Upon Retrospect: Donkey Kong Land

Here's a throwback that'll catch the people's eyes. In this segment of Upon Retrospect, I'm covering Donkey Kong Land for the Game Boy. This is a throwback that dates back to my childhood as another installment of the Donkey Kong series.


Initially released on June 26, 1995, in North America by Rare, Donkey Kong Land was a portable version of the popular Donkey Kong Country series for the SNES. Ironically, the game was developed around the same time that DKC was developed, even using the same "Advanced Computer Modeling" technique as the SNES classic.


The plot of Donkey Kong Land is rather stupid. It's just Cranky Kong egging Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on, saying that they couldn't kick King K. Rool's ass a second time. The two younger Kongs set out to prove Cranky wrong, defeating K. Rool and his Kremlings along the way.


There are numerous enhancements in the game that make it worthwhile. Aside from the "Advanced Computer Modeling," it was also compatible with the Super Game Boy. When you inserted Donkey Kong Land into the SNES add-on, you got enhanced visuals and audio along with a jungle-themed border. You got to hear David Wise's music at its best.


While the Game Boy game is similar to DKC for the SNES, it's also vastly different. There are different enemies such as Nemo, Hogwash (a literal flying pig), and Hardhat, that you wouldn't find in the SNES classic. Even the game's four bosses aren't found in DKC, setting itself apart from the legendary game.


The one thing I remember from playing this game as a kid was its difficulty. DKL was a true challenge out of the gate, testing your limits with blind jumps and tricky bosses. Of course, the first DKC is widely known as the most difficult game in the Donkey Kong Country series, which makes sense. You must also obtain all four KONG letters in a stage to save your progress, which can be trickier down the road.


Still, Donkey Kong Land is a great game to try if you want a challenge. It's not for younger kids, as it might be too frustrating for four-year-olds. I recommend giving this a try if you want to test your mettle.