From the get-go there's one thing to notice. The graphics are crude. I know they were good for back in the day, but they certainly do look muddy and it's a lot harder to tell what is a solid platform and what isn't. However I wont knock it for that because frankly it is insanely unfair to judge an older game by a sequel releasing sixteen years later. That'd be like a more minor version of judging Star Wars Episode 4 by Star Wars Episode 1. However in that case, the former still beats the latter. I digress, and yet I will still continue to make comparisons. There are all these synapses firing off in my head over just what Donkey Kong Country Returns borrowed from this game and the series as a whole. If you haven't, go read my Donkey Kong Country Returns Review to see what I thought about that game.
Now, in the first three levels I've noticed that while obviously the idea is the same, DKCR has borrowed some key stuff. The menu music and other tunes have already made their 16-bit presence known. The barrel throwing action has been seen plenty. Also, Rambi the Rhino has made his first appearance, acting just as I know him from DKCR. I don't know if it's a chicken or an egg story but I'm liking parts of this game because of what I know from DKCR. It feels like some sort of Grandfather Paradox though without the murder. Already too in this first 'world' of the game I played as another animal character. I played as Expresso the Ostrich. It took me a moment to put together that Expresso could fly but when I did figure that out, it was kind of fun. I wouldn't say I would have missed him in the Retro Studios sequel but perhaps it would have been fun to have some more animals besides Rambi. I'm pretty excited to get to meet the infamous Enguarde the Swordfish. I've heard a lot about him and for me as someone who has never played this game before, I feel like Enguarde is even more noteworthy than Rambi. At the least, my knowledge of Enguarde was greater anyway. The last major similarity, which I knew was a staple of the series since the beginning, was the Kong Letters. I like having those back because not only am I collect-a-thon kind of person, but they typically help lure you into certain secret or hard to reach areas, thus making you a better, or at least a more perceptive, gamer.
So I battled the first three levels, spoke with that cranky bastard Cranky, and found a hidden room or two. So far so good. Was I a fool to have dismissed this series until just recently? Probably, but only time will really tell. As you might realize, I am in the middle of Playing The Classics: The Lost Levels as well. I'll be playing both games and keeping up with those posts so don't think I'm choosing one game over the other. It's classic mayhem here at the DrFinkelstein gaming bunker... (note: Not a real bunker). Lastly, I want to wish you readers out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.
Eat, Drink, Game, and Be Merry.
Read Part 2