Rare's Donkey Kong game assets (lost 3D graphics, 1994-2000, possibly later)
British game developer Rare developed several Donkey Kong games for Nintendo from 1994 to 2007 (although all of their Donkey Kong games released after Rare's acquisition by Microsoft in 2002 were simply enhanced remakes). Before the Nintendo 64 game Diddy Kong Racing, which could handle true 3D graphics, was released in 1997, Rare's Donkey Kong games featured 2D graphics made from pre-rendered 3D graphics. Games with these graphics include Donkey Kong Country (1994, Super Nintendo Entertainment System), Donkey Kong Land (1995, Nintendo Game Boy), Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong-Quest (1995, Super Nintendo Entertainment System), Donkey Kong Land 2 (1996, Nintendo Game Boy), Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (1996, Super Nintendo Entertainment System), and Donkey Kong Land III (1997, Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Color), as well as the 2000 remake of Donkey Kong Country for Game Boy Color.
Character models, as well as other graphics, were rendered and animated, with frames of these animations being captured and compressed into two-dimensional sprite graphics, which the Super Nintendo could easily handle. This method was coined 'Advanced Computer Modeling'. Rare's artists used a program called Alias PowerAnimator, run on Silicon Graphics computers using the IRIX operating system. The 3D assets were also used to create promotional art for the games. Gaming magazines and advertisements highlighted the 3D modeling process as a breakthrough in video game graphics engineering, showing preview pictures and snapshots of the models - the only known surviving images of the assets today. The commercial for Donkey Kong Country also features the models: a few animations of Donkey Kong as well as a brief shot of the Diddy Kong model being rendered.
Years later in 2003, Rare remade the first Donkey Kong Country for Game Boy Advance. In 2004, Donkey Kong Country 2's remake came, and in 2005, Donkey Kong Country 3's remake followed. Rare had stored the original game assets on floppy disks. However, they could only find a few of these disks, while the rest were missing. Furthermore, they no longer had the software able to handle the dated formats stored on the disks they found, and it was very difficult to decrypt anything. In the end, most of the graphics found in the Game Boy Advance versions of the games were ripped from the ROMs of the original games through SNES emulators and remastered for the Game Boy Advance's screen.
What happened to the rest of the floppy disks is unknown. Furthermore, since there are some Rare-produced Donkey Kong games made after Diddy Kong Racing that use pre-rendered graphics, such as the unreleased Diddy Kong Pilot, it is possible that even more game assets have been lost.
Rare's process of creating the renders.
Diddy's wireframe model, both textured and untextured.
Rambi's model opened in Alias.
- Advanced Computer Modeling on GiantBomb. Retrieved 30 March '16.
- Article on the Donkey Kong Country trilogy remakes at DK Vine. Retrieved 5 March '16.
- '16 Bits Is Enough' Article in Video Games, November 1994. Retrieved 30 March '16.
- Scan of a Nintendo Power article. Retrieved 30 March '16.
- Collection of DKC prerendered images. Retrieved 30 March '16.