Top 100 Games of All-Time: #43

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Release Date: November 20, 1995

Platform Played On: SNES

2018 Placement: #31 (-12)

What It Is:

It’s DK. Diddy Kong. And Dixie Kong. The sequel to the platformer Donkey Kong Country, DKC2 puts DK in the damsel in distress scenario and puts Diddy and Dixie in the starring roles as they traverse Crocodile Isle to defeat K. Rool, who’s now a pirate. (Even though he had a pirate ship in the first game, he was a King then? K. Rool is weird about titles.) It’s a fairly standard platformer gameplay-wise, but many additions and refinements make DKC2 even more fun to play.

The pirate theme extends throughout all the game, so all the Kremlings have piratey gear and names now. The first world is an extension of the final level of the first game, Gangplank Galleon, and from there on you get to see a variety of biomes and levels, from swamps to beehives to haunted amusement park rides. There’s fantastic music and both Diddy and Dixie feel great to play as: Dixie’s hair twirl jump is a life-saver. It’s a wonderful refinement of the SNES-era platforming from start to finish.

Why It’s Important To Me:

The Donkey Kong Country series was one of the staples of my childhood. I 101%ed the original and 103%ed DKC3. DKC2 was the only one of the trilogy I didn’t get full completion on because it was the hardest to do. Stupid Klubba. But regardless of my actual completion percentage, DKC2 is the zenith of the SNES portion of the franchise. Level design is at its peak, the music by David Wise is at its peak, the feel of gameplay is at its peak – it’s just all good. There’s very few games I can think of no complaints about besides “why is Klubba such a bitch about the Kremkoins” but DKC2 is definitely one of them.

Listen to Lockjaw’s Saga. Feel that aquatic ambiance. Or maybe send a chill up your spine with Haunted Chase. There’s a reason everyone jumps when they hear David Wise is putting together a soundtrack and DKC2 is that reason. And yes, of course I’ll also link to Stickerbrush Symphony, which might rival Mega Man 2’s Wily Stage 1 as the most remixed video game song of all time. AND FOR GOOD REASON. This game is just a perfect platformer with perfect music, what more could I ask for as a kid?

My Strongest Memory:

Maybe the first time I heard Stickerbrush Symphony? Or the first time I got to the Lost World via Klubba and his Kremcoins? I also remember Black Ice Battle and that level being my absolute nemesis. Fuck that stupid level.

There’s the elevator level in the castle world where you have to ride Rambi (or become him, I don’t remember exactly) and that level was one of my favorites. Of course the Bramble levels and the roller coaster levels are also some of my favorites as well. Kleever is one of the more unique bosses in the DKC franchise and getting to beat the shit out of King Zing as Squawks never gets old. Look, the entire game is a good memory, okay?

Why It’s #43:

For a long time I fought against the rising tide of people always saying DKC2 was the best of the SNES games. I had a soft spot for Fear Factory (the DKC song, not the band) and the mine carts of the first game and Gangplank Galleon will always be a rip. But eventually I succumbed and agreed that DKC2 is just better. It’s one of those platformers that is still worth playing even 25 years later (ugh I can’t believe it’s been that long).