tiistai 13. syyskuuta 2011

REVIEW - Donkey Kong Land 2 (1996)

GENRE(S): Platform
RELEASED: September 1996
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

Donkey Kong Land wasn't really a masterpiece, but non-surprisingly, it was one of the best-selling Game Boy titles of its time, so it called for a sequel. This time, Rare wasted no time in coming up with an exclusive plot, instead they decided to beat their 1995 masterpiece Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest to a pulp and stuff its remains into a tiny Game Boy cartridge. The end result was another decent handheld platformer, but it raised the same question as the last game, asked louder than ever: "think it's time to buy a SNES already?"

Diddy's Kong Chore

Donkey Kong has been kidnapped by Kaptain K. Rool and his Kremling Krew. Diddy eagerly chases after the pirates with the goal of becoming a true video game hero, but the Kong family forces him to take his girlfriend Dixie along for the ride, not believing in his talent to hold his own against the Kremlings.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is without a doubt one of the greatest gifts the Super Nintendo Entertainment System gave us, also one of the most truly challenging games in the whole system's vast library of games. I consider nailing 100(+2)% in that game one of my greatest achievements during the decades I've called myself a gamer. Not only was the game hard as fuck in a good way, but it looked phenomenal and describing the gameplay as "fluid" would be an understatement. Then came Donkey Kong Land 2, a sequel to the handheld game which preceded Diddy's Kong Quest. The first Donkey Kong Land game left a sour aftertaste as it was so limited in every way, it had boring level design, and the fluid gameplay of the 16-bit franchise was not carried over well to the Game Boy. One good thing about the game was that it had its own plot; it wasn't just some sort of a half-assed port, it had its own place in the series. Well, Donkey Kong Land 2 is more or less a port of Diddy's Kong Quest, the original game's plotline included, and the most important issues that Donkey Kong Land had have not really been resolved, so we're dealing with a certain disappointment.

Oh, laws of physics, do not
fail me now.
I'll start with the music this time around, which once again is the game's most valuable asset. However, there are no new songs, only rehashed tracks from Diddy's Kong Quest. Grant Kirkhope is credited as the composer, although all of these great tracks were written by David Wise. It's fantastic stuff, but we've heard it all in better, CD-ready quality once already. 

Generally the game is smoothed out from the excessive, soupy black and white detail that plagued the last game, but some levels such as most of Krazy Kremland still retain the same fashion of intolerable mess of a background. There are some concrete changes to the levels besides some random names. Due to space constraints, Glimmer's Galleon no longer features a glowfish named Glimmer, for example; instead, you light your path by touching barrels with a picture of a lamp on them. Due to the lack of colour, in Lava Lagoon the lava blinks - faintly - to indicate danger. Rare came up with fairly clever ways to compensate for the technological inferiority of the Game Boy... but no abundance of creativity is enough to credibly recreate a game like Diddy's Kong Quest for the Game Boy. Rare knew that, so why did they do it?

I'll try to keep this short. The team throw, one of the most essential abilities in the original Diddy's Kong Quest is gone, since there can only be one playable character on the screen at a time. All of the animal buddies are in, but they show up in the weirdest possible locations in which they rarely give you any advantages whatsoever. Their special abilities - such as charge attacks or Squitter's web platform - are executed awkwardly by pressing Select. There is only one major difference between Diddy and Dixie as playable characters; there are so many leaps to the unknown in this game that Dixie's spin manouver can really prove more useful than it ever was in any other Donkey Kong game. There are a LOT of leaps to the complete unknown, believe me.

Some of it's still a mess.
The lack of traction and slo-mo jumps, as well as the Kongs' occasional refusal to grab on to a rope, pole or whatever are still big problems, which becomes especially evident in Slime Climb, Toxic Tower or any other similar gauntlet level. These sorts of levels will probably not take away your desire to beat the game if you're a die-hard DK fan, but they will most likely take away your desire to go for the butter on the Donkey Kong franchise's bread: completion to one hundred plus. Yep, the DK Coins are here, one in each level just like in Diddy's Kong Quest, and the bonus stages need to be seen to the end to count to the percentage. There's also the Lost World, unlocked piece by piece with bonus coins - I haven't seen it, but I doubt it's half as hard as the 16-bit version. Unlike Diddy's Kong Quest, Donkey Kong Land 2 is not a hard game to run through. As a matter of fact, you can get by many of the most straightforward levels by using Dixie's hair to fly across them. It is hard to get everything... but not as hard as I consider finding the desire to do it to be.

Donkey Kong Land 2 is really not a bad handheld game, but being a violently stripped port of one of the best 16-bit games ever released in a thin disguise, and dragged down by serious issues when it comes to the comfort of gameplay, it fails to strike me even as a half essential title. Oh, how I wish my deepest concern was the total absence of Cranky Kong.

SOUND : 8.5


GameRankings: 79.00%

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