Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (1995) Review

After the massive success of Donkey Kong County a sequel starring his nephew Diddy was put straight into development, a choice to remove Donkey Kong as a playable character may seem odd but it is a decision that helped expand the DKC universe and the Kong Family Tree. The game was created by Rare Ware for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and was released in 1995.

After the events of Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong is relaxing on a beach while Funky Kong is surfing the waves. Cranky Kong is not happy with Donkey Kong Keeping his guard down when he should be working, stating that he never stopped throwing barrels or kidnapping maidens back in his day. Donkey ignores Cranky’s words and falls asleep on his chair deep into the night.

Diddy Kong in the mean time has gained a love interest in another young Monkey named Dixie Kong, later on they both head to the beach where they discover a broken chair and a note which reads “Hah-arrrrh! We have got the big monkey! If you want him back, you scurvy dogs, you’ll have to hand over the banana hoard! Kaptain K. Rool”. Cranky does actually suggest handing over the Banana horde but after himself and Donkey worked so hard to get it back last time Diddy decides to take on K. Rool again alongside his new girlfriend Dixie.

The gameplay here is quite different when compared the original, the standard 2.5d platforming is the same, the goal is still to get from start to finish in each stage. There are still Kong letters and Banana’s you can collect to gain more lives and apart from some new enemies the platforming is very much the same as before.

The animal companions are different, the only returning animals are the Rhino and the Sword Fish, we now also get a parrot who can fly and shoot eggs, a spider who can shoot webs and build platforms and a snake who can bounce really high.

Out of all of these the parrot is by far the animal companion needed the most and the game has sections dedicated to the parrot. The spider was very useful as well especially for climbing up inaccessible areas, unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy using the snake and he was mostly useless minus two stages.

Apart from the companions, the actual stages do have new challenges mixed into them to make this game much more difficult than the first, the barrels now allow you to fully rotate them to allow more freedom in where they fire you and other segments such as the hot air balloons in the image above need to be traversed very carefully to make sure you don’t get hurt, this becomes particularly challenging when the lava below is not the only obstacle you need to avoid.

The bonus areas are completely different here as they act as either small challenges unlocked by finding secrets in levels or entire new stages which can bought by a brutish Kremling named Klubba using Kong Coins.

The challenges are a lot of fun and its cool to see different missions that have to be taken on with various skills. if you finish one of these you will unlock a Kong Coin.

The secret area I never got to see because unfortunately I didn’t perform all to well in my playthrough and by the time that I beat the final boss I had to managed to collect only one measly coin which wasn’t even enough to unlock the first secret level but none the less it is pretty amazing to see such attention to detail and replay value in a game from 1995.

The boss fights in the game are all fantastic and some of the best I have seen in any of the DKC games so far, I really liked that they were all different in how they attacked and took damage, it was also really challenging for some fights which required some platforming alongside the battle. The new backgrounds for each fight are a really nice touch as well instead of just using the same background like they did in the original game.

As I have mentioned this game is five times more difficult than its predecessor, you now can only save your game in an area for free once so simply saving between levels is not really an option, because of this the developers added a pretty challenging quiz area in some worlds, here you pay a fee to answer questions about the game and if you are correct you will gain lives, if not you just wind up losing coins so you do need to be careful.

The music was once again composed by David Wise and is very good but it not quite as great as it was before, the original game has such iconic music and it works so well, I won’t go into too much details as I have already reviewed that game but the tracks are recognisable and memorable. I’m not saying they aren’t in DKC 2 but none of them have got that great hook nor are any of them really that fantastic that you could listen to them and say “yeah that’s from DKC 2” maybe you feel different but for me while this soundtrack is good it is also lacking when compared to what came before.

Donkey Kong Country 2 is a game I have wanted to play for a very long time, I guess the idea of not playing as Donkey Kong put me off but now I realise that I was stupid because I think I like this one a little bit better than the first.

This game took Donkey Kong Country and expanded upon it in the best ways possible, you now have the return of Diddy Kong who plays the same as before but now you can also play as Dixie who has the ability glide making some gaps much easier for her to cross, she was particularly useful for avoiding the canon fire of K.Rool’s final form as well.

The new bonus stages were a nice addition and the overall challenge of the game while difficult is still fair, the soundtrack while not as good is still really well composed and the only real issues with this game are some of the controls being a bit sensitive especially during the flying and trickier platforming sections also having to pay to save the game while adding to the challenge was going a little overboard as the game would have still been difficult without that extra barrier.

DKC 2 was a lot of fun even though I did tear my hair out a little bit but it is definitely a game I will play again and deserves a rating of 9.6/10 … bring on DKC 3 whenever I get my hands on that one as I cant wait to dig deeper into this bananarific franchise !

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Diddy Kong Racing (1997/2007) Review

Anyone who knows me quickly comes to realise that I am big fan of Kart Racing video games and that I can be very critical of their quality. A game in this genre that I have a history with is Rare Wares Diddy Kong Racing which released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997 with a Remake coming out on the Nintendo DS 10 years later in 2007. Unlike most game I actually came to know the game through the remake and have only recently finished the original which is the version I am focusing on today, I will however be addressing differences between the DS version at the end of this review so that I can give a comparison.

All is calm in the jungle until Diddy Kong receives a letter from his friend Timber the Tiger, poor Timbers Island has been taken over by a wizarding space hog named Wiz Pig and the only way to get rid of him is to beat him in a race. Diddy quickly contacts his friends Banjo the Bear and Conker the Squirrel (yes these are the same characters you are thinking of) to meet him at Timbers Island and together Diddy, Timber and all of the Island folk team up and practice racing, getting ready for the tough race against the evil Wiz Pig.

The game uses a Hub world as a means of travelling between the different areas of the game and while it is a very basic hub world it is still fun to explore and even has some hidden balloons that need to be discovered.

The main purpose of the game is racing and it is very similar to other Kart Racers such as Mario Kart however this game has a bit of a twist because as well as cars you can also race in hovercrafts and aeroplanes.

All of the vehicles are easy enough to control however finding the strengths of each racer will help you determine the best choice for each vehicle, I personally found that Tip Tup the tortoise was a great choice all around and I mainly used him.

In races players can collect power ups (rockets, speed boosts, oil, shields and magnets) if players hold onto a power up and collect more of the same coloured balloons the power up they have will be upgraded and this can done up to three times for maximum power.

After completing a boss race players will need to repeat all of the races again but now having to collect all of the silver coins and still come first, this becomes particularly challenging in the later worlds of the game.

After beating a boss the second time you can then compete in a trophy race which is not needed but does go towards completion of the game and most people do want this. The issue have is the repetition here, its the same races three times in a row and while still fun it does get a little a bit boring.

There are four main boss races in the game not including the two races against Wiz Pig which I have not included images of in case you want to beat this game yourself. All of the races are actually very challenging and had me stuck a few times, in the end I had to learn the patterns, avoid almost all obstacles and try the race with multiple characters until I could win, these were all very memorable and really satisfying to finish.

Each world hides a hidden key which will open a door to a battle mini game, these are a nice break from the racing and were in my opinion very easy but one my favourites parts of the game if only because it was different. Some of the keys are really difficult to find and don’t worry once you find one you can return to the lobby and the key will still be with you so there is no panic to win the race as well.

There are two secret unlockable characters in the game, one of these is Drumstick the chicken who is easily one of the best racers and the other its T.T the clock who will challenge you to a race if you beat his times for each course, after winning all of the times trials and all of the races against him he will become a playable racer.

The music was composed by David Wise who had previously worked on the Donkey Kong Country series, the music is wonderful in this game and it has that Rare Ware quality that I love, they didn’t hold back here and I feel this specific game focused more on fun music than atmospheric due to the fact that is a racing game and not a big immersive adventure such is the case with other other Rare Ware N64 titles. I really enjoyed the music in the snow world as it reminded of Christmas music but with a more energetic twist.

Diddy Kong Racing is a great game and I have very few issues with it, in fact the only real problem is that it is a little bit repetitive, I would have fixed this by having the second races replaced by either having to do a scavenger hunt or solving a difficult puzzle in the main hub which would eventually unlock one key hole in a giant door and once you unlock this door you can do a boss rush to unlock another secret racer (who ever that may be), this boss rush would replace the second boss races and the puzzles would replace the silver coin challenges.

Apart from this, it has nice visuals, fantastic music and super fun gameplay which shouldn’t be missed and if you have a N64 I recommend picking this one up as it is not too expensive and is a really good time.

The game was remade for the Nintendo DS handheld system in 2007 first change to note is the absence of Banjo and Conker who due to the Microsoft purchase of Rare Ware were replaced by Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong.

The game is practically the same with small differences of course the DS is a dual screen so when you race you now see the map on the bottom screen instead of the screen you are racing on and honestly I prefer this, what I don’t like is that once you finish a race you cannot return to it until you have completed the world so if you want to return for the key you cannot do that without first finishing the worlds boss.

Silver coin races are now replaced with touch screen challenges where the players has to click on all of the silver coins and balloons over three auto driving laps of races and this helps to break up the repetetive game play and is a good change in my opinion.

Wiz Pig and Taj the Genie can also be unlocked as playable racers in the DS version and some race tracks have had modifications to help them feel a little more fair for example in star city there is an additional route beneath the bridge so that if you fall you do not need to back track and in the final race against Wiz Pig the lasers have been removed to make it a little bit easier than it was previously, although for the final boss this change felt unnecessary as it is supposed to really hard.

The DS version is very good and is almost the same game with few differences some of these are great and others maybe not so much but I am finding it difficult to determine the inferior product here as I feel while the strengths and weaknesses differ between games the end products are so close in quality that its only fair I give them a similar score and say for you to decide which version you would like to play.

Diddy Kong Racing 9.6/10

Diddy Kong Racing DS 9.6/10

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