Representation of DK Games with Stages in Smash – Part 2

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I hope you all enjoyed that break, maybe had some lunch or a tea. Now on with the analysis! In the last part we covered the first two Super Smash Bros. game (and make sure you read that article before this one as we will refer back to it) and in this part, we will be covering the final three: Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS. We will also be doing an overall analysis and the absences as per usual so make sure you read to the very end!

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Moving on to the Wii title, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the Donkey Kong universe saw Jungle Japes returns from Melee in order to represent a game from the SNES Donkey Kong Country series. Along with this Donkey Kong gets two brand new stages: Rumble Falls and 75m. Both of these stages are based on completely different areas of the Donkey Kong universe. So let us start with a stage that is available from the start of Brawl: Rumble Falls.

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Rumble Falls is a vertically scrolling level and the successor to Melee’s Icicle Mountain level. It involves climbing up a waterfall and into the sky where players begin jumping across vines and even a plane before water comes crashing down from the sky and the stage resets. So the origin of this stage was the latest platformer in the Donkey Kong series, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. This was the first Donkey Kong platformer made without Rare and the only one on the GameCube.

This stage is split into two halves, the waterfall, and the sky. The first half is where this stage gets its namesake from Rumble Falls, level 6-1. The stage itself involves Donkey Kong climbing up a giant waterfall so the vertical nature of the stage matches very well. Everything from the first part of this stage, from its ruins and wooden platforms, are taken from Jungle Beat. Once we hit the top of the waterfall, however, everything changes. While the backgrounds vines and platforms are taken from level 2-2: Sky Garden, everything else is taken from other parts of the series. The moving platforms were a common part of the Donkey Kong Country series and the Plane could be a reference to Funky’s Flights although it looks nothing like his plane.

Brawl introduced the My Music section which increases the amount of music that each stage has. So Rumble Falls has seven music tracks that take from various games in the series. There are tracks from the first two Donkey Kong Country games, then a single track from Jungle Beat itself and finally a track from Donkey Kong Barrel Blast on the Wii. With Jungle Japes represent the Country series it was nice to see a level represent the newer games in the series but Brawl also went one step more. In Brawl we got 75m which goes in the complete opposite direction by representing a level from the original Donkey Kong arcade game, the game that put Donkey Kong on the map.

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75m is a divisive stage among the fan base due to its size and obstacles that can easily kill anyone. However, it is really easy to see where this game gets it’s inspiration as it is a near 1:1 with 75m from the original Donkey Kong arcade cabinet. Everything from the fire, the collectibles, and even the pattern the springs bounce on is taken from this game. The only thing missing is Pauline and Mario themselves. In the Brawl version of this stage the platforms on the right were actually walk-offs which were different from the original arcade game. When it returned in Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS they changed this to make it more 1:1 with the original. All the music on this stage is taken directly from the original Donkey Kong as well which truly makes it a representation of this game and nothing more.

It was nice to see Brawl tackle every generation of the Donkey Kong universe as it allowed us as fans and players to see how the series has evolved since it’s debut to the modern era (at least in 2008).

Games represented:
Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Donkey Kong
Games referenced:
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong Barrel Blast

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

On the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. for we only got one Donkey Kong stage and it was a returning level: Jungle Japes. As Smash for 3DS had an emphasis on the handheld titles this may have been chosen because the Country series had a prominent place for Donkey Kong on the handhelds. There was the Donkey Kong Land series that acted as a companion game to the SNES console games and all the original Donkey Kong Country games were ported to the GBA (and GBC for the first one).

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U saw three stages for Donkey Kong overall with two of them being returning levels. Kongo Jungle from the first Super Smash Bros. game returned in order to reference the first Donkey Kong Country game while 75m from Brawl came back to reference the very first Donkey Kong game in arcades. This leaves one new level that fills the position that Rumble Falls did in Brawl by representing the current Donkey Kong series. This stage is Jungle Hijinx and is based on the Wii title: Donkey Kong Country Returns.

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This stage is both based on and named after the first level of Donkey Kong Country Returns: Jungle Hijinx. Its whole mechanic of having a dual-plains to fight on is lifted straight from that game and all of the mechanics and aesthetics come from it as well. The barrels that shoot the player into the back, the design of the ruins in the back and even the Screaming Pillars that spawn and attempt to fall on the players are taken from this first level. So just like 75m it is really obvious to see the inspiration for this brand new level in the Donkey Kong universe.

As for this stages music, we have tracks taken from the first two Donkey Kong Country titles as well as Donkey Kong 64. Jungle Beat gets a song returning from Rumble Falls and finally both games in the Donkey Kong Country Returns series, Returns and Tropical Freeze, get music from them.

And with that, we have all of the Donkey Kong stages in the latest version of Super Smash Bros. and it is nice to see the tradition Brawl started to be continued on by referencing all the major parts of Donkey Kong’s career.

Games represented:
Donkey Kong Country 
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii U)
Donkey Kong (Wii U)
Games referenced:
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (Wii U)
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (3DS)
Donkey Kong 64
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (Wii U)
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

Statistics

Now that we have gone through every game it is time to look at some statistics. These will be spoiler tagged due to their size and only contain the games that have been represented and not just referenced.

Game Year of Release Stages Smash game debuted in
Donkey Kong 1981 75m Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Donkey Kong Country 1994 Kongo Jungle 64

Jungle Japes

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Donkey Kong Country (series)* 1994-1999 Kong Jungle [Melee] Super Smash Bros. Melee
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat 2004 Rumble Falls Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Donkey Kong Country Returns 2010 Jungle Hijinx Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

*this specifically refers to DKC1, 2, 3 and 64. There is not enough for the last three to get their own section but the stage doesn’t reference only one game.

And here is the table for the number of Donkey Kong stages per Smash title.

Game New Stages Returning Stages Total Stages
Super Smash Bros. 1 0 1
Super Smash Bros. Melee 2 1 3
Super Smash Bros. Brawl 2 1 3
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS 0 1 1
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 1 2 3
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U (combined) 1 3 4

This makes the grand total of Donkey Kong stages in the Super Smash Bros. series 6, with only Kongo Jungle [Melee] and Rumble Falls never coming back after their debut.

And to cap things off, there is one last table here listing how many times each console had a stage from one of its games in Smash.

Console Number of Stages
Arcade 1
SNES 2 ¾ *
N64 ¼ *
GameCube 1
Wii 1

*When you split the Donkey Kong Country series up into its 4 games for Kongo Jungle [Melee].

Absences

Most of the main Donkey Kong titles have seen some representation in the Super Smash Bros. series as stages, however, it’s spin-offs have been largely ignored. Some of these are for obvious reasons with the Barrel Blast game and the Jungle Climber series being fairly unimportant to the whole series and largely forgettable. However, there are two games and two sub-set of spin-offs that are noticeably absent from Smash so far.

Donkey Kong Jr.: The first hero in the Kong family, Donkey Kong Jr. is almost as important as his father and yet nothing from him or his games have ever made it into Smash outside of stickers and trophies. A level based on the arcade game Donkey Kong Jr. could work and will fill the same role that 75m does as a stage. It might even be a better stage overall. Unfortunately the original will always be more important than the successor so the best bet this game has to show up as a stage is by having Donkey Kong Jr. get back into the limelight, either as a fighter in Smash or in his own series.

Diddy Kong Racing: A very popular title for the Nintendo 64, Diddy Kong Racing was considered on par with Mario Kart and starred DK’s little partner Diddy, who is playable in Smash. The game got remade for the Nintendo DS and had more elements from the Donkey Kong series added into it such as Tiny Kong and Dixie Kong, however, this game has got nothing in the Smash series at all. There is a likely reason for this however and that is because much of this game has to do with Rare. They made both versions of the game and many of its elements are in reference to them rather than the Donkey Kong universe itself. It could almost be called Diddy & Rare All-Star Racing. I wouldn’t expect a stage from this game anytime soon unless Nintendo decides to revive this series for the Nintendo Switch.

Donkey Konga: This series of games for the GameCube are the major focus of one of Nintendo’s peripherals, the Bongo Drums, and a major focus for the Kong in that era of gaming. While the series did get representation via Donkey Kong’s final smash it has never gotten a stage with Jungle Beat taking the spotlight. To be fair to Jungle Beat though that was the main platforming game whereas Donkey Konga is a rhythm game. This genre doesn’t really fit for a level theme so it is clear why it was not picked up. At least it gets something in the Smash series unlike the other absences on this list.

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: teetering on the border of the Super Mario & Donkey Kong universes, the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series has had many titles since it’s debut on the Game Boy Advance. This is by far the biggest omission from the Donkey Kong universe as the series has been so prominent, even getting two titles on the Wii U and 3 on the Nintendo 3DS. So the fact that next to nothing has appeared in Smash from this series is rather baffling. I can only think that this relates to a comment from Sakurai that Smash is about representing Japanese games and as this series is made by a western company it is never considered (then again so is the Country series but maybe that is too important to Donkey Kong to be ignored).

As one final note for the absences, I just wanted to comment about how much of a shaft the third Donkey Kong Country game, Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble, gets. It has no stages representing it which are the same as 64 and Diddy’s Kong Quest, however, it also gets no music whatsoever with its only reference in the latest Smash game being a minor one in a returning stage on the 3DS only. Maybe we need Dixie Kong to finally debut as a fighter before this game gets any real love.

Conclusion

So for the Donkey Kong series we actually get quite a nice theme of representation going on. In almost every Super Smash Bros. title we get stages based around all of Donkey Kong’s most important moments in gaming. While this didn’t really get completed until Brawl with the introduction of a stage based on the Arcade game Donkey Kong we see the makings of it in 64 and Melee which aimed to represent the Country series in its entirety, the main focus for the Kong in that era of gaming and the series that reshape how his entire universe would be observed into the future. Heck, it was this series that allowed him to separate from the Super Mario universe. Every Smash game has added a new Donkey Kong stage except for the 3DS title which chose to rely on a returning stage (like with many main series). So in the next major Smash title, I would fully expect a new Donkey Kong stage to be added, probably based on Tropical Freeze as it is the latest game in the Donkey Kong Universe.

nantenjex

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Joshua 'NantenJex' Goldie
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Joshua 'NantenJex' Goldie

Video Content Lead at Source Gaming
If video game historian was a career that would be my goal in life. I have spent a lot of my life studying various histories and so I am super familiar with sourcing, which is pretty essential for this site and just a good thing to do in general so you do not spread lies. I have a huge fascination with the old days and ips with Nintendo. There is so much potential for old franchises like Balloon Fight, Marvelous, Nazo no Murusame Jo and more to come back in the modern age. At least Smash celebrates those games! My focus for source gaming are the Dream articles and working on Project Omega. I hope you enjoy reading my work.
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One comment

  1. Alrighty, Part 2.

    Rumble Falls part is pretty good, although I think it could be mentioned how the stone platforms seen in the first half of the level appeared in Sky Garden (so did those stone heads that you can break). As for the plane, I really think it’s a stretch to say it is a reference to Funky’s Flights. For 75m, all good. I’m not sure if being a walk-off platform in Brawl makes the stage any less accurate; there’s nothing in the arcade game that indicates those platforms don’t continue off-screen. I also noticed you listed DKC3 under referenced games. Unless you’re referring to stickers and trophies there is nothing DKC3-related stage or music-wise in Brawl (of in any Smash game for that matter).

    Smash 3DS/Wii U segment is all good. Don’t have anything thing to comment on.

    For absences, I know it has music, but I really think DKC2 is notable absence for not having a stage when it is the most acclaimed of the SNES trilogy. Donkey Kong Jr. is definitely ripe for a stage, and with Mario getting a Wrecking Crew stage when it had a Mario Bros. one in the previous game, I think we could see something similar regarding Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. Diddy Kong Racing being absent is definitely due being a copyright nightmare between Nintendo and Rare: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1168505. Like you said, the Donkey Konga games aren’t stage material (it’d kinda be like expecting a Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix stage). And yeah, the Mario Vs Donkey Kong series is rather ambiguous on whether it’s a Mario or DK series. The first game was an obvious homage to the Donkey Kong arcade game, but as the series became much more focused on the Minis it started to become more of a Mario spin-off. Also, it did get music, but Tropical Freeze not getting a stage is a massive absence given how big it was for DK. What’s this about a DKC3 reference in the 3DS version about?

    Okay, now that that’s out of way it’s time for my personal opinion on the representation itself. To be honest, as a DKC fan, I’m rather annoyed about the stages (and in Smash 4, lack of them) in Smash. The DK series has a wide range of unique environments, but every single time we get a stage from one of the platformers, it is always a jungle level (Rumble Falls isn’t even in the first world of Jungle Beat, so he went out of his way to choose it), and despite that we haven’t had a jungle stage for DKC1 that faithfully recreates the style of a jungle level. Smash 64 gets let off the hook since it had a limited budget and many other stages were random floating platforms (Peach’s Castle) so I’ll cut it some slack, but in Melee we got not one, but two generic-looking jungle stages that are very vaguely connected to DKC with stuff like Klap Traps, Barrel Cannons and Cranky’s Shack but otherwise are very unlike that game. Brawl did a pretty good job since it repped two new games and both actually look like the games they hail from, but then Smash 4 dropped by the ball by only having one new stage and making one version only have a returning stage, despite the fact that the DKC series had a big revival with two new games. The Returns stage was pretty cool and actually looked like the game it was from (even recreating that platform with the ruins on it), but was annoying how they made it so one of the planes would disappear every now and then and force you to only have run. Kinda ruined the stage for me.

    By the way, would you be able to send me your email so I can tell you which other stage analysis I am working on? Haven’t quite finished the Zelda one yet, but there’s a couple more I’d like to do.

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