Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Donkey Kong Country 2 Advance

I've always enjoyed platforming games, even if I'm not particularly good at them most of the time. It gets to the point that Mario games sometimes become too intense. It doesn't stop me from trying though, especially if the game has music and atmosphere that can keep me entertained and engaged no matter how many times I might die.

This is the case with Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, and especially so for its remake on the Game Boy Advance.

Released in 2004, this remake stayed faithful to the original while also adding in some new content of its own.

After pressing through the Start Screen, you're presented with a menu where you can select what mode you want to play in: the main game, Diddy's Dash, or a bonus games menu.

Diddy's Dash lets you speed-run the non-boss levels of areas you've unlocked while playing through the main game. The goal here is just to get the fastest times you possibly can. It's a nice change of pace if you don't feel like thoroughly exploring a level and just want to run through as fast as possible.

The bonus games menu lets you quickly access mini games that are also found in the main game. There are three games here: Expresso Racing, Funky's Flights, and Bag a Bug.

Expresso Racing allows you to race Expresso Ostrich against other ostriches. You increase his various racing abilities by collecting a new item that's been scattered throughout the game's levels: golden feathers. Once you've found them, you bring them to Cranky's Hut, where the it can be found while playing the main game.

Funky's Flights has you attempting to complete various activities while flying in Funky's Gyrocopter. This could include trying to deliver supplies, rescuing other Kongs, rebuilding statues, or trying to make it to the end point without losing all of your health.

The game in the first area has to be completed before you can use Funky's services to visit previously completed areas. However, after this, his Gyrocopter can be used for free at any point by accessing the start menu while in the overworld.

Bag a Bug has you running around a little circular map while being chased by Klubba. As you run, little bugs and power-ups will appear around the map. Your goal is to collect as many as you can while not being hit by Klubba. There are safe areas you can duck into that he can't reach, but you won't collect as many bugs if you spend a lot of time in here. Playing this can get you rewards like coins, bananas, or lives.

The main game is where you'll spend most of your time. While it's very similar to that of the original, a few things have been added in that give it an even longer life.

It starts out with a little cut-scene, showing Donkey Kong getting kidnapped and Dixie and Diddy deciding to go rescue him. From there you move onto the new island, Crocodile Isle.

One of my favorite aspects of this game is the atmosphere. A lot of the enemies return from the original game, but are now pirate themed. King K. Rool is now Kaptain K. Rool, the Neckies wear little bandanas, a lot of the other Kremlings have gained peglegs or pirate hats.

The first area of the game takes place entirely on a giant ship. It might sound repetitive, but it's handled well. You get to explore all parts of the ship, from the deck and rigging, to the flooded interior and crow's nest. Despite all sharing the same central theme, all of the levels feel very different from one another.

Many other areas, each with entirely unique concepts and themes, are also explored during the course of the game. A partially-sunken pirate ship, an active volcano, a swamp, an old rickety carnival, a haunted forest, a tower, an airship, and a final, hidden jungle world can all be found here.

The music, while clearly scaled down from the original, good. All of the original tracks can be found here and are still recognizable, an pleasant to listen to. Each song helps to set the mood for the particular level it appears in. There's even a cheat that can be used on the main menu for a sound-test mode you can use to listen to all of your favorite in-game songs.

The graphics are a little squished and blurry compared to the original, but it's not bad to look at, especially considering how much content in contains. You can see little ambient effects that help to build the world, like light streaming through the forest canopy, or little mice and rats running around on ship decks. I actually enjoy it quite a bit.

The game-play is very much the same as the original, with the exception of the previously-mentioned bonus games. In addition to the original Kremkoins from beating Blast Barrel mini-games found scattered throughout the levels and the DK Coins hidden in out of the way areas, two new items were added: golden feathers and photographs. The golden feathers for Cranky's Expresso Racing can be found hidden around levels, much like the DK coins. The photographs gathered for Wrinkly's scrapbook, however, are gathered in several different ways.

The book contains pictures of enemies, animal buddies, and the different Kongs you meet across your adventure. There are many different pages to fill. Some photos are being guarded by enemies you have to defeat in order to collect them. Others are given to you when you complete certain tasks, like from completing all of the Expresso Racing courses. It's fun being able to look at see more detailed artwork of the friends and enemies you meet on your adventure across the island.

Some levels do get a little hard at times, but it's still a very good experience. I don't mind even if I die over and over again because the mechanics, sound, and graphics are just so good. It typically feels like my fault if I end up dying, not the game's, and I keep practicing and playing until I'm able to overcome whatever obstacle I've come up against.

Donkey Kong Country 2 Advance is a fun, immersive game that manages to retain the charm and fun of the original while adding in its own unique content. Whatever your skill level, and whether or not you've played the original game, I'd highly suggest giving a try.


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