Donkey Kong 40th Anniversary – A Barrel of Memories

July 9, 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of Donkey Kong swinging his way into Japanese arcades in 1981. The game immediately became a massive success and put Nintendo on the gaming map. I’ve known Donkey Kong as a video game character as long as anyone and obviously, this includes Mario, known simply as “Jumpman” in the original arcade game. Donkey Kong has seen many phases and evolutions throughout his history, so, for today’s exercise in actually writing something, I’ve included a few various examples of DK memories from my own 3 decades of playing video games.

Pull up a barrel and let’s take a trip down memory lane…


Nearly any successful game back in the 80’s had multiple iterations attempting to cash in on the newest video game craze. My family actually had two of these Coleco mini arcade games – Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. I remember lying on the living room floor at some very young age and attempting to play this, which seemed to always involve me looking around the house for the 4 C-batteries needed to power the miniature arcade cabinet. I don’t recall the game functioning all that well(when it did have batteries), but it was my first experience with Nintendo’s barrel-throwing primate. After this, it could very possibly be Donkey Kong Jr. for the NES…


By the time we reached the early-90’s, Donkey Kong was already fading from the memories of many gamers. He was seen as a grandfather of gaming and certainly wasn’t expected to be thrust back into relevance, but that’s exactly what happened when Rare released Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo in 1994.

I can still remember seeing DKC for the first time at my neighbor’s and couldn’t believe how incredible the game looked(especially for the time). DKC was one of those games I played as a kid, that I was immediately hooked upon playing and I can recall plenty of times I spent nearly all night trying to beat the game. I’ve mentioned…several times in past blog posts about how much I love Donkey Kong Country and attempting to accurately convey just what the game meant to me growing up.

Most Recent

Donkey Kong Country wasn’t the only game released in 1994 to star Nintendo’s simian mascot. Donkey Kong, commonly referred to as “DK ’94” was released on the Game Boy and very much flew under the radar for most gamers at the time – slightly understandable given it was released only a matter of months before Donkey Kong Country changed the course of history for game gorillas. Perhaps the strangest thing about the game is the fact it begins as essentially a port of the arcade version of the game, but then shifts into a puzzle-platformer spanning another 8 levels and 101 stages.

I bought the game sometime last year(?) and played it a little bit, but found out I hadn’t properly saved the game, requiring me to start from the beginning all over again. I mentioned DK ’94 in a blog post earlier this year listing some games from various Nintendo franchises celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, with the intent of seeing the game to completion sometime before the year is through…5 months and counting now. I (re)started the game a few days ago and have made it about halfway through the game. I’m really enjoying it and feel a bit ashamed of how I mistakenly saw it as just another version of the arcade game shortly after it was released, like most others it seems…


Yes, this existed and yes I remember watching this before leaving for school in the morning…

I still like the DK Rap….I’m just not sure if it’s unironically or not?

The Return

While Rare made three Donkey Kong Country games and Donkey Kong 64(see: DK Rap), it felt like the series had begun to lose a little steam. In 2010, the series returned on the Nintendo Wii with the aptly titled, Donkey Kong Country Returns. This time, the game(s) were developed by Retro Studios, best known for the Metroid Prime games. DKC Returns was a wonderful return to form for DK and Co. with DKC: Tropical Freeze being released a few years later for the Wii U, and then re-released a couple years ago for the Nintendo Switch. Tropical Freeze perfectly encapsulates what made the games so great back in the 90’s, with many holding up the title as the series’ best entry. It took me a little bit of adjusting to the slightly heavier-feeling physics of the game, but after playing through both of the Retro DKC games, I have no issue with anyone regarding these as highly as the Rare ones and Tropical Freeze would likely be on my list of favorite Switch games.

That’s all I have for now. What are your favorite Donkey Kong games, or some of your favorite DK memories? Let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Achievement Hunters – Banjo-Tooie

It’s time again for another round of achievement hunting! A few months ago, I came up with a simple idea in the Later Levels Discord server – people would all play an agreed-upon game and continue on until collecting every trophy or achievement in the game, writing a blog post about it and what they thought of the requirements or specific areas they had trouble with. My idea was something like a book club, just…playing video games and sharing it with others. The previous game that trophy-hunter extraordinaire Solarayo from Ace Asunder and I agreed to play was Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, a game I have never played but had on my list. Despite it being a sometimes glitchy, bug-filled experience and getting locked out of a couple trophies due to glitches, I still had a lot of fun roaming the streets of London with Jacob and Evie Frye. For the next game, I suggested we try to get all the achievements Banjo-Tooie, a game from my childhood that I have some memories of playing but didn’t recall ever finishing. The game received an HD remaster that was released on the Xbox 360 back in 2009 and was most recently included in the Rare Replay collection on Xbox One, the version I’m currently playing. Another thing I kept in mind with Banjo-Tooie was the fact the 20th anniversary of the game’s Nintendo 64 release was coming up shortly(11/20/20) and I had wanted to have something written up for the occasion. I remembered getting through (what I thought was)most of the game, but had never finished it. As I started playing Banjo-Tooie again it became apparent that I hadn’t even made it as far as I’d thought, this revelation came as I reached Glitter Gulch Mine, which is only the SECOND level…not quite as late in the game as I’d initially thought.

At time of posting, I’ve completed the first five of nine worlds in the game. The game doesn’t have an expansive list of achievements to go along with it, making it sound downright easy to add 200 points to my Gamerscore, but some difficulty with the way the jigsaw pieces are scattered throughout the levels and requiring a lot of backtracking and double-checking your inventory items before even being able to reach the area where the next jigsaw piece is located has made the goal of getting a 100% completion and all 12 achievements(yes, ALL 12 of them) a little more time-consuming than I had originally assumed. I may also write up another future post going over my general feelings of the game as I admittedly am having a difficult time enjoying this to anywhere near the same degree as Banjo-Kazooie. Here are the achievements I have unlocked thus far…

Knocked Out Klungo

  • 20G – He’s out for revenge; not once, not twice, but three times. You need to beat him once.

Grunty’s dimwitted, but loyal minion makes several attempts to stop you throughout the game. He’s pretty easy to fight as he mostly lumbers along throwing vials of potions(acid?) at you, making this first achievement pretty simple.

Treasure Hunt

  • 20G – You’ll probably end up with many more, but to achieve this you just need one of each.

For the Treasure Hunt achievement, all you need to do is collect one of each: egg, feather(red & gold), treble clef note, and Jinjo. I unlocked this one within the first two levels of the game. Collect-a-thons, right?

All Beaten Up

  • 20G- Kill any 20 bad guys with any of these attacks: Mumbo’s wand, your Pants Attack or the Daddy T-Rex.

A pretty straight-forward achievement: I spent a little while running around electrocuting enemies with Mumbo’s wand and crushing enemies after being transformed into the Daddy T-Rex. Destroying twenty enemies didn’t take too long…

A Merry Old Soul

  • 20G – You’ll find Old King Coal in Chuffy’s boiler and he’s a bit on the grubby side. Scrub him out!

In Glitter Gulch Mine, you first come across the derailed train Chuffy, who will transport Banjo & Kazooie between in-game levels. This can only be done after entering the boiler area of the train and fighting a giant carbon-based boss – Old King Coal. Similar to other boss fights in Banjo-Tooie, you simply need to fire a few eggs at his weak points to defeat the grubby monster and acquire Chuffy’s assistance, along with the A Merry Old Soul achievement.

Hatch the Future

  • 20G – Separate our heroes for the first time, or hatch a Banjo-Kazooie Stop ‘N’ Swop Egg with Heggy

One of the new game mechanics featured in Banjo-Tooie is the Split Pads, which as the name implies, split up our furry and feathered heroes to allow them to perform moves and access areas they would otherwise be unable to as a team. The Hatch the Future achievement is unlocked simply for using a Split Pad for the first time. I mentioned the achievements themselves were pretty easy…

Calamari Bonanza

  • 20G – Don’t be suckered! You’ll have to freeze every single octopi.

The fourth level of the Banjo-Tooie – Jolly Roger’s Lagoon(not to be confused with Jolly Roger Bay in Super Mario 64…hmm) you will spend a good deal of your time below the waves as you venture through dark underwater tunnels, eventually discovering the remains of the fabled city of Atlantis. There’s also a number of aquatic enemies that you must avoid, including several giant octopi whose tentacles block the passageways connecting the area. A well-placed ice egg or submarine torpedo will momentarily freeze the enemy octopus in place allowing you to freely pass by. The Calamari Bonanza achievement unlocks once you freeze each octopus at least once.

Points Make Prizes

  • 15G – Balloons of any color will do, get 60 points worth or more and you’re a winner…sort of.

In the third level – Witchyworld, you play several mini-games in which you’re shooting at balloons, trying to score a certain number of points within the time limit. There are three different colored balloons – red, green, blue, which are worth 1,3, and 5 points respectively. To unlock the achievement you simply need to get 60 points or more.

Shoot Em Up!

  • 15G – It’s great fun exploding these little lovelies! Any 20 Ulcers, Clinkers or Mines will earn this.

Upon reaching Jolly Roger’s Lagoon, Humba Wumba will transform you into a submarine, which makes traversing the dark depths of Davy Jones’ Locker noticeably easier. Once at the bottom of the briny deep there’s a mini-game in which you shoot torpedoes at floating underwater mines, near identical to the balloon mini-game in Witchyworld(except you’re a little yellow-shorts submarine). Blow up 20 of the underwater mines to unlock the Shoot Em Up! achievement.

That’s all I’ve accomplished for now. I had planned on having unlocked all the achievements in Banjo-Tooie by today and needing only a single post to recap my adventure through the game, as today is the 20th anniversary of the game’s release. The game is considerably larger than the previous entry with a completionist run estimated to take about 25 hours(BK takes me about 12-13 hours to complete everything), so I felt it was wiser to allow myself adequate time to get all the achievements and go for a 100% completion. Feel free to join in on the achievement hunting if you’d like, or simply let me know what you thought of Rare’s second bear & bird adventure. Guh-huh!

Thanks for reading!