History of Donkey Kong Country

acm 3d render of donkey kong for dkc

In 1994 Nintendo released the Super Nintendo hit Donkey Kong Country. The game used ACM (Advanced Computer Modeling) for the graphics produced. A wireframe of the characters was used to build the characters, then they were filled and textured. Next, the characters would be animated by moving the limbs and so forth. The game industry was already digitizing photos and film into sprites, as was done in early Mortal Kombat games. But with DKC they digitized 3D rendered images and ended up producing the best 2D game graphics (at the time). However, graphics weren't the only high marks of this game, it was complete with a variety of moves, bonus levels, animals to ride, a nice soundtrack, and challenge. Before DKC, Donkey Kong had been only a minor character, showing up in a few cameo roles, despite the fact he was in the first hit game Nintendo produced.

donkey kong sketch for dkc The evolution of DK for Donkey Kong Country


"The making of Donkey Kong Country isn't only about technology. It is partially a matter of luck, perserverance and a ton of creative effort. In the summer of 1993, Tony Harman, Product Acquisitions and Development Manager at Nintendo of America, was visiting Rare during one of his globe-spanning journeys to find the best games in development. He saw a simple project in the works showing a boxer with about ten frames of animations that utilized computer modeling techniques. He realized that the Stampers were on the something revolutionary when Rare was able to convert that boxer to the Super NES, but to make the dream come alive Rare needed help. When Tony returned to the U.S., he championed the cause and with the backing of Mr. Takeda and Mr. Miyamoto of Nintendo in Japan obtained the go-ahead to allocate funds to apply the new technique to a Nintendo game. It was decided to return to Nintendo's roots by using Donkey Kong as the hero because he had less background than the other Nintendo characters, and that meant that Rare could have greater freedom in creating a new DK world. Mr. Miyamoto, Nintendo's ace game creator, designed a modernized DK and Tim Stamper put him into the SGI system. The other pieces of the puzzle began coming together during the fall of '93 and winter of '94. The legion of Kremlings, the crocodile-like enemies of DK Country, had been created for another game in development, but they turned out to be perfect for DK. As of August, Tim Stamper estimated that the development team had logged 18 man-years of effort, probably the most time ever spent on a single game."

dkc sprite dk w barrel

"Once it had been decided that the arcade gorilla who Nintendo put on the map more than a decade ago would break ground again with this new game, Nintendo and Rare had to invest heavily in equipment and talent. The first step was to create the ultimate game studio. As luck would have it, Nintendo had already been moving in the right direction by forging a relationship with Silicon Graphics for the Ultra 64. This partnership paid off for Rare when more than a truckload of Silicon Graphics equipment worth millions arrived.

sprite diddy on rambi

Even so there were practical problems. Before the computers could even come on-line, Rare had to make further investment by providing more raw electrical power to the building. And not only did the SGI behemoths suck energy, they also produced so much heat that the during the summer months the studio building's temperature would soar to over 90 degrees inside, requiring an army of huge fans to cool both the equipment and the programmers. Although the computers had been envisioned for developmental use for the Ultra 64, the computer modeling techniques also worked for the Super NES. The conversion to 16-bit graphics, according to Tim Stamper was the single biggest problem, because it was pushing the Super NES far beyond what anyone thought it could do, sort of like building an engine that could propel a Chevy to the moon."

Nintendo Power Vol. 64 September 1994.