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Playing Donkey Kong Country via Nintendo Switch Online in 2020

The Choice of Systems

Donkey Kong Country (DKC) is one of the most meaningful games to me – as I already highlighted in my retro section of Benny Kong. I own and have played Donkey Kong Country for several Nintendo home consoles, but first fell in love with the game as many others, with the OG version for the Super Nintendo (SNES) from 1994. Consequently I also bought the digital versions for the Wii (2006) and the Wii U (2015). I was actually super excited having this fantastic game playable on (back at the time) Nintendo’s current generation of video game consoles, but something was missing:

The OG Super Nintendo Controller. It provided me not only with super-power when playing with it back in the day, no: It brings back exactly this Donkey Kong Country vibes I felt as a kid – or teenager. Plus: As of now, I consider the Super Nintendo Controller the best controller to navigate Donkey and Diddy through Donkey Kong Island. To me, playing Donkey Kong Country with the original Super Nintendo Controller is a mix between functionality and reminiscences.

Revisiting the digital versions of DKC were never that enjoyable to me, since I was missing that level of control that I usually have with the Super Nintendo Controller. So when I was in the mood for some Donkey Kong Country in the past 20 years to this point, I usually put out my Super Nintendo. As soon as the SNES Classic Mini hit the market in 2017, you could finally play DKC with the Original SNES Controller and relive the DKC vibes – and all good? Basically yes, but there was indeed something that bothered me again:

Since I don’t have a dedicated playroom (yet), from a practicability standpoint it is not the most convenient approach to have a controller cable across the living room, since the controller needs to be connected to the console – as back in the day. That’s cool, but as a kid, I was playing while sitting on my bed, close to the TV; or sitting on the carpet, directly in front of the TV. So nowadays, players like me usually play in different set ups – since the times and places of playing, have changed.

This has of course nothing to do with Donkey Kong Country necessary, but due to this set-up, the SNES Classic Mini has not made my revisit DKC at the end. For sure I could have bought a wireless 3rd party controller, such as the popular ones from 8BitDo* that are quite similar to the OG controller, but only quite.

Finally! In September 2019, Nintendo made an announcement that made many “retro bugs” like me very happy: With a Nintendo Switch Online membership you will now have access to a large collection of Super NES games. Hooray! But wait? No Donkey Kong? Exactly, to the disappointment of many, the Donkey Kong Country series was not added to the catalogue of SNES games for Nintendo Switch Online any earlier than July 2020. And we are not talking about the entire trilogy here, since at the time of writing, only the first title in the series, Donkey Kong Country, is available for Nintendo Switch Online.

Equipped with the wireless Super NES Controller that Nintendo launched in December 2019, I happily took the opportunity to join Donkey and Diddy in one of their best adventures in August 2020 – and played the game like I used too as a kid.

Donkey Kong Country and Super NES – Nintendo Switch Online Features

Donkey Kong Country is considered a hard, but fair game. But! Be prepared to eventually play passages of a level multiple times and to feel relieved when finally reaching the checkpoint (Continue Barrel) or the rewarding exit of the level. It will be necessary to time your jumps, or study certain patterns of enemies or spinning objects, such as moving platforms or Barrel Cannons. Sometimes it can be a real challenge to time the moment when the Kongs are supposed to be shot out of a Barrel Cannon over gaps or to other Barrel Cannon. Certain types of Barrel Cannons are even automatically firing the Kongs when entered.

After you timed precisely several shots out of a Barrel Cannon in a row, just to fire yourself into a Zinger and lose your last Kong! Moments like this can be annoying and the Nintendo Switch online feature “Rewind your game” can come handy to decrease these moments of frustration. I tried nevertheless to use this feature as little as possible, to keep the game as close as possible to the experience from back in the day. But for sure:

Sometimes it’s just too handy to quickly rewind the game when you were hit by this lonely Kritter waiting for you directly in front of the exit, instead of restarting the level from the Continue Barrel. On the other hand these moments are also bittersweet, as you are kind of upset with the developers of the game (back at this time: Rareware, second-party developer for Nintendo, now Rare and a studio of Xbox Game Studios) and ask yourself “Why-the-Kong” they are so mean doing this to you! But this anger usually drives you in the second try for a perfect run, just in order to show “them” (the developers) that you can do better. And by re-playing, you will usually automatically collect bananas and other valuable items to be rewarded with extra lives as a positive side-effect.

So don’t over-use this rewind feature since nowadays platformers usually are not “trolling” you that much anymore. Enjoy these R(r)are moments!

I can remember the struggle as a kid, teenager or now adult, how difficult it was sometimes to reach Candy Kong in order to save your progress in the game. In particular in later worlds, such as in Vine Valley or Kremkroc Industries Inc., mastering 3 or 4 levels in a row without the opportunity to visit Candy’s Save Point, can be a real struggle. 

As a result you saw the Game Over screen once in a while (or maybe even too often), but at some point and after sufficient enough practice (and after some cursing here and there), you finally made it to Candy. In the Nintendo Switch Online version it’s up to each gamer if they want to use Nintendo Switch Online’s “Pick up and play” feature, where you can create individual save files and jump back into the action where you left off: 

Using this feature makes playing Donkey Kong Country obviously much easier as on the original SNES version, where you had to fight hard for a save point.

Even Candy confirms that we are coming a long way!

It is also important to know that Candy’s Save Point only saves your progress and does not save lives or bananas collected. So in case you stacked up a lot of lives and resetted or switched off your SNES, you started exactly with 5 lives again. And 5 lives sometimes aren’t enough tries to get to Candy – or to use Funky Kong’s “Funky’s Flight” that allows you to travel to areas of Donkey Kong Island that you already visited, and jump in Candy’s “Save Barrel”.

Start and Select Instead of Rewind

Both Nintendo Switch Online features (rewind, pick up and play) are absolutely not unique to Donkey Kong Country, but in my opinion they do have a big influence on the gaming experience – maybe even to a bigger degree than on other games. Creating aforementioned suspend points can provide a certain level of convenience in games such as Super Soccer, where the player doesn’t have to use any passwords anymore. But this convenience aspect does not have any influence on the difficulty of the game itself, such as in DKC, or Super Mario World, where the gamer usually needs to access a save point in order to save the progress.

Paired with the rewind feature, both Nintendo Switch Online functionalities reduce potential moments of frustration and Game Over screens significantly, which makes Donkey Kong Country more accessible and enjoyable. This is great for e.g. players with less experience in platformers, but also comes handy for gamers that aren’t used to such challenging games as we had back in the day. In nowadays platformers there aren’t usually even any Game Over screens or progress lost in order to avoid frustration and also to appeal to a younger generation of players.

The rewind feature can be great for backtracking and screening the level for secret paths and bonus rooms. But when it’s about to beat the level in the first place, the feature should be used with care in my opinion, since it can break the smooth gameplay that the game provides. In my experience the player is better off when just playing a certain passage again to get into the flow, practice to time jumps or memorize patterns of enemies, or it’s recommended to press Start and Select to quickly exit and re-enter the level. This not only increases the likelihood by finally mastering the passage you had problems with, but this additional practice might also contribute to your overall DKC gaming skills. And last but not least: You will automatically collect bananas and stack up some lives, what makes the game a bit easier to beat eventually. Same applies as well for backtracking: When you smash a Barrel into a wall, hoping the fragile wall will lead into a Bonus Level, what turned out unsuccessful: Just hit Start and Select

Donkey Kong Country is a Must-Play

In case you haven’t played the Donkey Kong Country yourself yet: 

Please do so, it’s really great! In my opinion, Donkey Kong Country is one of the best games ever made. It’s absolutely worth playing in 2020 and beyond. Donkey Kong Country sold over nine million copies and became a milestone in gaming history. Highly innovative and ground-breaking graphics in 1994, as well as a never aging, fantastic and remarkable soundtrack in 2020. Without Donkey Kong Country, this blog would not be called Benny Kong. And playing it via Nintendo Switch Online, with the wireless Super NES Controller, that’s the best package. The Donkey Kong Countries series and the Super NES Controller belong together.

I truly hope that Nintendo will release Donkey Kong Country 2 & 3 at some point as well and I am also looking forward to playing these games again – on my Nintendo Switch. Preferably I’d love to have a Donkey Kong Country Trilogy HD Remaster Collection (for instance paired with Donkey Kong Country Returns) on one cartridge.

Or some more wishful thinking: Imagine there will be true remakes, that will let us enjoy the Donkey Kong Country series games in such a brilliant quality, as it is being showcased here for Donkey Kong Country 2:

But until we get there, I’m happy to have these remarkable games accessible via Nintendo Switch Online.  And it seemed as Big N has read my thoughts: Basically in the midst of publishing this article, Nintendo announced that the direct sequel to Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2 – Diddy’s Kong Quest, will be added to the Super Nintendo – Nintendo Switch Online library, September 23, 2020. That’s fantastic news!

Please stay tuned – I am not done with my Donkey Kong Country coverage: In of my next blog posts I’ll be taking you on my journey through Donkey Kong Island, going for all 101% that you can find in the game.

What are you thoughts on Donkey Kong Country – and maybe in particular playing it via Nintendo Switch Online? Which Donkey Kong Country game is your favorite in the series? Let me know in the comments section!

* Affiliate link: In case you intent to purchase any items mentioned in the article or just you would like to support the blog, using my affiliate link for Amazon would mean the world to me. Not to get rich, just to get the blog going. Thank you for your support!

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Welcome to Benny Kong’s World

Hi – nice to meet you and welcome to Benny Kong’s World.

My name is Ben, currently living in Berlin, passionate Nintendo gamer and collector.

While being active on Twitter or Instagram with my dedicated @Bennykong64 accounts (that I set up to fully concentrate on Nintendo topics), I felt that I would like to create my #AllNintendo content in a way, that I can structure and control better. And most importantly: To preserve my content in a format, that is easier accessible for anybody.

Too often I was searching all over the place for a certain post because I intended to have a quick look at it or to follow up on it. So why not publishing content that is relevant to me – on my own website?

With Benny Kong, I’m inviting you to join me on my personal Nintendo journey:

I will share with you which Nintendo Switch physical releases or retro games I add to my physical collection (plus last generation games such as for the Wii or Wii U). I will also post what I think about certain games in the review section and hope to inspire you with my upcoming planned Nintendo Switch purchases that I put on my personal Switch shopping list -the #SwitchList. Additionally I would like to talk with you in about all kind of Nintendo topics in in my blog section: BK’s Thoughts.

It All Started With the Game Boy

As I like to say: It all started with the Game Boy, the Nintendo Switch makes me play and collect like a kid again.

Some day back in my early days when I was in kindergarten or when I started to study in elementary school – but for sure in the very early 90s – the Game Boy was omnipresent. Launched in Europe in September 1990, many of the cool kids had it: It was the super hot gadget in the schoolyard or on the playground, and one of my very best friends, Marco (who used to live in the apartment below ours), had one too. And it’s getting even better:

Marco’s family had a Nintendo Entertainment System that was set up in the living room as well! This is where you could find Marco and me precisely almost every day after school – playing Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Donkey Kong or Nintendo World Cup. Fun times, right Marco?

I cannot exactly remember the occasion, but recall the pre-condition: My parents wanted me to be a straight A student in elementary school first, before they were about to give green light for buying me a Nintendo handheld:

My sister and me – the Game Boy is not far.

My motivation was a high and at some point I could call myself a lucky Game Boy owner too. Finally. Oh boy, was I happy!  

Me and my Game Boy! Everywhere I’d go, my Game Boy was with me. And it was so great lending games to friends.

My very first handheld game was either Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge or The Smurfs. Some of my favorite games to play were Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.

I also had a-multiple-games-on-one-cart-collection: It contained basically every major release such as Super Mario Land or Kirby’s Dream Land, booting up from one notorious cart. It came without any box or manual, so I actually never knew, where my parents did get me this game from ….

Easter 1995

I can remember it as it was yesterday: My sister and I were Easter egg hunting in our flat (it must have rained that day) and we found something very special hidden in a gap below the living room cupboard:

My sister and I celebrated proudly with a photo our Easter gift from 1995.

A Super Nintendo Entertainment System. What a surprise! The SNES was bundled with Super Mario World. And a Super Game Boy that let me play my Game Boy games on the big screen. What an innovation!

The SNES is still one of my favorite Nintendo home consoles of all times and Super Mario World a game that I have finished several times – of course by finding all 96 exits.

Some of my all time classics for the system are titles such as Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island or International Superstar Soccer Deluxe.

The Golden Era

Memorizing growing up both as a kid and teenager with Nintendo consoles, I think I had the most fun with Nintendo video games back in the Nintendo 64 era. I consider the Nintendo 64 era as the golden era, as it was a time period for me personally, in which I could enjoy Nintendo games on a different and maybe even more intensive level:

On top of an unbelievable and game changing catalogue of video games such as Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64, I was now able to inform myself independently about releases in magazines, buy more and more games from my own pocket money or had the opportunity to get superb Nintendo promotional material on VHS such as:



Who did not use exactly these video cassettes to show parents and grandparents which games are on their wishlist for an upcoming birthday or holiday season?

Due to nostalgic reasons, I’m showcasing the promotional material that was tailored for the German market since I cannot be that certain, which tapes were used as giveaways for other markets such as the US or the UK.

The Nintendo 64 was launched in Europe on March 1, 1997 and luckily I had one close friend that did get the console for his birthday in the launch month. This provided me with the opportunity to already play a bit and to join the new dimension of fun.

Myself, I had to wait a bit longer as my birthday is in October. The first game I got was International Superstar Soccer 64.


For Christmas my parents (oh I mean Santa Claus) surprised my sister and me with Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. What a holiday season! Christmas 1998, I found The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time under the Christmas tree: My very first Zelda title and a milestone in the entire video game history – until now. And just one year later, Christmas 1999, I was very happy to unwrap a present that contained Donkey Kong 64, which is still to date one of my favorite games of all times.

Fast Forward to March 3, 2017

Also the upcoming three other Nintendo home consoles found their way in my home. I bought the GameCube in 2002, just some months after the launch. In order to have them on launch day, I pre-ordered the Wii and the Wii U. All three consoles provided me with countless hours of fun, endless single-player adventures and challenges, and last but not least: Dozens of sleepless nights when friends stayed over to play some great multi-player titles (Red shell!).

Understandable that as I did get older, the time spent in front of a video game console may have gotten less and less from console generation to generation – but March 3, 2017 changed everything:

The Nintendo Switch Makes Me PLAY Like a Kid Again

My friend Philipp and me, celebrating the Nintendo Switch launch weekend in Berlin. In case you interested in, I recently wrote up a little story on this personal anecdote and shared it on Instagram.





Yes, the Nintendo Switch brought me emotionally right back to the start where my Nintendo journey did begin:

Back to the time, where I did hold my friend’s Game Boy in my hands for the very first time. Just before I was about to get my very own handheld. Back to the time where I spotted the NES in Marco’s parents living room or when my sister & I found the SNES that our parents did hide for Easter.

The Nintendo Switch brought back the same magic that I felt when playing for the very time Super Mario 64 at my friend’s house. As I headed for the very first time for the Great Plateau in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild, I suddenly felt the same joy playing a videogame that I last felt back in the golden Nintendo 64 era. The Nintendo Switch brought all that back!

The same magic from back in the day, over 20 years later, that I feel now almost on a daily basis when switching on my Nintendo Switch. Watching the “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017-Trailer” still gives me goosebumps:



Being simply amazed and overwhelmed by the smooth gameplay and the size of a Super Mario Odyssey and recognizing so many similarities to one of my favorite games of all time: Super Mario 64.

Re-visiting the “Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Trailer” fulfills me everytime with the warm feeling that an unbelieving adventure is waiting for me – an adventure around the world, just like in 1997:


The Nintendo Switch Makes Me COLLECT Like a Kid Again

Back in the day, growing up with Nintendo, I knew that inserting a physical game cart into my Nintendo console was actually the only way to play the game. Today, I still opt-in for the physical release – knowing that there might be a cheaper and more convenient way to play a game: Digitally, by making a purchase via the eShop.

Nintendo made their first digital games on a home gaming console accessible via the Virtual Console for the Wii. The lineup consisted of 17 titles and was available directly at launch of the Wii, in November (NA) and December (EU) in 2016.

Talking on the pro & cons of physical and digital games, on real ownership of games or what happens to the digital library when servers of a platform will be shutdown, is actually content for an entire separate BK’s Thoughts blogpost and won’t be discussed here.

For now, I’d like to illustrate briefly why the Nintendo Switch makes me collect like a kid again.

The answer on this might be very simple:

Because I feel exactly the same appreciation for both the game box and the cart that I felt when I was a kid. This unique feeling of owning exactly this game when having it for the very first time in your hands. This game is mine now: I can lend it to my friend Marco and get a game from him in return. Or the feeling that I had as a teenager when I wanted to play a new game, but had to sell an old one in the first place.

You treated your games with respect, stored them properly in your shelf or commode. When you were surprised with a game as a gift for your birthday or Christmas, the precious game was passed-through all the hands of family members and guests. And you had the feeling that you did get really something special. It was a present that you could touch. Now I’m making these presents mostly to myself – and even on a more frequent basis as back in the day. But the magic still feels the same. I’ll take my time to check the front and back cover as well as the cart – and if we are lucky: There is even some interior art and a manual.

Both the interior art and a manual, that is especially something that we do not find regularly in the box when opening a 3rd party release. But luckily independent publishers of limited print games got us covered here.


A colorful manual is the perfect homage to physical games from back in the day. Limited print releases are the perfect collectors item in your Nintendo Switch physical collection. But here comes maybe the coolest reason why the Nintendo Switch makes me collect like a kid again:

Since Nintendo Switch game carts are not region locked, you can import Switch games from anywhere in the world and add a physical, playable copy to your shelf, although the game was never released in your region. This is such a game changer comparing to collecting Wii, Wii U or retro Nintendo games. You might import games that are not available in your region, but as long as you do not have the appropriate PAL or NTSC console, you are not be able to play the game.

What a great decision from Nintendo to make the Nintendo Switch a region free console. Thank you, Big N!
 

Anytime. Anywhere.

Playing on the go, while driving home for #SwitchMas via train.

One of the best features of Nintendo’s latest system, on top of an unbelievable good library of games that put a smile on your face (or even tears of joy when hearing the Donkey Kong 64 Isle Theme being remastered in Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Donkey Kong Adventure)  is the mobility aspect:

Having the opportunity to play your games seamless when traveling via plane or train or taking your Switch with you when going on vacations, resonates a lot with my lifestyle.

Anytime, anywhere – bravo, Nintendo.

The Nintendo Switch Makes Me Wanting to CREATE Content (Like Never Before)

But not only playing wonderful blockbuster video games where and when you want to (or can) made me falling in love with the Nintendo Switch: The hybrid console made me developing a much deeper interest for the video game industry as a whole.

Nowadays, platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Discord (just to mention a few) give you the possibility to exchange with like-minded people, to be engaged in communities, and to be directly in contact with developers, publishers or distributors of the games you love.

You as the gamer, and we as a community, we do have a voice. We can stream our feedback directly to the creators of the titles we love and the video gaming industry is listening, is open minded to learn what we think. Do do we complain about certain bugs? Are we excited for certain releases? Would we like to see a physical release of a certain game?

If you are engaged on aforementioned platforms, then you may have stumbled across open threads with industry players, in which you were asked to share your favorite title from the respective inquirer or which title you would like to see a physical release for.

Such a wonderful exchange that I experienced in particular over the past six months on Twitter as BennyKong64, made me thinking, how I may capture my Nintendo Switch moments at best:

How can I give back to the community in a way, that other gamers and collectors can benefit from? How can I provide to the video game producing industry an exposure to showcase their content? Content, that I happen to love?

All the information on new physical releases, exclusive region releases, limited print copies, knowledge about games I would have slept on or that I never heard about, Kickstarter campaigns, predicting and speculating together what games might be revealed at an upcoming Nintendo Direct, sharing opinions about patches, DLC’s, the completeness of games on the cart (#CompleteOnCart) , reviews, or just talking about retro games and memorizing the old days, motivated me in my wish to preserve a friction of this content and make it accessible – just a click away via my own website: Benny Kong.

Welcome to Benny Kong’s World!

Yours,

PS: I hope Benny Kong will contribute to the Nintendo community and you may find it helpful. When you want to reach out to me, just use the comments section below or contact me directly on Twitter or Instagram via my @BennyKong64 handle.