Donkey Kong Land 2
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.
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
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.
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.
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