Like all true great sequels, Donkey Kong Country 2 takes what worked well with the first Donkey Kong Country game, and just gave us more and bigger amounts of everything. More enemies, more worlds, more animal companions. Bigger and badder bosses, level designs and even bonus stages. To say that Donkey Kong Country 2 is just “more of the same” is a disservice to the game as it’s not just more, it’s also better in every conceivable way.
Subtitled as “Diddy’s Kong Quest” (not Diddy Kong’s Quest, as a lot of people misread), Donkey Kong has been kidnapped, or more appropriately Ape-napped by Kaptain K. Rool. I always enjoyed the changing of K. Rool from King to Kaptain, even with the appropriately misspelled K. It’s up to Diddy and now Dixie Kong to rescue poor ol’ Donkey. The game even starts off right where the first game ended, on the pirate ship of K. Rool. The now even better music score of David Wise kicks in with a bit of ambiance of a rocking boat on the water and creaking boards, to a unbelievably jaunty rendition of Gangplank Galleon.
What I found out, after not playing this game since around 2008 was that the game’s difficulty spikes hardcore after the first half of the game. I breezed through the entire first world, and even most of the first half of the game. Only dying mostly due to talking with the chat while streaming it. It almost feels like a game made for streaming long before “online gaming” was even a glimmer of an idea. The bountiful amount of lives accumulated along the game’s treacherous paths really build up well into the mid double digits.
But around the halfway point, I found the game’s difficulty to spike upwards incredibly fast. Gone were the relaxing saunters in a forest swamp, or calming swims in an underwater oasis, and replaced with nail biting, edge of your seat precise platforming sections. While I’d love to say “I just wasn’t paying attention, I was conversing with chat!” to give an excuse of the plethora of lives lost on mistimed jumps. The truth is the game becomes an entirely new beast in the back half of the game. Around the Swamp world, I started to really get frustrated as I kept dying over and over.
It’s almost like the game becomes vindictive in a way, but that’s not to say it’s bad, or bad design either. It’s just hard. It requires a lot of patience to plan out and time jumps perfectly. Apparently the last world, which is the tower up to K. Rool’s quarters are infamous. I had small memories about it from the last time I played it years ago, but I don’t remember it being as difficult as it was. Thanks to emulator Save States, it saves a lot of time, and also re-balances some of the more unfair sections. Luckily I had a few viewers in chat cheering me on to continue going when I would have probably stopped in the middle of the last few levels. Once I started losing handfuls of lives it was very difficult to want to continue on. I ended up finally beating Kaptain K. Rool (once and for all?) late into the evening, but was compelled to at least take a peak at Donkey Kong Country 3. It's the game I played the least. But as for Diddy’s Kong Quest (which I do have to say, is a great play on words) I really enjoyed it, and think it’s such a great sequel to a fantastic game.