Any fan of the Donkey Kong Country series would instantly feel at home in this new title, you are literally playing the first instalment with additional improvements thrown in. Instantly thrown into the game you start on a pirate ship fighting your way through the levels. Thankfully the game does a fantastic job of slowing increasing the difficulty whilst providing more and more depth to the game, all of which is comes together perfectly. You will no doubt find yourself disappointed by the games low level of difficulty but as the hours pass you will be wishing the game would take it easy on your nerves. Everything from fast frantic rollercoaster rides to levels ridden with wind that will literally blow you off your feet awaits you.
As you have noticed by now the graphics are unbelievable, especially considering you are playing a 16-bit console. Well created artwork mixed with flawless animation provides a seemingly 3D world from simply 2D graphics. The one worry I had from being blown away from the graphics at such an early stage was the ability of providing new artwork for the vast amount of levels, but fear not as the levels are all extremely unique and full of character. Donkey Kong Country 2 is ticking all the right boxes but is it just a matter of time before the flaws show?
Of course not! The game is kept to a high standard throughout. The next aspect of the game and my personal favourite is the length and amount of detail included. Not only does Donkey Kong Country 2 take at least 10+ hours to complete by simply running through the levels at speed, there are several additions in each level to keep enjoyment of achievements whilst adding reply value. First off there are Kong Koins which can be collected throughout the levels providing the options of spending them in a variety of ways from saving the game, playing quiz games for prize rewards and even receiving help on specific difficult levels.
Another set of coins are DK Koins, provided only once per level these coins are extremely difficult to find and then obtain, collecting every coin for all levels would certainly be an achievement worthy of bragging rights. Lastly each level has the letters K, O, N, G spread one after another to be collected, upon collecting all four you will be rewarded with a life.
The detail does not only include the repeated collectables, the very level design, enemy opponents and varied gameplay elements. Such detail and constantly changing gameplay is rarely seen in titles of this age or previously. Each few levels a new treat of gameplay was left to me, with little idea on how to perform the actions required of me to continue. Whilst no doubt this situation could provide confusion and frustration the new gameplay elements were never too difficult to get to grips with quickly and easily, yet still providing a fresh feeling each and ever time. A perfect example of this would be the many animal creates included in the game, as soon as you see a create with an animals face on the side its enjoyable to dive in allowing for the second half of the level to be completely different to the first half you have just experienced. Apart from the loveable Rhino from Donkey Kong Country 1, my personal favourite would be the parrot allowing for fast flight in all directions whilst also providing a missile weapon out of the parrot's mouth, the later parrot levels providing a difficult challenge whilst painfully hard always enjoyable to conquer.
Stopping before I go into too much detail on the fantastic gameplay elements that lie ahead, we take a look at the basic gameplay. Controlling Diddy and Dixie together (similar to what was found in the original title) you are to work together taking advantage of each of the characters unique features. Unfortunately these were few in Diddy Kong's case (poor monkey) as I found myself constantly favouring Dixie in every situation to the point where I would curse when she would be killed leaving me no choice but Diddy Kong himself. I can see the differences as planned, with Diddy Kong being fast and Dixie being slower but with a slowfall technique, but the speed increase by Diddy Kong is minimal, whilst the slowfall technique is extremely useful in nearly every area of the game, this could have been improved upon allowing Diddy to have a useful technique himself.
The main of the gameplay when not taking part in the unique elements is a case of side scrolling through the level and killing enemies by landing on there heads and throwing creates at them. Although you can kill the enemies using the attacks provides, it is not advised as you will be killed in most cases. With the variation in enemy's as a whole and then the enemy's in different difficulty settings you are even kept on your toes going through the game with the simplest of tasks. Be warned some players will certainly dislike the high difficulty and often frustrating moments of the game but personally I find them a fresh change in comparison to most platform adventures.
Lastly but not least the sound and music of Donkey Kong Country 2 keeps with the high quality of the other elements by providing great contrast of music through the levels and good sound effects whilst you play. Nothing is truly brain drilling to the point where you are humming the notes for weeks to come (Tetris get out of my head already!) but when playing a game, not taking note of the background sound is in my opinion a good thing as its providing you with the combined sound and music expected for the scenes. There are a selection of incredible stand out tracks, though, such as the gorgeous Stickerbush Symphony, Forest Interlude and the funky Disco Train. It's Dave Wise at his best.
Diddy's Kong Quest is without a doubt one of the best platformers on the SNES, and has to be checked out by all those that still own the console.