^ As much as the Gameboy game has aged, nothing is a relic of its time as much of the CGI animated series. Every episode had at least one song. At least. Christ.
Disclaimer: if you didn’t play videogames in the 1990s, you’re probably better off not boring yourself with this. Go read me ranting about something less nerdy above or below this (good luck with that, it's all super nerdy).
So a while ago, I decided to buy a Gameboy Pocket. You know, one of those antiquated portable gaming consoles from the ‘90s that has long since been superseded by the Gameboy Colour, the Gameboy Advance, the Nintendo DS, DSi and now 3DS. Essentially, it’s a relic that should provide a lovely opportunity to absolute immerse one’s self in a ridiculous amount of nostalgia.
As part of this nostalgia-binge, I also made an effort to pick up a lot of classic games that circa 1989 -1996 were the absolute peak of portable gaming technology. Games like Super Mario Land 2, a classic that is still as masterfully enjoyable a platforming romp as it was 21 years ago. Amongst this bundle of regression-enablers was 1995’s Donkey Kong Land – a game that was essentially an attempt to recreate the majesty of the SNES’s Donkey Kong Country on a handheld device. Where DK Country has aged like a fine wine of distilled 2D shenanigans, attempting to play DK Land feels like someone repeatedly jabbing you in the eye with a particularly sharp-nailed little finger.
^ This was cutting edge in 1995. In our lifetimes. Think about that for a second. Text messages on a phone are more aesthetically pleasing than this.
I realise the Gameboy is very old, but the attempt to recreate DK Country’s lush, vibrantly bright, and colourfully pre-rendered environments and characters in black and white, on a screen that is murkily lit at the best of times has not stood the test of time. Whilst I never remember this game being easy, I quite genuinely can’t make out what is going on half the time any more which makes everything infinitely harder. The biggest challenge is trying to figure out exactly what you’re looking at, as backgrounds, obstacles and monkeys fade in to one blur of monochromatic nonsense until you’re throwing your Gameboy down in frustration. It becomes a horrible episode in Where’s Wally-esque eye-searching, where every few minutes you randomly realise that bramble you saw was actually a small animal that has come to kill you for the umpteenth time. Or that platform you just jumped to was actually just a decoration in the background and you’re now falling to your inevitable death.
Picking this game up again at the ripe old age of 23 has quite genuinely killed a small part of my childhood – that’s like the opposite point of nostalgia, isn’t it?