Ex-Rare Dev Describes Donkey Kong Country’s Name’s Origin
Many of the titles of some of Nintendo’s most well-known platform games, such as Super Mario World, Kirby’s Dream Land, and Donkey Kong Country, just make sense as they are. As a naming convention, it all makes sense, right? The addition of the word “Country” in Donkey Kong Country for the SNES, however, has a more profound connotation, according to ex-Rare developer Kev Bayliss.
Bayliss revealed that the game had been known as “The Country Project” during production because Rare was practically located in the middle of the countryside in response to an inquiry on Twitter about how the word “Country” came to be added. According to Bayliss, Nintendo simply chose to keep the word “Country” in the title, and thus Donkey Kong Country was born.
Yes I do. Because….
It was originally code named 'The Country Project' because @RareLtd were located in the middle of the countryside – so Nintendo decided to keep it in the name! There you go!
— Kev Bayliss – Video Game Artist (@Kev_Bayliss) April 4, 2023
Although the details may be novel to some, Rare’s current Creative Director, Gregg Mayles, gave a similar explanation in response to a fan’s enquiry in 2018:
'Country' was the code name Nintendo gave the game after visiting Rare. We were located in the picturesque and rural countryside, hence the name 'country'. Somehow it managed to end up part of the game's name!
— Gregg Mayles (@Ghoulyboy) August 14, 2018
It’s undoubtedly a fascinating look at how one of Rare’s most illustrious games got named. Before making a substantial contribution to the Nintendo 64 with GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong 64, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Rare would of course go on to work on two direct successors to Donkey Kong Country. Before being acquired by Microsoft in 2002 for $375 million, it only created one GameCube game, Star Fox Adventures.