Donkey Kong Country has long been regarded as one of the best-looking games on the Super Nintendo, and part of that can be attributed to the designs of former Rare artist Kev Bayliss. In a new YouTube video, Bayliss revealed a number of early sketches for the game, including designs for Donkey Kong, Winky, the Kremlings, and more. It’s a fascinating look back at the design process, and it should be of equal interest to those that played the game when it released in 1994, and those that just discovered it last year when it released on Nintendo Switch!
The video can be found embedded below.
Bayliss’ designs are a little bit “cartoonier” than the versions that ended up in the final game, but they still have the same feel. It’s easy to see how these sketches evolved into the designs that made it into the final game. While the majority of the characters that appeared in Donkey Kong Country were wholly original, Rare had to put in a considerable effort to modernize Donkey Kong from the version that initially appeared in arcades alongside his former nemesis, Mario.
Rare’s take on Donkey Kong clearly found a lot of success. Not only did this version of DK appear in a trio of SNES games, the character’s redesign began to appear in Mario family games such as Mario Kart 64 and Mario Party. Despite this close association with Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot, DK is notably absent from Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World attraction. However, a dataminer was able to discover stamps and materials related to the character in the Super Nintendo World app. These materials feature Rare’s take on DK, as well as Diddy Kong, and more. This could indicate that the theme park attraction could see Donkey Kong content sometime in the future!
A lot of designs from earlier games are often lost or discarded, so it’s truly awesome to see that Bayliss’ sketches have managed to survive for more than 25 years. Perhaps one day they’ll even see release as part of an art book based on the game! Given the popularity and relevance that Donkey Kong Country maintains after all these years, it certainly seems like a possibility.
What do you think of this early Donkey Kong Country concept art? Are you a fan of the Super Nintendo game? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!