I feel like I link to USgamer a lot these days, but the team over there has been producing so much quality work that it seems negligent to me if I don't point out some of their best material. Today's story highlights five instances in which Nintendo bluffed when it had a bad hand and struck back after making critical errors in the marketplace. It's interesting reading and you probably know pieces of these stories already, but you can never read enough of how Nintendo and Rare wowed the world with a slick marketing campaign for Donkey Kong Country at a time when the Super NES was aging quickly as new 32-bit CD-based consoles were on the horizon. Here's a piece of that tale:
Of course, it was simply an illusion, a trick of clever graphical design. But what a trick! Rare fostered the perception that DKC was a game running on an advanced, 3D-capable system, despite the fact that under the hood DKC was arguably a step behind launch titles like Super Mario World and Super Castlevania IV. It eschewed the Super NES's built-in graphical modes, foregoing the platform's standard bag of gimmicks (rotation, transparencies, etc.) in favor of a game that impressed strictly with its basic visual design.
But that design really was impressive. Quibbles about the main character's radical '90s redesign aside, DKC banked on the public's general inexperience with 3D graphics to wow the masses with a game whose technological advancements happened entirely on the development side. There was nothing special under the hood of the DKC cart or the Super NES. Instead, Rare put cutting-edge computer techniques to use in the crafting of the game.
DKC takes a lot of criticism even today about how it's a lesser game compared to the other competition of the day, but it's a solid game and deserving of its place in history. Any rough edges in the design of the first entry in the series were ironed out quickly for sequels Diddy's Kong Quest and Dixie Kong's Double Trouble and I was glad to continue to playing them long after I acquired my Nintendo 64 in 1996. Christmas Day that year was spent with equal time of Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong Country 3, and while it felt strange to dip back into the Super NES when the brand new future was sitting next to it, it was clear that DKC3 was something special. It may all have been a bluff, but it wasn't like Nintendo and Rare held no worthwhile cards in that hand.