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Donkey Kong 64 deserves a remake. Here's why

For better or for worse, the internet has reshaped how society views the popular culture of times past. In the video game world, works from bygone eras are increasingly being remastered or remade for younger audiences and longtime fans alike.

In 1999, Donkey Kong 64 introduced the world to arguably one of the most memorable songs to ever precede a video game in the history of the medium: the "DK Rap." Though it doesn't aim much higher than "My name is ______ and I'm here to say" in style or nuance, its upsettingly catchy rundown of the strengths of Donkey Kong and friends in rhyming form is more than sufficient to spark immense joy.

A "DK Rap" in high definition should be enough to argue for a modern remake of Donkey Kong 64. However, not all fans of the game agree on the merits of the "DK Rap." Nevertheless, Donkey Kong 64 is among the games that most warrant a remake for several less imperative but still crucial reasons.

Collectathons are back in fashion

"Collectathon" refers to a genre of 3D platformer in which gameplay is driven by amassing a variety of currencies or otherwise collectable types of items. Though collectathons exist for other consoles, one console more than any other is inextricably linked to the genre: the N64.

The N64 era began with the genre-defining collectathon Super Mario 64 and remained a home for many, if not the majority of, subsequent classics in the subgenre, from Banjo-Kazooie to Glover. Donkey Kong 64 is among these. At the time of its release, however, Donkey Kong 64 was criticized by some for the amount of items that needed to be collected to progress through the game.

That said, the collectathon has seen something of a renaissance in recent years thanks to throwback titles like A Hat in Time or even Super Mario 3D All-Stars. A return to Donkey Kong 64 in light of the renewed popularity of the genre would provide an opportunity to smooth over some of its more tedious gameplay elements while retaining the signature Nintendo collectathon magic that powers its strongest segments.

Donkey Kong deserves a return to the spotlight

The last successful Donkey Kong game was Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, first released for the Wii U in 2014. This six-year deficit isn't the result of any bad Donkey Kong games but rather a simple lack of recent Donkey Kong-led adventures.

A Donkey Kong 64 remake could be a turning point for the Donkey Kong franchise. The most recent remake to drive up interest in a longstanding series was Final Fantasy 7 Remake. (Of course, 7 Remake is part of the Final Fantasy series, but Final Fantasy 7 also constitutes a franchise in and of itself that includes spinoffs and movies within a shared timeline).

Final Fantasy 7 in its original form is available for modern consoles, so players who wish to revisit the entry in the series that started it all after playing through Remake can easily do so. While Donkey Kong 64 hasn't been released on modern hardware, other titles like Tropical Freeze or Donkey Kong Country 3 could find a new player base were a 64 remake to achieve a degree of success comparable to that of 7 Remake.

It could redefine Donkey Kong games

Donkey Kong 64 remains the only Donkey Kong game to take place in a fully explorable 3D environment. While the shift was criticized by some, it's hard to categorize Donkey Kong 64 as anything but an overall success. One indicator of its generally positive reception is an overall Metacritic score of 90.

Ideally, a remake of Donkey Kong 64 would not only retool the game for modern audiences but improve upon gameplay elements that didn't quite reach their potential the first time around. However, given its baseline quality, a Donkey Kong 64 remake would merely have to retain the level of quality assessed by critics at the time of its original release rather than incorporate any drastic alterations.

Were this theoretically good remake of Donkey Kong 64 to not meet sales expectations, it could nevertheless provide a fun chance to revisit an old classic for fans of the original game. Were it to succeed, however, Donkey Kong could very well transition into the 3D realm for the foreseeable future. Judging by the overall lack of recent Donkey Kong titles, such a changeup could reinvigorate the franchise entirely.