The origins of vaporwave might be tangentially tied up with Sega’s Ecco The Dolphin, but there’s another, more famous distinctly ’90s game that epitomizes this musical microgenre/internet meme’s obsession with obsolete technology and primitive computer graphics: Donkey Kong Country. The series is a product of its time, trapped in the waning days of the Super NES when its developers turned to smoke and mirrors to insert a bulbous, tie-wearing, and, most importantly, three-dimensional rendering of Donkey Kong into their game. This match made in heaven has collided before, but as Ethan Gach over at Kotaku points out, never have they met like the bizarre experiment that is Sebastian Strand’s DonkeyKong.exe.
Also known as スーパードンキーコング Ｄ Ｒ Ｅ Ａ Ｍ Ａ Ｋ Ｅ (the katakana rendering of the game’s Japanese title, Super Donkey Kong), Strand was inspired by Macintosh Plus’ vaporwave touchstone Floral Shoppe to turn the beloved platformer into a glitchy, three-level trip as part of a small banana and retro-game-themed game jam. Vaporwave iconography—palm trees, Renaissance sculptures, wireframes—has replaced the usual backgrounds, and the iconic soundtrack has been drugged up almost beyond recognition.
Strand, who also works as a programmer at Zoink Games (Stick It To The Man), eliminated all but your ability to jump and collect—surely a nod to, as the designer told Gach, his interest in vaporwave’s “ambivalent relationship to commercialism.” That theme manifests most fully in the big finale, as Kranky Kong spends a few minutes falling through a pastiche of Japanese commercials for ’90s Nintendo products. You can download and play DonkeyKong.exe for free right here.
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