Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Donkey Kong Land Trilogy

Today I'm looking at a trilogy of games that are both sub-par and antiquated. But...they're only sub-par with the Donkey Kong Country trilogy to compare them to. Taken on their own, they aren't bad for the original Game Boy.

Note: This post will be featured in Banana Yellow, much like the cartridges for these games.

The graphics... are not as cutting edge as they were on the Super NES. Nintendo Power tried to sell this game as such, but it's pretty obviously not true. The animations are very good, though. Very fluid.

Say hello to Espresso the Ostrich. I always felt like he controlled kind of awkwardly in DKC, and DKL is no different.

 MOLE BOSS OF DOOM. This game introduces all new bosses, for the most part.

The fourth world is a construction site. At least, I think that's what this mess of a picture is. Weird... that doesn't seem very DKC-ish to me.

...then again, it does seem very Donkey Kong ish. As in, the original arcade game from the 80's, where Mario had to climb a construction site to save the princess. I bet they were going for that nostalgia kick with this world.

The fourth world is the last one, surprisingly, as I fight K.Rool at the end and beat him... after a few rocky tries. He's harder here than in DKC because the smaller screen doesn't let you see very far. In any case, four is a disappointing number of worlds considering the relatively low number of stages within them. Also considering that the SNES games have 6 or 7 full worlds with more stages.

Here's the ending. ...it's one word. This is easily the worst ending I've ever seen from a high-profile Nintendo game. EVER.

I first played/finished this game in 1999, and I enjoyed it then. Looking at it now, though...it really does seem like a cash-in.

1:16... yep, DKC that wasn't. I wonder if the other Lands are this short? Well, I'm about to find out. Been meaning to play them since I finished the first back in 1999. Let's do this.

Donkey is gone, but here's Dixie. She's got Toadstool-esque hovering abilities.

This game actually has stage titles. The graphics are an improvement, in that you can now sorta tell what things are.

Some of the animals that were missing in DKL show up here, namely Enguarde. The frog is still missing, though. Not a big loss; he was probably the most difficult to control of the four pets in DKC. Also, his name was Winky, leading to numerous jokes between me and my grade-school friends.

The snake from DKC2 shows up. I like this guy, he's fun to play as. Come to think of it, he functions almost exactly like the frog (except without the annoying slide-off-cliffs-ness), which probably explains the lack of frog. It's worth noting that in these games, you don't see your character riding the animal pets due to the lack of processing power. You simply take control of the animal while your character disappears into a pocket dimension. Maybe Winky is lurking in there.

I skip entire sections of levels with Dixie's hover. Rad to the max.

First boss. This thing is pretty challenging, I gotta say. The stages are dirt-easy but the bosses are the opposite.

My favorite world in DKC2. It has some AMAZING music in that game. DKL2 does a good job porting over the magic. Yep, DKL2 utilizes the same worlds as its pedigree. I guess there's something to be said for DKL having new worlds, but since none of those new worlds are particularly good, I prefer if they re-use themes from the SNES games.

Kremland is awesome. I like the amusement park stages. Usually that kind of stage setup would be kinda lame in any given game that features it, but DKC2 managed to make the amusement park levels downright magical. Maybe it was the fireworks, maybe it was the lack of silliness. They were just gorgeous places to look at and can bring you back to being a kid. Does DKL2 manage to capture the magic?

Here's the music. SNES version, of course. It's a fine track.

Nah, this doesn't really stack up to the majestic SNES fairground levels. While these levels are a shadow of DKC2, even a shadow of DKC2 is pretty cool.

Bramble level... they did a good job porting this music over compared to most of the music in the game.

 Here's the SNES version. Rad to the max, yeah?

One of the cool things about DKL2 is how it combines aspects of DKC1 and DKC2. How would Rambi from DKC1 fare in a DKC2 level like the honeycomb? Now we can find out that sap doesn't slow a charging rhino. Or as WoW players would call him, an epic mount.

 Second to last world is reached. It is very Halloweeny.

There's Funky Kong, who is evidently a skateboarder from Boston.

And here's the last world. Gotta say, this game is pretty sweet. By far the best of the three Land games.

You can see DK Isle in the background. I like how the Country series follows a logical progression for the first two chapters. DKC1 takes place on DK Isle with the Kremlings invading, while DKC2 has you go to the homeland of the Kremlings to take them on on their turf. Aliens and Metroid 2 both do this, and so does Mortal Kombat 2.

Now, Donkey Kong Country 3 on the other hand just introduces a bunch of New Crap and doesn't particularly follow any logical progression.

 Here's a level type that I don't think existed in DKC2... ice caves. Most of it is underwater. I guess since DKL1 had the construction site levels that were new (and lame), DKL2 needed a new level type as well. These levels are pretty cool, and the music is above average for the game. Perhaps because the music is original rather than a port.

Here's the hardest level in the game, by far. It's the second to last real stage. While most of the stages in this game are much easier than their DKC2 counterparts, this one pretty much retains its difficulty. That makes it waaaaay above every other stage. Though it does get a lot easier after the halfway checkpoint. Makes me wonder how DKL1 would have been if it had been more of a semi-port like this game, rather than an apparent mishmash of "DKC deleted levels that weren't good enough".

Final save of the game. It took a little longer than DKL but that isn't saying much. I barely died at all outside of a couple of trouble levels.

The final boss: It's King K. Rool with a musket. NRA Approved!

It looks like I pulled in Ross Perot numbers in terms of Bonus Coins found. I've never been into the collect-a-thon aspect of DK games, personally.

Next up... DKL3. It's based on the worst Country-series game, yet it's chronologically the last one that came out... it might be good.

The first obvious problem with the last game in the trilogy is that it gives us a really generic farmland-scape for an overworld. In EVERY WORLD. The worlds themselves have no identity or themes (like DKC2's lava world, amusement park world, Halloweeny world, etc) and are completely forgettable. I can't tell World 1 and World 4 apart in DKC3/DKL3.

I'll say this, the graphics are definitely the best of the Donkey Kong Land games. I can totally tell what everything is, finally! Also might be a good time to mention that I'm not sure what they were thinking putting your extra lives as hearts at the bottom of the screen. Chances are the entire line of hearts will get filled up before long and stay that way for the duration (I usually end a DK game with like 40 lives) and it just seems odd to have the hearts there instead of as a pop-up number (like your banana and coin totals). Considering screen space is at an absolute premium in these Game Boy games, it makes even less sense.

There's the giant baby Kong, another thing about Three that sucks. They should have just put Donkey Kong in as the second character (alongside Dixie) to complete the circle. The baby plays almost exactly like Donkey Kong anyway, just more slow and unwieldy.

Luckily, Dixie is the best character in the series to use (with Diddy a close second) so the worst character is offset by the best one. Dixie's glide is tremendously useful. Thus, Three has the biggest disparity between characters of any DK game. When you're down to only having the baby, you're probably screwed. It's like being Small Mario.

One of the few things I like about DKC3 is the boss theme. ...it isn't in this game. Here we see Spore Spawn, of Super Metroid fame.

This game has waterfall levels, which look REALLY COOL and I had no idea the Game Boy could handle graphics like this.

One of the new animals in DKL3/DKC3 is the elephant. He's pretty weird-looking, yet possibly the most powerful of the animals in this game since he can fire projectile snot bubbles to decimate foes.

Here's Kaos, the supposed big bad of DKC3. Of course, it turns out that K. Rool is secretly still in charge, because Kaos was freaking lame.

And here it is, the final world. Yep, the very last world of DKC3. Can you tell it apart from the first world? I can't. Gang Plank Galleon or K.Rool's Castle, this ain't.

Though I do like that not one but TWO new level types show up here... as the final two levels. Makes little sense that they'd program two new level themes and only use each once, but hey. One is a level that takes place inside of pipes (an idea DKC Returns would later ape) and the other is...

...the cave scene from DKC that is missing from DKL1. I assume both of these level types make a bunch more appearances in the Lost World area, if this game has one.

Here's the real final boss, K. Rool. No longer a king or a pirate, he's now a scientist. He really needs to settle on a job and stick with it. In any case, this is the easiest K. Rool yet, and falls quickly.

Speaking of challenge, notice how my hearts have never been full? DKL3 is by far the most challenging DKL game, which means it isn't ridiculously easy like the first two. It also probably took as much time as the other two combined. I'll say that for DKC3 as well, it's much more of a challenge. Alas that DKC1 and 2 are such vastly better games, yet the one that takes longer is DKC3. Why couldn't the other two take longer instead?
Credits roll and we find out the names of all the enem- wait, what the shit??

 Know who would approve of this bird? The Big Bad Booty Daddy, "Booty Pump" Scott Steiner.

"It's Big Poppa Pump! Get it right, little man! All I care about are my freaks and my peaks, because I'm The Big Bad Booty Daddy and they call me Freakzilla and there's gonna be some mean body rockin!"

"Get me a fuckin' beer!"

On a final note, if someone were to tell me I could only have one game to play for the rest of my life, know what I might well choose?

Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. It's ridiculously amazing, and I don't know if I can ever emphasize that enough. It's an absolute love letter to fans of the series, with modern technology.
Glad I played these three Lands, they were better than the Wario Lands and took waaaay less time. Though the only one I can say was a treat was DKL2.

Not sure about Donkey Kong 64... I missed that one, much like I missed most of the N64 era. I believe I beat all of five N64 games ever (six if you count Ogre Battle 64 on the Wii Virtual Console). Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Goldeneye, and Conker's Bad Fur Day. I heard DK64 wasn't great, but maybe I'll check it out some time for the site.

More Donkey Kong Posts!

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