Donkey Kong Country is a 1994 platform game developed by Rare and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
The control revolves around being able to use the protagonists, Diddy and Donkey, interchangeably. At the beginning of the game, only Donkey is available, and Diddy must be “rescued” from a barrel labeled “DK” which can be thrown or run/jumped/swum through to break, depending on how it is positioned. These appear throughout every level in the game. At all times, only one character is “active,” and when that character takes a hit, he disappears from the screen. He can be rescued again from a DK barrel, which acts sort of like half extra life, as when you are down to only one character, and he takes a hit, you lose a life.
Donkey is the slower but stronger Kong who can more easily take down the more formidable enemies, and Diddy is the quick, athletic one. The nice thing about this is that when you have both Kongs available, you can press select to switch between the two. In two-player co-op mode, player one always controls Donkey, and player two still controls Diddy, so the character switch/rescuing can be used to create something of a semi-simultaneous multiplayer. The two players are never both in control simultaneously, but both players can be involved separately playing individual parts of a level rather than each group has to be done entirely by one player. To my knowledge, the character-switching mechanic was pretty unique at the time, or at least it was not common in a lot of popular platformers. Perhaps I was unfair in acting like the game brought nothing new to the table, but I still would not go as far as to call this aspect groundbreaking.
Another aspect that Rare nailed with this game is the music. The game starts with a cool variation on the original Donkey Kong theme as its intro music, beginning the good vibes. The theme to the first level, and all other jungle levels, went on to become a staple of the DK series and is one of my favorites from this game. The game has a wide array of musical themes – more quiet and subdued in the cave levels, mysterious and ambient in mine levels, energetic and action-packed in the fast-moving minecart levels, calm and soothing for the water levels.