During the height of the “Console Wars” in the late eighties and early nineties, several gaming franchises were adapted into animated series including the Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and multiple Nintendo games in one show. Some shows were good cheese that made you want more. Others were bad cheese that made you say no more. For this installment of “Cheesy Cartoons,” I’m going to dip my nose into a plate of rotten gorgonzola and tell you about Donkey Kong Country.
After the successful release of Donkey Kong Country for the Super NES in 1994, it was decided that an animated series would be released to capitalize on the big ape’s popularity. The Donkey Kong Country series debuted in 1996 but not here in the States. The cartoon is a Canadian/French series that first aired in France on September 4, 1996 during a block called La Planète de Donkey Kong; and aired on Teletoon in Canada in 1997. It wasn’t until 1998 that the series was picked up by Fox Broadcasting after CBS dropped it after airing two episodes.
In the show, Donkey Kong is the guardian of the legendary Crystal Coconut and future king of Kongo Bongo Island. The evil King K. Rool and his minions want to steal the Crystal Coconut to rule the island. As with all video game based cartoons, characters and elements from the game are brought into the series. Diddy Kong is Donkey’s best bud who is always by his side. Donkey Kong Country also featured Candy Kong, Donkey Kong’s girlfriend; Funky Kong, the resident airport manager; Dixie Kong, Diddy Kong’s unofficial girlfriend and only character from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest to appear in the series; and Cranky Kong, an old ape who serves as Donkey Kong’s mentor. The Crocs also appear in the series including Krusha, Klump, Kritters, and the Klaptraps. Changes were made to a few characters as Kandy Kong being less passionate than her videogame counterpart and Kranky Kong making no references to his early days of gaming.
CHEESE FACTOR!! Oy, where do I begin? Donkey Kong Country was meant to be a comedic series but the ape and banana puns ran dry as the series progressed. It got to the point of “Yeah, we get it. It’s a banana joke”, or “Haha, it’s a jungle pun.” 😒 Puns and comedic references can make for a good show but only as long as it retains its humor. They tried to bring the humorous moments found in the game into the series with poor execution. But what really hurt Donkey Kong Country was the poor animation. While the atmosphere “closely” matches the Donkey Kong Country video games, animation of the characters was surprisingly stiff considering that the series used motion capture. This doesn’t help a computer generated series, especially since other fully CG series that didn’t use motion capture, such as “Reboot”, “Beast Wars Transformers”, and “Code Leoko” featured smoother animation. And the character designs were all that great. Really, did the large Crocs need nipples.”
WHY WE WATCHED!! The same reason we watched other video games cartoons- because it was a video game based cartoon. Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest were both incredibly popular so watching a cartoon based on those games was a no-brainer.
Donkey Kong Country ran for two seasons from August 15, 1998 to July 7, 2000 for a total of 40 episodes. It was the first series to air on Fox Family when it debuted in 1998. The series also ran on Fox Kids from 1998 to 1999 before it was removed. Donkey Kong Country did have its moments that weren’t too terrible, but this didn’t keep us from ignoring the rigid animation and offbeat humor. Like a burning barn full of kittens, it was bad, but we couldn’t look away.
Donkey Kong Country gets a CHEESY RATING of:
Donkey Kong Country opening