Rough draft: Former Rare artist shares Donkey Kong Country concept sketches

Donkey Kong Country concept

Donkey Kong Country is a series video game company Rare worked on back in the day. While the games are still going strong today, developer Retro Studios is currently at the helm, since Rare is a part of Microsoft now. However, that doesn’t mean ex-Rare employees don’t like to reminisce about the days of old. That’s certainly the case with former artist Kevin Bayliss, who recently uploaded a video showcasing early Donkey Kong Country concept sketches.

These Donkey Kong Country concepts are proof designing a signature look takes time

Have a look at the initial artwork below:

Look at how happy Kevin is sharing his memories!

We get a glance at the prototype Winky the Frog, Rambi the Rhinoceros, Expresso the Ostrich, and the titular Donkey Kong. What’s interesting is Nintendo sent Rare the original sketches of the character to work off of for reference. It’s amazing to see Miyamoto’s design next to Rare’s preliminary sketch next to the final rendered 3D image. Also, I just noticed Donkey Kong has a head shaped like a banana. It has only been 26 years since DKC launched, so at least I realized it eventually.

Enthusiasts, what was your favorite tidbit learned from this video showing Donkey Kong Country concept sketches? Mine was the reveal that the Slippa enemies were originally going to hypnotize or poison Donkey Kong. Let us know below.


Arthur Damian
Arthur Damian is a writer, editor, educator, and lover of video games. Based and living in Brooklyn, NY, he has been gaming since the age of five, from the NES to the Nintendo Switch. His favorite system is the SNES, his favorite game is Chrono Trigger, and you cannot convince him otherwise. He loves dogs, rainbow cookies, Spider-Man, and songs with intricate drum patterns. Arthur is also the Editor-in-Chief at That VideoGame Blog.