I don’t think its fair to say that “Donkey Kong N64 essentially destroyed the Donkey Kong brand” considering it sold over 5 million copies, outselling both of the Donkey Kong Country sequels on the SNES. I can’t say a 3D Donkey Kong will perform the same way today, and it certainly wont be a system seller the way the first Donkey Kong Country was, but saying that 3D Donkey Kong “destroys the brand” isn’t as cut and dry as 3D Mario. This is probably because Donkey Kong has never had a consistent gameplay style for more than one console.
Super Nintendo launch was around 1991.
Donkey Kong Country was released in 1994.
Donkey Kong Country 2 was released in 1995.
Donkey Kong Country 3 was released in 1996.
Nintendo 64 was released in 1996.
Donkey Kong 64 was released in 1999.
Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3 were released very late in the SNES lifecycle. Donkey Kong Country 3 was released when the N64 was! You just can’t compare sales numbers. You need the context of them as well (it’s like saying Halo outsold PONG so Halo is a more significant video game than PONG which is certainly not the case).
There was also sizable competition of platformers on the SNES and a rich third party library. With the N64, you have a laughable third party library reducing competition for Nintendo software sales.
And Donkey Kong 64 wasn’t really a good game. It was fetch quests on steroids.
I remember when Donkey Kong Country came out. It revitalized the Donkey Kong brand. It is why the intro starts off with the original Donkey Kong music played by the old man and then comes the smashing rockstar music of the new generation of Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3 was just something to keep the SNES going because ‘Ultra 64’ kept getting delayed because of (OMG!) 3d graphics.
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze hasn’t even been released yet (making market feedback on the title impossible) yet Nintendo wants to ‘go 3d with it’.
First of all, do we need more Donkey Kong games in a console generation? Wouldn’t something different be more interesting? Hell, at this point I would take 3d anything over using the same damn IP over again. Let Retro make its own open world RPG or even FPS. Those are games NCL cannot do, and it would diversify the game library.
Second, if Donkey Kong 64 was so great, where has the calls for more ‘3d Donkey Kong’ been? Of all the years I’ve been doing this site, I’ve never heard ANYONE ask for more Donkey Kong 3d. I have heard much nostalgia about the Donkey Kong Country series though prior to Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Third, even given the suggestion of Donkey Kong 3d, I still don’t see anyone really that excited for it.
Fourth, seeing the sales issues with the 3d Mario games, Nintendo still hasn’t figured out how to get people into the 3d platforming games despite massive amounts of marketing, dumbing down, instructional DVDs, etc. Donkey Kong 3d has nothing in common with Nintendo’s mission statement: expanding the number of gamers. Such a project would be nothing but selfishness for the developers. “Let us move the camera around to see how snazzy our art is! LOL!”
I can’t see any possibility where a business analysis within Nintendo said, “You know what would really make people buy the Wii U and excite fans and newcomers? Donkey Kong in 3d!” What I think is highly more likely is creative desire from the developers, mostly the artists, who want people to ‘walk among’ their ‘art’ and see it from ‘every side’. Remember how 3d Mario levels would always spin around zooming the camera at various angles and all every time you started? The artists were so proud of their crap. But we don’t play ‘art’. We play games.
You know what I think would get many people excited? Here is a list:
2d Metroid (to show Sakamoto how to make Metroid properly. If Metroid Primes performed decently, 2d Metroid would be that multiplied by a good factor.)
Any form of RPG (because Nintendo consoles need them badly)
Any form of FPS (because Nintendo consoles need them badly)
Any new IP (because one can only take so much Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong)
Speaking of Donkey Kong 3d, why does it have to be Donkey Kong? Retro just made a Donkey Kong after making a Donkey Kong and porting it to the handheld. Why is Retro being penalized to make nothing but Donkey Kongs? I was disappointed that Retro was assigned to make Donkey Kong again but I understand why (because Returns sold well).
I want Retro to do something different. I think we all do.
Or is Donkey Kong 3d only about re-using assets from the first two games so Nintendo doesn’t have to spend any money?