While the original DKC was good, it wasn’t great. A lot of the levels (in my opinion) had balance issues, some of the jumping was a bit clunky (protip: Never do a jumping puzzle with DK), so on, so forth. But it was the first one in the series, so I can forgive it… mostly because it led to the sequel, which is easily my favorite platformer on the SNES.
Coming out in November 1995, this was the only one in the series I never owned a physical copy of. Granted, I rented it every bloody weekend until I beat it (many, many times), but I’ll always think of it as the one that got away. Ah well, it’s still the best among them. The aesthetic is great, for one. I mean… come on, freaking reptilian pirates? You don’t get more badass and cool than that! The levels were beautiful and well-crafted and the music… Dear god, the music. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
That aside, the gameplay was much better. More animal buddies, more gimmicks, a new partner! The game was packed to the bloody top with secrets and tricks and all this other cool, fun stuff. There was even an entire secret world – an idea which got carried over into DKC3 – to find! I honestly cannot sing the praises of this game enough.
I do have to say one slightly-less-than-positive thing about it, though. The bramble levels were horrific and terrible as a kid. Particularly Screech’s Sprint. I’m 22. I’ve been playing this game since it came out. I have beaten that level one time. Cat-O’-Nine-Tails? Check. Brambles? Check? A bloody race, meaning you have to be rather quick about it? Why do you hate us, Rare?
Also, Squawks is the most floaty controlled animal buddy ever. And you have to play that with him. Jerk.