Donkey Kong Country
Original North American Release Date: November 21st, 1994
If there’s any one game that deserves credit for turning the tide in the console wars to Nintendo’s favor, it has to be the platforming classic Donkey Kong Country. Leading up to the 1994 holiday season, Sega’s successful string of exclusive titles for the Sega Genesis led to Sega overtaking Nintendo as the dominant console in the North American market. But Rare’s groundbreaking effort led to Nintendo’s first major victory over Sega in years, as Donkey Kong Country became the best-selling game of the 1994 holiday season.
Rare’s continued support helped the SNES to eventually overtake the Genesis as the best-selling 16-bit home console, as well as temporarily staving off the early next-generation competition until the Nintendo 64’s 1996 release. Taking advantage of some highly-expensive computer workstations, Rare implemented pre-rendered 3D images into the game’s visual presentation, which made the game’s graphics look almost “next-gen” quality, becoming one of the first video games released on a mainstream console to do so. Donkey Kong Country went on to become the third best-selling SNES titles, selling over nine million copies worldwide.
Donkey Kong Country marked the very beginning of Rare’s “Golden Age,” as Rare became Nintendo’s most important and successful second-party developer thanks to a continuous stream of hit titles. While the game’s graphics and gameplay garnered the most attention, it also contained an epic soundtrack that was primarily composed by David Wise, who would go on to score most of the other successful games during Rare’s Nintendo tenure. Donkey Kong Country is a masterclass in level design, especially with all the hidden secrets and collectibles, and it rightfully deserves a place in the Nintendo Switch Online SNES library.