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Nostalgia 101: The Wonders of the 90s: It's on like 'Donkey Kong'

By Matt Gantos
On March 2, 2014

In honor of "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze," released just over a week ago, this week's nostalgia column is dedicated to the old "Donkey Kong Country" series for Super Nintendo.
After having their horde of bananas stolen by King K. Rool, Donkey Kong, a tie-wearing gorilla and his chimp side kick, Diddy Kong, set out to take back what was rightfully theirs.
Their adventure takes them through all types of terrain, but they always have help along the way from some animal friends.
The animal characters really add a unique element to the game because they open up the map to bring you to different mini-games and hidden treasures for those players who absolutely need to find everything in every level.
At other times they are necessary to finish a level and the player has to rethink how to go about dispatching enemies or making it over larger pits.
Another thing that is pretty unique to these games is its early use of the co-op system. The game mode in which two players are on the same team, both on the screen at once, was ahead of its time for 1994.
The system allowed for only one person to control the pair at a time, then once they were hit by an enemy, they would run away and the second player would have a turn and a chance to find the missing player in a "tag barrel" somewhere else in the level.
One thing that really created success for "Donkey Kong Country Returns," released for the Wii in 2010, was the ability to have a co-op mode where each player moves independently throughout the level.
In the new game, you are also able to use Diddy to ride on DK's shoulder and use the jet pack to hover for a few seconds, but not really do anything else. This is useful in situations where the window to move through a trap is incredibly small or when jumping off ledges that break as you stand on them.
In the old games, the inactive player just followed around the active player and was invincible to enemies and never fell into a pit by accident.
One thing I'm excited for in "DKC: Tropical Freeze" is the return of Dixie Kong, who was always such a useful character in the second two games for the SNES. She jumps, spins her hair and gently floats down on enemies like a helicopter.
DKC: Tropical Freeze and DKCR are made in a similar style to the old games in the sense that they are side-scrolling "platformers," but the co-op mode is really an upgrade and adds a whole element to the game.
Even though I haven't played "Tropical Freeze" yet, "Donkey Kong Country Returns" was much more difficult than the old games. Some of the traps and enemy movement patterns require the player to be incredibly precise and sometimes the traps are almost impossible to make it through on the first try because you have no idea what is coming next.
On top of that, your characters have relatively larger hit-boxes, meaning that things have a better chance of hitting you instead of missing you by a hair.
"Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze" is getting pretty good reviews across the board, averaging around 9/10 from what I can tell. If you enjoy the old games, I would suggest checking it out, as well as "Donkey Kong Country Returns."
Don't forget to tweet at me @GiGantoss and we can do some co-op or head to head sometime!

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