In the 1990s, the Donkey Kong Country series was one of Nintendo's flagship franchises. The first game in 1994 came along with hype never before seen in a game with a massive marketing strategy that made sure everybody know just revolutionary the pre-rendered 3d graphics were. This all pulled off big time resulting in a sequel that is considered one of the best games on the Super Nintendo and a string of success for developer Rare that would be bonkers nowadays. But there's got to be a black mark on all this success and that would be the Donkey Kong Country cartoon series that ran from 1997 to 2000.
Now to be fair to this cartoon, this is far from the worst video game cartoon ever. Shows like The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda and Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm I would wager are worse, but this one is definitely one of the weirdest. Not only are the visuals some of that 1990s CGI that makes you tilt your head in disbelief, but the plots and characters are so wildly different than those from the games that you can do nothing but laugh. This includes heroes and villains alike acting completely out character, plots having to deal with magic, far out science and outer space. Typical trademarks of a Saturday morning cartoon, but things that look so bizarre when we're talking about a bunch of apes who just want to eat bananas all day. Here are 25 things only super fans remember about the weird Donkey Kong Country TV show.
25 How Do You Say This?
There are a few names in gaming that have caused debate among fans about how they're supposed to be pronounced. Most notable of these is Ryu from Street Fighter (it's pronounced Ree Ou) but King K. Rool is another one of these. Since the games never had any voice acting, it's hard to say how you pronounce King K. Rool. But this television show gives us an answer.
Throughout the series, everybody on the show pronounces the reptilian king's name as King Karool. I'm assuming this was done to emphasize the wordplay of making it sound like "cruel". Fans however just stick with separating the K and the Rool in pronouncing his name.
24 Emmy Debate
The Donkey Kong Country cartoon may have sort of ironic cult following due to how laughable and bizarre it is, but believe it or not it actually stirred up a minor debate for the Emmy Awards of 1999.
This show won no awards in the end.
In an article published by the LA Times in June 1999, writer Charles Solomon explained that because Donkey Kong Country was made using motion capture the Academy was stumped about what to do with it. The show's producers submitted it under the animation category, but the academy insisted that it should be considered for special effects.
23 Donkey Kong's Necktie Defies Physics
With how much of a work in progress this computer generated animation style was at the time, it is forgivable if some of the episodes look awful in motion. But for this bizarre oddity, all we have to look at is a still image to see that this show skimped out on essential elements like physics.
To understand what I'm talking about, just look at Donkey Kong's necktie. How is that staying on his body? Neckties are supposed to you know, go around his neck. Not stay on his body thanks to super glue. This was never fixed throughout the series and remains an oddity.
22 Bad Diddy Kong
If you were looking for adjectives to describe Diddy Kong, the words energetic, fun and short would come to mind. What wouldn't dare come out of your mouth though was the word evil but in this show, we do get to see what happens when Diddy Kong loses all his chill and goes to the dark side.
It felt good to see Cranky get humbled.
In the episode "It's A Wonderful Life", Donkey sees the world if he didn't exist. What we see is a total role reversal where King K. Rool is ruthlessly hunted down by an evil Diddy Kong who makes Cranky Kong bow at his feet and Funky Kong serve as his aide. It's pretty hilarious to see Diddy act like K. Rool and is definitely weird.
21 Candy Kong Is Changed Massively
Candy Kong being a main character in a Donkey Kong Country cartoon can be a bit of a problem. After all, she doesn't exactly have much of a character in the series aside from giving the Kongs flirty eyes every-time you go to save your game in the first instalment. For better or worse, her personality undergoes a radical shift in this cartoon.
Unlike in the games, in this series she works at the barrel factory as a quality assurance operator and has a short temper. She doesn't take Donkey Kong's bumbling lightly and constantly cuts off dates with him over practically anything. She always does come back for the big dumb hero though.
20 The Animation Improved
A common complaint about this show is that the animation varies from bad all the way to nightmare inducing in some spots. Certainly this is true in the first season when characters' bodies move in bizarre ways and at times appear to be floating. But I will say though that in the second and third seasons, the animation did actually get better.
The show isn't a complete dumpster fire.
Mostly due to new animation techniques being used by the production staff, seasons 2 and 3 look noticeably better than the first season. Characters move more naturally, lip syncing is improved and character designs are tweaked.
19 The Final Episode Was Bananas
After three seasons on the air, Donkey Kong Country as a television series came to an end. Now, what kind of episode do people hate the most of in television? Why a clip show of course and that's exactly how this show ended. But oh boy what a weird way to incorporate these clips.
Donkey Kong finds a letter addressed to him that he has to leave the island for some reason, so all of his friends decide to throw a party for him to say goodbye. Not only his friends show up though as King K. Rool and his posse show up to... make speeches in DK's honour. The episode ends with Donkey discovering the letter was meant for somebody else and all his friends are upset at him. What a way to go.
18 King K. Rool Was A Wuss
Despite his chubby physique, King K. Rool has served as one of the toughest bosses in platform game history. He's not a cakewalk and can give all of the Kongs an awesome challenge in the games, but in this TV show, the K in K Rool might as well stand for knocked out because this reptile gets his clock cleaned so many times.
In this show, King K. Rool has to rely exclusively on underhanded schemes and trickery to get the job done. Now sure, he did that in the games as well, but he also gave a good physical match to the monkeys. Here, DK defeats him all the time with a single punch. Some king he is.
17 A Child Left Behind
Lots of characters have been introduced throughout the many Donkey Kong games since the franchise was revived back in the early 1990s. One of the more hated ones by the fan-base was Kiddy Kong, cousin of Dixie Kong portagonist of DKC3. He's mainly hated because he played like a weaker and more childish Donkey Kong, but haters of this kid can rejoice when they hear that he is completely absent from the DKC cartoon.
Footie pajamas are not the best for precision platforming.
In fact, the creators of the show almost seem to poke fun at Kiddy Kong in the second episode of the show. In it, Donkey Kong is reverted back to a child and is generally an annoying brat who ruins everything.
16 Donkey Kong = King Kong Fan
Way back in 1982, Universal Studios decided to sue Nintendo for infringing on their trademark of King Kong with their game Donkey Kong. Universal would lose the court case in 1984 but the creators decided to have some fun with this in the DKC cartoon.
Interesting to ponder who would win a fight between Donkey and King Kong.
Throughout multiple episodes of the series, Donkey makes references to King Kong, telling his friends that he's a big fan of the giant monkey monster. Just the thought that Donkey probably has a scrapbook collecting memorabilia of the fictional character that inspired his own creation is a nice touch on the part of the show writers.
15 Cranky Kong: Science Wiz
For anyone who played the Donkey Kong Country games back on the Super Nintendo, you'll know that Cranky Kong is the old coot who insults the player endlessly for their lack of skill and how games were better back in his day. Well according to the DKC show, we can add master of science to his list of skills.
Cranky Kong's role in this series is not only to serve as the rambling grandpa, but also as the tech operator of all the wacky gadgets on Kongo Bongo isle. There's an episode where he gives medical exams to all of the isle's inhabitants showing that he's got medical knowledge too. Props to Cranky for learning new things even in his old age.
14 The Hidden Skills Of Krusha
Players of Donkey Kong Country will know that Krushas are physically the toughest enemies in the game but don't display any characteristics aside from that. Well in this show, Krusha apparently has a talent for mimicking the voices of others.
How would this skill cross over into the games?
In the episode Kong For A Day, King K. Rool has a scheme to get Donkey Kong booted off the island... to make everyone else hate him. One of his more dastardly acts was to make his henchman Krusha make it seem like DK was making a move on Diddy's girlfriend Dixie Kong by mimicking his voice while Dixie had her back turned. Not bad for a big dumb brute.
13 The New Kong In Town
There's no shortage of Kongs in the DKC universe with Donkey, Diddy, Cranky, Dixie, Wrinkly, Funky and so on. However, the creators of Donkey Kong Country decided they wanted to put their mark on the franchise with their own original Kong. His name is Bluster Kong.
That's a face only a meme could love.
Playing the role of the wealthy jerk on the show, Bluster's main goal in life is to steal Candy Kong away from Donkey Kong and humiliate the big ape king. He also operates the barrel factory on the island, which I suppose in the Donkey Kong universe puts him on the same level as a gun manufacturer in our world.
12 DK's Head Is Weird
Everytime you've looked at Donkey Kong's head, you always assumed that the little curl on top of his head was his hair right? I mean, I know the DKC universe is bizarre as heck but surely no ape's skull would have a little curl at the top right? Well I and every other sane person on the planet was apparently wrong.
In the very first episode of the series, Donkey Kong gets a hair cut by a robotic Candy Kong. We then discover as an audience that Donkey's skull really is shaped like that. I have several questions, but let's move on before I go bananas.
11 Groundbreaking Animation
The original Donkey Kong Country game on the Super Nintendo was one of the most ground-breaking video games of all time. It was the first big budget title to completely use pre-rendered 3D graphics. While it hasn't received the same level of acclaim over the years, the Donkey Kong Country cartoon also achieved a milestone in the medium of television.
When it was released back in 1997, this was the first television show to be completely made using motion captured computer generated imagery. While the show Inzektors might have been the first CGI show, it didn't use motion capture.
10 Catchphrases Are Money
For the most part, Donkey Kong has just made vague monkey sounds throughout his many appearances but of course in a cartoon this wasn't going to fly. While he was several bizarre quotable lines from the show, there is none more iconic than his signature catchphrase. "BANANAAAA SLAMMMAAAA!!!"
This is usually screamed by the giant gorilla right before he punches a baddie to the sky or makes a leap towards his foe or just for anything he does really. This kind of gives his opponents an opportunity to anticipate his attack, but good thing everybody on the island are dumb as bricks.
9 Where Are Our Animal Buddies?
One of the best parts of the Donkey Kong Country games are the various animal buddies that you can either transform the Kongs into or ride outright. Rambi The Rhino, Enguarde The Swordfish, Rattly The Rattlesnake among others are all franchise staples... which makes it all the more bizarre that NONE of these characters are in this show.
In a way this makes complete sense. All of the characters in this show are brought to terrifying life with motion capture, so I assume the creators would have a tough time trying to mimic the movements of rhino. Although considering how bizarre the Kongs move, I can't see that being any weirder.
8 So Much Singing
The soundtracks of the Donkey Kong Country series are held up to this day as some of the finest soundtracks in gaming history. When the cartoon was being made, fans might have expected that this cartoon would continue this tradition and have a memorable musical score. They were right... for all the wrong reasons.
For some bizarre reason, this show has two songs in it per episode that are sung by Donkey and his friends Disney style. But while the Disney songs are charming, endearing and iconic, these ones are unintentional meme fuel at best.
7 What's My Island's Name Again?
There are tons of small details in video games that when adapted into movies and television usually get changed or omitted. Sometimes they're for good reason as they wouldn't make sense in the medium but other times it just seems like changes for the sake of it.
Maybe Donkey Konga's name was inspired by this island name?
A prime example of this comes into effect in the DKC show. In the video games, the name of the island that Donkey Kong rules over is called appropriately Donkey Kong Island. However in the show, it is called Kongo Bongo island. A pointless and weird change to the mythos.
6 Nintendo's Only CG Show
For as popular as Nintendo and their franchises are, there actually haven't been too many television shows starring Nintendo's various heroes and most of them have been made using traditional animation except for one. That's right, this one.
This makes a ton of sense considering that the original Donkey Kong Country was the first Nintendo game to use pre-rendered 3D graphics instead of the 2d sprites seen in all their other adventures. With the massive advancements made to computer animation from the time of this show until now, it's a mystery why Nintendo doesn't make an attempt at another show with this style.
5 First Motion Capture TV Show
Donkey Kong Country was made in the late 1990s and unlike other animated shows from that time, it certainly is showing its age poorly. Unlike other shows that relied on traditional hand drawn animation, DKC was daring in completely using computer generated imagery and motion capture.
Mo cap has come a LONG way.
Motion capture nowadays has advanced magnificently and games like The Witcher 3 look startlingly real. DKC... is not that. The mouth movements don't sync up with voices at all, the bodies move in odd ways and sometimes the Kongs appear to be floating. A for effort at least.
4 King K. Rool's... Sophisticated Voice?
In Rare's era of Donkey Kong video games, there really was only one main villain that the Kongs faced off against. Despite his dubious royal status, he is a giant muscle bound behemoth who you would expect to have a booming bass voice. That isn't what his voice actor went for however.
Instead of that, voice actor Benedict Campbell seems to be going more for a voice that sounds like a cross of Jafar from Aladdin and a mad scientist. In a way this makes sense with all of K. Rool's various personas he's adopted, but in another way this just confuses me.
3 Dancing Fit For A King
There are tons of plots in this series that make your scratch your head, but one of the most bizarre ones has to be the episode Orangutango from season 1. In this episode, the annual Bananarama Festival is being held and along with it, a dance contest. The winner of said dance contest is allowed to make a wish on the crystal coconut. Now you may think this would provide a good time for King K. Rool to steal it, but he's got better plans... like DANCING!
King K. Rool= Dance Dance Revolution Champion.
Yup, King K. Rool tells Cranky that he actually has been feverishly practicing and plans to win the contest in a fair manner. He enlists his underling Krusha as his partner and they actually win! WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THIS SHOW!
2 The Crystal Coconut's Insane Powers
In Donkey Kong 64, crystal coconuts are found throughout many of the games levels as an item that the Kongs can use to pull off special moves. In this cartoon there is only one of these crystal coconuts. but this thing is crazy powerful.
Ir does make more sense that K. Rool would steal this than Donkey Kong's hoard of bananas.
Throughout the series, this glowing fruit has been able to predict the future, allow people to project themselves in an astral form a la Marvel's Doctor Strange, heal people of wounds and even be used to see things that are miles away. Oh yes and it also has the power to grant wishes.
1 Missing Citizens In The Country
While enemies in the Donkey Kong Country series are made of mostly various reptiles under King K. Rool's command, the franchise also had a ton of other memorable enemies. These include the Zingers, Neckys, Gnawtys and Snapjaws. But unfortunately there are a ton of enemies who we've happily thrown barrels at and stomped on with our mighty ape physiques that don't appear in this show.
The only enemies from the games that appear are Klaptraps, Kritters, Krusha and Klump. Basically if you're not a reptile, you're not welcome in King K. Rool's army.