Tag Archives: Donkey Kong Country

Plan for 2017 for This Blog

It’s hard to believe that April is almost around the corner, and I still haven’t posted a new mini-review or the review for DKC Returns! As per usual, things have come up in the past few months that have completely stalled my progress on working on either of those reviews. I will say that I’m not planning on doing a mini-review before the DKC Returns review anymore, since I lost interest in the game which I was planning on reviewing (Overwatch). To be honest I haven’t even finished playing through DKC Returns yet (and I’m planning on playing it through on both the Wii version and the 3DS remake if time allows for that), and this is thanks to a certain game that has been very popular recently (of course, it’s Zelda Breath of the Wild). I’ve also had to scrap certain post ideas as they eventually weren’t relevant after many months of sitting unfinishing (I was planning on doing a “Top 10 Pokémon Games” list back when it was still the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, but that list started sometime around March last year and never got finished). 

Also, I haven’t given up on the Minecraft adventure map, but I haven’t had any time to work on it since 2017 began. On an interesting note, it’s been more than two years now since the original (quite meh) Version 1.0 of Golden Continent released. I had thoughts of maybe working on the adventure map quite a bit to get some sort of update out by that time, but that didn’t really work out. I obviously can’t even remotely give any sort of release date for Version 1.1 (and I’m not going to bother with calling it “alpha V1.1” or whatever, it’s currently a massive update to the map regardless, so the update after that will just be called Version 1.2, if I ever even get there). However, I can say that when the map update does eventually get released, it will be good (unlike V1.0, in my opinion). My most recent roadblock with the map has been dungeon design, but a few reviews of some Zelda games by a YouTuber named “KingK” have given me a new perspective on dungeon design. I’m currently figuring out designs for individual rooms and puzzles to place in them, but the overall dungeon structure has been greatly aided by KingK’s 3D Zelda reviews.

As of right now, I have a feeling April will be completely bare when it comes to blog posts, but I should have something coming out at least by late May. Thanks for sticking with this seemingly deserted blog for quite some time (if you did).

[June Update: I haven’t gotten much further in playing DKC Returns, but the Minecraft map has gotten a lot of attention from me lately. To be frank, I haven’t had a lot of time to play games, which are pretty much the backbone of this review blog. Normally the summer is a time that I can finally spend a lot of time on games or reviews, but I’m going to be a lot busier this summer than normal. I will try to get something out eventually (very reassuring, I know), but I can’t make any guesses as to when that will be, as I didn’t even make my last guess. I might make a Saturday Gaming Stuff after E3, just to share my thoughts, but I can’t make any promises as to when I’ll post that (it may be the Saturday after E3 or a few Saturdays after, depending on how much time I have to work on it). Thanks for reading this (if anyone has), and I hope to return with improvements to my review style.]

Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES/Wii U VC) Review (Donkey Kong-a-thon Part 2)

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.

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Introduction:

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.

Story:

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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.

Environment:

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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.

Gameplay:

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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).

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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?

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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!

Donkey Kong Country (SNES/Wii U VC) Review (Donkey Kong-a-thon Part 1)

Welcome to the Donkey Kong-a-thon! In this series I will be covering Donkey Kong Country 1, 2, 3 (DKC 3 specifically for both SNES and GBA), Returns (for both Wii and 3DS), and Tropical Freeze. I will consider going over Donkey Kong 64 at a later date if it is requested, but it will indeed be sooner than later if it is requested.

I’m going to preface this review by saying how much I really love the Donkey Kong Country series, and that this review was really more of an afterthought after playing through Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 on the Wii U Virtual Console (and it gives me a chance to play DKC 3 for the first time in quite awhile). I can preemptively say that this is the most fun that I’ve had in months! Now that I’m done with singing my praises before the review, I shall now sing my praises inside of the review.

Without further ado, let’s get started with this review.

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Introduction:

First off, I want to tell a story: back in 1993, Nintendo’s SNES was in a technical specs war with Sega’s Genesis/Mega Drive console (although, Sega was the company that “started it”), and Nintendo needed an incredible game to showcase the power of their system. Around the same time, the company Rareware had just made a costly decision to purchase SGI units (advanced, for the time, 3D graphical units) which could allow for 3D models to be converted into a high-quality 2D sprite. Nintendo soon became aware of Rareware’s graphical capabilities, and Nintendo purchased almost half of Rareware (and Rareware became a second-party company). The Stamper brothers (the founders of Rareware) pleaded to Nintendo if they could make a brand new game centered around Donkey Kong (DK wasn’t as popular anymore at the time), and Nintendo accepted the idea. And in November 1994, Donkey Kong Country for the SNES was released and eventually managed to sell nine million copies, making it the second best-selling title on the system, and it was a huge factor in Nintendo “winning” the technical specs war between the SNES and Genesis/Mega Drive.

It’s truly fascinating to look at how this game came to fruition primarily from the competition between Sega and Nintendo. However, I typically don’t fill the Introduction section of these reviews with how the game came to fruition, but I usually tell the story of how I came into buying this game and my impressions of the game before I purchased it. But this story was too fascinating to skip out on telling once more.

As for my normal Introduction, I honestly only first played/purchased this game recently while it was on sale on the Wii U eShop, whereas I had played both Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3 when I was much younger (both on the GBA with their respective remakes). I really expected to possibly not enjoy this game as much as DKC 2 or 3, but I still had an open mind toward the quality of the game.

Story:

The game itself doesn’t greet you with an opening cutscene or text scroll explaining the story, but, like most non-RPG games at the time, you would need to look in the game’s manual to competently figure out the story of the game that you were playing. The story from the manual states that the menacing King K. Rool and his Kremlings have invaded Donkey Kong’s homeland (DK Island), have stolen all of the bananas from DK’s prized banana hoard, and have captured and stored Diddy (DK’s nephew) into a barrel to keep him from stopping them or alerting DK. Upon DK exiting his house and entering his banana hoard’s cave, he covers his face in shame at the absence of his hard-earned sum of bananas. DK comes across the barrel containing Diddy and bursts it open by throwing it. With Diddy by DK’s side, both DK and Diddy progress through DK Island to stop King K. Rool and get back DK’s banana hoard.

Of course, for its time, this is nothing groundbreaking or new, but it’s still a charming story (and I like it).

Environment:

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This game is obviously going for both a cartoony and realistic approach (levels sport realistic settings and looks, but enemies are artistically cartoony), but I honestly think that the more interesting well-designed cartoony characters give the game a lot of memorable moments and levels. As for the environments themselves, every level follows some theme such as jungles, caves, underwater, temples, and snowy mountains. Each level following a different theme makes the game much more enjoyable and pleasing to look at, and they often have theme-specific enemies and hazards. Snow levels usually start out with clear skies, but midway through the levels, the sky darkens and a blizzard appears.

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Each stage-type gives a different feeling based on the lighting, graphics, background effects, and music, and it does what it attempts to do extremely well.

This is honestly one of the best atmospheres in games that existed at the time, and it still entirely holds up today.

Gameplay:

Donkey Kong Country has a simple to learn and difficult to master feel, and I love it so much. Each level will have you playing as DK and/or Diddy going from point A to a checkpoint barrel to point B with enemies sprinkled around as you would expect. Early levels start out easy with many extra lives, and later levels can be much more challenging while still being fun.

DK and Diddy can both use their signature rolling move and can both jump on most enemies and kill them. DK can kill two of the beefier types of enemies and has a hand-slap move which can do… something? (From experience, I’m still not sure what DK’s hand-slap does in this game.) Diddy can maneuver much quicker and has a smaller hit box but can’t jump on certain enemies without being knocked back. Both DK and Diddy control satisfyingly and have a distinct feel, but I do end up preferring Diddy in most every situation.

As I stated before, each level follows a theme, but most levels also do something new and exciting that keeps you waiting for what’s to come in the next level. For example, most stages have theme-specific enemies and hazards that differentiate them from others, and the game progressively manages to mix these themes together to make a wonderful hodgepodge of interesting and memorable level design.

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As for the level design, it’s fun and well-designed as to give new players time to react but also to give experienced players looking for bonus rooms a much more satisfying experience. However, a few levels do have some camera problems, which don’t break the game by any means, but they’re still minor annoyances nonetheless (Poison Pond, the first minecart level, and Forest Frenzy as the main examples of what I’m talking about). There’s not one level which I hate by any means, but some levels are indeed of higher quality than others (take the final non-boss level for example, which is one of the most creative and difficult levels in the game).

Within many levels, you will be able to find animal buddies that you can hop on top of to help you to get through a level. The whole list of animals buddies are “Rambi the Rhino”, “Winky the Frog”, “Expresso the Ostrich”, “Enguarde the Swordfish”, and “Squawks the Parrot” (although Squawks only has one level). Most animal buddies are useful (with the exception of Expresso the Ostrich, who is unable to jump on enemies without sprinting away into a bottomless pit), and each one is typically used well inside of levels that include them. You are also able to find different animal buddy tokens hidden (or in plain sight) throughout levels that take you to a special bonus stage when three of a single animal’s tokens are collected. These stages will have you collecting hundreds of stars for extra lives, and they can be quite rewarding; however, it is quite annoying that these bonus stages always send you back to either the beginning of the stage or the checkpoint, which can ruin the pacing of my difficult level. I personally don’t care all too much for these animal buddies, but they do help to spruce up the gameplay.

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Also, bonus rooms with extra lives and animal tokens are located among every non-underwater/boss stage. Most bonus room in the game are located behind invisible holes in the sides of walls, and they can be broken open throwing a barrel into the spot or by walking into the hidden stage’s entrance while holding a barrel as Diddy (the main reason why I prefer Diddy for normal play). They aren’t required to enjoy the game, but bonus rooms have a decent amount of fun to them that can add some small replayability.

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Overall, Donkey Kong Country has fantastic structure and level design, and any flaws with the gameplay are miniscule in most cases.

Graphics and Performance:

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For the time and even now, this game looks great and is still appealing to look at. The SGI-made models look grand (and even better-looking) as 2D highly-detailed sprites, and everything has a true sense of depth. Backgrounds are detailed and atmospheric at times when they need to be, and the graphics overall were absolutely beautiful then and are still great to look at even now.

As for the performance, there’s a select few times in which the game itself will slowdown due to the amount of enemies on-screen, but nothing is noticeably bad at any given time.

It looks and performs fantastic overall.

Music and Sound:

I shouldn’t even need to speak as to why this is one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all-time, but I know that I must anyway. David Wise, Eveline Fischer/Novakovic, and Robin Beanland all composed a fantastic soundtrack for this game (Robin only composed one track), and you will never be able to forget tracks like Forest Frenzy, Treetop Rock, Life in the Mines, and most of all DK Island Swing. Although, my personal favorites are Ice Cave Chant, Fear Factory, and Forest Frenzy:

Here’s Ice Cave Chant

Here’s Fear Factory

And here’s Forest Frenzy

(I finally fixed the video issue :D)

The whole soundtrack (with the exception of maybe Misty Menace) is one of the most memorable of any game ever, and it deserves all of the praise that it gets.

Final Thoughts and Score:

Donkey Kong Country 1 for the SNES (even now: almost 22 years later) has proved that some games age extremely well and are nearly timeless with their appeal. There are only a handful of moments where I was just a bit annoyed at some camera issues, but I’d still say that Donkey Kong Country 1 on the SNES is worth its $7.99 eShop price tag (for quality alone). You may also find the GBA remake of the first Donkey Kong Country more viable if you don’t own a Wii U or SNES.

I personally feel that this game truly deserves a solid 9 out of 10, and it still holds up today, even after a whole 21 plus years, as still one of the best and one of the most creative platformers in existence. Buy it if you haven’t already done so.

I hope that you enjoyed this review of mine for Donkey Kong Country 1 for the SNES and Wii U Virtual Console. I will be releasing the review of Donkey Kong Country 2 in a week or two if you are curious. Also, I’m planning something special related to Donkey Kong Country within the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more info!

Thanks for reading this review! It means a lot to me that someone could have trudged this far down through this whole review.

Once again, thanks. Seeya!