Games You Should Have Played: The Donkey Kong Country Trilogy

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So many good memories with these games. I'm assuming you've played them?

A few weeks ago, OCRemix released yet another stellar album, this time for Donkey Kong Country 2. I’ve listened to it twice now and I’m quite happy with the free download. Naturally, it got me to re-listen to the soundtracks for all three Donkey Kong Country games and brought me to the realization that I need to do a Games You Should Have Played for the DKC trilogy. The best part about these games is that if you don’t have a Super Nintendo, the games have been ported to the Game Boy Advance and currently reside on the Wii’s Virtual Console for a very reasonable $8 each. As usual, you’ve got very few excuses not to play these ones.

The Super Nintendo’s Best

It is very difficult for me to decide which is the best game of the three. I’m not going to bother talking about Donkey Kong 64 or the three Donkey Kong Land games, but I’ll go into my time with the three main games as they first appeared on the SNES.

Donkey Kong Country:

I assumed it'd be like the original arcade title. I'm so glad I was wrong.

I didn’t have a Super Nintendo when the first Donkey Kong Country was released but I made sure to play it whenever possible by going to friends’ and relatives’ houses and playing there. When I bought my SNES from my cousin, I was lucky enough to get a version that he had modded in order to play Super Famicom games. Sadly, he had sold all his good games before selling me the system, so I began my SNES career with Mario Paint and Sim City.

Not long after that I found a cheap copy of Donkey Kong Country at a pawnshop and ran straight home to play it in its entirety. I was never able to find every secret in the game, nor did I have much motivation to do so, but as of today I’m capable of beating the game in a two-hour gaming session with minimal deaths.

You’ll frequently hear reviewers say that the first game doesn’t hold up anymore since its main draw was the graphics and the novelty of the game, but I disagree. The music is part of what makes the game so danged good, and I’ll make the claim that the first game had the best music, at least for me. I just can’t separate the nostalgic value the game holds over me, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Donkey Kong Country 2:

I had high hopes for this one, and it both met and exceeded those hopes.

I was pretty excited when I found out there’d be a sequel to one of my favorite SNES games, so as soon as I had the chance to rent it I went ahead and did just that. Diddy’s Kong Quest, as the full title goes, changed things up a bit by making Diddy Kong the main character and getting rid of Donkey Kong entirely, or rather, just making him the princess of sorts that needs saving. Dixie Kong was the new sidekick and she instantly became far more valuable to use than Diddy due to her ability to glide using her hair.

The game also added a ton of new gameplay elements such as a secret world and an alternate ending should you get every bonus token in the game, which I did once I bought it on the Virtual Console. Because of all the new things, I’d say that Diddy’s Kong Quest is probably the best game of the series, but I still go with the first as my favorite.

Donkey Kong Country 3:

It was a nice surprise to find out Rare wasn't done with DKC yet.

The third game, Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble snuck up on me. I was too focused on the upcoming N64 to realize they were still making SNES games, but DKC 3 came out and I realized I should probably go rent that and enjoy it as much as possible. And I really did enjoy it for what it was. It’s still a solid game with yet more gameplay elements added, such as the collection of Banana Birds and the interactions with the bear shopkeepers. Something about that was just really enjoyable to me.

I always had a hard time understanding where DKC 3 was placed in the Donkey Kong universe. Donkey Kong Country takes place all over the literal Donkey Kong Country with the central themes being jungles, caves, Aztec temples, and factories. DKC 2 took the characters to the opposing island of the Kremlings with the themes being pirate ships, marshes, beehives, and volcanic caves. However, DKC 3 took place in only one small section of Donkey Kong Country, as far as I could reason, with the themes being mostly mountains, forests, abandoned mills, and industrial factories again. It just seemed odd to me.

The third game lost some points by having Donkey Kong kidnapped again, this time with Diddy. Dixie returned to lead the game with her sidekick being Kiddie Kong, also known as “The character you don’t play as.” He was useful as a stronger force, but otherwise he was too slow and bulky to use for most of the platforming elements. You just couldn’t beat the hair gliding.

All in all, the three games combined into one play excellently. I’d say the third game is probably the easiest, or at least felt that way. The first has the best music and the second is just the better game out of the three, but it’s also the hardest. As I said though, you can’t beat a combined total of $24 for all three titles on the Virtual Console, so don’t pass this ones up.

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

2 Comments

  1. Donkey Kong was just a beast back in those days. I’m kind of sad that his games these days are too strange and so far removed from the kind of games that made him great. King of Swing? No thanks. More Donkey Konga? Really no thanks. I wonder when Nintendo will finally make a true next DKC?

  2. My God! Thanks you SO MUCH for posting this Chris! I LOVED these games! DK is easily my favorite Nintendo character. He’s the Chewbacca of the Nintendo universe. Remember when Skywalker and Solo got medals at the end of A New Hope but Cewy didn’t? Mario and Link get recognized and awarded throughout the gaming community. DK has games that were just as good, but no one game him credit for it.

    I love them all, but yes the second one was easily the best for me. I couldn’t get over the pirate theme, and I personaly loved that soundtrack because the priate jingles were so addictive. The thrid one was deffinately the black sheep of the series, but it still had some of the most clever level and boss designs.

    And whether we was King K. Rool, Captain K. Rool, or Dr. K. Rool, the leader of the Kremlings never dissappointed. I especially love how at the very end of the second game, where after this entire epic battle, DK just suddenly breaks out of his chains and uppercuts Rool right out of his fortress, like “Yeah, for the record I was able to do that the whole time.”

    God I can go on forever about these games. He’s probably the reason why I loved Crash Bandicoot so much, going into the PS One. If Nintendo made another DK game in the homage of the DK Country genre, I would buy a Wii in a heartbeat.

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