Growing Up as a Gamer and Why I Don’t Enjoy DK64 Anymore

As the years go by, our tastes change.  We grow out of cartoons and toy cars and dolls, and we become, well, more sophisticated, in a way.  Video games are no exception.  For many of us, we end up looking over our game collections years later and finding games that, while we loved them as children, we’d be embarrassed to admit to owning now.  And then there are those very special games that still speak to us as adults.  Those games are truly successful, for they have the ability to gain a whole new charm as we grow older that only endears them to us even more than when we first played them.  As I revisit my favorite games for this month’s challenge, I focus on the role that time plays in determining whether or not a game is a true favorite or just a passing fad.

I recently revisited my Nintendo 64, and I found games from both of these categories.  From the more positive end of the spectrum were Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, two games that easily stand up to the test of time.  I’ve been playing these games for the past 15 years, and while I have changed a lot in that time, the enjoyment I get from these games hasn’t.  On the other end of the spectrum was a game even nostalgia couldn’t save…Donkey Kong 64.

Despite being made by the same company as the Banjo-Kazooie series, DK64 has been growing increasingly intolerable to me.  I think if I hadn’t played the game directly after Banjo-Tooie, a game very similar in concept, but far more successful in execution, DK64’s flaws may not have been so obvious.  I used to love this game.  Somehow, I did.  And while it still has its fun moments, what stands out most to me is what makes this game so, well, I just don’t think it’s a very good game.  I guess I should have seen it coming, as the Donkey Kong series began its decline with the release of Donkey Kong Country 3 on the Super Nintendo.  That doesn’t mean DKC3 is a bad game.  It is fun and has moments of absolute brilliance.  At the same time, it was more childish in its dialogue, character design, and…we got stuck with Kiddy Kong.  I can’t think of anyone who really likes that guy.

Nevertheless, I still like DKC3, even if it’s my least favorite of the DKC trilogy.  On the other hand, DK64 lacks any of the ingenuity DKC3 might have had.  The graphics are colorful, but the colors seem far too saturated for my taste.  And while there is a variety of moves, some of them don’t really make sense.  For example, giving each character their own unique weapon and…instrument.  How does that relate to Donkey Kong?  I have no idea.  The Donkey Kong series has never related to shooting and…an instrument!  Really?

The game is clearly targeted towards children, but without any of the charm adults can enjoy.  And while it’s cool, in theory, to have five playable characters, it isn’t once you take into consideration the sheer number of items you have to collect as a result (25 golden bananas and 500 regular bananas per world, not to mention coins, because Cranky, Funky, and Candy actually have the nerve to charge their friends and family members for new abilities), not to mention the amount of backtracking you must endure in order to collect it all.  If I could switch characters at any time, that might have made it tolerable, but that’s not the case.  To illustrate, I’m Diddy, and I have collected all my red bananas in this one location, but at the end of this tunnel, I see some green coins.  I then am required to run all the way back to the tag barrel, get Chunky, and then run all the way back to get those green coins.  And then, I must run all the way back to the tag barrel again to switch out my characters for someone else to complete some other task.  Somehow I seemed to have the patience for this years ago.  I don’t now.

And yet, while these things might make me cringe (including the unnecessary use of voice acting in some parts of the game that subtract from the experience far more than adding to it), nothing compares to the displeasure I get from the game’s vast collection of mini games.  Their inclusion makes sense, as the original DKC trilogy had plenty of them, as well.  The difference is, in DK64, they try so darn hard to have a lot of variety and to be “creative, that a lot of the mini games just come off as a bit odd.  Why in the world must I swat a certain number of flies or herd beavers into a pit for a golden banana?  What do these challenges have to do with anything DK-related, except to antagonize the player?  Even when there are challenges that should be fun, they add some extra requirement that sucks all the fun right out of it.  For example, the races and the mine cart levels should be fun.  Until you’re required to collect 50 coins by the end.  It doesn’t matter if you complete it with flying colors.  If you didn’t collect those darn coins, you lose.  Come back later.  I still despise the laughter of that darn beetle you’re forced to race.  I hate it.  It haunts my nightmares.

DK64, while being directed at kids, is just a really frustrating game.  I could forgive many of the flaws if it just wasn’t so annoying to play.  I mean, you actually have to beat the original Donkey Kong arcade.  Twice!  I mean it, you cannot complete the game unless you beat this thing, on normal mode and on hard mode!  And get a certain number of points in the original Jetpac game, as well.  I admit, it would be cool if these old games were just included as fun, little extras, but when they are necessary to reach the final boss…  I think you get the point.  Because I suck at the Donkey Kong arcade.  I am bad at really old games, and I just can’t beat them, so I don’t think a game from the Nintendo 64 era should require me to complete an arcade game in order to reach the final boss!  Why don’t you force me to complete the original Super Mario Bros in order to beat Super Mario Galaxy!  Because it ain’t happening!

Maybe I’m being harsh.  Maybe.  I guess I just find it surprising the level of pain we’re willing to put ourselves through when we’re younger.  I mean, I actually beat Quest 64 more than once many years ago, and I wouldn’t dream of attempting that game now.  So much travelling.  So much.  If I want to know what it’s like to slowly trek through a life-sized cave, now I know.  And I didn’t like it.  Like I said, we change.  And I outgrew DK64.  It’s kind of a shame, considering I did used to really like it.  But hey, at least it came with a free expansion pack.  What about you guys?  Do you have any games you used to love that you can’t stand now?  Let me know in the comments!

The Duck’s All Growed Up Now

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    I seem to be one of the few remaining humans who likes this game. I do see how it is possible to hate it: I love the mini-games, but they can indeed get too sadistic for their own sake sometimes; I don’t mind the collecting for the most part as I think the collectibles are organized in a way in which if one goes after all golden bananas they will naturally come across all coins, regular bananas, and other items without having to backtrack, but ;


    1. Matt says:

      Ooops…. posted without finishing, where is the edit button, WordPress people!?!?

      I seem to be one of the few remaining humans who likes this game. I do see how it is possible to hate it: I love the mini-games, but they can indeed get too sadistic for their own sake sometimes; and I don’t mind the collecting for the most part as I think the collectibles are organized in a way in which if one goes after all golden bananas they will naturally come across all coins, regular bananas, and other items without having to backtrack, but I can see how it can be too much.


      1. duckofindeed says:

        I wish I still liked this game. I used to really love it, and it’s kind of a shame that my affection for it faded away like it did. I wonder if maybe I’m just not as patient as I used to be. I think I have more things competing for my time, so super tough mini games and 25 golden bananas and 500 regular bananas per world just seems overwhelming now. I think what bothered me most about collecting items in this game was having to switch characters. Sometimes it was annoying seeing a bunch of red bananas…as Tiny, and then having to return to them as Diddy. I wish we could have collected things with whatever character we had at the time.

        Ah, but it is what it is. What mini game caused you the most trouble? I think Beaver Bother, um, bothered me the most. Those beavers just wouldn’t go in the pit!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Matt says:

        They should have allowed players to switch between characters on the fly, there is no question about it.

        Yeah, Beaver Bother is awfully annoying. It is borderline broken.


      3. duckofindeed says:

        Quite true, I remember many times when a beaver would run towards the pit, then get stuck in front of it and never fall in, as if an invisible wall was stopping it. This mini game reveals a crueler side to Rareware. And I don’t like it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Matt says:

        I remember that I eventually got the hang of that mini-game, though. The thing is – if my memory does not fail me – that you cannot do the “ramming” move too close to the squirrels because it won’t do much to make them fall into the hole. You need to perform it from a certain distance. It is easier to do it than to explain it, I guess, but it worked! After that I never had trouble with that mini-game again.

        But yeah, it is almost broken.


      5. duckofindeed says:

        I think I know what you mean. I also heard you must bark at the beavers from directly behind them, because if you do it from an angle, they’ll simply run past the hole. At least, that’s what I think someone said on the Internet. I forgot if it helped me or not, though. I mainly just go for it and try not to think too hard. Thinking makes me do worse.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hatm0nster says:

    Growing out of your games, eh? Hmm…you know, I don’t think I have any games from the SNES and N64 eras that I grew out of. I have plenty of games that I haven’t played in a long time, but they’re either games I never really liked to begin with, or I simply don’t have the time to enjoy them again like I’d like to.

    That said, I think there are a couple games in my collection that fit here: Assassin’s Creed (AC2 and Brotherhood) to be specific. I used to absolutely love these games, but now the thought of going through them again just…no. I don’t think they’re bad, they just a type of game that isn’t for me anymore.

    As for DK64, I agree that it has it’s moments, and I’ll say that I still find myself wanting to hop into it from time to time. However, it’s no longer a game that I could see myself playing through to the end. In fact, I actually went through it with some friends of mine last summer. We all agreed that turning into a party game was fun, but that none of us would want to play it on our own anymore. I think it’s because the game is just plain tedious. If a game is tedious, it’s not going to last very long though.

    Oh, and about that bug. Did you know that you can attack it in order to trip it up and win? I had the game for 16 years and I never would have guessed you could do that until my friend showed it to me!


    1. duckofindeed says:

      I actually didn’t grow out of many games from that era, either…I think the only games I feel differently about now from that time period is DK64, of course, and Kirby 64, though in Kirby’s case, I still think the game has charm…it’s just too easy, and I’ve played it too many times for something so simple to be worth it anymore. Every other game from that time period, however, I love as much as I always have or more. You’re right, it’s not good at all for a game to be tedious, and that might be one reason I didn’t get bored of other games similar to DK64. Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie had items to collect, as well, DKC2 had mini games to find and complete, but it never felt tedious, so those are games I can finish to 100% completion without growing bored. The amount of backtracking needed to complete DK64 doesn’t feel worth it anymore, though. I have no problem with collecting things, but only if it’s fun.

      I actually did know that you could trip the bug, but lots of times when I did it, he’d flip back over and injure me right after. I think I was too slow in getting out of his way. I had more success in my most recent playthrough of the game, however. I used to actually try and race him, but then I learned that staying behind him until the end helps because you don’t keep bumping into him on the slide. Then, I run after him during the last stretch and flip him over to slow him down. I still can’t stand the sight of that horrid beetle, though. He’s pure evil.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hatm0nster says:

        That bug is the worst. Before learning that I could flip it over, I used to try to glitch my way to the finish. I’d get in front of the bug and have it push Tiny across the finish line. It was either that or nothing since it’s impossible to outrun the bug. It only worked 15% of the time too, so I had plenty of opportunity to have that enraging laugh burned into my memory. 😀


      2. duckofindeed says:

        That high-pitched laugh is deeply ingrained in my brain, as well. If I ever play the game again, which I doubt, I’m not bothering getting 100% anymore. Which means skipping the races against the beetle and all the Beaver Bother mini games. Never again!


  3. DK64 was one of those games I disliked at the time. I think I got it for Xmas and even that same day day I knew it wasn’t for me. Of course I didn’t have a whole lot of choice when it came to games back then so I gritted my teeth and finished it. (Can’t say the same for Jet Force Gemini, which I actually really liked, but when I learned what you had to do in order to access the final boss I thew in the towel IMMEDIATELY.)

    Like you, I was shocked about having to beat the old arcade games – at first I thought it was just a cool extra, then I realised you had to do it. I put them off until the very end! It took a lot of practice as I wasn’t familiar with either of the originals, but after bashing my head against the wall with DK for ages and finally besting it, Jetpac fell relatively quickly.

    After playing through the game I traded it with a friend for A Bug’s Life on N64. That game wasn’t any better than DK64, but I didn’t care at that point. In retrospect I think my friend just wanted the expansion pack to play Perfect Dark. I then had to borrow it from him later for Majora’s Mask!


    1. duckofindeed says:

      I was like that, too, back then; I didn’t have many games, so I’d suffer through bad ones just to have something to play. That’s how i managed to beat Quest 64 multiple times. Now I have a lot of better games to play, so I wouldn’t dream of playing those bad ones anymore. I don’t know how I used to enjoy this game, but no longer. I just wonder what age group this game is aimed towards. It’s too difficult for children, but it’s too silly for anyone older.

      I hated the Donkey Kong Arcade. I grew even more frustrated when I found I needed to beat it twice! And the second time on a harder level! Jetpac wasn’t too tough, but I still didn’t understand why I had to do it. It took me forever to get enough points.

      Liked by 1 person

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