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Donkey Kong Land 2

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Reviewed by Diane Cote ACM technology has come through again. Donkey Kong Land 2 is every bit as good as the original Donkey Kong Land in both visuals and sound, only this time, the control is absolutely perfect. I was so engrossed by the tiny (in size, not in difficulty) challenges of Donkey Kong Land 2, I'd have to say the game has easily won a spot on my personal "Favorite Game Boy Games of All Time" list. I do have to admit though, the complicated backgrounds and nicely animated detailing of this game make it a natural for the better screen resolution you'll find on the Game Boy Pocket. Once again, I had a difficult time seeing everything on the regular Game Boy screen. Familiar Bananas The back story behind Donkey Kong Land 2 is unsurprisingly similar to the other Kong games before this one. Someone has been Kong-napped (in this case it's Donkey Kong, leaving the two protagonists from Donkey Kong Country 2, Dixie and Diddy, in charge) and a huge supply of bananas has been demanded as a ransom payment. If you were a couple of agile young apes who could do crazy and effective moves like a cartwheel kick or a ponytail helicopter spin, would you hand over the bananas? I think not. Are Game Boy Games Supposed To Look This Good? Beautifully rendered cartoon characters are nothing new in the Nintendo universe, but it's still rather strange to see graphics this sharp on the puny screen of the Game Boy. The thing that's great about Nintendo, and the reason why they've gotten to where they are, is that you know they don't just flash up their pretty pictures without backing them up with some game play. Of those pretty pictures, I really enjoyed the animal buddy components in the game. Squawks, the Parrot, is so cool he is worthy of his own adventure. The animation of his heroic flapping was really fun to watch - the fact that Squawks also spits eggs at baddies (isn't that genocide?) makes him a mean fighting machine as well. Playing as this bird is almost like time traveling back to a grand old game of Vanguard or Scramble for a brief moment. Other controllable livestock in Donkey Kong Land 2 is not quite as fun as Squawks but they all have their moments. I'm not sure who's idea it was to allow Rambi the Rhinoceros ride the hot air balloons, but somehow, despite all the laws of physics, it works. Squitter the Spider is a running shoe equipped friend that struts along and makes web platforms for himself to jump to - this is one smart arachnid. Environments in the game take us under water, into dark tunnels, atop pirate ships, onto steamy swamp land, onto tricky roller-coaster tracks and, of course, into various boss hideouts. All of the locations have been rendered with flair and an exacting attention to detail. Even stop-over areas like Funky's Flights, the place where you pick up a ticket to fly in Funky Kong's barrel-plane, or Wrinkly's Kong Kollege, the area in the game where you can pick up hints and save your progress (for a price), have been artfully designed to provide a black and white pseudo-3D experience. Enemies galore are out to get you in Donkey Kong Land 2. Be watchful for sneaky creepies like Klobber, the nefarious Kremling who likes to phantom into a barrel and be a royal butt pain to dispense. Other meanies you won't want to monkey around with for too long include the hulking Kruncha, who looks like he wrestles Arnold Schwarzeneggers for fun. Of course the big, bad, boss baddie is Kaptain K. Rool. Expect to spend quite a bit of time in this game before you get to see this nasty gator's toothy grin. Meant To Be Played Excelling as a traveling companion is common for Nintendo's Game Boy Game Paks. Donkey Kong Land 2 doesn't let the Nintendo brand name down - who thought it would? The game is both instantaneously familiar and satisfying. It's not like you're witnessing the holy pinnacle of originality in this cart, but the gameplay you do get is rich, varied and lengthy. You'll be jumping, flipping, falling, flying, swinging, hanging and hopping into plenty of barrels for many an hour, so be prepared to get your money's worth out of this one. Don't worry about finishing the game in one sitting, there's battery storage in the cart, so you can take a break and then get back into the game where you left off (provided you paid for a game save at Kong Kollege) anytime you choose. Monkey Music This is becoming old hat for the fine musicians at Nintendo, but once again, a Game Boy title has been bestowed with a great little soundtrack. The tunes are miniaturized impressions of the great stuff you'll hear in the bigger brother Super NES games. The funky music sounds smaller and weaker piped out of the tiny Game Boy speaker but it does have a good beat and you can play to it. I had no problem letting this game blare. Sound effects for the game are identical to the noises of the first Kong Land game. Sproings and bouncy accents, plus an abundance of tight little animal blurts make up the majority of the effects. Every once in a while, shrunken cannon fire breaks up the pattern. Again, nothing that will cause your jaw bone to crack your hardwood floor, but perfectly acceptable audio effects to hear on the road, in the can, on the bus, in line, in class (hope not) or any where else you enjoy your Game Boy games. Nintendo Notch There are tons of great Nintendo produced titles available for the little portable. Donkey Kong Land 2 easily melds with the lot. Even though the game is filled to the brim with all kinds of familiarity, I still have no reservations about highly recommending this great little platformer. Nintendo does this kind of game better than anyone else in the world (take another bow, Mr. Miyamoto) and that's about as persuasive as I should have to get. This ape feast is a gas. Grab it.

I'm giving Donkey Kong Land 2 9.5 out of 10

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