Welcome to the second part of the Donkey Kong-a-thon! I previously covered Donkey Kong Country 1 for the SNES/Wii U Virtual Console, and today I will be reviewing its sequel: Donkey Kong Country 2. If you missed my review of the first game and would like to read it, then here it is!
As with the last review, this review series was an afterthought after I played Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 in a two week-long marathon. Also, like I noted in the last review, this review series is some of the most fun that I’ve had in months, and I’m really excited for this one!
Without further ado, let’s get started with this review.
Unlike the last review, I won’t be telling an interesting story. Also unlike the last review, I actually played Donkey Kong Country 2 as a kid (although, I was fairly horrible at the game) even though it was first with the GBA version. My only real memories of playing the GBA port of this game was attempting many, many times to defeat the final boss on my brother’s already-beaten save file. I never actually finished the GBA port of this game from start-to-finish, but I did manage to pick up the Wii VC version back in 2010 or so (still didn’t have the chance to beat it, since the furthest that I got was the level Rattle Battle). Of course now, with me playing this game on the Wii U Virtual Console, I can have a much more enjoyable experience now with Restore Points, thankfully.
With my small personal recollections of the game, how does it hold up? Let’s see.
Soon after the events of Donkey Kong Country 1, the DK family (DK, Diddy, Cranky, Funky, and Candy) and Dixie Kong (Diddy Kong’s girlfriend) are all relaxing on the beach when suddenly King K. Rool (who has now become “Kaptain K. Rool” to fit with his new pirate theme and crew) flies overhead in his Flying Krock airship. King K. Rool captures Donkey Kong and flies off to Crocodile Isle, the Kremlings’ home base. He leaves behind a note claiming that they will only see DK’s return if they pay the entire DK banana hoard as a ransom. Of course, Diddy and Dixie both deny this proposition, follow in pursuit after the Flying Krock, and find themselves on Crocodile Isle, adventuring towards the stronghold on the top of the isle, where DK is presumably being kept.
Obviously, this story isn’t fantastic or in-depth, but it’s still memorable. I prefer it to the first game’s story by a bit.
This game’s environment is mostly like the previous installment’s, but all of the Kremling enemies now have a pirate theme to them. As before, there’s a mostly realistic and cartoony blend that gives the game’s feel a neat appeal; however, the game is much less focused on realism than the first, and its more so cartoony approach allowed the developers to make much more types of level themes that would fit in this game’s style but not the previous game’s style.
Like the previous game, all levels do at least one thing unique per level in terms of their level design or certain obstacles that you’ll need to overcome, but this time around, the level variation per world is improved (some worlds may have unfitting levels just for the sake of variation, which surprisingly works well and has some great design choices that work for the game’s world to make it feel even more unique). No longer are there four different variations of cave/underground-type levels or any similar themes at all.
Whether it be pirate ships, bayous, castle strongholds, brambles, or glaciers, everything feels miles more unique and varied than the first game, and I love its presentation to death.
When compared to the first game, DKC2 feels almost completely different in terms of gameplay. For one, there are many vertical levels, rather than the primarily horizontal levels in DKC1, and they’re a big factor in letting both games stand apart. One thing that I can definitely say is a positive is the well-varied use of both horizontal and vertical levels (except for the last main world, which overuses vertical levels a bit too much).
A major improvement is definitely the much more creative approach to the animal buddies from DKC1. In this game, they’ve removed both Expresso and Winky (both of which I disliked), and in their place is Squitter the Spider, Rattly the Rattlesnake, Clapper the Seal, and Glimmer the Anglerfish (the last two serve the same purpose as Squawks from DKC1, as they only appear both separately for one level). Also, now Squawks is fully playable with the parrot picking up both Diddy or Dixie… Or you can play as Squawks just by himself in certain levels (along with all of the other playable animal buddies), which is used evenly throughout the game. Squitter the Spider, in my opinion, is the better of the two new playable animal buddies, but I don’t care for Squitter or Rattly all that much, honestly. Squawks is definitely used to his fullest in the aforementioned vertical stages, especially with finding the Bonus Rooms… But, while we’re mentioning it, what’s changed with the Bonus Rooms?
The Bonus Rooms have indeed been changed up, definitely for the better. In DKC1, they were really just there if you felt like you needed extra lives, but they still served very little toward the game. In DKC2, however, Bonus Rooms now award you with a “Kremcoin” that can be taken to the various locations of Klubba’s Kiosk, which will allow you to access a level in the “mysterious” Lost World. There are 75 Kremcoins in all, and they really serve to expand upon the replayability and fun to be had with DKC2.
Also new to DKC2 are DK Coins, which serve… Pretty much just to have more collectibles. DK Coins are usually hidden in very cryptic places and are fairly challenging to get, but collecting them all in DKC2 doesn’t do anything special (except for doing basically what getting all the Bonus Rooms in DKC1 did). They’re there if you really want to test yourself in finding them, and I do think that the reward may be still slightly better than DKC1, just because of the somewhat higher effort put into it than just a couple text changes.
Like the previous game, all of the levels feel unique and memorable; however, while I do think that the level themes and creativity have gotten much better, I do think that some level designs can be a bit too frustrating for my tastes (mainly levels in the last two main worlds and the Lost World, although the Lost World is meant to be a challenge), but it doesn’t detract from the experience that much at all if you’re playing this game on the Wii U Virutal Console or emulator where you have freedom to use Restore Points and Save States, respectively. I do feel however that any beehive level bogs down this game for me a bit; it’s not a major deal, but they drag on, are difficult to control when hopping off and onto honey, are way too confusing compared to any other level type, and they are the one level type that I think look and feel way too samey.
Overall, I’d say that this sequel improves almost every gameplay aspect entirely by making everything just feel so unique and fun to play, but I do have some small complaints in terms of level design. Also, the new collectibles are really what set this game apart from the first in my opinion.
Graphics and Performance:
In comparison to the first game, there’s really only a few graphical improvements here and there… That is, IF you’re only talking about the quality of the graphics. The color palate has been given a much higher diversity in style, and every level theme looks much different than any other theme. As I said a moment ago, I honestly think that the beehive levels look and feel very bland compared to the other levels in the game; however, I still do think that the beehive levels still hold a higher place in terms of looks than any of the levels in DKC1.
As for performance, however, I do feel as if a few moments were a bit slowed down due to some lag (mainly when too many enemies are on-screen), but, honestly, I only really noticed it once in one level of the game (during the second ship hold level).
Overall, the game is definitely an improvement in the looks department with its much improved color palate. The performance may not be completely perfect, but it’s arguably unnoticeable at all.
Music and Sound:
As with the last game, this game has a stellar soundtrack; however, this time, it was entirely composed by one person: David Wise (who also did about half of DKC1’s soundtrack). David Wise really put quite an effort into making some of the most iconic and wonderful music tracks in all of gaming, and (although I prefer his work in Tropical Freeze) I still think that this is easily the best soundtrack for a SNES game.
As for a few of my favorites, I’ve always loved pretty much all of the songs, and choosing between a few is difficult… I guess that a few of my favorite are Jib Jig, Lockjaw’s Saga, Primal Rave, Forest Interlude, and (of course I wouldn’t leave this out) Stickerbrush Symphony.
Here’s Jib Jig.
Here’s Lockjaw’s Saga
Here’s Primal Rave
Here’s Forest Interlude
And, finally, here’s Stickerbrush Symphony.
This soundtrack, in my opinion, exceeds the first game in most aspects. Whereas DKC1 had a few tracks that I weren’t thrilled about, DKC2 only has fantastic music pieces.
Final Thoughts and Score:
I know that I spent quite a long time just comparing this game to the first, but that’s the point of reviewing a sequel: you have to compare both to see whether or not the sequel was better and did what a sequel should do. As for DKC2, I, in my opinion, believe that this game is the best as an SNES game can truly get, and it practically created the original collectathon style in terms of its Bonus Room rewards that actually mean something that many games used for quite a few years (especially during the N64 era) as their basis. For $7.99, this game is well-worth the price on the Wii U Virtual Console, and (from what I’ve heard) the GBA version is somewhat superior in terms of gameplay, as there’s even more things to collect.
However, there were a bit of things that were mainly annoying to me, such as the beehive levels in general, the very minor lag, and some frustrating level design, but these things don’t bother me that much, as they’re only a small blemish on a very great game.
Personally, I am giving DKC 2 a fantastic 9.3 out of 10: it’s one of the best games of its time, despite any gripes that I personally have with it, and it’s definitely worth your time and money!
I hope that you may have enjoyed reading this review! Sorry for the delays surrounding this review, as I got into a bit of writer’s block (and laziness). As for the DKC3 review, it’s gonna be awhile longer, as I have to finish beating the game, and then I have to actually review it. As for other upcoming stuff, I’m currently playing Hyrule Warriors Legends on the New 3DS, and I may review it (or at least do a rant about it at the least), and I’ve also been somewhat marathon-ing the Banjo-Kazooie series (yes, I even am going to play Grunty’s Revenge and Nuts & Bolts). Other than that, I may decide to do some more top ten lists if I think of something that I really want to make a list for.
Thanks for reading, seeya!