Please note: I just recently reviewed the original Donkey Kong Country, so if you’ve not yet played that be sure to skip the rest of this review as there will be spoilers that leads up to this entry.
If ever there was one 16-Bit console game that pushed the generation it was Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. To think, the SNES was flexing its muscles way back in 1995. There was stiff competition from Sony’s PS1 at the time, but this here was such a strong contender that it ultimately ended up not being the last Donkey Kong Country game on the SNES. Here’s why this was no monkey business.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (DKC2:DKQ) starts off exactly where things end up in the original game. It’s just that Kaptain K. Rool was actually not defeated and kidnapped Donkey Kong. That’s right, the original game received a plot twist right at the very beginning of the sequel. Diddy Kong is joined by a new character, Dixxie Kong. The character introductions don’t end there.
As before you’ll play on a map that you navigate similar to a Crash Bandicoot game from point-to-point, though you can stray off the path to meet new characters. Funky Kong will take you to previous worlds you’ve discovered, should you be too lazy to make your way back, Swanky Kong will test your knowledge in his bizarre, yet cool, quiz show, Wrinkly Kong, at a cost, will let you save your game and Kranky Kong returns with some useful (if somewhat repeated) advice. The Kong family has never been so big and it just adds to the already massive world and various secrets within each level.
Starting off on the Pirate ship feels like a breath of fresh air, when compared to your general ‘jungle theme’ Donkey Kong first level of all Donkey Kong Country games (even the modern Wii and Wii U classics follow that recipe). Press Y and Diddy Kong will do a cartwheel that’ll knock foes over, which feels very limited. In fact, Dixie is by far the coolest Kong character. Press the Y button and Dixie Kong will lash out her hair to beat enemies. What’s more is that she can use her blond mop of hair to glide across the screen in mid-air. It’s takes some time to get the hang of her gliding technique, but once you’ve figured her out you’ll do anything not to play as Diddy. One major flaw is that you can’t swap between the characters on the fly. You can pick up and throw one another, but only if one of ’em dies (one touch kills) can you control the other character. So it’s a bit of an oversight, even for a 1995 game. They have other tricks though.
As with the original outing they can swim, but it’s the access to animals that’ll help you breeze through a level. Rambi the Rhino returns to bash everything in his path and Enquarde the Swordfish also makes a welcoming return to help you speed through underwater-based levels. New animals include Squawks the Parrot that can flap his wings, by tapping b, and shoot eggs out of it’s mouth (don’t ask), tapping Y, and flies you upwards and out of harms way. Rattly the Rattlesnake helps the duo reach out-of-reach heights by timing his jumps with the A button and Squitter the Spider can attack foes using webs and even create brand new platforms by using multiple webs. Lastly we have Clapper the Seal that’ll cool down hot boiling lava water for specific stages. Each animal brings something unique to the game and, should you lose them in a stage, it’s just about unplayable with them, especially towards the last few stages of the game.
DKC2:DKQ is your typical platformer that’s all about timing and pinpoint accuracy and can become very tough, so it’s not for players who’d like an introduction to the genre. Collecting 100 bananas, the four K.O.N.G. letters or a red balloon will grant you an extra life, which comes in very handy for the boss battles. Thankfully there are checkpoints in all levels, which is surprising for a game that’s 20 years old. Add fantastic level design and it’s obvious why this is regarded as one of the all-time classics.
As a sequel there’s not much to fault other than the inability to change characters around as you please. Veteran platformer players will find a classic Nintendo game that reminds them of the days platformers ruled the world and was as tough as nails. For the rest this might be a banana you’ll slip on. So, be careful about that decision.