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Game Review: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
An article by Jomingo
25 November '10
Almost exactly one year after Rare released their seminal classic Donkey Kong Country, they were ready to release a sequel. One might think that that's too little time to create a masterpiece, and they'd be wrong. Donkey Kong Country 2 was able to build upon and enhance every feature of Donkey Kong Country and Rare was able to get to the very heart of what made the game so good. That's why the sequel stands to this day as the greatest of the series.
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First of all, the premise of the game is as follows: following the events of Donkey Kong Land, King K. Rool decided to exact his revenge on the Kong clan by kidnapping Donkey Kong himself. Diddy Kong, DK's trusted sidekick, was now thrust into the spotlight and forced to rescue his buddy with the help of his girlfriend Dixie by traveling to the home of the Kremlings, Crocodile Isle. This was a pretty risky move, but it certainly paid off. Not only did it separate the series from others like Mario by establishing that DK didn't have to be the hero all the time, it also built greatly upon Diddy's characterization and created a sense of urgency on the adventure that the original DKC didn't have. An important aspect of DKC was it's atmosphere, and this game takes that and blows it out of the water. It takes a much darker tone than DKC, and because of that creates a lot more anticipation as to what's going to happen next. There's a serious sense of mystery throughout the game, and almost everything feels foreign.
The gameplay carries over everything from the original and adds in some important changes. First of all, it adds some much needed structure to the bonus completion by rewarding the player a Kremcoin for every bonus that is completed and by including a uniform number of bonuses in each level. This makes it much easier to track your progress throughout the adventure. Kremcoins also unlock the game's Lost World levels which are a set of extra levels that can be completed after the initial run through of the game and lead up to the real final boss. This is a first for the Donkey Kong series, and a very welcomed addition. Also, the game introduces the DK Coin, a special coin of which there is one in every level. The coin can be seen as the review coins at the bottom of every review.
The biggest change in gameplay is the team-up system. While DKC featured two unique characters on screen with different abilities, this game allows those two characters to interact. Diddy can throw Dixie to reach high up places, or can throw her at enemies. Dixie also adds a new "twist" to the gameplay. She controls differently than either Diddy or DK, bringing with her a helicopter spin ability that can get her across far gaps. These additions really enhance the feeling of teamwork.
The enemies in the game are the Kremlings as always, however, this time they've taken on a unique theme. All the enemies, including K. Rool himself, have put on pirate outfits. The entire first world of the game is on the Gangplank Galleon, the pirate ship in which K. Rool is fought in the first game. The pirate theme brings a sense of unity to the enemies, and also really pushes the adventure feel. The Bosses throughout the game are also much harder and more complex than in the original.
Perhaps my favorite feature of DKC was the animal buddies, and this game again improves on the concept. Rambi and Enguarde have returned, while Squawks has grown into a fully ridable steed. Winky has been replaced by Rattly, a springy snake, and Squitters, Clapper, and Glimmer are also introduced. Glimmer fills the same role that Squawks did in DKC, while Clapper the Seal has an icy breath that proves useful in controlling the water's temperature in several levels. Squitters is the greatest inclusion. He is a giant spider wearing sneakers that can shoot webs out as projectiles, killing any enemy in his way. But that's not all; He can also create platforms in mid-air wherever he wants. This is an awesome mechanic to have in a platform game, allowing the player to explore anywhere in the level. Another innovation to the animal buddy concept is the inclusion of Animal barrels. These transform the player into the Animal pictured, allowing him to play the level without ever losing the buddy. This allows them to craft entire levels around an animal's abilities without having to worry about you losing your animal buddy. Several animal buddies have been given new super-charged moves as well.
The family is back to help you on the journey too. Although Candy has taken a temporary hiatus, Cranky and Funky return in their previous roles. Cranky's wife Wrinkly has been added, who will explain any of the game's concepts to you as well as save your game, for a price. Another newbie, Swanky Kong, is a sly game show host that will ask you trivia questions and reward you with Life Balloons. As in the first game, the Kong family really helps to push the fact that you aren't alone in this world, and that their are many other important characters besides Donkey Kong.
The world's are all unique to the game, including lava levels, swamp levels, gigantic Zinger hives, and even out of control roller coasters. The Barrel Blasting of the first game has returned and been fine-tuned, with numerous new barrel types and some very tricky challenges. The final confrontation with Kaptain K. Rool is very difficult and rewarding, but after completion of the game's Lost World an even more rewarding ending is given. The inner volcano of the Lost World houses the Kremlings' "life source", which is the power in which the Kremlings are created. After fighting K. Rool a second time within the force power chamber, K. Rool is knocked into the volcano, clogging it and causing the entire island to explode and sink beneath the sea! This is an incredible step up in terms of story telling from DKC's banana hoard ending. Of course, the Kremlings ride off into the sunset on their pirate ship, implying that they will be back for revenge before long. This is inarguably the best ending of any DKC, and the fleshed out backstory of the Kremlings is one of my favorite features of the game.
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All in all, this game is incredible. It's as close to perfect as any game can really get, and it remains my favorite game to this day. For the first time I'm giving a game a perfect 5 out of 5 score.
- by Jomingo -
This article was written by a DKC Atlas Forum staff member. All opinions expressed within this article are those of the writer, and are not necessarily shared by DKC Atlas, or the DKC gaming community.