1994’s Donkey Kong Country was both a creative rebirth for its titular character and the game that cemented Rare as developers to be taken seriously. Today we look at some little known facts about this platforming classic that spawned a franchise and continues to inspire debate. Here are 15 little known facts about Donkey Kong Country.
1. Underwater levels were faked
While most of the game was filmed on location, the underwater levels that feature Donkey and Diddy holding their breath for very unrealistic amounts of time were shot on a soundstage in Burbank, California.
2. The game had a large promotional push
If you were a subscriber to Nintendo Power magazine before the game’s release, a guy came to your house and made sure your TV and sound system were fully optimized for the mind blowing game that was about to drop. Many of these uninvited house guests would later admit to pilfering many of these homes of various personal belongings.
3. Michael Jackson secretly worked on the game
While most assume he had a hand in the soundtrack, The King of Pop actually was a background artist, helping illustrate many of the game’s vivid levels.
4. ‘Minecart Carnage’ level inspired a (short lived) amusement park ride
The ride was promptly torn down after no one survived the attraction’s initial voyage. Nintendo executives would later walk back their controversial remarks which saw them claiming that “maybe those parkgoers weren’t jumping at the right time.”
5. Aside from the bonus levels, many extra content was cut from the game
This includes original side quests that would have had Donkey and Diddy helping Daisy get ready for a big date and helping Funky jam a balloon full of mescaline up his ass before he took a trip.
6. Like many other elements, the tire physics were well ahead of their time
“Please don’t ask me about the tires,” said the programmer that was allegedly tasked with perfecting the tire during Donkey Kong Country‘s two year development cycle. “I don’t want to talk about the tire anymore.”
7. Nine developers were lost during production
While generally seen as an acceptable loss on a large scale video game production these days, the news cast a grim shadow on an otherwise very enjoyable game. Our condolences to the brave programmers who died working on Donkey Kong Country.
8. Mario refused to participate
“That son of a bitch is-a no good,” said the Nintendo star, when asked to do one of his signature cameos in the game. “I will-a see him in-a hell.” The two stars eventually settled their differences and would go on to star in several Smash Bros games together, although their relationship remains strained.
9. Is director Peter Jackson’s favorite video game
After failing for years to secure the cinematic rights to what he called “The greatest piece of art I have ever experienced,” Jackson finally settled for the rights to King Kong in 2005 and made that into a video game as well as a film. “It was fun, but it was no Donkey Kong Country,” said the Oscar winning filmmaker.
10. The game’s plot was inspired by some neighbor kids of director Tim Stamper
They weren’t gorillas, but the two boys did used to break into Stamper’s garage all the time and fuck with his giant stash of bananas.
11. Debut of controversial broadcaster
Years before he was banned from most radio airwaves for insisting that vaccines cause hurricanes and that 9/11 never happened, Rambi the Rhinoceros made his video game debut as one of several animal assistants you meet along the way.
12. Rare did what Nintendo couldn’t: get Donkey to take his shirt off
The official amount remains confidential, but some reports have estimated that DKC developers Rare paid the savvy video game veteran more than a million dollars to remove his shirt. When he showed up on the first day wearing his now signature red tie, he reportedly said, “You guys never said I couldn’t wear a tie.” He had them over a barrel. Pun intended. I don’t even care anymore.
13. Donkey and Diddy didn’t get along
Rumors persist that Donkey’s offscreen behavior, such as the aforementioned red tie incident and his frequent pleas for second and third lunch breaks, are what led to him being written out of major roles in the subsequent sequels on the SNES.
14. Utilized several state of the art technologies
Including pre-rendered graphics, expensive workstations, and a revolutionary laser beam that made animals talk when you shot them with it.
15. Iconic soundtrack selection ‘Aquatic Ambience’ took over five weeks to write
The composition of the fan favorite track was complicated by composer David Wise’s insistence that he only write the song a few seconds at a time while he was holding his breath underwater.