Home > Chronological Challenge, Clearing The Backlog > Clearing The Backlog: Chronological Game Challenge pt 13

Clearing The Backlog: Chronological Game Challenge pt 13

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

The 13th post on my Chronological Challenge. Unlucky for some, but for me, it’s where I finally finish up 1995, which has been a little bit of a disappointment after how amazing 1994 was. That said, we do have a couple of good games here today to round off what’s been a bit of an average year all round. Join me now, won’t you?

Oh, and we’re right back in the 4th gen this week. Just can’t quite leave it behind!

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Rare | Year: 1995
Original System: SNES
Played on: Wii Virtual Console

Goal: Defeat Kaptain K Rool

Actual Outcome: Kaptain was klobbered

Opinion: Donkey Kong Country 2 doesn’t have the nostalgia attached to it that the original game does. When I was a kid, I only played the first one. In fact, I gained interest in the second when “Stickerbush Symphony” appeared in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Plus I enjoyed the original, so I decided to pick up the second for the Virtual Console.

But I never got round to playing it in full until now. I tried it once when I got it, reached Red-Hot Ride and died due to stupidity. Did you know you have to ride the balloons and not just jump off them to Diddy’s unceremonious death? I didn’t. Oh well. Live and learn.

So here we go. A full playthrough of Donkey Kong Country 2. Finally. And do you know what? I think this is my favourite game of 1995.

I’ve complained a lot about games in 1995 being monstrously hard. I’ve spent a lot of my time being angry at draw distances in Twisted Metal or that stupid pencil jumping sequence in Rayman. Donkey Kong Country 2 is also difficult at times, but where this differs is that it doesn’t feel awkward and irritating. The difficulty is balanced; it offers up challenge without punishing you for some indeterminate sin.

This game is a repeat of its predecessor, but it has some unique twists of its own and improves on what came before. There’s no longer a heavy-hitting character and a speedy character to switch between; there are now only two speedy characters. This means the game feels faster than the first one, and the level design feels more varied as jumping gets a wider focus.

Gameplay has varied up a bit too, with animal buddies getting a bigger presence in their own levels. Some of these levels are fantastic – Rattle Battle is a particular favourite. Boss battles also feel more unique. The first game’s boss fights were usually variations on a single theme, but this game tests you a lot more.

On the graphics front, things are business as usual, as it’s not clear where the graphics could have gone due to the limitations of the SNES. The music, however, is a different story. While Donkey Kong Country had a wonderful soundtrack, the sequel expands on it even more. Failure jingles tie into main level themes, while the range of music has expanded, with “orchestral” themes, ambient electronica and disco all present.

Donkey Kong Country 2 is a fabulous game, and like I said, it’s my game of 1995. Is there any wonder why Rare’s classic work is so fondly remembered?

Earthworm Jim 2

Publisher: Virgin Interactive (EU) | Developer: Shiny Entertainment | Year: 1995 (EU release)
Original System: Sega Mega Drive / SNES
Played on: Wii Virtual Console (Mega Drive version)

Goal: Reach Psy-Crow, beat him and save the princess again

Actual Outcome: Beat THE COW and saved THE COW

Opinion: Welcome to the last game of 1995. It’s been a bit of a lacklustre year in all honesty, and I’ve not been too impressed with the games on offer. Except Donkey Kong Country 2 and perhaps this?

Earthworm Jim 2 is a sequel that takes the wackiness of the first game and ramps it up even higher. This is a weird game from start to finish. The first level is called Anything But Tangerines, and I’m not sure why. One level sees Jim turning into a blind cave salamander and swimming around in someone’s intestines in order to enter a quiz show. One level becomes an isometric flying thing. Another level sees you running around in giant food. It’s hard to know what’s going on at any given time.

And this is the charm of Earthworm Jim. A lot of these kinds of things thrown together could make for a confusing and frustrating experience, but here it’s just what to expect. And more often than not it works. And Earthworm Jim 2 ends up being a lot of fun as a result.

Also, in stark contrast to the rest of 1995’s games, EWJ2 seems to have toned down the difficulty. While I’ve still never finished the original, I beat the sequel with few problems for this challenge. This reduction in difficulty is the kind of thing that probably winds some people up, but I see it as a good thing. I’ve always been frustrated at not being able to finish the first game, so beating the sequel felt good.

I would argue the game isn’t quite as good as the original though. Sometimes the gameplay changes can be a distraction rather than something fresh and exciting (I’m really not a fan of The Flyin’ King), and some level designs are a little bland (Udderly Abducted, I’m looking at you). Sometimes the wackiness feels like the game is trying too hard to be funny; the first game’s humour felt a lot more natural

But that’s Earthworm Jim 2. It’s more of Earthworm Jim, with some reduced difficulty and a few extra surprises. It’s great, but not quite as good as its predecessor.

And that’s 1995. I have started the first game of 1996 but I’ve not finished it yet to offer my opinions. If you’re curious about what games will be in the upcoming year, I have them all listed as “now playing” on my Backloggery.

Until then, keep an eye on my YouTube channel as always for my ongoing Tomb Raider 3 Let’s Play, follow me on Twitter for news and opinions, and if you really like what I do, why not consider tossing me some money over on Patreon?

Also, this week I’m hoping to have more posts up for your eyes to read. I hope you enjoy reading them!

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