Review by NT220

Reviewed: 08/31/01 | Updated: 08/31/01

Does NOT live up to the greatness of Donkey Kong Country 2.

This game is both a sequel and a semi-port. How so, you ask? Well, remember Donkey Kong Land? No? Well, remember Donkey Kong Country, the hit SNES game? Donkey Kong Land is a version of it Rare made for the GameBoy. Naturally, Rare also made a GameBoy version of Donkey Kong Country 2, and called it the sequel to Donkey Kong Land. However, while Donkey Kong Land was a semi-original game, Donkey Kong Land 2 is definitely a full-fledged near-clone of DKC2, but never achieved the SNES version's greatness.

Why? Well, let's start with the regurgitated excuse of a story. In DKC2, Donkey Kong was kidnapped by Kaptain K. Rool, leader of an evil pack of crocodiles called Kremlings, and taken as a hostage to the Kremlings' hideout, Crocodile Island. Diddy and Dixie, Donkey's friends, eventually defeated K. Rool and managed to sink Crocodile Island in the process. Now, in this game, K. Rool somehow managed to raise a mechanical version of Crocodile Island, and immediately captured Donkey yet again. Original, eh?

The gameplay is also same old, same old, but I'm not complaining because that's the way it's always been for Donkey Kong Country/Land. You have two characters, Diddy and Dixie. Diddy is a bit faster than Dixie and jumps higher and farther, but Dixie can use her ponytail to slow her descent. Unlike the SNES games, you only have one character on screen at a time; the other character is represented as an icon at the lower-right corner of the screen. If you have only one character, you can get the other one by hitting DK barrels peppered across the levels. If you have both characters and get hit, your current character will run away and you'll have to play with the inactive one.

In each level there are one or two hidden bonus barrels that take you to bonus stages. In bonus stages, you achieve a certain task which will give you a Kremcoin. Also in every level is a DK coin. Getting every Kremcoin and DK coin is required to beat the game.

One thing I liked is that they've fixed the controls. In the original Donkey Kong Land game, the controls were sloppy at best. In this game, however, the controls are just as good as the SNES version, making it a lot less frustrating to jump. Very nice.

The graphics in this game are somewhat of a mixed bag. While the sprites look almost exactly like the sprites in the SNES version except in black and white, the backgrounds are somewhat bland. Yes, DKL's overdetailed backgrounds are definitely not the way to go, but in this game there are no backgrounds to speak of at times. Enemies are easily seen, but it's certainly no eye candy.

I can't say much for the music here. Donkey Kong Country 2 had an amazing soundtrack, one of the best I've ever heard, and the songs for this game come straight from DKC2. However, many of the songs were cut out, meaning some of the levels have rather eccentric songs. For instance, the ship rigging levels originally had wide open, cheery music, but because that tune was cut out someone had the brilliant idea of using the dark, claustrophobic ship's cargo hold music in its place--it ends up sounding more than a little strange. Remaining tunes are also slightly marred by the GameBoy's poor sound capabilities.

But those aren't the main reason why I gave this game a 6. My main problem with this game is with the level designs. I don't mind them if they were just carbon-copies of the SNES version, but in this case they are more of imperfect imitations of them. The levels seem oddly empty as opposed to the tight, action-packed levels of DKC2. Some of the level ideas from DKC2 simply don't work in small screen, black and white. Jumping from one little platform to another in Hot Head Hop, for instance, is infinitely more challenging in the GameBoy because the little platforms will often scroll off the screen, making you jump blindly, often missing the platform.

Perhaps that isn't reason enough to dislike it. Perhaps I'm just biased. Perhaps I shouldn't even be comparing it to the SNES version. However, while Donkey Kong Lands 1 and 3 played like completely new games, even though they borrowed many gameplay elements from their SNES counterparts. Donkey Kong Land 2, however, plays like a crude imitation of Donkey Kong Country 2, no more. All I can say is that in the transition from console to handheld, this game lost something that made it the best platformer of all time, and instead became a painfully average little game.

FINAL SCORE: 6

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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