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Retro Vault: The 16-bit war, GoldenEye and Donkey Kong Country

Plus: a look back at an Alien game that WASN'T a disappointment

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1994: Donkey Kong Country: Exposed promo tape

Sega had released the Mega CD a couple of years prior and in 1994 it was set to release its latest Mega Drive add-on, the 32X. Said to double the Mega Drive's processing power from 16-bit to 32-bit, the 32X was set for an American release date of 21 November 1994.

Meanwhile, having gotten over its own CD-ROM development debacle with Philips, Nintendo had decided not to release any console-enhancing add-ons for the SNES. Instead, it decided to push the limits of the existing hardware, with the likes of Starfox/Starwing and Donkey Kong Country.

The latter was a side-scrolling platformer, developed by Rare, which used an interesting pre-rendered art style. Using what were extremely expensive Silicon Graphics computers, Rare created CGI models of Donkey Kong and his friend Diddy, animated them then converted those animations into 2D sprites, giving the impression that the characters were 3D CG models.

Nintendo set the release date for Donkey Kong Country in America - 21 November 1994, the same day as Sega's 32X. To promote the game, Nintendo Power magazine sent this Donkey Kong Country promotional video to all its readers, showing the process used to make the CG characters. It ends with a cheeky trailer claiming that graphics of this quality are "not on 32-bit, not on 32X adaptors, not on CD-ROM, not on Sega". Ouch.

Keep watching the video until the very end for a brief tease of a very early version of Rare's following game, Killer Instinct.

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