Archive for the ‘donkey kong country 2’ Category

Bringing Donkey Kong Country 2 to an end

April 9, 2010

Well, I think I’m officially done with DKC2.   I’m not literally finished with the game, I’m only at the halfway mark, but I was hitting that point where I was trying to convince myself I was enjoying the game, when really I wasn’t. 

Hear me out a bit on this though. 

Part of my frustration comes from the game literally being FRUSTRATING.  The amount of difficulty between this title and the first DKC is pretty big, and while I enjoy a challenge, I don’t think I was all that well prepared for the spike in difficulty that DKC2 gave me.  I think, if time allowed and I wasn’t playing this for the purpose of writing about it, I’d be able to sit down for an extended period and really dig into the game, and that’d be a little more fair to it than just saying I don’t like it.

But, on the flip side, I do think that I genuinely don’t like it.  As I was trying to jump into it for the 5th or 6th time yesterday, a few things jumped out at me.  One, I don’t like the environments, I think they’re really ugly, bland, and boring in comparison to the first game with it’s heavy jungle themes.  The dark, murky look of just about every location I’ve been to in DKC2 isn’t all that pleasing to the eyes, and it actually makes me feel a little less inclined to continue every time I come to a new area and it looks just as ugly as the last.

Two, I don’t like using Diddy or Dixie Kong, and that’s purely from an aesthetic point of view.  I’d much rather play as Donkey Kong, and while I get that most people enjoy using new characters and what not, I was the same way in the original DKC.  If possible, I’d always use Donkey Kong, and never Diddy, regardless of his quicker run speed.  This is a stupid sticking point, I know, but it’s just how I feel about the characters.  Chances are this would be an issue for me if I ever got around to playing the third game too.

Reason number 3?  The soundtrack.  I’ve always heard people praise the soundtrack for the second game, but man, outside of a couple tracks, I think it’s pretty bland.  It’s really light, as in I barely notice it when I’m playing, and in turn that makes it less memorable.  I’m more likely to remember the annoying noises the enemies make when you kill them than I am any particular background track that runs through each level, and it doesn’t help that a lot of them sound awfully similar to each other.  I love Stickerbrush Symphony, it’s certainly the best song in the game, but it’s also one of like three songs that are even worth checking out when not playing the game.  Definitely doesn’t hold a candle to the first game for me.

Finally, I hate the damn save system.  I’ve lamented this in a previous post, but I still think the whole thing with coins and lives resetting everytime you play the game (and not actually, y’know, saving) is really annoying, especially in light of the limited save points and the fact that you have to pay to save after you’ve used a save point once.  This is probably a non-issue for people more experienced with the game that know every bonus point and extra life location in every single level, but coming into the game fresh and not wanting to resort to an FAQ like I was made the overall experience pretty annoying. 

So yeah, that’s my final stance on DKC2.  Like I said, at some point I’ll revisit the game and give it a more fair shake outside of the realm of wanting to blog about it, but I’m not entirely convinced my mind will change on how I feel about it currently.  Definitely not as awesome as I was hoping it would be, so that’s a shame.

That said, next week I’m going to fall back on an old classic, something I do have experience with playing but haven’t really touched since it was re-released on the DS a while back.  Chrono Trigger!

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Slow and steady wins the race, Let’s go Stage 4!

April 7, 2010

I had a little time to get some more DKC2 playing in this morning, and cleared Stage 3 and moved on to 4, which is the pretty cool Amusement Park themed Kremland stage.  The level before you enter Kremland proper though, is equally cool by introducing a new mechanic to the series with Honey that coats various surfaces, rendering you immobile outside of the ability to jump. 

This leads to some pretty ingenious situations where you can’t move and easily dodge enemies, making you stuck with just jumping and timing your jumps to clear the various hornets and what not that pepper the level.  Along with that, the honey is stuck to walls, meaning you get stuck to walls, giving the stage some verticality that’s a bit like wall-jumping in Metroid.  It’s the first time I’ve ran into this in DKC2, and I kind of hope to see it again before the game ends.  I can’t imagine it’s just a single throwaway concept level, so I’m sure it’ll pop up again.

Once you get into Kremland though, I was reintroduced to one of my favorite level types from DKC1, which is the whole riding on things that are on rails.  This time out rollercoasters replace mine carts, but the idea stays the same.  Lots of quick jumps, timed jumps off of enemies that are stacked in different arrangements, and then there’s the mechanic of triggering on the on or off switch for doors that block your path and mean instant death.  This part is pretty tricky, as the game will throw the occasional already opened door at you, which I’ll be so gung-ho about hitting switches that I’ll end up closing by accident.  I’m pretty sure this will provide me with a bit of frustrating fun.

On a side note, and since I just did the Bramble Blast level that features Bramblebrush Symphony that I mentioned in a previous post, I think we should wax poetic a bit about series composer David Wise.  He’s been a long time composer for Rare, and just recently left the company a year or so ago.  He was with them from 1985 on, and served as their only composer until the 90’s.

A short list of some of the man’s highlights on various games:

Marble Madness

California Games

Snake Rattle N Roll

Solar Jetman

Diddy Kong Racing

Viva Pinata DS

There’s numerous other entries for the guy here, but obviously I concur with the idea that his best work stemmed from the entire DKC series.  Recently OCRemix did an album dedicated to remixes based on Donkey Kong Country 2, and David Wise actually contributed a track to the project, called Re-Skewed.  Chances are if you’ve ever played a Rare game (and if you owned an NES as a kid you totally did), then you’ve heard a David Wise soundtrack a time or two. 

Also, if you’re interested in checking out the DKC2 remix album “Serious Monkey Business”, here’s the link:  http://dkc2.ocremix.org/

DKC2 Stage 3 commences, plus why I hate classic save systems

April 5, 2010

So I finally made progress in Donkey  Kong Country 2 over the weekend, but not a whole lot.  Made it up to stage three, defeated the pretty easy Stage 2 boss (a flying sword, really?), and at least hit the save point in Stage 3 before quitting for a bit yesterday.

As much as I like old games, man, I really, really hate the save system in games like Donkey Kong Country 2.  Especially the damn coin system in this game, but I’ll rail on that in a minute.  I guess with DKC2 there was a certain expectation for difficulty, even though I’m not sure where that came from, since I never found the original to be particularly difficult.

Maybe old age and newer games has made me a little soft, but going from a classic Castlevania game to this title, well, I kind of think DKC2 is actually harder than Rondo of Blood was.  Not something that I would have expected, but I’ve certainly encountered more game over screens here than I would have guessed.  Part of my frustration with that is the limited save spots in this game.  In DKC2, and pretty much DKC1,  you’ve got about 1 save spot per level, meaning that you get about three stages into a level before unlocking that spot.  This isn’t so awful, hell, New Super Mario Bros. used a similar set-up (but allowed quick saves), so my issue isn’t really with that. 

My biggest hang-up comes from not being able to save a second or third time, once I’ve exhausted that initial save.  Well, unless I want to spend some in-game currency.  The coins haven’t really been liberally placed either, there seems to be about one or two per stage, but as you advance in level, these get harder and harder to get.  Also, you can’t travel back to previous levels to stock up, because then you have to spend coins for that too. 

Basically, I’m saying that I really, really hate the coin system in this game.  Especially when it’s tied into the save system, which after your first save requires you to spend two coins to save again.  This means, if you don’t have or don’t want to spend coins, you need to make it all the way through the last half of the level you’re currently on, beat the boss, and then clear the first half of the next level before getting to the next free save spot.  This wouldn’t be so hard if I could have my extra lives carry over every time I boot up the game, but if I’m at 10 lives when I turn my system off, when I restart it I’m right back down to three. 

So yeah, not every aspect of older games is awesome, and the save system in DKC2 is a shining example of that.  I know, I’m probably just being a weaksauce gamer here, but I don’t have nearly as much time to sit down and tough it out over two or three hours a day with this game, so it’s a little maddening to sit down and play only to have your progress destroyed by one annoying game over screen.  Thank god for the ability to suspend state on Virtual Console, I’m not sure I’d have the patience to deal with it on the SNES at this point.

Stickerbrush Symphony is awesome, plus a quick blog update

April 2, 2010

Time has not been on my side this week. 

It’s been a semi-hectic week for my actual job stuff, putting in well over 40 hours has kept my game time at a minimum, not to mention my extra writing time that’s not focused on reviews at Gaming-Age, so this blog has suffered a bit this week. 

I haven’t really progressed on DKC2 since my last post, but hopefully will get some of it done this weekend and be ready to go again come Monday.  I’ll probably give some serious thought to the post everyday about one game format of this blog, as I’ll need to have a plan in place for weeks like this! 

Ah well, I’m going to cheap out a bit and just post one specific DKC2 related item, which is this neato youtube vid of someone’s piano rendition of the fantastic Stickerbrush Symphony song from DKC2’s soundtrack.  I don’t think I’m crossing any boundary by saying this is the equivalent of the awesome Aquatic Ambience from DKC, and it’s a pretty solid testament that David Wise could pump some awesome music out of the SNES back in the day.  So here you go, enjoy!

PS:  I do have a strange fascination with youtube videos of normal users playing videogame songs on piano or guitar, so this scratches that itch too.

Chimps vs. Lizards, Donkey Kong Country 2 begins!

March 30, 2010

Early last year I decided I was going to go back and play Donkey Kong Country again, probably for the first time since I was a kid / teenager.  It was one of my favorite SNES titles growing up, and Aquatic Ambience is one of my all time favorite video game soundtrack bits, so I figured, why not?  I was pretty happy to see that this wasn’t a case of rose-tinted nostalgia glasses being in full effect, and I found myself enjoying the game quite a bit after all those years had passed by. 

At some point I figured I’d give the sequels a try, I’m not entirely sure why I missed them when I was growing up, except for it being a money issue or something along those lines (or me not wanting to play “kiddie” games anymore).  Either way, I missed out on both, so I’m looking to at least halfway rectify that with the sequel, Diddy Kong’s Quest. 

So far, and only on the tail end of world 2, I’m enjoying it, but not quite loving it yet.  The inclusion of the girl Dixie hasn’t really added anything worthwhile just yet, she has a cool spin jump move that extends her jump quite a bit, but outside of that I haven’t seen anything here that’s better or worse than the Donkey and Diddy team-up from the first game.  They have a combination move where one tosses the other into enemies, but I kind of prefer just jumping on heads and tossing barrels so far. 

New things I’ve run into:  The coins!  Wow, they’ve kinda upped the collectibles this time out haven’t they?  So besides collecting the bananas (coins) and the KONG letters for 1ups, there’s two different coins.  One is used as currency for various Kong family members you run into on the overworld map (PS:  why does it cost me coins to save more than once at a save spot?!), and the other apparently has something to do with unlocking an end game level.  Honestly, I thought some of the bonus stuff was hard to get to in the original DKC, so I can see this being a pretty big challenge, or a big pain in the ass, this time around. 

I’m glad to see the enemies have changed quite a bit this time around.  I was a little worried when I ran into rats and basic Kremlings, but you quickly come across the diving buzzards, the series standard hornet/bee’s, the Kremlings that toss those little metal hooks, and so on.  There’s enough variety in these two areas that I’ve visited to give me high hopes for the rest of the game. 

One other thing that I’ve noticed is holy hell this is a lot harder than DKC.  Usually I didn’t run into too much trouble in the first game other than trying to memorize some of those frantic mine cart sequences, but I’ve died plenty of times in the second lava filled world of DKC 2.  I thought the 1ups were coming a little too fast in World 1, but they were obviously just preparing me for some of the frustrating aspects of this new world.  It’s not hard enough to turn me off from playing it though, in fact, I think the challenge is pretty nice, and for the most part the majority of my deaths are chalked up to bad timing or impatience on my part.  Nothing too cheap so far. 

So, to finish this late start off for today, I’m enjoying it.  Not quite in love with it yet, and I think the soundtrack is a little bland so far, but I love all the new animals you get to ride around on, the enemies are nice and varied, the challenge is amped up and good, and overall it feels like a great sequel to a game that I love.  We’ll see how this goes over the course of the week though, because if I’m having trouble in World 2, I can only imagine what’s in store for me later.