Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Yet, there is just no way around it: Donkey Kong Country 2 is one the, if not the, best sidescrolling platformers of all time. It checks all requirements with style: it has a great amount of extra content, a daunting but fair level of difficulty, unforgettable enemies that are fondly remembered until this very day, good boss battles, clever mechanics and creative levels that make full use of them. What takes it over the top, though, are its haunting atmosphere that combines cartoonish inspirations with a dark quest of urgent nature and a soundtrack for the ages. Donkey Kong Country 2 proved that, more than mere competition for the plumber, Rareware had the capacity to craft games to top Nintendo’s best efforts.

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Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is, then, able to stand out from its peers not only because of its obscene content and propensity to go far beyond what is morally clean, but also because of its many prowesses. It is an impressive work that displays great attention to detail and that dares to step outside the gameplay bones of its generational counterparts. Even though it is frequently remembered for being dirty to strong degrees, its colorful surface hides qualities that go far beyond excrement, blood, and beeps censuring bad words. Its heart might be clouded by too much alcohol, but its intentions are good, and it is able to fulfill them; even if it sometimes stumbles and vomits along the way.

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Banjo-Kazooie

In the midst of such overwhelming greatness surfacing from every single corner, however, no issue could have possibly held Banjo-Kazooie back. After many years, its gameplay still stands tall and strong. It may not have opened the gates to a new era like Super Mario 64 did, but it showed – more than any other game – that classics can be topped, even within a few years of their original release. With over twenty hours of gameplay towards full completion, Banjo-Kazooie is a sprawling masterpiece that time has not eroded; and the joy attached to its exploration has barely been replicated ever since.

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From Plumber To Bear

Where Super Mario 64 could have existed in a world devoid of 3-D, Banjo-Kazooie would have never come to be. The bear and the bird inherited a lot from Mario: the encompassing overworld that was slowly unlocked, the wide open worlds, and the sense of adventure. But, truth is, with the advantage of having arrived after the stage was built, Banjo-Kazooie did much more than Super Mario 64 ever hoped to achieve.

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The Squirrel’s Dirty Mouth

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is the gaming equivalent of going to the cinema, watching the traditional Walt Disney Pictures castle intro, and subsequently being treated to a flick full of profanities, gore, terror, and sex. The audience will likely wonder if they walked into the wrong room, or if the movie’s operator has gone mad. But no, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is the right movie reel; the operator is not a psycho. It is just that the project’s backer has just, delightfully, temporarily lost its mind.

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The Contenders

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Mario Kart is the most complimented game of all time, for every game that ever came to inhabit its genre has copied not just a part, but pretty much all of its gameplay elements. Race-changing items, courses that are magnificent and outlandish fan service, battle modes on which karts become war tanks that expel vicious blasts, and beloved colorful characters racing against each other. Even if through most of those twenty two years its competition has been weak or nonexistent, the truth is Mario Kart has been challenged a few times.

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Going Bananas

Although its music and graphics are fantastic, the star here is the level design and tight controls, and if the game wants to be compared to Diddy Kong’s Quest down the line, that is exactly the direction it should take as it slips the knife in between its teeth to accept the challenge from Rare’s 1995 timeless masterpiece.

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