered in the week to come? Go ahead and leave a comment with your guesses.

I hope you all remember that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots launches today! Go and buy it. If you don’t have a PS3, go get an 80GB model (backwards compatibility for the win!) and a Dual Shock 3 and then buy MGS4. What are you waiting for?


5 responses to “Game Overview: 16-Bit All-Stars Runner-Ups Part 3 / Sony: MGS4 Launch”

  1. Eric Mesa Avatar

    Funny that you should have Donkey Kong today. We are going through our old VHS tapes to determine what I will archive digitally and I came across when we taped ourselves beating the whole game. Do you remember that?

    Perhaps I blinked and missed it, but I didn’t see you mentioning your own impression of how beautiful this game was for its time. I remember being floored by how amazing it looked – especially for a Nintendo game.

    Also I remember that, like The Matrix, this was a series where they never really captured the amazing feel of the first one again. I distinctly remember hating Donkey Kong Country 3. And I can’t remember if they ever made a 3D version for the N64. It’s a shame because Mario made the transition to 3D so well and I thought a game as beautiful as DKC with the gameplay mechanics (co-op play, barrels, pets) w ould be awesome. Perhaps it wouldn’t work that well? I remember not being all that impressed by Banjoe Kazooie.

  2. Dan Avatar

    DK64 is one of the most obnoxiously bloated and overrated of the N64 era. It received decent scores, but it was way below par compared to Mario 64 and, yes, even Banjo-Kazooie. All you have to say to most people to remind them of how mediocre this game was is mention the DK Rap.

    The main problem with DK64 was that there were like 18 different item types that all needed to be collected in each level. It was obnoxious.

  3. Eric Avatar

    I’ll have to try it one day – I don’t think I even ever played it. I have absolutely no memory of it.

  4. Eric Mesa Avatar

    I love (and somehow missed the first time around) how you mention that the reason there are so many barrels is because of the original Donky Kong! I don’t remember every consciously realizing that back when we played it. Very nice!

    1. Dan Avatar

      It’s a nice little callback.

      In retrospect, I think I should have gone with DKC2 instead. It was a great game and did the whole DKC thing a little better, but I think I was swayed by how much I loved “Aquatic Ambiance” from the first game.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.