Donkey Kong Country 2 (Super Donkey Kong 2)

Even though it's almost ten years old it's still a brilliant platformer


The Lowdown

Pros: Great level design, great graphics, good two player support

Cons: Not much different from Donkey Kong Country or any other platformer

Purchase at Play-Asia

Back when Rare and Nintendo were working together they created a gem called Donkey Kong Country. Donkey Kong Country had excellent level design, lots of mini games and sharp pre-rendered 3D graphics. Of course, Donkey Kong Country was an instant hit and Rare needed to follow it up with a sequel. When Donkey Kong Country 2 was in development Rare had the don't fix it if it isn't broke attitude. So in a way Donkey Kong Country 2 plays more like an expansion pack of the first game rather than a new experience.

Even though it may not feel completely different from the original Donkey Kong Country 2 had some of the best level design ever seen in a 2D platfomer. You need to leap from platforms, swim long distances, bounce on enemies heads and shoot monkeys through barrels just to beat levels. Rare gave the star of the game, Diddy Kong, and his girlfriend Dixie Kong a good set of moves, all of which are put to use in the game. The two monkeys have all of the basic abilities from Donkey Kong Country like jumping on enemies heads, throwing barrels, climbing ropes, switching between players and doing acrobatic attacks. One of the new attacks in the game is the ability to throw your partner monkey by pressing R and then the B button. This attack is useful to get rid of enemies from far away and adds a new element of necessity for keeping a second player around. One of the best features in the game are the hidden animal crates. When found you would be able to get an animal partner that would give you a ride. Some of the animals like Rambi the rhino and Enguarde the swordfish return from the first game Rare also added new animal friends like Rattly the rattlesnake, which lets you jump higher and Squitter the spider who can make platforms to jump on.

The location of where the animal crates are sometimes obvious, like in the beginning of the level, but many times they are cleverly hidden. Where you can find your animal friend is just the tip of the iceberg of what Rare has hidden for players. There are bananas and kong letters to collect that can snag you extra lives. Items that are more hidden are locations of bonus stages, Banana coins (the currency of the island), Kremkoins and the elusive DK coins. Some of the items, especially the DK coins are really well hidden. Finding all of the DK coins gives players an additional challenge over beating the game. You wont want to wait until you complete the game to start collecting coins because banana coins have many uses. You can use them to play a trivia mini game with the game show host Swanky Kong or purchase gameplay hints from Kong Kollege.

Rare's ingenuity in platform level design goes beyond hiding trinkets. Diddy Kong's quest will take players through numerous environments. There are the expected lava world, underwater area and ice stage. Rare does have some more exotic locations like a pirate world and a beehive world that is coated in sticky honey. What is great about each environment is that it utilizes different skills. The ice world will require you to have precise timing of movements so you don't slip and fall off a ledge. The beehive world makes players tackle smaller jumps and getting stuck into honey. The game also has a fair learning curve where the first level, the pirate area, teaches players the basics of the game. Each level after that gets increasingly more difficult all the way to the final level that will challenge most gamers out there.

Rare continues using their classic idea of pre-rendered sprites in Donkey Kong Country 2. The result are graphics that are above par for the Super Nintendo and still above par compared to other Game Boy Advance games. While the novelty of the graphical style has warn off from the original Donkey Kong Country, the graphics are considerably more vivid in the environment department than the first game. Diddy and Dixie also have more animations. Diddy will juggle balls and pull out a stereo for a victory dance when he completes a level. Even though there are additions there are considerable amount of reused graphics from the original in the game. Many of the background objects and the original Diddy Kong animations were just cut and paste from one game to the next.

Exclusive to the Game Boy Advance version are mini games, a time trial mode and a new set of items to collect. The three mini games add into the multiplayer aspect of the Donkey Kong Country series. You can play the original game with a friend and a GBA link cable and one person will play as Diddy and the other as Dixie. Or you can play one of the three short mini games. The first is Expresso's Racing where players get to ride the speedy ostrich and race to the finish line. The second mini game is Funky's Flights where you try to guide a plane safely to its landing point. The final mini game is Bag a Bug where you try to catch as many bugs you can within a time limit while evading a giant croc. The mini games are a definite plus, but only with a friend. As stand alone games they're too simplistic to hold anyone's attention for long. The time trial mode is a neat feature that will record your fastest time through any of the levels you have completed. The last Game Boy Advance exclusive is the addition of Golden Feathers in the stages. The Golden Feathers are the ultimate challenge, they are there for players that have already found all of the DK coins and mastered the game. This way these expert players can come back for a whole new challenge.

Even though Donkey Kong Country 2 is re-release it is a re-release of one of the best games on the Super Nintendo. Younger gamers will defiantly enjoy the game as a brand new challenge, while older gamers can sit back and reminisce. There is enough in Donkey Kong Country 2 to keep players busy for awhile and keep them coming back for more long after they complete the game. While Donkey Kong Country may not be as ingenious as the original, its still an exemplary example of the genre.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0

Simple to learn how to play and pretty much everything you need is in English.

US Bound?

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest has a November 15, 2004 release date.

Overall

An engaging platfomer with enough secrets, mini games and diversion to please gamers.