Donkey Kong 64 is finally getting a Virtual Console release! One of the most herculean feats of my entire gamer career was completing Donkey Kong 64 in its entirety. It took me 73 1/2 hours and countless backtracking, banana collecting, and replaying hard-as-rocks minigames that were more work than fun. But I DID IT, mainly because I didn't own Banjo-Kazooie yet.

Filled with all the knowledge I had gained by mastering DK64, I decided to help others by writing an FAQ for GameFAQS detailing how to beat the hardest tasks in the game. They rejected it. This was fifteen years ago. When I heard DK64 was finally coming back I thought of my FAQ again, but it had been such a long time I wasn't sure it existed anymore.

Deep in the darkest corner of my hard drive, in a dump of content that was saved on my first PC, my old FAQ was still there, and re-reading it brought back some painful memories. For those of you who are about to play this game for the first time, you're about to come face-to-face with Cheap Shot Rare. People have nothing but rosy memories of Rare now that they barely exist; Innovative Rare and Hilarious Rare are spoken of with fondness. Cheap Shot Rare, which makes those levels you absolutely cannot win without the memorization of performing the same task fifty times, has mostly been forgotten in the haze of nostalgia. Cheap Shot Rare programmed the Turbo Tunnel in Battletoads, the level in DKC3 where lightning randomly struck you, and a demon-spawn of a beetle that challenges you to slide races where he collides into you and you always lose and he laughs at you afterward. That beetle appears twice in DK64 and he will be the bane of your existence without the help of teenage me.

All the advice I wrote back then with the game fresh in my mind has been reproduced below, mostly intact but with a few edits made and bad jokes removed. If you want to play the game again, or play it the first time, come along with me as I guide you through the worst parts of this monkey rap. HUH!

The hidden trick here is at the beginning of the race. Once you start moving, ATTACK THE BEETLE. That’s right, you can do that...which will make him stumble and give you an early lead! Once you’ve done that, slide down as fast as you can. Keep in mind that some of these coins are tricks--they aren’t really attainable, and if you try to get them you’ll screw up. The one that sticks out in my mind is the coin hovering between two cobras near the beginning. DON’T JUMP FOR IT--the cobras will snap at you and put you out of the race. IT’S A TRAP.

Now race down the slide as fast as you can, until you start to near that first turn that you can easily fall off of. (If you’ve ever played this, you’ve fallen off it at least once...) Once you’re near that, slow down and take your time with the coins and the turns. If you’ve followed my instructions, you’ve left that beetle in the dust, and you won’t be seeing him on the track again. (Unless you go INCREDIBLY slow, which I doubt you’d be stupid enough to do)

Once you know you’re near the bottom, shift either right or left. You want that row of coins on either side(the left has more), and DON’T GOOF THIS UP. If you miss a coin, and wind up with 48 or 49, you CAN’T TURN AROUND and run back to get it because the beetle will arrive by then and crash into you. And then he’ll win, and chuckle at you “I thought as much, Tiny. You’re just too slow!” I don’t know what’s worse, these games, or the fact that the winners laugh at you when you lose.

The activity that’s so frustrating, it gets its own section even though it’s not a game.

THE SOLUTION: The Z and R buttons, something that took me a while to realize. Cranky only explains it once. To stop and hover, push Z. How will this help you fly in a straight line? Well, if you fly, and Z-stop, and then fly some more, and Z-stop, and then fly some more, you should be able to get where you want to go if you aim right. But then again, it depends on where you want to go. If you’re playing that stupid owl’s flying game in Fungi Forest, you’ll still find it hard. I never really did perfect the rocketbarrels, actually...but has anybody on Earth?

Ask anybody on the Internet: Beaver Bother is the most aggravating experience this game has to offer. When you’re not trying to scrape a beaver off the wall, you’re falling into the hole from coaxing another one. Being a Klaptrap is supposed to be FUN.

THE SOLUTION: There is actually a secret to how this game works. The truth is that it doesn’t matter how good your herding ability is. What matters is how fast you can push the Scare button.

If you push it superfast, you somehow “radiate” scariness. While you’re going at that button a mile a minute, run in a circle around the hole, closing the gap on the beavers. They’ll just start falling in one by one.

That’s the secret. Note: you’ll go faster at the button if you don’t hold the controller while you push the other words, try to set it on something.

You’ll first run into this in the Angry Aztec lobby, where Diddy will Chimpy-Charge two gongs and Tiny will jump off the top ledge and hairglide to the Bonus Barrel. It appears 2 more times after that, in Gloomy Galleon and Creepy Castle. And it has to be the second most annoying game, at least to me.

THE SOLUTION: Rare purposely programmed the AI of the bugs against players who mindlessly chase them and swat over and over. In order to trick them, do something you normally wouldn’t do to swat a fly. When you miss, move SLIGHTLY and swat again...this worked for me. Also try going in the opposite direction from the bug’s path and swat...this didn’t work for me, but it worked for someone else.

This seems impossible...when you get into the fish, you must bust all three valves in it. But thanks to the propeller, you are only allowed one valve per turn, and time will ALWAYS run out before you bust the final one.

THE SOLUTION: This is the last banana you should collect. Just wait on this thing until you get past Hideout Helm, have all 20 Banana Fairies and have done everything except the final battle. When you have 20 fairies, you can make all your items unlimited, including the coins, which didn’t have much of a use in the first place. You must turn the cheats on each time you turn on the game.

Now swim back to Gloomy Galleon, fly on top of the lighthouse, jam on Diddy’s guitar and race to the fish. It really isn’t a problem getting there, but once inside, you want to dust the Zinger first, then shoot one valve. That starts it as soon as you KNOW the propeller is going to slow soon, start firing rapidly at a valve. You want to keep the propeller stopped for as short a time as possible.

The timer will run out anyway. Nuts. But this is the secret: the timer is bogus! You’re still in there for a few seconds, and if you didn’t waste time with the propeller, keep firing at that last valve! It will slow, and for a fraction of a second, you will have a shot at it before the game kicks you out. If you nail it, the game WON’T kick you out, and give you the banana regardless of what the clock said.

The only Miyamoto-approved section of the entire game, it’s also just as frustrating...wouldn’t you know it. At least it is to some people. I had this game for my Apple II awhile back, so replaying it was second-nature to me. But for those of you who aren’t so fortunate...

Level 1
Run up as fast as you can. Don’t bother with the hammers, just jump over the barrels. If you think a barrel will go down a ladder you’re about to climb, don’t risk it!

Level 2
A pie factory. On the Apple II I thought this was a gold mine because the pies were yellow. It shouldn’t be that hard...except that if you step in a pie, you will instantly die because they’re all filled with arsenic, black widow venom and Molly(this used to say "Ecstasy"). Anyway, use the hammers if you’re overwhelmed...but it is possible to beat this level without them. Another thing...if you go up that ladder that only sometimes lets you up, you’ll still be safe from the pies, so climb up them anyway even when they’re not fully extended.

Level 3
The most annoying level in the game. First wait for the first stupid flame to start going down the ladder, then jump on the going-up pillar, and jump to the going-down pillar before the flame can climb back up.
I don’t know why this is so hard for some to figure out, but there is another way to get to Pauline without taking the long way and having to deal with another flame. As soon as you get on the going-down pillar, jump off it and usually you will land RIGHT ON the platform with the ladder going to the springs of doom. These springs are the worst things in the game. And no, they don’t follow a set pattern... You have to position yourself so that one jumps right over you, and as soon as it does, you RACE over and up the ladder in a split second!! This requires timing...there is no gimmick.

Level 4
Knock out the top bolts first. If you don’t, you’ll have less room to escape from fire snails...
There’s not really much to this. That’s the only helpful tip I know of.

This is the hardest boss in the game, aside from some of the K. Rool matches. If you don’t know Jack, here’s how to beat him:

The first thing you must realize is that if you manage to shock him, but then fall down, the shock is still a count. When the game lifts you back up, stay on that can get a free hit this way without him chasing you. Wait on the platform until he stops and pops out. When you first reappear he will stop and NOT pop out...don’t mistake this for the right time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Mad Jack can’t move diagonally. Move diagonally across squares whenever you can to gain speed on him. Remember that if he’s on a blue square, the switch you want to stomp is a tiny blue one on a large white one. This can be confusing, and you can shock yourself pushing the wrong button.
Oh yes...and if Tiny can’t fly yet, you haven’t been visiting Cranky enough times.

In Fungi Forest you'll run into an owl, who makes you play a clone of the game that the vulture had you play in Angry Aztec, only more frustrating. Here are the moves I had to memorize to beat him:

When you start, rocket STRAIGHT UP to avoid the branch that’s right in front of you, because if you hit it your barrels will turn off and you’ll have to summon the owl all over again. But the second time you do this, you won’t be in front of the branch, so DON’T shoot straight up. Confused yet? I’m just getting started.

Follow the owl until he creates the first ring, which will be below him, so fly a little below him, which can be achieved by stopping yourself with Z the very first second you start the race, for the second time and all times afterward, NOT the first time. After you bust that ring, push Z and turn yourself around and align the camera angle with R, and go that direction plus a little upward, but not too upward, and you will fly through the second ring. Now stop with Z until you come to a complete stop, then rocket forward to the third one, and when you are directly below it drop and you will smash it. Then stop the fall with Z and do the same thing with ring #4. Now turn 90 degrees by holding Z and moving the stick, and start to fly downward that way, which is achieved by firing the rockets, then letting them shut off for a split second(and it’s a SPLIT second), then turn them back on and keep doing that until you’re at the level of ring #5, at which point you can probably get to it. Now fly a LITTLE upward, but not...

You’re lost, aren’t you? Never mind,
just watch this...

At some point in Donkey Kong’s adventure, he’ll have to go inside an igloo...but first, you’ll want to visit Candy as any Kong. She’ll give you a third melon, and upgrade your musical abilities (if you haven’t figured out what use these attacks have, they really help with Kasplats! Especially Chunky’s, which in this level is on TOP of the igloo I just mentioned.) After that, she’ll tell you she’s not much use anymore except for “repairs”. You won’t be needing any repairs.

Now that you’ve got three melons, you will be needing each one! Go inside the igloo with Donkey. You will find the spinning Swirl-O-Death™. And some Koshas, but they won’t bother you unless you’re so stupid as to just walk up to one.
As soon as you enter it, it’ll start to spin. First one way, then the other way. Your goal is to get to the center. And if you even TOUCH one of the walls, you’ll lose a WHOLE melon. Ack!

The solution: Can you say SUPER MARIO? When you enter, the thing will soon start to turn clockwise. Start moving so you aren’t pushed back to the start, and don’t touch the sides. This is hard because halfway through doing this, the camera angle will change on you, and screw up your stick control! You’ll more than likely hit a wall then, but in the event that you don’t, which WILL happen, wait until you know the structure will start to turn in your favor, and THEN get hurt. You’ll be INVINCIBLE for a few seconds, and since the thing is turning in favor of you, use that time to ZOOM through the structure. This is easier than it sounds, and if you haven’t seen where the banana is me, it’s a lot shorter distance than it seems.

There’s also a banana balloon here, but you wouldn’t be so dumb as to try to pop it while NOT in the exact center...would you?

Once in the center, you have the banana. Now the game expects you to walk back out. Riiiiight. Save the game, then choose “Exit level.”

Since I wrote this there have been reports that playing Donkey's instrument when you enter the igloo prevents the Swirl-O-Death from turning, but I have no current way of testing this.

At some point in the game, Diddy will have to play his guitar and enter his door on the large shack in Crystal Caves. Inside, the door will close behind him, enemies will warp into existence on 5 pillars, and Diddy will have a limited amount of time to get rid of them. Most people fire up the Rocketbarrels, fly to the center and manage to hit ONE enemy in a barrel with an orange before the others gang up and knock him off, at which point it’s too late to win. Rare was also so kind as to add Mr. Get-Out Voice at the adding insult to injury.

When you fly up, go over to the barrel guys in the center and fly low over them. They will ALL get up, and go to one place, ha ha! Now fly to a Kremling corner and kill him, then stand at the edge and just FLING oranges. In no time flat all the barrel guys will be toast. Now it’s a simple matter of jump-floating(B and then A while in mid-air) over to the center square, flinging oranges at the two big heavy guys, and shooting the last Kremling with peanuts. Ta-da, the banana!
You should be able to do this with as many as 11 seconds left!

I don’t care if he IS a scarab, I’m calling him a beetle. No, wait, I think they’re the same thing...oh, forget it.
Lanky’s doin’ it this time. And just to warn you where it is, so you don’t get 3 bananas and then get caught off-guard and have to do THIS before you can save...

It is at the little ice castle. Lanky can stomp a switch and play a game with a pumpkin-head(which is hard in itself; my advice is to be perfect and not slip up on the stomp controls even once), or he can stomp another switch and make the top spire open. Then he just does his vulgar “thang” twice to float his way inside...

OK. First, jump up to the Lanky barrel. If you jump and miss, pause and select Restart. Once you are Orangsprinting, it’s time to take advantage of a hidden secret I found. The road curves on both sides. If you steer toward the left curve, and then steer back, you will get a little boost of speed. Keep doing it, and you can pass the beetle before he jumps in the hole!

Once in the hole it’s too easy to hit the beetle, so I think that mostly involves luck...sometimes you won’t see him, but that’s only if you got enough speed boosts in the sprint. Once out, steer toward all coins. The beetle doesn’t go for the coin paths in this one, which is lucky for you. And it’s also less hard to slip off! But unfortunately, you can’t attack the beetle at all. (Let me explain why: in Orangsprint mode, you can do NOTHING but run. If you shut the Orangsprint off, you would lose the race, since some of it is sprinting. So you can’t attack him)

Once you come to the ramp, charge it at FULL SPEED!!! And when you get to the second ramp, go at full speed but angling slightly right. This is so you can get onto the side path. Once you TOUCH the side path, MOVE left onto the main one again. This is because you CANNOT make it across the middle gap.

Now you slide sure to take the coin paths! One other thing...the last coin path ends at a sharp turn, so steer RIGHT when you see the door approaching!! Once in the door, get ALL THREE last coins(because you will more than likely have 47) and sprint to the finish. You’ll need some luck too...mainly you need that beetle NOT to interfere, which does take luck, kinda.

This is the hardest of the mine carts. Diddy’s one practically hands the coins to you, and in Donkey’s you get to go back and get the ones you didn’t get! But in Chunky’s, the timing is tight. (And that doesn’t mean it’s cool.) Here are some pointers:

Green bells lift cages when you hit them. Red bells CLOSE them. Remember that!

Jump as SOON as you see something falling onto the track in the distance.

When the first Kremling with the club arrives, you can get rid of him by pulling a lever on the left side of the track.
There’s this one point where 3 cages slam on you. I don’t know of a way to avoid this at all. I suppose if you slowed to a crawl they might eventually lift, but then the TNT crate following you would hit...

Some coins are set traps and aren’t meant to be collected, namely the area after the monster teeth, where you take all the paths and Kremlings swing clubs...the coins are right in the club’s path; it’s not worth it to gain one coin but lose three!

The final area has 3 ways to go: straight, left or right. This is controllable by two levers, which go by pretty fast after the area I just mentioned, so watch for them. Just lean left to nab that want to go left; the most coins are there. When you do go left, go slow to avoid the rocks crushing you, then steer around the rocks--right, left, right. If you get out of that trap without taking damage, you’ve done a lot right there.