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Donkey Kong Country [Game Boy Advance]


Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Advance) - Hero Mode

Every primate has a need to swing through forest canopies while eating bananas. Why else would humans create a video game about the subject? Combine this innate desire with territorial habits and the result is a bipedal mammal that becomes the most powerful animal on Earth. Other honorable animals such as the rhino, marlin, frog and ostrich become mere pawns in the conquest.

At times, different species of primates such as Apes and Spider Monkeys assist each other in battle. More rarely, the Spider Monkey ascends to Hero status within the community hierarchy. These chosen few apply relentless warcraft upon other creatures that stand between them and their legendary 10 feet tall bananas.

The Challenge? Complete 1-player mode on Hero Mode Difficulty.

Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.


Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Advance) - Hero Mode


Gameplay


Reproduced in a variety of modern forms, Donkey Kong Country is a testament to the simplicity of 1990s side-scrolling video games. Similar to the power-up mushrooms of the original Mario series, the player is allocated two primates by the name of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. Waves of enemy crocodiles, armadillos, bees and other unique animals flood the screen. If both primates are hit in the onslaught, death.



As the player progresses through the Levels on each World, checkpoint and character barrels provide relief; each called Star and Kong barrels respectively. Like many games from this time period, death by Trial-and-Error is a necessary tool in which these barrels ease the intermittent pain.


The re-releases of Donkey Kong Country on the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance appealed to younger humans. However, the graphics never matched the quality of the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) version. A direct graphics comparison can be seen below on the Croctopus Chase water Level from the Gorilla Glacier World.


The most notable difference is between the SNES and Game Boy Color versions. Developed six years after the original, the Game Boy Color release was reduced in quality across most aspects including the background graphics and game play responsiveness. Three years later, the Game Boy Advance version was drastically improved upon but still never matched the majesty of the original graphics. Note that this comparison doesn't include Donkey Kong Land from the GBC which is technically a slightly different game with new maps; albeit one of the worst re-releases in terms of graphics quality.


The Modern Gaming Era is an odd time where old ported games are improved upon with new ports despite never matching the oldest originals. In contradiction, new technology becomes inferior to old technology. Humans are a grotesque species indeed.



Survival


Avoiding Game Overs is every player's mission. In Donkey Kong Country, regardless of version, death is easy but collecting enough lives to prevent a Game Over is generally even easier. From the Bonus Barrel collection activities to the Animal Friend mini-games, life is abundant.


Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Color) - Hero Mode

Selflessly, the Animal Friends grant access to their habitats when three of their respective tokens are collected. In this mini-game, an extra life is awarded for every 100 tokens collected. Earning 10 lives is a worthy goal that requires finding an immensely sized hidden token that doubles the player's score. For Lord Rigor, Enguarde The Marlin's aquatic home is always an exciting underwater intermission from Donkey Kong Country's traditional carnage.


Lord Rigor's records for each Animal Friend on the Game Boy Advance version are as follows:


- Enguarde: 627 -

- Winky: 804 -

- Expresso: 1,126 -

- Rambi: 803 -


Thanks be to the wonderful Animal Friends. Without such generosity, Lord Rigor would have succumbed to the most Difficult Levels including Minecart Madness, Slipside Ride and Platform Perils. Countless deaths from those Levels and a multitude of others are compiled below:


To survive, a sufficient amount of lives must be properly allocated for. A primate ally named Funky Kong provides a critical aircraft service to previously beaten Levels to help in such planning. Deep within Kong Jungle (World 1) the Reptile Rumble Level was Lord Rigor's preferred choice to revisit. Lives are plentiful here featuring three Bonus Barrels and the Enguarde animal token.

Regarding Funky Kong, an important difference between the Game Boy Advance and the other two versions is that he can be summoned at anytime through the Start Menu.


Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Advance) - Hero Mode

Although a minuscule development decision by Rare, this escape rope allows Game Overs to be potentially avoided entirely. When Lord Rigor was low on lives, He simply fled to Reptile Rumble in fear. In contrast, on the SNES and Game Boy Color versions, the player can only reach Funky Kong after beating the first few Levels on each World. A small detail that greatly determines defensiveness whilst playing.


For example, on one unique Game Boy Color defeat, Lord Rigor experienced a Game Over on Ice Age Alley as He failed to stay alive long enough to reach Funky Kong. Frozen on a pixelated mountaintop, Donkey and Diddy Kong shall hibernate until thawed.


Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Color) - Hero Mode


Hero Mode


On the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country, Hero Mode strips away the Star and Kong barrels while also restricting gameplay to only Diddy Kong. Considering this, Lord Rigor highly recommends playing as Diddy Kong as much as possible during other standard play-throughs. Woe be to the aspiring Hero that isn't familiar with the unique position that Diddy Kong holds barrels.

To unlock Hero Mode, the player must prove their strength and diligence before even being provided the opportunity to attempt the Challenge. Specifically, the player must complete the game alongside Donkey Kong and discover at least 90% of its secrets. These include finding hidden barrels scattered across the Levels as well as collecting each of the four golden "KONG" letters.

Originally, Lord Rigor completed Donkey Kong Country on the Game Boy Advance at 82% which is notably higher than the SNES or Game Boy Color versions. Risking injury and death for nearly three more in-game hours, He had to revisit the majority of Levels and fall off many cliffs to finally reach the 90th percentile.

Compared to the normal versions of Donkey Kong Country, Hero Mode is a surprisingly refreshing experience despite the profound Difficulty. Without Star Barrels to save progress, restarting each Level with a clean slate was helpful in certain instances.


Consider Minecart Madness which demanded an inordinate amount of self-sacrifice through Trial-and-Error. In this example, Lord Rigor succumbed to Game Overs because He only had 5 default lives available without access to Funky Kong. With a compounding Difficulty, starting the Level half-way at a Star Barrel instead of at the beginning prevented Enguarde token collection as well.


Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Color) - Hero Mode

It is worth noting that the Game Boy Color release supported these Difficulty options differently. Only either the Star or Kong Barrel may be removed at a single time, in which those settings are toggled at the main menu instead of being directly incorporate into the player's save file. The Game Boy Advance release honed this idea and properly incentivized players for the Rigorous Journey.



Collectability


Scouring Donkey Kong Country for collectables takes many forms and has entertained generations of Humans for decades. Across each of the game's versions, the percentage of game completion is tracked on the player's save file.



Nine years after the 1994 SNES release, advancement in human technology finally supported a data tracking tool on the Game Boy Advance version. This feature displays the Collectability statistics for each Level including which Levels have been fully cleared and which ones need to be revisited.



Without this critical technology, Hero Mode would have been unattainable unless an internet resource was consulted. As is His nature, Lord Rigor proudly unlocked the higher Difficulty without digital consultation.



Funky Fishing

Lastly, in the spirit of enjoying Donkey Kong Country to the fullest, Lord Rigor made His best attempt at Funky Fishing as well. Not released on the original SNES version, Funky Fishing is a classic mini-game involving catching fish within an allotted time. There is no defined Difficulty but fishing skills vary drastically across both mobile versions.


On the Game Boy Color version, precision is key as the game progresses. Eventually, in both versions, the water is contaminated by human trash and must be avoided. On the Game Boy Color, the deeper water increases the likelihood of reeling in once forgotten filth. Lord Rigor reached the below Funky Fishing milestone on the GBC version:


- Level: VIII -

- Score: 19,310,950 -


On the Game Boy Advance version, there is less fish in the sea. Elements of patience and luck are necessary but, sometimes, the fish simply aren't biting. Reset, replay and prioritize catching the delicious crabs scouring the sea floor. Lord Rigor reached the below Funky Fishing milestone on the GBA version:


- Level: XV -

- Score: 579,600 -



Conclusion


Is this a worthy Challenge? Yes.


Becoming a Hero is a feat that few know. An unwavering commitment is a prerequisite to even fathom success. For those fortunate enough to unlock Hero Mode on the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country, the true Challenge begins.


Within the pits of this Crusade, time passes strangely as the stench of death stains the soul. But, forged with a relentless fortitude, a Rigorous Hero arises. Lord Rigor proudly wears this esteemed mantle.



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