Continuing this trend of stage representation It is time to turn our series to the next in the Mario Spin-off series with the Donkey Kong games. Donkey Kong has been one of Nintendo’s biggest mascots since his debut alongside Mario as the titular ape of the Arcade classic: Donkey Kong. Since that time, Donkey Kong has found a new identity in the Donkey Kong Country franchise, turning from villain to hero and getting his own sub-genre of games. Donkey Kong has been there since the beginning so of course, we have to start this off with Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64.
Super Smash Bros
In the first Super Smash Bros. title Donkey Kong was one of the original eight characters and so he received a single stage like the rest (bar Mario who gets two).
Kongo Jungle (incorrectly named Congo Jungle in the first game) is the first Donkey Kong level and so is appropriately based on the first title in the Donkey Kong Country series. The game is not based on any one particular area in the Donkey Kong games, though, instead opting to be an amalgamation of various elements. You have the Jungle setting that makes up a lot of the early levels including the sunset and trees from the stage Orang-utan Gang. The name Kongo Jungle is the same as the first world in the game and the wooden ground that you fight on is from Tree Top Town, a level with wooden walkways suspended in the air by trees. The moving platforms may be a reference to Blackout Basement which had platforms in a similar position. Occasionally the DKC enemy Necky can be seen in the background of the stage and on the stage we see a barrel, a common trait of the whole series.
Interestingly under the stage is a blast barrel that moves and catches opponents who might fall off the stage. While Blast Barrels were in the first Donkey Kong Country game it was not until the sequel, Diddy’s Kong Quest, that they received arrows on them. The music for Kongo Jungle, known as Track #6, is a rendition of the music from the first level of Donkey Kong Country: Jungle Hijinx. Overall this stage pays its tribute to the original Donkey Kong Country game which makes sense as that was the game the Donkey Kong in Smash is based on.The first game was also the only game in the series at this point where Donkey Kong himself was playable.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
In the next Super Smash Bros. title on the GameCube, the Donkey Kong series saw two more stages add as well as the return of the Nintendo 64 stage, now correctly named. The two new stages added in this title are another Kongo Jungle level and a level known as Jungle Japes.
Starting with the new version of Kongo Jungle we get some interesting design choices. This level is the successor to the one on the Nintendo 64 and so it is not just the name that comes over but the overall idea of fighting on a wooden platform in the middle of a jungle. The Blast Cannon even return and moves under the level alongside a nice pleasing rainbow. What is interesting about this level is its aesthetic choices. The background is all a reference to the first level of the series, Jungle Hijinx, and includes Donkey Kong’s house and the various trees that made up that level. On the occasion, a KlapTrap enemy from Donkey Kong Country will flow down the river and off the waterfall. What is new though is the origin of the platform and the fact that it is above a waterfall.
The most obvious thing about the platforms is that they are in the shape of a raft with the two sides being the masts. There is also a rock protruding from the waterfall that players can stand on. Rafts had never appeared in the DK series prior to this so it is an original design presumably made to fit the waterfall setting. However, Waterfalls did not appear in the series until Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. To add to all of this, the music for this stage is actually a remix of the DK rap from Donkey Kong 64, DK’s first 3D outing and the last Donkey Kong game made by Rare. So from the background, the barrel, the waterfall, and the music this stage truly is a representation of the entire Donkey Kong Country series, at this time.
As the stage is an amalgamation of the whole series I cannot say with confidence that it represent one game on its own. However, Jungle Japes certainly does.
Bringing back the sunset theme from the 64 stage, complete with Neckys, we have Jungle Japes. This game’s primary influence is the original Donkey Kong Country game although it also takes elements from Donkey Kong 64, the latest game in the series. The game is not based on any level in particular, although its name is shared with the first world in Donkey Kong 64, instead seeming to be connected to Kongo Jungle. The raging river here is most likely raging because it is heading towards the waterfall of the last level and the Klaptraps we see being swept away here in the currents are the same ones that fall out later on. I have no clue why Sakurai decided that water was such a good fit for the Donkey Kong stages this time but the connecting level theory is the only explanation.
Moving on to what makes up the level it seems to be Cranky Kong themed. Although the wooden platforms are more reminiscent of some stages in Donkey Kong Country 3 the main centerpiece of this level is Cranky’s shack from the original Donkey Kong Country. You can see the old gorilla moving around inside and rocking on his wheelchair. However, the shack itself is a new design as it looks wider and the roof is made of wood rather than steel plating. On the left-hand side of the stage is a big barrel house. Barrels are a big part of the series and the house is clearly meant to be an outhouse thanks to the whole in the bottom however it is not the first Barrel-house in the series. Cranky Kong’s Lab in Donkey Kong 64 is shaped like a barrel and so that being the reference makes sense for the level that focuses on the old geezer.
The music for this stage is a remix of Jungle Hijinx once more but this time there are nature and animal sounds mixed in to make the Jungle seem alive. Overall, despite the possible references to DK 64 and Donkey Kong Country 3 this stage is primarily from the first Donkey Kong Country game.