When it comes to classic Nintendo characters, you often think of Mario, Pikachu, Link, or certain others. But it’s easy to forget, that Donkey Kong was the guy who really started it all off. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto in an attempt to make a well-received Arcade game (after their first attempt Radar Scope failed horribly) Miyamoto put the idea of having a King Kong like character as an antagonist, but one that could still be fun to play with later on.
Sure enough, the Donkey Kong games were a hit, both and its spinoffs. But as the console age dawned, the desire to “remake” Donkey Kong came up. The old model, and gameplay style, just weren’t going to work for these new consoles. So, Nintendo gave the series to Rare, and Donkey Kong Country was born. Through it, Donkey Kong got a whole new life. As well as a whole new look.
In an interview with GamesTM, former Rare designer Kevin Bayliss talked about what it was like to remake the legendary ape. he noted that it was “surprisingly easy”, as all he had to do was take a look at the previous version from the arcade games, and redesign it for a more “modern” time. He wanted to make sure DK was powerful look, while still maintaining a monkey/gorilla like form.
Then, when it came to making characters like Diddy, Dixie, or even cranky, Bayliss took the art team to the local zoo and observed the monkeys and gorillas there. They took pictures and video to see how they looked and moved, and eventually came up with the rest of the cast.
The move worked, Donkey Kong Country and its sequels/spinoffs were well received, and the looks of the characters look very similar to this day. In fact, the only difference is the updated graphics, like what we see in Smash Bros, as well as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. All of which are fantastic games.