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Nightmare Fuel: Donkey Kong Country
And the deranged font makes it a thousand times worse.
Being a series from Nintendo, Donkey Kong Country sure as hell doesn't lack the others' mood-swings from cheery and childish to genuinely frightening. Enjoy - From a Certain Point of View - Rare's use of the hardware capacities.
In order for Nightmare Fuel tabs to survive, a new writing style is going to be used, nicknamed Example Lobotomy. Basic rules: just list facts as they are, don't just say "character X" or "the X scene" (such zero context examples will be zapped), spoiler policy to be determined on a case-by-case basis, italics to be applied to works' names only and not to give emphasis on what tropers say. "X scared me" is already implied by the mere addition of that example by the troper.
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Examples for Donkey Kong Country 1- 3
The Donkey Kong Country games had shockingly depressing Game Over screens. The first one shows DK and Diddy horribly beaten down in a dark void, with a morbid font and depressing music playing (as you can see from the page image), the second one shows Diddy and Dixie locked up while depressing music plays and the Game Over message hovers down to taunt you (with the whole screen slowly turning blood red), and finally, the third one, shows Kiddy and Dixie in a baby crib, while a creepy Music Box plays depressing music (Button Mashing allows you to play along) until you hear someone slam a door.
Oh and to make things worse? The first game's game over screen DOESN'T GO AWAY until you press a button on your controller. Even when the music ends, it will stay there to haunt you forever until you mash the "A" button so that you can be relieved to see the opening again.
The Game Over screen in the second game is deliberately ambiguous, depending on your interpretation of the fade-to-red: it either represents the young kongs being simply screwed, or implies their "prison" is actually an oven.
Donkey Kong Country Returns continues the tradition. This time, Donkey and Diddy land in a spotlight amid pitch darkness, first expressing frustration, then hanging their heads in shame. The music is the same as in the original game, except it's followed immediately by dark ambience similar to a tribal funeral march.
Can't forget King K. Rool in Donkey Kong Country where after you "beat him", he summons fake credits and then he gets back up to fight once more, relying a lot on the element of surprise.
K. Rool worsens by the end of DKC2, where he is actually shown beating DK and shooting him with his gun; he also shoots weird clouds from his gun which either freeze, slow down, or reverse the control of your characters.
Donkey Kong Land III - after beating the game with the normal ending (but not yet getting 100% Completion) attempting to enter the Lost World will result in suddenly being hit with the "You Need However Many Coins To Enter" screen, which is a digitized render of Baron K. Roolenstein against a black background while the super-happy credits music plays.
DKC1's cave music can make several kids want to get cave stages over with soon. Specifically, before the music hits the 1:38 mark.
In the level "Rambi Rumble" in Donkey Kong Country 2, you were transformed into Rambi the rhino and had to make your way through a level inside a Zingers' nest. Near the end of the level, you had to jump over a red Zinger and fall down a short tunnel. The second your feet hit the ground, the music switched from the mellow "I'm in a Zinger nest" music to "Run, Rambi, Run!" and King Zing (who was a giant, currently invincible Zinger) slowly bears down on you while you have to run away.
Zingers in general can do it if you're horrified of bees and wasps. They aren't just your normal wasps/bees, though. They're covered in spikes, and have to be killed with either an animal helper or some kind of object ... as long as they're yellow zingers. The red zingers are completely invincible! This can spell doom for you in a lot of situations.
In the Zinger hive stages, you can see baby Zingers sitting in the honeycombs. You are also killing Zingers. These babies are watching you kill their families.
Thorn-fearing kids had a lot of trouble with the bramble stages, that are literally covered in them; anyone else should fear the Platform Hell.
DKC3 had "Ripsaw Rage", a forest stage involving a giant ripsaw cutting through the level with creepy music playing.
The factory stages in DKC, especially the Trope Namer for Blackout Basement: as per the trope, you can barely see what you're doing in there.
You don't need to be an environmentalist to be afraid of a sentient toxic waste drum with glowing red eyes. Especially when it tries to crush you to death.
Any stage with "Hot Pursuit" playing in DKC3. Everybody remembers them as the sled stages where touching anything means death.
In the GBA remake of DKC2, Rare fans may notice that when Kloak dies, he makes the same laugh as Baron Samadi from Golden Eye 1997.
DKC example: "Millstone Mayhem" has evil Gnawties in giant stone wheels trying to run you over, with lonely-sounding ominous music playing, and the sound of the millstones' clacking.
In Temple Tempest, said millstones actually chase players.
Even worse: if, on the off chance that you manage to find a "safe spot" out of the way of the millstones or jump over them, they will freeze and wait for you to start moving forward again.
Kerozene in the remake of DKC2: you arrive in Stronghold Showdown expecting to simply walk out like the original, only to find a new boss named Kerozene, who is That One Boss to those not expecting it.
The really bad pirated NES DKC2 which featured the game over screen from the SNES version for an ending.
K.Rool Duel: the final boss (well, the first final boss, anyway). For starters, the overmap of the final world is an enormous Hellish Copter made to look like a crocodile (it is aptly called The Flying Kroc). Second, when you go to face him for the first time, he's torturing a tied-up Donkey Kong by pelting him with cannonballs. Additionally, K. Rool is now wearing pirate gear (including a red overcoat), which actually makes him look badass and menacing. Then, there's the music and the lack of death music, given that, as mentioned, the original death music was likely cut for being too scary due to its Last Note Nightmare (hear it here, if you dare).
DKC 2 also has Kleever, a sword wielded by a creepy red hand coming out of the lava. When hit three times, Kleever slowly falls down, only to rise back up again with nothing gripping its hilt shortly afterwards.
Krow, the first boss of DKC2, is sacrificing his own young in the fight, as he uses his eggs to attack you; the same ammo must be used against him. The later boss fight with Kreepy Krow implies the ghost birds are the souls of the ones died as eggs in the first fight.
DKC3's underwater music (already pretty creepy) becomes more jarring in the level Floodlit Fish. When you hit Gleamin' Bream, a creepy gothic moaning accompanies the music.
In DKC 2, there's a set of Kremling enemies called Klobbers that dash at you in barrels bumping into you:
The green ones bump you around, not even damaging you, and can even be jumped on to be thrown as weapons.
Yellow ones cause you to drop bananas when they bump into you, more annoying and a bit startling at first, but if you don't pick them back up it isn't a huge loss.
Red ones in TNT barrels (called Kabooms) are a bit annoying, blowing up on contact.
The rare black Klobbers are the worst: they do the same thing as the yellow ones do...oh, except instead of making you drop bananas, you drop lives. Not even K. Rool can do more than make you lose one life at a time. It's even possible to go below zero lives with the black Klobbers.
In Donkey Kong Country 2, they give you Lockjaw and Snapjaw. If you get too close to Lockjaw, it swims really fast towards you and tries to bite you. However, Snapjaw follows you on the surface of the water, and if you so much as put one toe in it's jaw grows three times in size and it bites you.
Pretty much all of DKC2 was much Darker and Edgier than the original. DKC was colorful and upbeat with (mostly) pleasant ambient music, while in the sequel you're all alone in a completely hostile environment where everything is against you, and the music is (with one or two exceptions) wistful at best, flat-out depressing at worst. Justified, however: the first game was set in the Donkey Kong Island, the second in the Kremlings' native country.
The aforementioned "game over" screens were also used as error screens, which doubled as the anti-piracy screens: in some SNES games, a screen would show if the cartridge detected some kind of anti-piracy measure. DKC 2 simply showed you the screen with a message (deliberately interrupting your game near the end and wiping your save data, no less), but DKC 3 brings the fright with A) the "Game Over" screen B) with the error/pirated device message C) while playing the game's boss music in a minor chord with the bass pounding in your head. More than anything else, it makes you feel like the game is watching you.
Examples from Diddy Kong Racing
While Diddy Kong Racing seems to have a lighthearted feel, it (like any other great game by Rare and Nintendo) still wasn't free of things that frightened many young gaming children back in the day: one example is when you collect all the pieces of the Wizpig Amulet the next time you go into the main hub (after leaving one of the mini hubs on the last of the four worlds you earned it on or if you quit the game and get back on after having earned the last part of it) the statue of him lets out an Evil Laugh and then fades away. It can be seen here.
Mad Jack from Donkey Kong 64: a giant Jack-in-the-Box resembling a demented cyborgian crocodile with Donald Duck's voice and part of its paint job chipped off, revealing a glowing red eye. If it isn't all that scary, it ought to be. What'll really get to you is his introduction: he drops out of the reject chute (in a factory already creating "evil toys", no less) pops out, does the standard boo scare, then laughs snidely at you. Not only, this Wake Up Call Boss has everything: a dark room, small platforms raised to great heights, a Monster ClownCreepy Doll, and Evil Laughter every minute. In other words, every single childhood phobia in the book in one single boss.
K. Rool himself from DK64. The ominous music is a bonus, but the voice acting in the intro is a bit of Nightmare Retardant given its similarities to Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget.
Dogadon in Fungi Forest: after dealing a certain amount of damage to him, he starts making the platform sink, as the music gets faster and faster as the platform gets lower.
The wind-up Kremlings from Frantic Factory are Nightmare Fuel incarnate. Everything about them is unsetting: glowing red eyes, circular walking pattern when not seeing you, squeaky noises when seeing you.
"Creepy Castle" in Donkey Kong 64 had rotting hands as platforms. Inside the actual castle, there's a torture chamber after a dark maze and a very realistic skull-shaped portal leading to a red maze made completely out of bones.
Angry Aztec is an eerie temple with ominous music that just makes you feel uncomfortable, and once you grab the banana at the end, a voice suddenly shouts "GET OUT!" and aims at you with some sort of gun. You then have 25 seconds to get out of there before being shot down. Said "GET OUT!" comes from an assassin who tries to kill you once you get the bananas. In certain Crystal Caves challenges and in the greenhouse in Creepy Castle, he returns if you fail a challenge and gives you only 10 seconds to escape this time.
One Chunky Kong challenge in Crystal Caves has you avoiding lights. Hit a light, and you get killed instantly after one second!
The Crystal Caves seem like a relatively calm place at first, it's very ambient and you're just walking around gazing at the serenity of the area until a scary noise accompanies stalactites falling everywhere.
The fact that the entire Hideout Helm level was timed, considering that if time runs out, all of DK Isles gets destroyed.
The Game Over screen (thankfully skippable, though) has the evil laughter K. Rool showing the Blast-O-Matic about to blow DK Isles up, which was pretty intense for some back when they were children, joining the ranks of Banjo-Kazooie in the "save and quit is not an option" territory.
The Golden Banana where you have to swim into the giant mechanical fish. Not helped by the fact that a late-game glitch renders the banana almost impossible to obtain after getting the Sniper Scope if you don't know how to circumvent it.
Anytime you asked Wrinkly - Cranky's dead wife - for hints, she would always enter with her wailing.
Wrinkly is heavily implied to have died between Donkey Kong Country 3 and DK64.
The constant crying of the Banana Fairy is unnerving as well.
The Evil Laughter that occurs throughout the game is nerve-wracking, especially when you least expect it, like when using a barrel ability or an animal pal ability where it's not allowed.
The Green Klap Traps in Angry Aztec don't die right away. If you defeat them, their teeth survive and come after you.
Fungi Forest at night is pretty scary to those unfamiliar with the level layout.
Creepy Castle's mine cart section. It's bad enough with the loud chase music and random sirens going off constantly, but how about the tombstones that fly out the ground as you approach or the giant skeleton demon thing shooting explosive fireballs at poor DK?
The tunnels in Jungle Japes and Gloomy Galleon have whispers echo throughout.
Examples for Donkey Kong Country Returns
It's been said that Retro Studios dedicated themselves to doing the series justice. They were right: as mentioned above, the Game Over screen has kept the original music from DKC1, but after the twenty-second mark, it just keeps playing its sad drum beat, like a tribal funeral procession.
Tidal Terror. It's got ominous music, dark clouds overhead, ambient noises, and a colossal tidal wave that swallows everything in its path and kills the Kongs in one hit.
Stage 4-5 in the Cave world is called "Crowded Cavern" for a reason, what with all the bats that chase after you in the cavernous dark. Their freakish screeches of terror, along with their unnatural faces, and with a few of the big bats breaking out of the floor or ceiling attempting to bite you non-stop.