Re(?)Considered: Donkey Kong 64

You could say this game gets a bad rap.

At the time of my writing this, rumours are exploding about a potential Nintendo 64 Classic mini-console, sparking intense, feverish speculation as to the included games. Of course, the very instant this idea was so much as posited I began to vocally—and loudly—demand Donkey Kong 64. A game that resides at the very apex of Rare's legendary Nintendo output. A game that got review scores like 96%, 97%, even as high as 98%. A game now unjustly mocked and ridiculed.

What's the very first game ever made? Scholars remain in dispute over this question, but based on absolutely no research, I'm pretty sure it's Pac-Man. What do you do in Pac-Man? You gather—or "collect"—dots. How many dots? Well, there are 244 per maze and 256 mazes, a total of 62,464. And you have to collect every last one of them.

The same public who embraced Pac-Man and his hoarding-based adventure then went on to dismiss and deride Donkey Kong 64 for having "too many collectables," despite the fact that Rareware's primate-based magnum opus features a mere 1,081 total items to pick up. 57 times fewer than Pac-Man. Therefore, mathematically, it makes no sense than gamers have rejected Donkey Kong 64 while throwing their love and support behind Pac-Man. I'm sorry, but it's an opinion that quite literally does not add up.

Perceptive readers may have gathered that there is a degree to which I am defensive of the much-maligned "collectathon" aspect of Donkey Kong 64. Think of it this way—Shadow of the Colossusis a game that is absolutely beloved thanks to its engagement with the player's emotions. You feel it every time you fell one of the magnificent beasts. That's sorrow, pathos. But consider happiness, consider joy. Those are valid emotions no more or less meaningful than sadness, and it's these emotions Donkey Kong 64 successfully evokes. In Sony Studio Japan's arthouse masterpiece, you are prepared to put yourself in the shoes of the main character. Wander is sad because he kills the majestic Colossi. Chunky Kong is happy because he found a banana on the floor. It's the exact same thing. To favour one over the other is, quite manifestly, a disingenuous position.

Collecting is beautiful. Donkey Kong 64, like the medium-defining Pac-Man, is therefore beautiful. Those who appreciate it are gaming's arbiters of quality and models of sophistication. And anyone who says otherwise is stupid, and almost certainly smells of poo.