Donkey Kong 64 was originally a 2.5D platformer

Donkey Kong 64

With its crazy cast of Kongs, bunches of bananas, and signature raps, Donkey Kong 64 is a rather divisive chapter in the N64 golden age of collectathons. In a recent interview with Nintendo Life, Mark Stevenson, the game’s former lead artist and Playtonic’s current Technical Art Director, commented on all sorts of little-known nuggets from Donkey Kong 64‘s development. Especially noteworthy was the game’s unlikely transition from a 2.5D DKC-esque platformer into the sprawling 3D adventure that landed in its stead. Stevens said the following:

“It was a monumental task, a massive game, a massive amount of work. Also it was in development for around 3 years, the team that created DKC3 moved onto it after shipping that game, but about 18 months into development it was rebooted, the team was changed up with the leads on design and software getting replaced and the game changed from being a more 2.5D platform to what it turned out to be more in line with the Mario and Banjo structure of open 3D level that got a lot of reuse. The original plans of trying to recreate the DKC format of tonnes of A-B levels just wasn’t going to be feasible from a production point of view.”

Donkey Kong 64 arguably popped the collectathon bubble when it tried to seamlessly juggle five different characters, with their own unique moves to learn and bananas to find. Still, it was one of a few fun excursions by Rare from that generation. Like Diddy Kong Racing, it explored new conventions in a series that Rare truly made its own, and like Diddy Kong Racing, we have not seen anything like it since. I’m glad we got the game as we did instead of another Donkey Kong Country entry.

Nick Pearson
I'm the Reviews Editor here at Nintendo Enthusiast, and I'm a major fan of all consoles and eras.