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Donkey Kong 64

Donkey Kong 64 BoxDonkey Kong 64 is a platform adventure game developed by Rare and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64.  Rare previously created the Donkey Kong Country games for the Super Nintendo and Nintendo looked to them to transition Donkey Kong from 2D to 3D.  Released in 1999 it became the first Donkey Kong game to feature 3D gameplay.

King K. Rool and his reptilian Kremlings invaded DK Isle and kidnapped Donkey Kong’s friends.   Planning to power his Blast-O-Matic weapon to destroy the island Donkey Kong must stop him.   At the beginning of the game players take the role of Donkey Kong in a quest to save his friends.  As players rescue Donkey Kong’s kidnapped friends, they become playable characters whom have their own unique abilities.

The game includes 5 different playable Kong characters all with their own abilities and weapons which are required to progress through the game.   Donkey Kong has the ability to operate levers, Chunky Kong can lift rocks, Tiny Kong can crawl through holes, Diddy Kong can fly, and Lanky Kong can float.  Along with their unique abilities each character also has a unique weapon and musical instrument they play.

As the game progresses each character can purchase additional unique abilities from Cranky Kong which are required to solve certain puzzles.  Areas are strategically blocked requiring players to obtain the right character and ability to progress such as particular doors that can only be opened using Donkey Kong’s coconut projectiles or Diddy Kong’s guitar.

Rare incorporated a musical introduction to the game with a song called the “DK Rap”.  The intention of the song was to introduce the characters found in the game and their abilities.  The song was conceived and written by George Andreas, scored and recorded by Grant Kirkhope and performed by Andreas and Chris Sutherland.

Donkey Kong 64 Logo
SeriesDonkey Kong
PredecessorDonkey Kong Country 3
SuccessorDonkey Kong Jungle Beat
Platform(s)Nintendo 64
Media TypeCartridge
ReleaseNA: November 22, 1999
EU: December 3, 1999
JP: December 10, 1999
Development Time3 Years
Budget$22 Million
RatingESRB: E
Rereleased Platform(s)Virtual Console
Wii U – 2015

Development of the game began in 1997 shortly after the completion of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! for the Super Nintendo.  The intent was to release the game for the Nintendo 64DD a disk drive add-on for the Nintendo 64.  During development the game transitioned to the base console after the add-on was delayed and eventually cancelled for all regions except for Japan.

Rare dedicated 16 resources to the game’s development whom worked on the title over the course of three years.   An additional 8 resources joined the core development team to assist in the game’s later stages of development.  The game was built using the Banjo game engine and shared many gameplay similarities as Banjo-Kazooie.

The core team originally designed the game as a traditional linear platformer in the same vein as the Donkey Kong Country series.  The Nintendo 64 was relatively new when development of the game first began, and Rare was still learning how to successfully incorporate game ideas into a 3D environment.  The linear platformer concept was developed for approximately 18 months before the decision was made to scrap it in favor of a 3D adventure platformer like their recently released Banjo-Kazooie game.

N64 Expansion Pak BoxAn Expansion Pak was bundled with the release of the game to add additional memory to the Nintendo 64.  The upgrade was used to improve the game’s frame rate and render objects at a distance.  Donkey Kong 64 was the first of two games to require the Expansion Pak while many other games could benefit from having the Expansion Pak installed by producing higher quality graphics and resolutions.

Nintendo released the game in North America on November 22, 1999 and worldwide the following month.  Nintendo backed the release of the game with a $22 million marketing campaign which included a 60-second commercial that played at over 10,000 movie theaters during the holiday season, billboards, print, television and radio advertisements.

N64 Jungle Set BoxThe game received positive reviews and became a commercial success selling approximately 5.27 million copies worldwide including the games that were bundled with Nintendo 64 consoles variants. The game won the 1999 E3 Game Critics award for Best Platform Game and multiple awards from game magazines.  Along with the praise the game received it was also criticized for its camera controls and heavy emphasis on the sheer number of collectibles featured in the game.  The game is remembered as a “collect-a-thon” due to its 3,821 collectibles and the amount of backtracking required to collect them all, however, is still fondly seen as a quality platformer.

Game Screenshots:

Promotional Trailer & an in depth look at the game 20 years later

Shigeru MiyamotoShigeru MiyamotoProducer
George AndreasGeorge AndreasDirector
Mark StevensonMark StevensonArtist
Chris SutherlandChris SutherlandProgrammer
Grant Kirkhope Feature ImageGrant KirkhopeComposer
Profile PlaceholderSimon CraddickDevelopment Team
Eveline NovakovicEveline NovakovicDevelopment Team
Matthew GroverMatthew GroverDevelopment Team
Profile PlaceholderBrendan GunnDevelopment Team
Robert HarrisonRobert HarrisonDevelopment Team
Profile PlaceholderSteve HorsburghDevelopment Team
Chris PeilChris PeilDevelopment Team
Neil PryceNeil PryceDevelopment Team
Carl TilleyCarl TilleyDevelopment Team
Richard VaucherRichard VaucherDevelopment Team
Profile PlaceholderAndrew WilsonDevelopment Team
Richard WilsonRichard WilsonDevelopment Team
Profile PlaceholderChris WoodsDevelopment Team
Kevin BaylissKevin BaylissSupport Team
Robin BeanlandinRobin BeanlandSupport Team
Ed BryanEd BryanSupport Team
Profile PlaceholderJohnni ChristensenSupport Team
Alistair LindsayAlistair LindsaySupport Team
Gregg MaylesGregg MaylesSupport Team
Steve MaylesSteve MaylesSupport Team
Profile PlaceholderDon MurphySupport Team
Chris SeavorChris SeavorSupport Team
Chris StamperChris StamperSupport Team
Tim StamperTim StamperSupport Team
Ross BullimoreRoss BullimoreRare Testing
Profile PlaceholderMatthew CarterRare Testing
Profile PlaceholderL. GodfreyRare Testing
Profile PlaceholderDale MurchieRare Testing
Profile PlaceholderAdam MuntonRare Testing
Luke MuntonLuke MuntonRare Testing
Gary PhelpsGary PhelpsRare Testing
Gavin PriceGavin PriceRare Testing
John SilkeJohn SilkeRare Testing
Gareth StevensonGareth StevensonRare Testing
Huw WardHuw WardRare Testing
Profile PlaceholderDavid WongRare Testing
Profile PlaceholderCharlie BurginNOA Testing
Profile PlaceholderTim CaseyNOA Testing
Profile PlaceholderMarc DoyalNOA Testing
Profile PlaceholderArnold A. Myers IINOA Testing
Profile PlaceholderChris NeedhamNOA Testing
Profile PlaceholderPatrick TaylorNOA Testing
Andrew AleshireAndrew AleshireNOA Testing
Hiroshi YamauchiHiroshi YamauchiSpecial Thanks
Howard LincolnHoward LincolnSpecial Thanks
Minoru ArakawaMinoru ArakawaSpecial Thanks
Manabu FukudaSpecial Thanks
Gail TildenSpecial Thanks
Michael KelbaughMichael KelbaughSpecial Thanks
Ken LobbKen LobbSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderArmond Williams Jr.Special Thanks
Kenji MikiKenji MikiSpecial Thanks
Keisuke TerasakiKeisuke TerasakiSpecial Thanks
Masashi GotoMasashi GotoSpecial Thanks

Nintendo 64 (North American Release)

Nintendo 64 (European Release)

Nintendo 64 (Japanese Release)

Media & Promotional Material