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Shigeru Miyamoto is Still Donkey Kong's Papa

Even though it's in Retro's hands these days, Donkey Kong's creator continues to influence the series.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

One of the things that really caught my eye about Donkey Kong Country Returns was the way it incorporated elements of some of the other Donkey Kong games. Players waggled the Wii Remote to pound the ground and pummel bosses like in Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat. Grabbing onto grass to navigate rotating platforms felt like it was taken straight out of Jungle Climber. While discussing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I asked Nintendo's Kensuke Tanabe and Risa Tabata and Retro's Michael Kelbaugh how much they had been directly influenced by those other games.

The answer? Very little, actually. As it turns out, many of DKCR's legacy elements -- or at least those not derived from Rare's 16-bit Donkey Kong Country trilogy -- became a part of the game at producer Shigeru Miyamoto's suggestion.

"The Super Mario 3D World team is the team that made Jungle Beat," Tanabe said. "At that point, they all thought the motion, especially for things in Donkey Kong like the ground-pounding, was great. I remember Mr. Miyamoto saying, 'Hey, this really works well with Donkey Kong.'"

?"When we were looking into the ground pound, I won't say we 'mimicked,' but we looked at the whole Jungle Beat setup one for one," added Kelbaugh. "We worked that in just as a prototype and we showed it to Miyamoto. [Kong] was going boom-boom-boom, and then boom-boom-boom. [Miyamoto] said, 'No, I don't want boom-boom, boom. I want ba-BOOM ba-BOOM ba-BOOM!'

With the Virtual Console release of DK94, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat officially became the most tragically underappreciated entry in the franchise. [Image source: NeoGAF]

"It wasn't literal, right? It wasn't one motion translating to one motion. It was one motion leading to that ba-BOOM ba-BOOM ba-BOOM. So we said, 'Sure, we can do that.' It worked out much better. It was much more fluid, more ape-like almost. It was more fun.

Of course, Miyamoto was the designer behind the original Donkey Kong, way back in 1981, and from that germ of inspiration we eventually saw even more memorable titles like Super Mario Bros. In many ways, the father of Donkey Kong left his child behind, leaving the Donkey Kong legacy to the hands others. Given the series' importance, learning the degree to which Miyamoto remains involved in the series is interesting. How often, I asked, does he put down his foot and declare, "This is Donkey Kong, this is not Donkey Kong?"

"Well, not so much this time around," said Tabata. "That story was from the making of Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. I wonder if you remember, from that game, where Donkey Kong takes a deep breath and blows? That's Mr. Miyamoto. That came from him."

Nintendo says there'll be a fourth playable Kong in Jungle freeze. Since they couldn't remember who Kiddy Kong was when I asked if it was him, we can rule that one out.

"When we first started, he didn't just give it to us," said Kelbaugh. "We had to earn it, right? We had to put together demos. We had to prove ourselves worthy of the Donkey Kong franchise. I remember him saying, 'This is my baby. You'd better get it right.' This was before we started the demo.

"He was exceptionally passionate about Donkey Kong. Along the way, he'd give us tips and a little bit of advice. It was all about being able to prove whether or not Retro could handle continuing his vision."

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