The Root of Our Problems


I've wanted to write one of these for a good long while now. Around May and surging with the happiness Paon had bestowed upon me I was contemplating a lengthy essay that would call out who at the time I pegged as the biggest reason why the Donkey Kong franchise - scratch that, the Rare/Paon Donkey Kong franchise - gets so little respect, those being the arrogant fools in other fandoms who know nothing about the series at all yet still think they have the prerogative and knowledge to dictate how the series should be handled. And I guess this post still covers them a little bit, though I'm mainly writing this to talk about another group of individuals, a far larger group that I feel is even more damaging to the franchise, and is very telling as to why you won't find very many bona-fide DK fans outside of this website.

For my example, I'm using this thread from the Go Nintendo message boards. Some of the posts are fairly telling, especially the ones that mention King of Swing:

"I miss the 2D DK's...Donkey Kong Country was amazing. I wish they'd do something like it instead of this "King of Swing" crap they've been pulling."

"They need a new DKC game; none of this King of Swing crap."

"i agree. the DK country games were some of my favorites, and the series kinda died for me when they left. don't get me wrong, i love donkey konga, but King of Swing is pure crap"

"They should give us a more or less classic platformer with innovative controls like Jungle Beat did on the GC...would make me really happy."

The last quote there establishes something I'm going to be talking about later, but I've bolded what I feel are the most important parts of that sentence. Otherwise, you'll notice that there is a lot of resentment towards King of Swing, apparently among people who would probably consider themselves DKC fans. The overall point of this post is that they're lying to themselves, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Now I take you to Jeux-France, specifically the comments regarding Bongo Blast. Halfway through the comment section a thread of thought appeared that I, again, find fairly telling: Babelfish English aside, the general consensus is "to hell with these bongo games, bring us DKC4 already." You'd be thinking that's a good thing, I take it. What I'm wondering is why these people aren't reacting at all to the presence of Donkey Kong characters that up until recently haven't appeared that often for years. Where are the people clamoring that Dixie's in the game, or Tiny? Why is no one referring to the characters at all? There was a similar news post regarding Mario Hoops 3-on-3, and not only will you notice that the comments weren't overrun with people calling for a new Mario adventure game over these sports titles, but you even had one person talking about the characters:

"Me I do not arrive the derrni're sleeve of the cut rainbow... It is too hardu the derrnier match...... But coolest it is the number of persos, one has really much choice!!! Only strange trick, they did not put Toad... But the persos Final Fantasy are excellent, damage that they are so hard to beat"

You see that anywhere on the Bongo Blast page? Did you see that on the Go Nintendo page? These people simply don't care about these Donkey Kong characters: they just want a Donkey Kong game. And THAT is my biggest concern right now, as if it is indeed true it explains a lot about why we've received so much resistance on this board whenever we raise a stink about Jungle Beat et al.

I have a desire at some point to conduct an experiment, and if anybody else has an opportunity to try this out - I know you won't since I'm the only one who cares about this any more - they're free to. What I want to do is find a person (or preferably several persons) who considers themselves fans of Donkey Kong Country. I'd prefer to do this in a real life dialogue, as doing it online runs the risk of these people being able to do last-minute research that will screw up the data I want to collect. What I want these "DKC fans" to do is name the characters. Every Kong, every Animal Buddy, the final boss, as many of the enemies as they can. I'll even be nice and limit it to the first game only. I'll stop them at the first flub, and then I'll ask them to name every Mario character they can think of.

My hypothesis? They'll get DK, Diddy if they're lucky, and then everything else will be up in the air as they start stressing to remember Cranky, Funky, Rambi, etc. Then, when I ask them to name Mario characters, they'll be able to name Mario, Luigi, Peach (possibly "Toadstool", I'll give it to them), Bowser, Yoshi, Toad, and I figure a drone or two, Wario, maybe even a Koopa Kid or two. I don't know for sure this is what would happen; but it would not surprise me.

So what am I getting at? Simple: the reason why King of Swing is so reviled, the reason why Bongo Blast is not getting the attention it deserves, and the reason why Jungle Beat was so celebrated comes down to one comment I always saw people saying - even people on this very board - in regards to that last game:

"This is just like Donkey Kong Country!"

The biggest problem with the Donkey Kong franchise and its fandom is that it does not have a fandom - not one on the level of Mario, Zelda, Metroid, even Starfox. These people are not fans of Donkey Kong Country the series - they are fans of Donkey Kong Country the game. That is why Jungle Beat was met with such fanfare: so what if there's no characters from the other games? We don't even remember those characters anyway! It's a sidescroller! It's just like DKC! Woooo! Thanks, Nintendo! Who needs Rare?

Thus is my concern: the majority of people who are "into" Donkey Kong Country are nothing but nostalgists. In case you haven't noticed, the people who've been giving us the most trouble since the beginning of this website have been nostalgists. My unfortunate point is that, effectively, we're all that's out there. We're not going to get any new DKC fans on this site, because we're talking about things they have never truly comprehended. There are NO DKC fans outside of this board and in scattered locations here and there, and those fringe people have adapted to embracing Jungle Beat and calling out King of Swing and Paon as a force of habit. This is the one series that suffers due to nostalgia. It's why King of Swing DS won't sell, it's why we're not going to build up the poster level on this board, and it's why this franchise is never going to get the respect and adoration it deserves.

Sean