Peering into the dark eyes of the Virtual Boy, you flick the on-switch that is located on the controller. As the red and black VB logo and legalities come and go, you would normally expect to see a title screen for something like Galactic Pinball or Wario Land VB. Not this time. The Rare logo renders itself from wireframe in classic fashion, and suddenly you're thrust into a very familiar game in a very different environment.
It's Donkey Kong Country 2.
Leigh Loveday broke the story in an edition of Scribes that at one time, a version of Donkey Kong Country 2 was being developed for the ill-fated Virtual Boy. Click here for our thoughts on the system before continuing. Now then, apparently all that was gotten semi-done was the title screen, as Virtual Boy itself didn't get very far before getting the plug pulled on it. Still, we can always wonder what could have been, and how this would be one port that would possibly even rival the original.
The only other version of DKC2 in the DKU (as of 8/14/01) is Donkey Kong Land 2, and that really can't be considered another DKC2, because it really was a different game in all but level names and themes (and characters, items, and storyline aspects). Since we often consider DKC2 to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, video games of all time, we certainly wouldn't want a messload of ports to muddy the legacy. Yet, Virtual Boy would have been such a unique and special platform for it, we can only pine for what it may have been like.
DKC2 is often labeled as the darkest of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, for the general atmosphere is sinister and evil. Once you get past Gangplank Galleon, all of the levels except the bramble stages are interior or are dark and dimly lit. The Virtual Boy had a naturally dark color scheme, and could provide killer 3-D effects for things that fit said color scheme, specifically stars in the night sky. If DKC2 and Virtual Boy merged, it would have been a match made in Heaven.
More than just visual eye candy, Donkey Kong Country 2 could have had more innovations on the Virtual Boy as well. For example, such levels as Bramble Blast could have implemented going behind a set of brambles to a new set of blast barrels in the background. Such things were used in Wario Land VB, and could have been perfected by Rare. Or perhaps you see a Hero Coin, but it's in the far background instead. You now have to search for a method to get further back on the screen and obtain it. This added depth would not only provide an extra challenge, but make the world of Crocodile Isle seem more realistic.
Maybe the 3-D aspects could have extended to more than just inanimate in-game objects as well. For example, one of the most famous things DKC2 presented was the "team throw" move between Diddy and Dixie. Now, imagine if you will, being able to hurtle your partner to the foreground or background in addition to the linear up and across tosses of the SNES version. Perhaps Squawks could shoot eggs in every direction, given the right circumstances. How about Squitter with a web sling any which way? You get the idea by now.
Perhaps the most exciting possibility that a Virtual Boy DKC sequel port could have presented was the added dramatic impact that several characters and events would have had. The Kackles that chased you in the haunted library, for example, would now be in a striking rendered 3-D red. They were already slightly on the creepy side, but with the addition of one bulging out at you, the effect would be almost unreal. Seeing Crocodile Isle, the long, dark, foreboding Kremling home, as an actual shapely object, would give you a greater sense of dread as you start out the game. Then when the end of it comes, you'd get to marvel at the magnificence of it bursting into flames and sinking into the ocean, while the Kongs sit on Donkey Kong Island with front-row seats.
Virtual Boy is perhaps the most underrated object in video game history. DKC2 is one of the most respected objects. (At least by us.) What could have come about if the two had been able to form a union as originally planned? It would have been pure magic, on the scale of Galactic Pinball..
You have played Galactic Pinball, haven't you? It's like a drug*
*Note: This was written really early in the morning, after the writer took several hits of Galactic Pinball. If it's incoherent and a mess, than blame his dealer...er, local electronics retailer.