Donkey Kong Country
After six weeks on sale, it had sold a record-breaking 6 million copies worldwide. The hugely influential Time Magazine rated it the second most innovative product - not just videogame, but - of the year. Donkey Kong Country was the Super Nintendo platformer that the whole world fell in love with - and now you can, too. First, a quick swing around the Donkey Kong family tree.
Donkey Kong Country, originally released in 1994, stars Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. But 1994's Donkey Kong is actually 1982's Donkey Kong Jr., all grown up, while the original Donkey Kong from 1981 has aged into grumpy pensioner Cranky Kong, who also cameos in this jungle-based runaround. Confused? No need. All you need to know is that this Game Pak is positively stuffed with nigh-on perfect platforming, loaded with bananas and barrels, frogs and fish, and jogging and jumping. Knuckle-drag your way around eight huge worlds, from jungle to snow-coated mountain to factory to glistening underwater wonderland, and discover more secret bits and unexpected extras than a three-layered box of chocolates.
In the quest to rescue their banana hoard from evil croc monarch King K. Rool, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong work as a team - only one is under your control at any one time, but you can switch whenever you like (or, swap turns with a friend). Donkey is the big guy - big fists, high-jumping muscle-packed legs, and able to fling big old barrels around like so many coconuts. Diddy is smaller, faster, a better swimmer and a longer jumper, and carries barrels in front of him to protect himself from the king's Kremling hordes. Exploiting the simians' strengths is the name of the game.
Donkey can use his Ground Slap to upturn pesky Klaptrap baby alligators and piledrive along platforms with the terrifying Roll move. Diddy can duck underneath giant bees, use Cartwheel Jumps to reach bonus life balloons, and avoid enemy-colliding catastrophe during minecart rides thanks to his endearing lack of height. Staying aware of each monkey's weaknesses is crucial, too - because if either Donkey or Diddy slips up, you're stuck with the other until you can resurrect his furry counterpart by tracking down a DK barrel. The visuals blew everyone away back in 1994, and they're still remarkable enough to send you flying across the room in century number 21.
Torrential rain, blizzards and lightning tear across the screen; beautiful multi-layered backgrounds are as colourful as a baboon's behind; and the monkeys and their foes possess a meatily realistic 3D look. And there's more to it all than initially meets the eye. When one of your five jungle friends - from the wall-crushing Rambi the Rhino to the gently gliding Espresso the Ostrich - arrives to lend a hand/claw/tusk/fin/etc., they'll help you access a plethora of secret areas.
Great value cameos from surf dude Funky Kong and kissing cousin Candy Kong, some splendid sonics (including a fine remix of the 1981's original Donkey Kong theme) and fishing and dancing minigames for one or two players make Donkey Kong Country a run-'n'-jump marathon that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Which reminds us: when a monkey smiles, he's about to attack. Remember that.