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Donkey Kong Country 2 [Game Boy Advance]


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode

Primates don't learn their lessons. Humans and monkeys alike are simply incapable of preventing history from repeating itself. The ancient Latin word for peace is "pax" which is simply defined as the absence of war. By definition alone, peace is cyclically bound to war… a recurring plight across all primate cultures on the planet Earth.


Even on a remote island country, the cycle of death continues. In this latest iteration, a Spider Monkey and Chimpanzee take the wretched mantle.


The Challenge? Complete 1-player mode on ROCKARD Difficulty (Hard Mode).


Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode
 

Gameplay


At least all of these monkeys have a common enemy in the reptilian Kremlings. Otherwise, there would likely be a bloody war between themselves over their treasured banana hoard. Uncle Donkey Kong has been captured and it is up to his nephew Diddy Kong to rescue him. Diddy recruits his girlfriend, Dixie, whose lusciously long blonde hair serves as this duo's secret weapon.


The raid begins on the neighboring island of Crocodile Isle in search of Donkey Kong. This trek across a decrepit foreign land would have been significantly more laborious without Dixie's ponytail whirl. Dixie spins within her blonde ponytail to glide above the deadly environment; an incredible benefit on the most Difficult Levels.



Such an advantage begs the question: what is the value of Diddy Kong? In the first Donkey Kong Country, the differences between Donkey Kong and Diddy were minuscule enough to only subtly alter gameplay. In comparison, Levels in Donkey Kong Country 2 were built with Diddy's lack of flying abilities in mind. Rare accommodated this difference well but it negatively affected the fundamental Level designs. For example, consider if a flying character like Dixie was the only option. Alternate routes for Diddy would be discarded and, with it, certain inherent limits on the overall creativity of the development process.


Naturally, Dixie is the primary monkey of choice. In the majority of Difficult situations, Lord Rigor sacrificially used Diddy as cannon fodder to allow Dixie to glide her way to victory. It's a shame that Donkey Kong Country 2 didn't include a Hero Mode to limit gameplay to Diddy because such an attempt is entirely possible, albeit very Difficult. Indeed, players Crusading against Hero Mode on Donkey Kong Country 1 were able to master Diddy's lesser strengths and ultimately persevere. Perhaps Lord Rigor may honor Rare's diligent programming with a self-induced Diddy-only Crusade someday; of course, this would require tossing Dixie into harm's way at the start of each Level...


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode


Survival


Bananas are every primate's life source. One hundred of these delicious fruits yields an additional life to continue the waging of wars. Dixie's flying capabilities are emphasized in this pursuit as she seizes bananas high above cliff sides. Of course, collecting the family "KONG" letters remain as important as ever to gain lives despite not contributing to the overall game's completion percentage. Family heirlooms appear to have been overshadowed by a vast array of shinier collectables, unfortunately.



Every life must be cherished because bosses in Donkey Kong Country 2 have returned with a supreme vengeance. Motivated by the deaths of their brethren from the first game, bosses such as Kudgel and Kerozene annihilate the monkey protagonists. Leading up to these grisly fights, a conservative supply of lives is necessary to survive Kudgel's bludgeoning skills or Kerozene's incineration tactics.



It is important to note that boss battles don't include DK Barrels which revive a dead teammate. The final boss, King K. Rool, is the only exception. Each of these abominable creatures are simply Hard! From dodging spiked clubs to clambering above pits of fire, Rare injected Difficulty into boss programming without remorse.


Lord Rigor struggled most against Kerozene, the gigantic fire breathing demigod atop Crocodile Isle. Exclusive to the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country 2, King K. Rool's alliance with Kerozene is comparable to allying with a Hard-mode infused Balrog from Moria in the Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. Both are equally demonic creatures disinterested in terrestrial ambitions with a singular goal to kill. Fortunately, Spider Monkeys and Chimpanzees can be nimble enough to dodge Hellfire with enough Trial-and-Error. With only a cannonball in-hand, the primates continually pummel Kerozene's scaly snout until all of its teeth are broken.


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode

Successful conquest against Kudgel and Kerozene would not have been possible without the help of unlikely allies: Swanky Kong and Candy Kong. Hosts of the Bonus Bonanza quiz show mini-game, this dashing pair helped Lord Rigor earn the amount of lives needed to vanquish His foes. Naturally, Lord Rigor knew His enemies well enough to answer these quiz questions correctly:


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode

Unlike in Donkey Kong Country 1, Lord Rigor was fortunate enough to not be forced to seek lives on previous Levels in order to prevent a Game Over. However, if He had to, the best Level candidate would have been Ghostly Grove on the Gloomy Gulch World. The beginning of this Level offers a Blue Life Balloon and two Green Life Balloons, providing three lives and two lives respectively. Take advantage!



ROCKARD Mode


Hard Mode in Donkey Kong Country 2 is a contradiction. Much like the method needed to unlock Arcade Mode in Gradius III, a cryptic key must be inputted to raise the Difficulty. Like Hero Mode on Donkey Kong Country 1, DK Barrels and Star Barrels are unavailable on ROCKARD Mode.


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode

According to the global computer network, the term "cheat" is defined as an act that provides an unfair advantage. The ROCKARD Mode cheat code is contradictory because players are, ultimately, put at a disadvantage. Advantages and disadvantages aside, Lord Rigor believes ROCKARD Mode offers a moral balance. For example, consider if Kudgel or Kerozene had their own form of DK Barrel or Star Barrels; that scenario would be profoundly unfair.


Lord Rigor is empathetic. By imagining Himself as His Enemies, the Difficult Challenge becomes clearer. Indeed, the Kremlings have their own set of goals. Who is Lord Rigor to question their rationale?


Everything is relative. Although the Kremlings are destined to suffer defeat, fair play between combatants is always worthwhile and makes the final victory even more satisfying. On ROCKARD Mode, both Diddy and Dixie have every right to relish in their triumphs alongside their favorite primate music.



For experienced Heros, the loss of DK Barrels is a trivial matter that merely demands extended patience. More care must simply be taken if an ally dies on the battlefield. Yes, without proper planning, the swooping Mini-Neckies or crazed Cat O' 9 Tails can be unpredictably disruptive. Of course, however, various periods of Trial-and-Error yield eventual success. Below are Lord Rigor's consolidated deaths during the noble ROCKARD Mode attempt:



In bleak comparison, not having the Star Barrels is a different constraint to overcome on Donkey Kong Country 2. To compound previous criticism of Rare's Level design, the final atrocity was the inclusion of third dimensional obstacles including:


Whipping winds...

Acid baths...

Freezing lakes...

Boiling marshes...


Without Star Barrels to provide checkpoints, Levels with these new elements are the most Difficult tests for ROCKARD Mode participants. Normally, players are provided the breathing room to evaluate the path ahead. Not on these environmental Levels, though. No, these are urgent in which any hesitation will result in a swift death and a return to the beginning of the Level.



The most Difficult Level for Lord Rigor was Toxic Tower in the World of K. Rool's Keep. Lost within a decaying stone fortress, Rattly the Rattlesnake performed its duty as best as possible but consistently drowned in the acid flood. With cumulative deaths totaling fifteen, only a true villain would subject an Animal Buddy to such a noxious suffocation. Each Level on this Difficult World included some form of environmental insidiousness like this.


The arduous journey through K. Rool's Keep on ROCKARD Mode solidified Lord Rigor's willpower. Like a rock gaining momentum rolling downhill, the defeat of King K. Rool was only a matter of time...



As previously noted, the final battle with King K. Rool is the only boss battle in Donkey Kong Country 2 to include DK Barrels. And, for good reason. This obese crocodile has adopted 16th century musket technology in his exceedingly desperate plot. No longer just a crown-wielding seafaring pirate, King K. Rool is equally as Difficult as his preceding minions through his utilization of a vast array of projectile weaponry. The circulating spiked cannonballs proved to be the most Challenging obstacle to avoid. Many lives were lost through this gruesome impalement.


Refusing to know when beaten, King. K. Rool feigns death twice before admitting defeat. The DK Barrels that existed between each of these feigns have disappeared on ROCKARD Mode. As such, the onslaught may only be overcome through pure Trial-and-Error. Specifically, after his first feign, the third volley of spiked cannonballs is the most menacing. Timing is key and only the most agile primates will succeed.


Diligence. It's the most accurate word that encapsulates the characteristic required of ROCKARD Mode hopefuls. Only the most diligent Heros will navigate Crocodile Isle and save Uncle Donkey Kong from the torturous hands of King K. Rool. For those that do, Donkey Kong will execute his fabled Giant Punch upon the undeserving antagonist.


Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode


Diddy's Dash (Trials)


Trials are open-form objectives with adjustable Difficulty scales or Collectability Challenges. In Donkey Kong Country 2, Diddy's Dash is a unique racing experience for any primate seeking rewarding Hardships. Those Trials are outlined in the below Uniform Resource Locator:




Conclusion


Is this a worthy Challenge? Yes.


When Diddy Kong reflects on his repeated expeditions to save his Country of Donkey Kong, he should be proud of his accomplishments. Not only has Diddy saved his family twice but he has done so with disadvantages every step of the way. Perhaps Diddy Kong is the true leader of this recurring primate saga. He was the one who supported his uncle through the Rigors of Donkey Kong Country 1. He was the one who empowered his partner to take flight without him in Donkey Kong Country 2.


Now a ROCKARD Hero, the future is bright for the next primate willing to live up to Diddy Kong's legacy. Because, the cycle of death will continue and a warrior must assume the responsibility. This newfound peace will come to pass and war will return to the shores of Donkey Kong Country...



Donkey Kong Country 2 (Game Boy Advance) - ROCKARD Mode

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