Beta64 – Donkey Kong 64


Music: DK. Donkey Kong He’s the leader of the bunch, you know him- I’m sorry, I was just getting ready to talk about my favorite Nintendo 64 game. Donkey Kong 64 is different than most other platformers. You control five different Kongs each with their own special skills to collect enough bananas to fight bosses and earn keys. In addition to the 35 plus hours of Story Mode, you can fight your friends in multiplayer with fruit guns and orange grenades. It doesn’t get much better than Donkey Kong 64. But, did you know that this game happens to be one of the very few that we have the beta ROM for? So on this episode of Beta64, I’m gonna talk about the beta of Donkey Kong 64. Donkey Kong 64 was developed by Nintendo’s old second party developer Rareware which is responsible for games like Banjo-Kazooie and Goldeneye 007. Donkey Kong 64 was originally going to be released for the 64 Disk-Drive in 1998 under the titles of Ultra Donkey Kong, Doney Kong World, and Donkey Kong Universe. But since the Nintendo 64 Disk-Drive failed, Donkey Kong 64 was moved over to a cartridge with its release date delayed to 1999. During development, a major bug caused the game to crash randomly. Unable to locate the bug, developers required the game to use the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak as a quick fix. Donkey Kong 64 was first shown at E3 1999, along with Super Smash Bros. There are many differences between the E3 demo and the final. Let’s start with the intro. The Nintendo 64 logos animation used in the intro is much longer than the final games. Another difference is the HUD. The life meter was not planned to be melons at first, but instead they were pie pieces much like in Super Mario 64. The Golden Banana level counter was also slightly changed. When grabbing a golden banana in the final game, the HUD shows the golden banana count of every Kong in the level. But in the beta, it shows how many the current Kong has collected. The last HUD difference is a counter for an unused silver balloon. This balloon would give a life when collected, but was removed late in development. A shower stall with a poster of Banjo and Kazooie is shown in Donkey Kong’s treehouse though it is not found in the final game. Mad Jack was different in the beta as well. It was originally called “Junk in the Box” and looked a lot different than the final game. Junk in the Box was also meant to be a mini-boss instead of the main boss in the final. Perhaps the strangest beta element in Donkey Kong 64 is that Donkey Kong and Diddy were originally going to carry real guns. As seen in this video, Donkey Kong carried a shotgun while Diddy wielded two pistols. It’s unknown if the guns were changed to keep an E-rating or if they were simply placeholders. In late 1999, gaming shops were given a kiosk demo of Donkey Kong 64 for people to play in their store. Along the way, someone managed to rip the demo and guess what? There are some beta elements in the kiosk demo as well. The silver balloon counter makes an appearance in the demo as wells as the longer intro from E3. The DK TV underlay on the title screen of the final game is replaced with a plain black background in the demo. There are three levels in the kiosk demo and all of them have differences from the final game. The Army Dillo level takes place in Jungle Japes instead of Crystal Caves. And uses a lot more voice over clips compared to the final game. Army Dillo: You dare challenge me? *Evil Laugh* The mine cart level was made incredibly difficult. As the final game requires you to collect 50 coins while the demo requires 70. Squawks texts is also more generic compared to the final. The last level is the Dogadon battle. And has some minor changes as well When Dogadon spits fireballs, it sounds a lot different than the final game. Take a listen. After Dogadon is defeated, the battle theme still plays instead of the victory music. This is most likely just an oversight of the developers. Now lets talk about some unused rooms. The demo has three of them. The first room has a bunch of torches, Zingers, and a single floating mermaid. The next unused area is the level select from the E3 demo. You can also collect the unused silver balloons in this area. In the last room, you get chased by a bunch of Rareware logos. If you manage to survive, you get rewarded with a Golden Banana out of reach and impossible to get. There are some unused models and enemies in the kiosk demo as well. These models include a Kremling, a metal fish, a vulture, an armadillo, a boxing glove, a jack-in-the-box, and this…..creature. These unused textures are also hidden inside the demo’s files. Compared to the kiosk demo, there are only a few unused objects in the final game. One of which is a test room. The test room is accessible without the need for a GameShark. After collecting all of Snide’s blueprints, bring up the bonus menu in one of Snide’s headquarters With any game selected, hold down B and quickly press A. If done correctly, you’ll be brought to the test room. The room has no music, pedestals, a single yellow balloon, and a motionless clone of Donkey Kong. You can’t leave the room once you enter it, as pressing Start does nothing and walking of screen will take you back to the center of the room. There are also two unused controller button icons. One being of the L button and the other R. These icons are much narrower than the final version. These were most likely widened to match the real button shape more closely. By using a GameShark code, you can increase your melon life count to four. Though the most most you can have in normal gameplay is three. Even after disabling the code, your melon life count will still be at four. Meaning that there could have been another life upgrade in Candy’s shop. In order to talk about this next unused object, we first have to learn about the Stop ‘N’ Swop The Stop ‘N’ Swop was a feature in Banjo-Kazooie to transfer in game items to Banjo-Tooie. These items were six multi-colored eggs and one key known as the Ice Key. In order to transfer the collected items, users would power down the Nintendo 64, and replace the Banjo-Kazooie cartridge with Banjo-Tooie’s within 30 seconds. Sadly, hardware changes to the Nintendo 64 caused the 30 seconds to replace the cartridge to become only one second. Thus making the Stop ‘n’ Swop impossible to perform, enforcing the developers to scrap the idea. You might be wondering what this has to do with Donkey Kong 64. Well, there’s one unused line of text in the game’s files that says “Ice Key.” So could this mean that you can transfer the Ice Key from Banjo-Kazooie to Donkey Kong 64? The world may never know. Except for the developers they always know. So that’s the beta of Donkey Kong 64. Even though there were quite a few changes between the beta and the final, most of them are small and don’t really affect how awesome the final product is. Well, I gotta get back to playing the game. (I got 20 more hours to go.) So this has been Beta64 with the Donkey Kong 64 beta. Thanks for watching.


62 Responses

  1. Xenith Xenaku

    January 3, 2019 11:38 am

    The reason they removed the real-looking guns (i think) is because of the… *ahem* … massacre at Columbine eight months ago, at the time of the games release date.
    Columbine Massacre: 20 April 1999
    Donkey Kong 64 Release Date: 22 November 1999

  2. Mudshrooze

    January 8, 2019 2:12 pm

    I'm so glad I'm not the only one who loves this game. More than Banjo, more than Zelda, more than Mario. My first game and my favorite 64 game and in my top ten for all games

  3. Fei Wong

    April 28, 2019 2:07 pm

    Yesterday i beated again this fantastic game, i didnt played it since 1999 or 2000 and holds up very well, only gripe i have with it is that you must play the DK original arcade to beat the game, it shouldve been have to be something optional. Anyways, it was a fun experience making it until the 101%.

  4. klemperwhite

    May 14, 2019 7:51 pm

    What I'm wondering if Mad Jack or as he was known in the beta demo Junk in the Box was a mini boss in Frantic Factory then who was the final boss???

  5. Jon Ruiz

    July 1, 2019 1:09 am

    The sound effect used by Dogadon sounds very similar to the count downs in Star Wars episode 1: pod racers

  6. OmegaChase1002

    October 12, 2019 10:10 pm

    Maybe instead of transferring the Ice Key, there was another Ice Key in the game that may have been a possible reference to Banjo-Kazooie?

  7. Stan Brule

    October 13, 2019 4:30 am

    It's a good job they went with the cartoony wooden guns in the finished game. Seeing Diddy dual wielding realistic pistols feels wrong and gives off Ow the Edge vibes

  8. Danielle

    October 15, 2019 8:02 pm

    But… the metal fish and the vulture WERE used? The metal fish in Gloomy Galleon as the fish Diddy enters and destroys (I'm so sorry Pal… I heard about your suffering with that one) and the vulture you follow in Angry Aztec as Diddy after unlocking as Chunky?

  9. Paul-Octave Hébert

    October 21, 2019 7:18 pm

    Ice key looks dope! And loved seeing the beta for this game. I hope gamers cherish it for all time. 🦍🇺🇸

  10. TypicalMaleHuman

    October 21, 2019 10:32 pm


  11. Ninja Koopa

    November 4, 2019 1:59 am

    LOL. They had to make it Nintendo friendly. Oh no. We need fruit and vegetables pew pew. Not real pew pew.


    November 4, 2019 6:03 pm

    wow donkey kong UNIVERSE??? the world will never know what kind of plans they had..


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