For many, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest is the undisputed king of the Donkey Kong Country series, or at least of Rare’s Super Nintendo Entertainment System iterations (Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze seems to be a fierce contender for that crown). Personally, I have things I love about each, and so such a clear-cut winner is less easy for me to decide (I reeeeeeally like a lot of things about the original).
However, when it comes to the Kongs and a hauntingly good time, I know there is no better place to turn than…
#11: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest: Haunted Hall
While the relatively small region of Crocodile Isle’s Gloomy Gulch features mist-filled groves, trees with frightening faces, Kloaks haunting your every turn, and an eerie atmosphere with excellently fitting music all around, one part in particular stands out to me: the Haunted Hall.
In an already intense game, this area ups the stakes by placing you on a broken-up roller coaster through what appears to be an enormous library, chased all the while by the enormous spectral Kremlings known as Kackles in their one and only appearance, making the area even more memorable. David Wise’s soundtrack really hits the mark here as there is a sense of ever-escalating danger throughout as the Kackles come ever closer to their quarry; your only hope is to hit enough Plus barrels to keep time on the clock (and thus the Kackles at bay) and avoid the time-deducting Minus barrels until you reach the gate… at which point the chase begins anew.
As I said before, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest is a tough game with a lot of intense levels and moments that require near-perfect timing and skill to overcome, and this stage is no different. Despite how plentiful those are, however, I don’t think quite as many manage to bring every element together in such a way that Haunted Hall does, making it almost as much a video game equivalent of a real-life haunted roller coaster that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Incidentally, this Super NES title is available now on the Wii U Virtual Console, which I mainly bring up on account of Nintendo’s tendency to pull titles without notice — just as they did with this one and its two siblings on the original Wii three years ago, so grab it while the grabbing is good. (ProTip: It looks better on a standard definition TV or the Wii U GamePad than on a high definition set.)
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.