I’m finally back after a bit of an unplanned hiatus. Long story short: The latest Windows 10 update straight-up killed my last computer, and getting a working replacement up and running has been a surprisingly long and twisted process. But now things are up and running again, and this week, it’s time to play catch-up!
On October 8th, the folks over at Playtonic Games released a follow-up to their inaugural title, Yooka-Laylee, called Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. Unlike that 2017 release, however, this was intended less as a spiritual successor to 3D collectathons such as Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie, and more in line with their earlier 2D outings with the Donkey Kong Country series. And to that end, it includes a neat little Easter Egg as a throwback to that partnership with Nintendo.
One of the many items you can collect in the game is a Tonic called “GB Colour,” which provides a filter for the game which calls back to the original Game Boy, including a lower resolution and that iconic green hue. However, it’s more than just a simple callback to the 8-bit handheld, as the translation of Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair‘s visuals calls back to a specific trilogy of games, or at least one in particular.
Released in June of 1995, Donkey Kong Land was Rare’s first experiment with attempting the same style of pre-rendered graphics they’d used in Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on much weaker hardware — and hardware that could only grant them four colors, at that. The initial results were simultaneously impressive to see in action, yet a bit muddy as well.
Donkey Kong Land is often looked down upon as being a mere downgraded port of its Super NES big brother, and while that’s the case to varying degrees for its two follow-ups (Donkey Kong Land 2 attempted to be more faithful to Diddy’s Kong Quest, whereas Donkey Kong Land 3 chiefly borrowed the cast and premise), the reality is that it’s a wholly original game. It features an original story about the oft-meta Cranky Kong challenging Donkey and Diddy to retrieve their banana hoard on a less-powerful system, and the adventure features some unique settings and characters, not the least of which is the urban world of Big Ape City (seen at right, above) — stated to be the setting of the original Donkey Kong, decades before Super Mario Odyssey decided to revise Nintendo history.
While “classic” might be a strong word for it, the new material nevertheless makes Donkey Kong Land worth a look (and, if we’re being honest, maybe a remake as well), and you can check it out for only $3.99 USD on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.