Gaming Disappointments with the DKC trilogy remakes?

granville

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I love all three Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES (yes, DKC3 as well). I don't even need to say anything about them as everything has already said that needs to be said.

But the GBA remakes seem to have hit a roadblock. Before you attack me for being a graphics whore, consider these things I have to say:

1: the games are still fun (although even there the devs tampered with it)
2: these games are now nearly 15 years old. (well, about 10 when DKC1 GBA was released).
3: the GBA is superior to the SNES (by MY calculations at least)

I'm going to go through all the annoyances I have with the remakes. And yes, I'll even have some gameplay complaints which I'll start with first. This'll include all three remakes.

Gameplay woes:

A great looking game is nothing without good gameplay. DKC had gameplay to MATCH the graphics (a hefty task indeed). The GBA remakes were somewhat faithful to the SNES games, but I have one complaint that actually alters the entire game experience.

1: altered physics. The characters movements and how they collide with enemies and obstacles were altered. It seems more stiff and the game itself seems easier.
2: DKC2 GBA made you PAY to refight bosses and you could only see the ending once.
3: DKC3 GBA butchered the ending credits (what happened to the character parade?)

Graphics:

Kill me, but one of the reasons the original games were so groundbreaking was the graphics. I'm usually never a graphics-over-gameplay person, but they do add to the experience sometimes.

1: missing sprite animations, This strangely seems only to affect the playable characters.
2: bright graphics. The RIGHT way to handle dark SNES graphics on GBA is to make the ENTIRE GAME brighter, not just jack up the contrast on the backgrounds. It's inconsistent as well. The sprites don't blend well and the backgrounds clash with each other. The way you do this is to leave the actual graphics the same and simply add an in-game brightness level selection (like the GBA Zelda games). All the games look washed out and badly rendered now.
3: missing effects. I could go on forever. The day-night transitions are gone. The dark areas (like Ropey Rampage) now look like they are in full sunlight. Many of the background animations are nonexistent. Most lighting effects are now gone.
4: the screen is zoomed out WAY too far. The sprites are small and missing some of their original details. I know it would have worked fairly well to just crop the screen as it works fine in SNES Advance.

Sound:

The thing that gives games their personal style and feel IMHO. THIS I realize is where the GBA falls short of the SNES. I just think it could have been better than it was in the DKC remakes. DKC3 didn't even try to have the same songs, it just replaced the soundtrack with all new songs, most of which were not very good. It's the sound effects that angered me the most.

1: quality loss. This is to be expected. But not THIS bad. DKC3 had an all new soundtrack. Only some songs were good.
2: in all the DKC remakes, the sound effects were changed to really dumb cartoonish sound effects. Kremlings now have a girlish yell instead of a deep ARRGGH! and the overall ambient style was lost.

Overall, these games are still fun and get solid 8's for the entire game. The issue was the bad porting here. I don't know WHO'S fault it was, but ALL of these problems could have been avoided. It's a testament to how much I avoid them because I'd rather play the original games in SNEMULDS (which is buggy and has problems). Here's how I'd have done this game:

dkcgm6.png


Left screen shows the original SNES game. Middle shows the GBA version. Right screen shows how the game should have been handled on GBA hardware. A brightness feature could have been selectable depending on which version of the GBA you are playing or how much direct light you have available. Simply crop the screen down to the GBA's resolution. The sound effects and music could have been handled the RIGHT way and simply been the same with slightly lower quality.

Does anyone share my opinion that these GBA remakes were disappointing? I'm not trolling anyone for liking them (they're still good games). They just could have been much better. At least the gameplay wasn't ruined like Earthworm Jim 1 and 2 on GBA.
 

pilotwangs

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I thought they were okay,nothing special.

The menus were a bit ugly though(i think).

A new DKC on DS would be cool,though it will NEVER happen.
 

Toni Plutonij

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Well, I usually hate "whiners" and don't stand people who bitch about something that is irrelevant, I liked DKC trilogy on GBA..
But I would agree with everything you wrote..You covered everything nicely, and describe things that could really be worked out better..
I think they brighten the whole game because of the original GBAs screen (lack of backlight), but it could be easy solved with color filters/modes (like in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance)..

I really agree with your post..
 

dafatkid27

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Wow, I'm impressed. I always felt that the GBA remakes just didn't feel right, and you pretty much just summed up all of their problems eloquently and professionally. Nicely done.
 

DanTheManMS

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Indeed, I much prefer playing back the games via SNES emulators for the GBA/DS rather than playing the GBA ports. With some messing around in the graphics menus, you can get nearly perfect graphics for every stage of each DKC game.
 

JPH

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You're right about the SNES Donkey Kongs not feeling right on the GBA...but I thought the Super Mario Advance games were perfectly ported and the graphics look sharper.
gbasp.gif


SNES ports/remakes to GBA weren't a complete failure in a lot of cases, they just didn't feel right.
 

granville

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The Mario Advance games were indeed good ports. They had the brightness raised as well, but Nintendo decided to do it the smart way and raise the brightness IN THE ENTIRE GAME. It may look brighter than the SNES games, but it doesn't have all sorts of weird inconsistencies and blending problems like the DKC ports.

I was especially impressed by Yoshi's Island GBA. It had a few cutbacks here and there, but you've got to remember that the original game had a powerful coprocessor to help the SNES play it.

The more I play the DKC remakes on GBA, the more I'm sure they are not real ports. The games' physic feel totally different and simply too much of the game was altered to believe that they simply translated the SNES game over. I'm fairly sure they started from scratch here.

I don't know where I heard it, but around the release of DKC1 GBA, I heard somewhere that Nintendo tried to put the SNES game into a GBA toolkit to port the game, but it turned out almost pitch black (supposedly due to the darkness of the original). I don't remember if this was official or not.

You can tell they handled the remake of Super Mario Bros 3 by heading to this page:

http://themushroomkingdom.net/smb3_snes2sma.shtml

That cover about ALL changes from SNES to GBA. The only major difference is the screen cropping. You never notice it unless you play them side-by-side (like these guys did). I have to say, why couldn't all SNES ports be like this?

I'd sacrifice ALL the media additions and extras for the DKC GBA remakes to be exactly like their SNES counterparts. All that would be changed is a cropped screen (perfectly manageable. Maybe make one of the shoulder button a screen scroll) and slightly brighter graphics (managed by a brightness control. Which makes even more sense due to the close release of the SP).

Now that Archeid is returning, maybe SnemulDS will better these games.
 

dexmix

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i did like the gba ports but i'm pretty sure most if not all of us agree with you.

the real issue is that its a port - and the programmers have deadlines, and are forced to cut alot of corners. its a shame really - and is a dis-service to many games. good post!!!
 

PizzaPasta

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JPH said:
You're right about the SNES Donkey Kongs not feeling right on the GBA...but I thought the Super Mario Advance games were perfectly ported and the graphics look sharper.
gbasp.gif


SNES ports/remakes to GBA weren't a complete failure in a lot of cases, they just didn't feel right.

You're right about Super Mario Advance. I didn't even notice that some of the screen was cut out in SMW until someone pointed it out to me.

Granville: I totally agree, the DKC games are way better for SNES. It's disappointing because most of the SNES remakes are well done (FF IV, V & VI, Contra III, Link to the Past) some didn't fare so well like the DKC series and Mother 2 (the sound sucks in my opinion and that's one of the best aspects of the game).
 

granville

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I haven't played Contra on the GBA so I can't say much on it, but some people consider FF4 Advance to be a bad port. It was actually a port of the Wonderswan Color game (only in Japan and pretty obscure) and featured all new graphics and new story features. All the GBA remakes from FFF4 and below were originally Wonderswan games and were ported to the GBA. That's one reason 5 and 6 seemed to turn out more faithful to the originals.

There were numerous battle system bugs in the WSC game that miscalculated the character turn order. In the translation to GBA, there arose some annoying lag issues that caused slowdown on the mode-7 parts and a weird input lag that made the in-battle commands less responsive than they should have been. Some of these issues were fixed in the European version and Japanese revisions. These issues don't overall break the entire game.

Overall, I liked the GBA remake. It had some neat new features and a good translation. The graphics were cleaned up and boasted a better tileset and new pastel-style battle backgrounds. These features were of course first in the WSC version and THEN ported to the GBA. The music got some criticism, but I found it very faithful (if a bit more electronic sounding).

They didn't ruin FF4A. The DS remake is going to trample on it though.
 

PizzaPasta

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granville said:
Overall, I liked the GBA remake. It had some neat new features and a good translation. The graphics were cleaned up and boasted a better tileset and new pastel-style battle backgrounds. These features were of course first in the WSC version and THEN ported to the GBA. The music got some criticism, but I found it very faithful (if a bit more electronic sounding).

They didn't ruin FF4A. The DS remake is going to trample on it though.

I agree, I didn't even notice any of the problems that you mentioned and I played through it at least 4 times. I loved the bonus content and the improved graphics. The sound was a bit off but that's to be expected with the GBA. I totally agree with your last sentence but since I've been playing FFIV in 2D for about 16 years, it's nice to have the option if I require it without having to dig out my SNES.

I knew it was a WSC port but it was still a good port nonetheless.

As for Contra III, the graphics and sound were different but the gameplay was still there and that's all that usually matters for me (with the exception of Mother 2, of course).
 

Harsky

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In all honesty, I thought the GBA version of Donkey Kong Country felt more like it was a jacked up version of the Game Boy Color version.

Obviously, seeing a game like DKC on the GBC was really impressive but when I played it on the GBA, I was left feeling disappointed.
 

PizzaPasta

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Doomsday Forte said:
Didn't Contra III GBA cut out the top-view levels and throw in a level from Hard Corps? Certainly a weird feature/replacement/something.

You're right, I forgot about that. Actually now that I think about it, they changed a lot of stuff in that game. Didn't they remove the smart bombs or something? Maybe it wasn't as good as I thought it was. I'm going to dig it out and play it again when I get home from work tonight.
 

granville

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The dumb thing is that I like the DKC GBC remake. It was even more cut down from the GBA version, but was very impressive for a GBC game. The GBA just touted itself as a SNES on steroids and you have sky-high expectations because of that.

Dumb things regarding the GBA sound effect change: at least two of the original DKC sound effects made it into the GBA game, DK King of Swing. The bosses Fire Necky and K Rool made their DKC sound effects when you hurt them. Here's the Necky:



When you hit him, he has the same noise as the necky in DKC. I can't find a video for the K Rool boss, but when you hit him in DKKOS, he makes his original sound as well (the cool deep ARRGGH! the old Kremlings used to make).
 

DanTheManMS

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Just a quick opinion from what few games I've played: I thought the Super Mario World port was very excellently done. I played through the whole thing and never really noticed the screen size difference at all. The port of Super Mario Bros. 2 was decent, though I could have gone without the extra voice clips, as those got annoying after a while.
 
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