The Donkey Kong franchise stands as one of my favorites for the longevity and evolution it got through the years. The way a group of still then underdog british guys expanded the gameplay and family tree is to be appreciated. With the incoming arrival of Donkey Kong Country Returns
(or Donkey Kong country 5 as some fans could call), I have been keeping my contact with the series as I recently bought Donkey Kong Country
on the Virtual Console service. It is a ride I am enjoying despite the comparable ease with the rest of the series.
Now, Rareware is just a historic moment for Nintendo, and just now a development department for Microsoft, but it is time to leave that behind now. However the involvement, or perhaps the current lack of, has caused some big plot holes in the story and development of the series as well.
There is a lot to talk about, and some of the details are not very pretty, although very interesting.
What do a fat crocodile, an oversized turtle, and a tribe of curious tikis have in common?
Let's jump first to the most popular series right now, Donkey Kong Country. The premise is very simple for the time it was released, but still good enough: Donkey Kong and his friend Diddy find out their great banana hoard was stolen, so they get on a quest after the stealing bastards to reclaim back what is theirs.
But this doesn't happen just once, or twice, but so far it seems to be happening three times at least. And not just that, King K. Rool seems to be a very, very stubborn lizard plotting against those monkeys. He has managed to kidnap Donkey Kong twice and one time he got Diddy too. I doubt Rareware had something as stupid as just making King K. Rool a recurring ass that just hated mammals like a powerful fuhrer. An abominable force, A GREAT LEADER OF INCOMPARABLE STRENGTH, THE ONE WHO WILL BRING BACK THIS WORLD TO--... wait what, oh yeah sorry... where was I? Oh yeah... what is really his purpose?
But as I previously mentioned, this happens three times at least in DK's line. Let me bring back the question I entered in the subtitle: what do a fat crocodile, an oversized turtle, and a tribe of curious tikis have in common?
Sure ok, Bowser seemed to want them just as a bait to capture Donkey and Diddy Kong, and we do not know why the tikis want them yet. But let's think of it this way too: In Donkey Kong Country we are playing in the primates' perception. We are just playing as someone that is being protective with their stuff. We never saw a direct development of what King K. Rool wanted to do with the fruits, we suddenly got the view of an industry polluting part of Donkey Kong's island. which maybe that also made him more angry.
Let's study the banana deal again, every 100 bananas DK collects he gets an extra life, though that is the very same situation involving Mario's world regarding coins. But to be fair Mario lives somewhere that magic has a bigger stand for explanation. Let's get into K. Rool's shoes for a moment here, do these bananas present an impressive nutritious value unlike the common kind? Do they cure a lethal disease? Are they able to amplify the IQ and strength to a new level?
Or maybe I am just thinking this way too hard.
Well, let's move to a new topic, there is still plenty to talk about.
A Family Like No Other.
Rareware introduced us to way too many new members in Donkey Kong's family tree. Before 1994, we only knew about Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. and now we have over ten members on the DK crew as called.
Donkey Kong and were victims of the progress of time and the kid gorilla grew strong to take off the subtitle while the senior is who we know as Cranky as far as we know. Although all of this is mentioned, Donkey Kong Jr.'s story seems to have many pebbles on the way which they were also discussed by another well known member.
That off the way, DK got a girlfriend named Candy, a "bro" named Funky, Swanky, and many others.
Some characters however screw the story of the family way more. Two of them are Wrinkly and Tiny.
Wrinkly Kong debuted in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (yeah I just love to type the whole name)
as Cranky's wife to aid the monkeys in their quest by giving them some advice and saving their game. Then she showed up again in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble
. Also to help saving the game, but also requests the monkeys to take on a quest to rescue Banana Birds to get a great comeback for--
And eventually some time after that quest she--
OK SERIOUSLY NOW, SPOILERS
eventually dies in a way is not ever explained. But she crosses the bounds of the afterlife to talk to the Kongs by giving some useful advice on Donkey Kong 64.
The first time I saw the ghost of Wrinkly Kong it depressed me a bit as she was always one of my favorite characters, but I accepted it as something that would naturally happen for someone so old.
So after the quest was over, it was time for her to finally rest in peace...
...or at least I expected so.
Yes, she is back from the afterlife, again a couple of times for comparably useless reasons!
She is first seen again in DK: King of Swing
for GameBoy Advance, possibly the first Donkey Kong game Nintendo after Rareware said good bye. And she fucking appears at the beginning like nothing!
I swear, if you skip to 1:09 on this video below (by the way YouTube users, never make your intros over 10 seconds long, otherwise it immediately sucks) you can see how it all develops.
So she is summoned from the afterlife because K. Rool is a jackass and ruined their contest?
Oh and it gets better, she is later an unlockable character in Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
Was it SO necessary to include her again? At least it made sense in Donkey Kong 64
, the whole freaking island was in danger of getting blown up, it was a serious problem! She is not Casper! She is a dear character that canonically DIED, and if she is DEAD for a reason, she should not be brought back just like that! Imagine to have the ghost of your mother around the house all the time as if it were a normal thing. That's just disgusting! Plain disturbing!
Oh but believe me, this is the second most disturbing character I find in this situation.
There is this adorable tomboy girl that was introduced in Donkey Kong 64
who follows the steps of her elder sister Dixie. Her name is Tiny Kong.
Tiny is not that different from her sister as she can twirl her pony tails and reach longer distances, and also got her girly stances. After all she also seems like the youngest member of the circle. However something really strange happened few years ago.
Tiny Kong, the little girl of the bunch, made a return grown up... like... VERY GROWN UP.
Here is a chart I made to cut the chase a bit...
...yeah ... umm... what?
Wow. Ummm Nintendo, you have quite a mess to clean up here. I know it's kind of stupid to think so hard about a game for kids and adults regarding a bunch of monkeys in odd outfits, but at least some stuff should make sense.
I know the Japanese are who own the franchise, but they should at least keep some things straight from the source as British they are.
Either way, the Donkey Kong games are fantastic for being silly and lots of fun. They just need a lot of work regarding the canon in it and how it is used later on. These screw ups are mostly caused by the lack of communication in between companies that are behind these projects. I cannot say it's really someone's fault, but Nintendo should be responsible to chart this sea of uncertainties.
As a big fan of the series I am also concerned on how the development is handled, so, Retro Studios... please try answering more questions instead of making new ones.