Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • Rare
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 11/21/1995
    • US 12/01/1995
    • UK 12/14/1995
Score: 95%

This review was published on 06/20/2012.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is the sequel to Donkey Kong Country and is a side-scrolling, 2-D platform game with amazing, pre-rendered graphics. The original Donkey Kong Country was such a huge hit that a sequel was inevitable. People's expectations for this sequel were sky high due to the considerable hype and success that surrounded the first game. Donkey Kong Country blew people away with its impressive pre-rendered visuals, but people were already used to it by Donkey Kong Country 2, so this game had to up the ante in more than just graphical capability. It does just that. Donkey Kong Country 2 ups the scales in everything that matters in a video game, and is better than the first game in every way imaginable. Well, except for that long subtitle. Rare should have just called it Donkey Kong Country 2 and dropped the subtitle altogether.

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Donkey Kong, the protagonist from the first game, has been kidnapped by the terrible King K. Rool, only now, the king has changed occupations into a pirate captain. Yep, he's Kaptain K. Rool, with a capital K. Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong's nephew and sidekick, is the protagonist for this game. Diddy is joined by his girlfriend, or his sister, or... both, Dixie Kong. Dixie will act as Diddy's sidekick for the duration of this rambunctious adventure. Kaptain K. Rool leads the Kremling Krew, a race of reptilian foes that aren't in any way associated with Russians. The first game took place on Donkey Kong Island, which is the home of the Kong family. This time, the Kongs must venture to the home turf of the Kremlings, Crocodile Isle. The Kremlings are mostly crocodiles, although there seems to be a few other species of reptiles within their ranks. Sometimes there are even non-reptiles in their crew, like mammals and aquatic life forms. I don't know how they do it. In the previous game, the Kremlings had a military motif, but now they're pirate themed. Yes, a bunch of reptilian pirates going up against two monkeys. It's only in video games where you see such a colorful cast of characters.

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Donkey Kong isn't playable in this game, which means Diddy Kong takes his place as the main character. Diddy controls much like he did in the first game, being a speedy monkey who can jump around and run at a brisk pace. Most people prefer using Diddy in the first Donkey Kong Country, so I doubt anyone complained about this transition. Dixie Kong is the new, playable character in this game, and she's fantastic. Dixie controls more or less like Diddy, with the addition of one game changing maneuver: she can use her long, blonde pony tail to spin around and hover in the air for brief periods. This gives her a gliding capability that's similar to how Knuckles can glide in the Sonic games, only it's even better than that. It's because of this move that Dixie will undoubtedly be everyone's favorite character. In all honesty, Diddy doesn't have much of an advantage over Dixie, aside from being slightly faster. Perhaps Dixie would be better off going on this adventure on her own. Beyond this special move, both Kongs can stomp on, roll into, or throw barrels onto enemies to defeat them. That makes the game feel a little like Mario, but the controls are tighter and the platform challenges require a greater deal of precision. You can switch between the two Kongs by pressing the select button, and getting injured by an enemy will make you lose the Kong you were currently controlling. If you lose both Kongs, then you will lose a life, and losing all your lives ends the game. This system is much like it was in the first game, but there's something new you can do when both Kongs are present. When pressing the A button, one Kong will carry the other, and this allows you to throw the other Kong. You can throw your teammate to defeat enemies from a distance, or to get to areas that might be difficult to reach otherwise. It's a nice move that adds a greater deal of depth to an already deep game.

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The animal buddies from the last game make a return, with a few additions and some omissions. Diddy and Dixie will sometimes find animals they can ride to assist them on their quest. Rambi the Rhino, Enguarde the Swordfish, and Squawks the Parrot were all in the first game, and they make a triumphant comeback in this epic tale. Rambi still rams things with his horn, but now he has a super charge attack that allows him to break some walls. Enguarde can be used underwater to defeat enemies, and he also has a new charge attack that can break walls. Squawks is the animal buddy that got a complete makeover this time around. The parrot is now big enough to carry both Kongs as he flies around the environment. Not only that, but Squawks can spit eggs out of his beak as projectile weapons. Yeah, I think we should avoid questioning the logic behind that one. Squawks is easily one of the best animals in this game, allowing for an awesome degree of freedom and versatility. New to this game are Squitter the Spider and Rattly the Rattlesnake. Squitter can do the Spider-Man and shoot his web as a projectile attack, but his most prominent feature is being able to create horizontal web platforms to stand on. There can be a maximum of two or three of these platforms on the screen at any time, and these platforms can be used to get just about anywhere. Squitter is a lot like Squawks in the amount of freedom you have when using him. Between Squitter and Squawks, this game's appeal increases tremendously. The lamest animal buddy is Rattly. All he does is jump higher than normal... boring. I think he's supposed to replace the frog from Donkey Kong Country, because they both perform the same functions. Thankfully, the stupid ostrich from the previous game is nowhere to be found here. I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

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Are you tired of caves? Then you should play Donkey Kong Country 2. One of the first game's greatest downfalls was that it used the cave theme too many times. Caves have the tendency to be dull, especially when in great number. The sequel rarely relies on caves, and sports far more varied environments. Donkey Kong Country 2 doesn't wait to start pulling out all the stops, as the very first world is a pirate ship. Normally, pirate ships are seen in the middle or end of a game, not right at the start. Game developers like to save those bits for later, so things ramp up in the cool factor as you progress in the game. That's not how this game rolls. This game starts off with the cool factor turned way up. A lot of the environments are fairly original, too, like the giant beehive levels. You can stick to the honey in these levels, which allows you to climb up walls. Is that brilliant, or what? Another brilliant set of levels are the thorny bramble areas, which are thorny bean stalks with bridges nailed into them. These levels are home to the Blast Barrels, barrels that blast you off in a given direction when you jump into them. Blast Barrels are in almost every level of the game, but it's only in the thorny stalks where the Blast Barrels become more puzzling. These levels aren't just a marvel to look at, but their puzzling nature also makes them mentally stimulating. The environments in this game are less recycled than in the first one, so you won't encounter the same backgrounds with such a high level of frequency. The same could be said for the boss fights, because they are no longer a bunch of palette swaps. In fact, the boss fights are among the best things in the entire game. There is a boss fight at the end of each world, and these battles are action packed enough to get your blood pumping. I don't know if there's anything cooler than fighting a giant sword inside an active volcano. Did I mention that there are carnivals, castles, airships, and haunted houses? When it comes to variety and flavor, this game has it licked.

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Banana Coins are the main currency in Donkey Kong Country 2, and are used to purchase services from the cast of non-playable Kongs. Swanky Kong runs a game show style quiz, where you play to win extra lives. It's a fun way to earn extra lives whenever you might be in a pinch. The questions in these quizzes are all about the game itself, so you should be able to handle them if you know the game well. Cranky Kong makes a return to sell you hints about the game. Cranky's hints are more geared toward finding secrets, such as the Kremcoins, DK Coins, and other secretive things. This old monkey will also routinely insult your game playing skills, which serves as comic relief. Funky Kong will allow you to use his flying machine to switch between worlds in the game... for a fee, of course. This was something I didn't like. You'd think such a basic game function as selecting a world wouldn't cost the player money, but it does. If you thought that's bad, then you should see Wrinkly's Kong Kollege. Wrinkly is Cranky's wife, and supposedly Donkey Kong's mother. The Kong Kollege charges money for game hints, much like Cranky, but these are more general game play hints that aren't geared toward secrets. That's not the main service you'll be seeing Wrinkly for, though. The main thing you'll be doing at Wrinkly's is saving your game. Believe it or not, it will cost you banana coins in order to do this. The first save is free, thankfully, but every subsequent save will cost you money. None of these things would cost the player money in the first Donkey Kong Country, so why does it cost money here? I'm fine with mini-games and secret hints costing money, but I draw the line on saving. It's just not right to make the player hunt for extra banana coins to save their game. The banana coin count returns to zero whenever you reset the game, which is another bummer.

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Do you remember the bonus stages in Donkey Kong Country? Well, they're back, and they don't suck this time. Instead of being in holes or caves, the bonus stages are now inside these "Bonus Barrels," barrels that teleport you to a bonus stage upon jumping inside one. There are anywhere from two, three, or more bonus stages per level. Unlike Donkey Kong Country, each bonus stage is unique, so you will never see the same one twice. The bonus stages consist of a small challenge where you are either tasked with defeating enemies, collecting stars, or getting to the end of a dangerous platform section. All of these challenges are timed, so you need to be quick. You earn a Kremcoin upon successfully completing a bonus stage, and these Kremcoins can be used to unlock extra levels in the game. I have to give them props here; they really improved on the whole bonus stage thing. The bonus stages aren't hidden in such hideously cruel ways as the first game, which is another improvement. The other things to look out for are the DK Coins. There is one DK Coin hidden per level, much like how the Bonus Barrels are hidden. DK Coins don't offer a practical reward like the Kremcoins, but they do increase your game file's completion percentage. If you're the OCD type, you will probably want to get everything in the game to reach 100% completion, which is 102%. It was 101% in Donkey Kong Country, and 102% in Donkey Kong Country 2. I think I see a trend there. The game is already enjoyable and lengthy if you decide to skip everything, but collecting these optional items makes the experience last that much longer, plus it provides some extra challenge.

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If you want an extreme challenge, then you will want the Lost World. The Kremcoins collected from those Bonus Barrels can be used in the Lost World to unlock super challenging levels. In order to fully explore the Lost World, you will need to acquire every Kremcoin in the game... or you can use a cheat code revealed by the Nintendo Power magazine. It's a lot more satisfying to collect the Kremcoins yourself, but it's possible to circumvent that lengthy process by resorting to the cheat code. These days, you can find this cheat code with a simple Google search, so it's up to you to decide whether you want to do it legit or cheat. Regardless of how you get there, the Lost World is a cruel, unforgiving place. There aren't too many levels, but they're rock hard. Diddy and Dixie will be forced to use their most advanced techniques to overcome the tumultuous challenges in this world. One technique is the rolling jump move, which allows either Kong to perform a jump in mid-air, provided they roll first. This move is essential to finish the Lost World, but isn't necessary for the regular game. This technique was possible in the first Donkey Kong Country, too, though it wasn't required. The Lost World is an incredibly good reward for collecting those Kremcoins, because it adds more content to the game. When you get right down to it, the levels are the most important form of content in a platform game, so there is no better reward than extra levels.

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Donkey Kong Country was a reasonably good game. Donkey Kong Country 2 is more than reasonably good. It's more than great. It's absolutely fantastic. This is, without a doubt, one of the best games on the Super Nintendo. Donkey Kong Country 2 drastically improved everything from its predecessor, becoming a force to be reckoned with. The graphics, music, level design, game play mechanics, boss fights, and controls are all better and more polished. This game is far from monkey business: it is serious business.

Word Count: 2,382

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