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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.
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 gas 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 can't be killed with anything short of a barrel filled with TNT! 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 features the "Ripsaw Rage" stage, a forest stage involving a giant ripsaw cutting through the level with creepy music (save for the GBA verion, where the soundtrack is replaced with lighter and softer tone) playing.
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 living 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. Ever wanted to meet whoever could withstand drowning in lava while wielding a 10 foot tall sword? In the GBA port you fight Kerozene, who summons several Kleevers and breathes tons of fire.
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.
DKC 3 takes this even further at times. Although it's frequently even more upbeat and happy than the original, the more industrial, atmospheric areas and soundtracks are dark. The underwater music, factory music, and the final boss's music in particular wouldn't be out of place in steampunk-themed horror games.
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.
DKC 2 featured the truly terrifying haunted hall level - a mine cart race. Except this time, you're running FROM Kackle, the ghostly crocodile from Hell, who laughs when he catches you. Not to mention the panicking music and the TIME LIMIT!!
DKC 2's Glimmer's Galleon: The entire stage is underwater. It's also very dark, only illuminated by a cone of light from your animal buddy Glimmer.
Barbos from DKC 3 is a giant sea urchin, fought in an underwater coral area with a menacing red color scheme.
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. The DS version of this game is more like a Nightmare Retardant to most people, since in the DS version, Wizpig simply yawns and the camera has a lack of zooming in for menacing effect.
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.
At the end of the level, you get a lovely close up of the largest bat, unconscious, with its limbs twitching, with the same demented expression.
In the aptly named "Twillight Terror" level, not only do you have giant prehistoric sharks leaping up at you, but at the end, one of these sharks is seen lying (presumably) dead at the bottom of the ocean. In a children's game.
"Frantic Fields," which brings back the frustration and fear of "Lightning Lookout" (from DKC 3) and has Donkey Kong get caught in a tornado.
"Scorch 'n Torch" has you running through a brush fire as it ravages the African savannah
"Frozen Frenzy" has you exploring the factory area from "Returns", but frozen over. The Factory, despite being an industrial area, was actually a very bright and cheery area in the last game. It's now much darker, rusted (the more realistic rust visuals of the Wii U make it worse), frozen, taken over by the snowmads. But what really seals it is the music, which begins with a menacing drumbeat and eventually segues into an offkey Dark Reprise of "Fear Factory", one of the most beloved music tracks in the previous game and the series.