The Donkey Kong Country GBA Trilogy

StAmP0Rz strikes again! Some of you may recall an earlier news article, in which curious curiosities were LEAKED into the public domain by former Rare bloke-in-chief Tim Stamper (under his totally anonymous internet nickname, StAmP0Rz).

Well, a little coercion here and there and what do we have? Yes! Some more behind-the-scenes curios from the development of the DKC GBA trilogy that should really get the nipples tingling! Just don't tell Chris Stamper. He doesn't like anyone blurting out his secrets...

Donkey Kong Country 4: what it was, what it wasn't, what it could've been.

"[Our saying] 'We'd really like to make DKC4' was nothing more than that; what the team would've liked to have done. After finishing the DKC3 conversion, finally our engine was at a point where we could add objects/enemies easily, the player's handling felt decent, the art too - with no more horrendously washed out backgrounds, the level designer had a good feel from recreating the original trilogy's level layout, and we thought it'd be good to put that into a 2.5D sequel [on Nintendo DS]."

The Donkey Kong Country GBA ports were coded completely from scratch.

"We did all the coding from scratch, hence taking three iterations to get the feel right! It was really difficult to match the physics accurately, and still keep all the tricks that you could/couldn't do in the game. There'd be times where QA reports would come back saying something like 'in the original you could do a rolling jump off the edge of this ledge, and reach that ledge, but you can't on the GBA one', so we'd adjust it until it worked, then get a bunch of reports saying 'you can reach this area by rolling and jumping, and you're not supposed to'.

"[...] We did try to address some problems with the game, by improving the player control (especially Ellie, and the toboggan), and the levels' flow (wherever possible, we got rid of the player having to stop and wait for enemy/object movement patterns)."

The original DKC3 soundtrack was hoped to be included in the GBA version alongside the new one.

"At one stage there was a vague hope to include both original and remade soundtracks in the game, but it proved too much work and too much cartridge space to get in before the end of the project."

The master source files for the SNES Donkey Kong Country trilogy are stored on a bunch of old floppies.

"The original assets were on old floppy discs, only some of which were found, and those who were, we battled to make head or tail of the obscure file formats and the random frames of animation spread across the various discs."

The solution? Emulators! The GBA graphics were ripped, frame-by-frame, with a SNES emulator!

"The art was lots of fun and games; let's just say it couldn't have been done without emulators. [...] The artists sat with SNES emulators, stepping through the game one frame at a time with various sprite/background layers toggled and taking screenshots. Most of the backgrounds were redone from scratch, to look as best as possible in the colour palette & scale/resolution of the GBA screen.

"[...] I remember [we put] a lot of extra detail into smoothing out the character animations; finding frames from other moves he could put between certain animation sequences to get rid of jerking/snapping. A lot of it you wouldn't notice unless you're looking out for it though!"

On Donkey Kong Country Returns...

"As you can imagine, when DKCR came out, there was great excitement all round, and we couldn't stop discussing how it was the game we wished we'd worked on."

E3 2005 and a DKC3-related gift!

"We were asked to make a build of DKC3 with no music, just sound effects, for E3 2005. Sounded a bit strange, until we found out it was for a preview video.

"I didn't ever get to see the video, if it even did get made (not surprisingly given the amount of E3 builds/E3 videos we'd made of games in the past and never heard of again), but found the remixed music Mr. Wise himself had knocked out on a shared network, and kept copies of the MP3s. Glad I did now!"

You can give David Wise's as-yet-unheard trailer remixes a listen here. In the meantime, you can rest assured Operation: Stamped Out! will continue unabated!

...oh, shit, it's Chris Stamper!

"God damn it, Tim! What've I told you about talking to random strangers on the internet! WHY I OUGHTTA..."

Compiled by Matt, with ideas stolen from Chad