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‘Donkey Kong Country’ – An Instant Classic and One of the All-Time Greatest Games

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People tend to forget this largely because now it’s considered the greatest game console of all time, but there was a time where the Super Nintendo was nowhere near as popular as the Sega Genesis. Sonic was faster and “cooler” than Mario, the Genesis library of games was more diverse when compared to the SNES’ abundance of platformers and RPGs, and the Genesis port of Mortal Kombat maintained its blood and gore, while the SNES port… didn’t.  But a wind of change would blow in late 1994; Nintendo would forge a partnership with British game developer, Rare, who, with the use of Silicon Graphics software, was beginning to experiment with 3D graphics.  With that in mind, Rare was tasked with creating a game for the SNES, that would take advantage of the graphical upgrade.  The result was Donkey Kong Country; the second-highest selling game in the Super Nintendo’s library, and one of the most challenging and charming games on the platform.

Aesthetics

Even considering that the game is 22 years old as of this writing, Donkey Kong Country is still a technical marvel.  The Super Nintendo was the most powerful console of its time, but given that developers were still struggling to make that third dimension work, this game’s conceit was darn near genius; instead of going isometric, which most 3D games went at the time, Country would still be running on a 2D plain.  That way, Rare could make the game more visually appealing without putting a major strain on the hardware.  With the use of pre-rendered backgrounds, it was also the most realistic looking game of its time as well, whether the player is rampaging through the jungle, getting lost in a mysterious cave, blazing at high speed through roller coaster mine shafts, or sliding around the frozen mountain tundra.  It’s amazing that all of this was possible with a 16-bit console.

The character models have aged rather well also, although there were moments where it feels like playing through a Claymation-styled adventure due to their cartoonish nature.  Regardless, it easy to feel the weight of DK’s body while crushing crocodiles and vultures, and Diddy’s animates as smooth as butter on hot breakfast toast.  Everything, from the scales of the crocs and lizards to the gills of every fish, to the fur on the Kongs, and the feathers of every vulture, parrot, and ostrich is finely detailed to a degree that could actually rival that of its eighth-generational counterpart.  Usually, when an old game applies a realistic aesthetic, its limited technology tends to make its most unreal parts, like blocky models and stilted facial expressions, stick out much more.  That isn’t the case here since this has more aesthetical concepts in common with Jak and Daxter than Uncharted.

It would feel sacrilegious to not talk about DKC’s soundtrack; it a fantastic work of art all by itself.  About as ambience heavy as Super Metroid and Super Castlevania IV, each track fits the stage that it accompanies exceptionally well, rather it’s the energetic Jungle Japes or the serene Aquatic Ambience.  To hear more about this and other soundtracks from this series, check out “Gorilla Grooves: A Closer Look into the Music of the Donkey Kong Country Series” by our own Zach Rezec

Despite a 3D presentation, the game is still a 2D platformer through and through.  That means running and jumping from point A to point B, usually from left to right, while avoiding hazardous obstacles in the forms of bottomless pits and path blocking enemies.  But, given the track record of the game’s main protagonist, Rare worked the old formula around DK’s most famous traits, particular the prevalence of barrels.  Kong can throw them at enemies, shoot out of them like an 800-pound cannonball, and even use them to find hidden areas throughout the game.  He’s even picked up some of Mario’s techniques, specifically using a rather impressive jumping ability to avoid or flat out crush his opponents.  The game also marks the debut of Diddy Kong, who moves faster and jumps higher with a major drop in strength.  How to utilize both Kongs throughout the rather short campaign and 40 levels is completely left up to the player’s preference.

The game uses power-ups in the form of animal buddies.  Rambi the Rhino tramples opponents, Winky the Frog gives the player extra height in their jumps, Enguarde the Swordfish swims faster and attack underwater enemies, Expresso the Ostrich can run across mini-croc and hazardous obstacles, and Squawks the Parrots provides light in one the game’s many caves.  These guys actually provide some fun experimentation when found, but they’re purely situational since they’re scattered throughout very few locations.  Squawks, in particular, only shows up in only one level, and then is never heard from again.  Sometimes, they can be more harm than good; Expresso, for some reason, can hurt any foes at all, and Winky functions like the frog suit from Super Mario Bros. 3 while on land, which can lead to some frustrating death.  Overall, though, the animal buddies are a nice addition, though it would have been nicer to use them more often.

Verdict

With the use of new and up-and-coming technology and one of the big N’s flagship character, Donkey Kong Country has been an instant classic that has been a constant fixture of a “Greatest of all time” list.  While it may be remembered for helping the SNES pull away from the Genesis in the console war of the early 1990s, its legacy has been cemented through two sequels and a rebooted series developed by Retro Studios.  It also made Rare a household name in the gaming zeitgeist.  And the game itself is still stellar after over twenty years.  It may be the 35th anniversary of the great ape’s first game, but it’s a wonder where he’d be right now it wasn’t for Rare and company.

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Lifelong gamer since the days of the NES, retrospection is the bread and butter behind the writing, loyal Nintendo and Playstation fan, ol' school movie buff, part-time writing, part-time cook, full-time student, full-time cool dude.

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’

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Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight

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For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.


Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo

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The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

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