Written by Yamagishi on August 25, 2018 @ 1:58 pm
Donkey Kong Country isn't a series I have a storied history with. I played the Game Boy Advance port of 2 when it first came out when I was but a wee child, but only recently have I played the first and second entries to completion. I have to admit, I'm not massively impressed considering the reputation the original 2 have.
The story of this game is that Donkey Kong has been kidnapped by the returning K.Rool, so it's up to Diddy, and newcomer Dixie to get him back. Standard platformer plot. Nothing noteworthy at all. Completely serviceable.
Initially the game is very promising. The game throws many a varied idea throughout each level, so only a handful of levels feel samey in the slightest. Generally there'll always be a fresh spin on a returning concept. As with many platformers, this can be a double-edged sword, however. The levels I had the most fun in where almost always the levels with very few actual gimmicks. For example, I would dread seeing a bramble level, as I've always disliked the barrel mechanics from Country (which are prominent in the bramble levels), as they often feel like they break the pace of the game.
I think the most frustrating aspect of this game for a player with no real prior knowledge of the game is just that, the pace. You're given a fantastic move in the form of the roll, which lets you pick up speed and jump in mid-air when rolling of a ledge. The game encourages you to make use of this move a lot, so in those less gimmicky levels it's a ton of fun to tear your way through. Unfortunately, I found myself to have a handful of issues with this regardless. Since the game is at its most fun when you go quick, the (very common) levels which force you to slow down, calmly judge enemy patterns or have annoying gimmicks feel like an absolute chore, and probably around 75% of the levels are like this. These issues are only made more apparent by some of the cheap enemy placement in some areas which will punish you, even at just a leisurely medium pace.
Another major I had, especially towards the end of the game was the length of some of the levels. Occasionally I felt like I was on a marathon, and with the medium-kinda hard difficulty the game with throws at you in the latter half, the threat of getting a game over and starting the whole thing again was too stressful for me to enjoy my time playing. I'm not going to pretend like I'm good at DKC (in fact, it's probably the platforming series I'm the worst at) but the sparseness of save points was also very off-putting. There was a moment right at the end of the game where it essentially reveals a whole extra world and I stopped playing (until I found out there's just 1 level in that world) because I was well over my patience for the game. It felt too long and overstays it's welcome. Another reason why I felt aggravated towards the end is the fact that the difficulty curve of DKC2 is all over the place. Sometimes a particularly tough level will be followed by something that's pathetically easy in comparison. I found that this led to diminishing returns on how much satisfaction I got from clearing any given level. I would come out of the easy ones unsatisfied, and the harder ones, simply relieved it's over.
One thing I liked is the animal buddies (except the bird). At certain points you can turn into other creatures, such as a rhino, a snake or a spider. For the most part I always enjoyed using them, mostly for the nice change of pace. The rhino and snake stick out as my favourites. There are also occasions where you can find a secret area containing one of these animals, allowing you to use them for a certain amount of the entire level. Secrets in general are a strong suit of DKC2. There are plenty of secrets to find, although if you play like I did you won't find too many.
So I don't want to come off as contrarian at all, but I feel I'll have a hard time completely justifying my opinion on the graphics; they're ugly as heck. I understand that for the SNES the game's art style is very impressive and Rare's use of prerendered sprites gave the series a very distinct look, but nowadays I find the game to look very muddy. This also meant that sometimes I'd completely miss certain platforms because they don't look distinct enough and don't pop out as something I can jump on. Certainly the graphics are noteworthy for the period, but I found them to get in the way of the game at (albeit occasional) points, which is a major issue to me. Give me something clean like Yoshi's Island any day of the week.
The music of the game is it's defining trait in my opinion. The soundtrack is composed by David Wise, and there are a bunch of classic tunes which originated in this title. Tracks like the ever loved "Stickerbrush Symphony" and "Jib Jig" being standouts. "Forest Interlude" and "Hot-Head Bop" are also great and worth a listen outside of the game.
At the end of the day it's a complete shame to say that Donkey Kong Country 2 isn't a title I think I'll come back to again. Perhaps it was a case of overhype which led my expectations to be too high, but I had a lot of minor grievances which eventually became bigger and bigger the more the game went on. As such I can't personally recommend playing it, but I acknowledge I'm in the vast minority on this one.
Story Rating: 5
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 4
Sound Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 5
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- Alternative Titles
- Super Donkey Kong 2: Dixie & Diddy
- Nintendo Super NES
- Rare Ltd.
- NA Release Date
- November 20, 1995
- JP Release Date
- November 21, 1995
- EUR Release Date
- December 14, 1995
- ESRB Rating
- MVGL User Score
- David Wise