The Game My Mother Forced Me to Play
A gorilla beats a bunch of crocodiles for bananas
My mother is more of a gamer than I am. She holds a world record on Papi Jump, a bootleg version of Doodle Jump. She’s an expert driver in Mario Kart Wii, never falling off Rainbow Road even in 150cc. She’s also a professional table tennis player in Wii Resort, maintaining a rating of over 2300 with a hotel slipper.
Despite her video game prowess, her gaming career started relatively late.
The Diddy Kong Within Me
My mother and I visited our local antique game shop out of curiosity. There, we got a used SNES and a few games from the discount box. One of the games we bought was Donkey Kong Country: A game where a gorilla Donkey Kong and his monkey nephew Diddy Kong goes on a journey beating villainous bipedal crocodiles. There was no princess, but only bananas in need of saving.
Being an energetic child, I didn’t have much interest in video games, let alone a one about gorillas. But my mother was invested in the game and felt the need to share that experience. As soon as she found out Donkey Kong Country had a two-player cooperative mode, she held my football hostage and coerced me into playing with her. She probably saw a potential Diddy Kong inside of me.
And that’s how our gaming careers started.
A New Appreciation For Gorillas
We didn’t have an instruction manual, but the game was surprisingly easy to pick up. We gradually familiarized ourselves with the mechanics of the game, playing only for a few hours on weekends. Since I had more free time than my mother, I often found myself grinding extra lives. The more balloons I got, the happier my mother was.
In all honesty, I was not good at the game. The CPU version of Diddy Kong could probably do a better job at playing. But I held pride in my spider monkey counterpart. Each Kong has its unique strengths: Donkey Kong is power-focused, while Diddy Kong is agility-focused. As Diddy Kong, my job was simple: Let Donkey Kong do all the work and use my quickness to revive him if he dies.
The game lacked a deep story but compensated with its visuals, audio, and gameplay. Starting at our humble jungle abode, we traveled through an abandoned mine shaft, scaled the Gorilla Glaciers, and infiltrated a crocodile factory. The change in scenery marked a feeling of progress, which motivated us to continue playing. The levels where our jungle dwellers traversed through a cave in a minecart were my favorite. Not because of its aesthetics and atmosphere, but because I could relax in the backseat while my mother did the heavy lifting.
Each world in the game has a distinct soundtrack. The atmospheric music, the ambiance of the environment, the prominent melody, and the percussive accompaniments all combining into a swing-style sound somehow evokes a gorilla-like sense of being. I’m sure we are not the only ones who had the needless urge to buy bananas. With cries of insects filling the jungle and water droplets echoing in caves, the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack would leave the ASMR community to shame.
One, Two, Three, and Returns
After about four months of gaming, we finally completed Donkey Kong Country. That feeling of accomplishment was something we’ve never experienced before. We had become game enthusiasts. And we wanted more.
The game we completed was a part of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy. That meant we had two more games waiting for us. And since gaming had become our new hobby, we agreed to finish the journey we started. It took us another two years of on and off gaming, but we managed to beat complete the trilogy.
More news arrived four years later: “Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii.”
I bought the game as soon as it came out. At the time, my mother was honing her skills as an amateur Wii Resort table tennis player. So this time, I had to force her to play with me. With the trifecta under our belts, we beat the game with sheer confidence in under a week.
My mother recently told me that she wasn’t allowed to play any games as a child. That explains her vehemence towards playing video games with me. And she knew it was never too late to start something. In a way, we spent our video game childhood together.
All thanks to a virtual gorilla.