The father and son duo return once again in this portable 2D side-scrolling platform adventure on the Nintendo Game Boy. If you’ve played Donkey Kong Country before you’ll feel right at home in Donkey Kong Land. Both Donkey and Diddy set off on an adventure to prove to Cranky Kong that their success from Donkey Kong Country was not just a fluke.
Just as with most portable games from the time the game starts off directly into the level with no story or reason as to why Donkey and Diddy have to scram through levels, enemies and collect bananas. The levels are super short and depending on your platforming skills can range anywhere from 3 – 10 minutes, but this is to be expected from a Game Boy platformer. The enemy and boss encounters aren’t too challenging either but can be tricky at times, after all this is a platformer and of course just like a well known plumber earning free lives from collecting coins in his game, collecting 100 bananas will grant the player a free life in Donkey Kong Land.
Although the characters are well animated, considering the game is in black and white, you’re left with much to desire in the graphics department and a lot of the background images just blend into each other. Not to mention a few hard-to-see platforms! I often thought to myself, while playing through this game, “HOW THE HELL DID WE MANAGE TO PLAY GAMES IN BLACK AND WHITE!?” but apart from that the soundtrack in each level is excellent and being able to switch from Donkey to Diddy Kong with the touch of a button feels natural. They don’t appear on-screen at the same time as the poor little system could not handle that amount of details at the time. The duo also receives assistance from other animals such as a rhino that you’ll be able to ride on and storm through enemies.
Personally I’m not and have never been a Donkey Kong fan, but admittedly I do love the gameplay, soundtrack and, when there is colour, the art direction of Donkey Kong games are unique. Donkey Kong Land is fun in a simplistic way. Controls are easy to learn, the music in each level was catchy, the variety of enemies was good and the boss battles were fun to get through. The checkpoints in the levels aren’t really necessary but can be welcoming in certain areas. If this was honesty hour I think this would be the title that I would say I’ve never played before (having only ever played the Donkey Kong’s on the Golden China’s before). This is definitely a good way to pass by two to three hours if you’re looking for an easy retro platformer on-the-go with good music. The Kong duo leaves much to be desired to look at and coming from me, who isn’t really bothered by graphics, that says a lot. For Donkey Kong fans out there I’d say this is a must play, personally however I’d pass on going back to this.