You know what needs to be in more games? Rhinoceroses.

And I mean neither rhinoceroses in human form being all big and bad and evil nor “virtual reality” rhinos grazing upon the African savannas. I mean helpful rhinos that you can ride, use to kick your enemies to the curb, and who’ll listen to you in your time of need. Um, or something. And it’s not like I’m the rhino’s biggest fan. They are splendid members of the animal kingdom; and I just happen to think that they can be quite useful. First off, they are quick! Have you ever seen a rhino gallop at full speed? It’s a little bit scary but they’re able to carry their bulk well at high speeds. A horse race, no they won win at that, but they’d be able to get you across the plains in no time! Second, there’s that horn (or horns). A mean instrument of attack and defense if ever there was one. And third, their tough skin makes for great armor. It’ll take a bit of doing to penetrate that hide!

Hmmm…can you tell where I’m going with this? Game blog…rhinos…helpful rhinos… If you’ve played Donkey Kong Country 2, then it should be pretty obvious. If you’ve not played DKC2, well…what are you waiting for? I’m done talking about rhinos (for now); except to say that Rambi the Rhino in DKC2 was my favorite companion of all the animal companions in that game (and the original DKC, but mostly DKC2).

His eyes say GRRRR, but his heart says "I wuv u," maybe. (source)
His eyes say GRRRR, but his heart says “I wuv u,” maybe. (source)

As far as game sequels go, sometime you get one that’s the same as the original. Sometimes you get a sequel that’s completely different from the original. And sometimes you get a sequel that’s magically similar to and different from the original, in a good way – this was the case for DKC2.

Donkey Kong Country 2 cover art © Nintendo, Rare
Donkey Kong Country 2 cover art © Nintendo, Rare (source)

I didn’t pick up DKC2 on the heels of finishing the Donkey Kong Country. I played through the original a couple times before deciding to move onto the sequel. DKC2 marked a poignant time for me that, oddly enough, had nothing to do with virtual gorillas or bananas. DKC2 was one of the last games I completed before moving away after college. I found a great job in a state far away from home. But I was ready to say my goodbyes and excited to jumpstart my life alone; yet I was rather sad to leave behind the games and consoles I had come to know and cherish. But those feelings drew up the well in hindsight. In reality, that summer after graduation was super busy. And between the end of my summer job and the beginning of my new job, I only had a couple weeks to enjoy the last remnants of whatever game I could squeeze in.

That game turned out to be DKC2; and what a fitting choice it turned out to be.

DKC2 saw the return of the Kongs versus the Kools. It also brought back the Kong’s famous stash of bananas — only this time instead of saving the stash, the stash was at stake! In a bold and dastardly move, Kaptain K. Rool, the meanest and most pirate-y of the evil alligator clan, kidnapped Donkey Kong! In exchange of his freedom, Kool wanted the Kong’s banana stash. Because we all know that alligators just loooove bananas. Anyway, this simply could not be tolerated by Kong’s nephew, Diddy Kong, who wanted to prove he was a real hero. So off on a quest he went, accompanied by his girlfriend Dixie, to save his uncle and the family’s sacred banana stash.

Why does everyone look so confused? The coin is RIGHT THERE! (source)
Why does everyone look so confused? The coin is RIGHT THERE! (source)

So remember way back a paragraph ago I mentioned the whole “same but different” thing about game sequels? Well, Rare hit the sequel ball out of the park with the grand slam that was DKC2. Back were Rare’s beautiful, colorful, signature graphics. The basic mechanics of DKC also returned, which were fun in the first game and fantastic in the next. From banana collecting to finding secret areas to gathering special items, there was plenty of exciting jumping, swinging, and enemy-bashing to go around. DKC2 also had some new minigames, which added to the game’s appeal. I had an especially wonderful time playing as Dixie with her great jumping ability and twirly ponytail that could be used to either slow a long fall, hang onto hooks, and hurl barrels at enemies. (Oh, if only my hair was that versatile!)

And excellent use of one's locks, even if the premise in real life is somewhat scary. (source)
Maybe Dixie was  Breck girl? Also, points if you remember Breck. More points of you can name an actual Breck girl. (source)

Also, remember that time when I rambled on about rhinos? Well, the cavalcade of animal friends was also back in DKC2. Mixing it up with Rambi and other familiar faces were several new friends, including Squitter the Spider (I know, a friendly spider?! Anything is possible in this crazy world!) and a seal named Clapper, whom I remember not liking as much as the spider, if you can believe that.

From YouTube user MegamanNG. And how Rambi ended up in a beehive is one the universe’s great mysteries.

While the original DKC served as a giant step up and forward from the Donkey Kong games of yore, Donkey Kong Country 2 immersed players in a place that seemed comfortable and familiar yet presented new challenges. At the time it was released, the Playstation had a fairly solid foothold in the industry, but it couldn’t yet complete with the Nintendo juggernaut. So releasing a “same but different” sequel to a very popular game turned out to be a pretty good move for both Nintendo and Rare. There were lots of reasons to keep one’s SNES despite the push towards games on CDs, and DKC2 was certainly one of them.

I finished DKC2 just a couple days before I packed up my car for my move. I had a long drive ahead of me, so I left very early in the morning in the hopes of avoiding rush hours in a few major cities along the way. During the first hour of my drive, while coursing down a quiet, pre-dawn stretch of highway, y’know what popped into my head? You might think something something Rambi. But nope. It was the “Forest Interlude” song from DKC2. Man, that game had a great soundtrack. The game was, and is definitely still a winner, folks – among the best the SNES had to offer.

From Youtube user PeyserConley


    • DK64 was a great game — plenty of fun! But I didn’t latch onto it as much as I did the DKC games. I don’t know that Donkey Kong was best in the 2D/3D Rare games, but it was really cool to witness his transition. His jump from DKC to DK64 wasn’t quite as revolutionary.


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