How Donkey Kong Country Changed the Videogame Industry
Nintendo was losing.
The Sega Genesis had the edge. Super Nintendo was often referred to as "not the cool thing to do." People would take a hyper hedgehog over a fat plumber with heart problems anyday. And then people started talking about the next generation of video game consoles---the 32-bit chunks of plastic that were to revolutionize the industry forever. 16-bit was apparently on it's way out. And so was Nintendo.
That changed quick.
There was a game.......developed by a small British company named Rareware, and published by Nintendo, that would change video games forever. And it was for Super Nintendo, the "uncool" system. The game was Donkey Kong Country.
Donkey Kong Country took many people by surprise (basically those who didn't read video game magazines at the time). The game almost came out of nowhere, with the most incredible, realistic, SLAPPER HAPPY graphics ever. The graphics drew the people in. They were then impressed by it's funny cast of characters and tight play control. The 32-bit systems were suddenly unneccesary. Everyone who didn't have an SNES ran out to get one with a copy of DKC. The Genesis was suddenly a victim of it's own Nintendo mocking campaign, since DKC blew away all their previous claims about Nintendo in ads and commercials. The few Sega standbys came up with lame excuses why Nintendo still sucked. The most retarded one out there I heard was, "Yeah, well.....they're making Donkey Kong Country for Genesis too!" Uh huh. And pigs can fly. No, wait, that's Donkey Kong Land....
Nintendo suddenly had a new position. It was number one again. At the time Sony was just a joke and nobody thought a new party could ever make an impact in the video game wars. Nintendo made smart decisions over the next few months, keeping it's focus on Donkey Kong Country related games. They also spoke of DKC as the "gateway" to the Nintendo Ultra 64 in their magazine Nintendo Power. DK had given new life to Nintendo, as Rare had given new life to DK.
The game not only affected Nintendo (and Rare, who went from living in boxes in the back of dank English allies to living in large Cuban mansions with fine ladies), but every single video game developer in the world. Suddenly the bar was raised for graphics, sound, play control, and fun. DKC showed people how succesful a video game could be, and how much money could be obtained from them. Less and less "crap" games like Home Improvement and Rocky and Bullwinkle appeared, until many cheap movie and television show games just vanished. It gave the developers new incentive. It was also the first step to making video games more mainstream.
Eventually though, Nintendo did slip up, and Sony took the video game lead. How did this happen? When the Nintendo Ultra 64 was gearing up to come out (and they then changed the name to Nintendo 64, as was the name in Japan already), they decided to not focus on DKC games as much. While this is debatable, Sony could have snatched the lead because Nintendo bumped Donkey Kong from it's number one franchise status and put Mario back in that spot. Sony was developing the old Sega edge, and boom. History repeats itself.
No matter, Nintendo has made a comeback since then, and Donkey Kong is a more prominent part of the company once again. DKC affected Nintendo drastically, and not only did it gather then respect that was lost for awhile, it's companion Donkey Kong Land brought the Game Boy back to life, and the little machine is still "all the rage" today. DKC affected Sega by sending that company into the gutter with Atari, and only now are they fighting their way back up. But even with the Dreamcast, Nintendo and Sony are still much more powerful than the hedgehog associated chunk of plastic. As for Sony, DKC affected them in a positive way (unfourtantly). DKC forced Sony to raise the bar (and make the DKC clone Crash Bandicoot). But for the millions of Playstation fans out there, you should give thanks to DKC for forcing Sony to improve their product. Really, you should.
Now the next DKC is coming out. Donkey Kong 64. And as it always does, history will repeat itself. Will Sony be sent to the gutter this time? Can Sega survive another dosage of the Kong machine? And how much money WILL Nintendo and Rare make? It doesn't matter, because in the end, the real winners will be us.....the gamers.
Donkey Kong Country was not just a video game. It was a video game revolution.