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Nightmare Fuel / Donkey Kong Country

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The intense music certainly doesn't help.

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 - Nintendo and Rare's use of the hardware capacities.

Donkey Kong 64 gets its own page.

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    Examples for Donkey Kong Country 1- 3

  • The first three Donkey Kong Country games for SNES had shockingly depressing Game Over screens. The first one shows an injured Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong standing in a dark background, with a deranged wooden font and depressing music playing, 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 with sad expression 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.
  • After you "beat" King K. Rool in Donkey Kong Country, he summons fake credits and then he gets back up to fight once more, relying a lot on the element of surprise.
  • 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.
  • The snow level theme for the first game starts soothing and quickly becomes very suspenseful and ominous-sounding. It gives off the uneasy feeling of being actually trapped on the mountains, maybe even stalked by some ice-based Eldritch Abomination...
  • 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 (called "Flight of the Zinger") 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, which can spell doom for you in a lot of situations.
      • Not to mention their visuals are taken to more emphasized levels in the second Country game, where they are arguably more realistic looking in both sprite and artwork....have fun with nightmares of them; arguably they are less intimidating in later 3D games however since they're more cartoonish and less hairy.
    • In the Zinger hive stages, you can see baby Zingers sitting in the honeycombs. You are also killing Zingers, so these babies are essentially watching you kill their families.
  • Thorn-fearing kids had a lot of trouble with the bramble stages, which 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 the ominous-sounding — yet innocuously-named — Treetop Tumble (save for the GBA verion, where the soundtrack is replaced with lighter and softer tone) 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. (Though many players also found this boss fun for its easiness.)
  • DKC2 and DKL2 have a castle with acid rising up to kill players, aptly named "Toxic Tower".
  • 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 Samedi from GoldenEye (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. To make the music even more ominous, it's titled "Voices of the Temple".
    • 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 a giant crocodile-shaped helicopter. Second, when you go to face him for the first time, he's torturing a tied-up Donkey Kong by pelting him with cannonballs (as discussed further up the page). Additionally, K. Rool is now wearing pirate gear (including a red overcoat), which actually makes him look badass and menacing. Then, there's his badass theme 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 who died as eggs in the first fight.
  • DKC3's underwater music is one of the scariest tunes in the series. It sounds like you're one breath away from drowning.
    • It becomes more jarring in the level Floodlit Fish. Whenever you hit a Gleamin' Bream, a creepy sound effect (that sounds like moaning monks) accompanies the music.
    • In DKC 2, when you exit Glimmer's Galleon, the only level to be completely underwater (as in, there's no surface areas at all) in the main body of the stage, you get launched onto a ship deck while the contrastingly cheerful track "Snakey Chantey" plays, as if giving you a chance to bring yourself back into good spirits before hitting the goal target. But in DKC 3, exiting a "deep sea" level takes you instead to a similarly-gloomy cave while the eerie underwater music continues to play.
  • 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... 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.
  • The official artwork of Banana Birds.
  • Lockjaw and Snapjaw in the second game. 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 its jaw grows three times in size and it bites you.
  • DKC2's infamous Castle Crush glitch: a Game-Breaking Bug that can also wipe save files and potentially brick the cartridge or worse, the entire console. Thankfully the glitch no longer destroys the game in the Virtual Console re-release.
  • While Dummied Out, DKC2 was originally supposed to have sprites for Diddy and Dixie mourning.
    • It may have been a losing stance for when a bonus challenge was lost. Still doesn't make it any less unsettling.
  • Take a gander at Mr. X who was Dummied Out from DKC2. All that is known about him is that he was the one who should hunt you down at Haunted Hall instead of Kackle. Maybe he's not any more horrifying, considering he's not withered to a skeleton, but he's right up there.
  • Screech's Sprint. K. Rool's parrot whose race, if lost, costs players a life, and the accompanying music has a spooky moaning noise. It is also another bramble level, thankfully the final one in the game.
    • Thankfully, there's a way to avoid having to race it. You just need to have Squawks fly over it at its starting position, and you can explore the level calmly, taking time to go for the DK Coin there in and such. The thing is, you need both Kongs to do it, as you will end up hitting your head on the brambles while flying around the parrot-from-hell.
  • 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.
    • DKC3 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 final boss music in particular wouldn't be out of place in a steampunk-themed horror game.
  • 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. Whilst DKC 1's error message was merely placed on a generic blue screen, the "game over" screens would be used for both DKC 2 and DKC 3. 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 (as seen at the top of the page). 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. For the latter case, there are two kinds of barrels along the path that let you handle this limit: the green plus barrel (which increase your time) and the red minus barrel (which decrease). The thing about these are two segments: in one halfway past the stage, the time limit is rather generous (over 30 seconds), but there are only minus barrels, which means too many wrong jumps... and it's over. And in the last segment, often the plus and minus barrels are nestled together, which makes it very easy for the average player to mistime and hit minus barrels by mistake, cleaving your time limit and allowing Kackle to edge... ever closer... to you.
  • 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.
  • Another example of hydrophobia fuel: DKC 1's Poison Pond, in which the water also happens to be clouded by what is presumably the waste produced by the nearby Kremkrok Industries. Thankfully, the water turns out to be harmless and the Kongs' Super Not-Drowning Skills are still in effect, but the whiteness of the water is still quite unsettling.
  • The Game Boy Advance port of DKC 3 adds a new boss to Razor Ridge, the Kroctopus. It's supposed to be a play on "Krockodile" and "Octopus", but instead it's blob-like entity with appendages that lives in green water and has an art style that clashes against the rest of the game's visuals and goes straight into Uncanny Valley.
  • Barbos from DKC 3 is a giant sea urchin, fought in an underwater coral area with a menacing red color scheme.
  • At the end of DKC 2, K. Rool falls off of Crocodile Isle and gets chewed up by piranhas, complete with sound effects, before he's later seen in the Lost World. The GBA version changes this to him falling into the Lost World instead, presumably because it was too horrific. The Golden Ending is also changed too—K. Rool originally rides away from Crocodile Isle in nothing but a fit of Evil Laughter, making it somewhat of a Bittersweet Ending, but in the GBA version, the extra dialogue acts as Nightmare Retardant and Funky drops a bomb on him before he floats away.
  • DKC 3 has the Gimmick Level Fish Food Frenzy. First, it's a deep-sea underwater level, with all the hydrophobia fuel that entails. Second, this level features Nibbla, the fish that in two previous levels attacks you if you dare to go into the water, following you. The good news: it won't attack you...initially. The bad news: You have to keep feeding Kocos (the fish enemies) to it to keep it in a good mood, because over time or if you feed Lurchins (the sea urchin enemies) its mood will deteriorate, represented by its facial expression becoming less and less happy and its color gradually changing from blue to red. If its mood hits fully red, it will then attack you. It is possible to skip this gimmick by just speeding as fast as possible to the end of the level; this is not advised, because if you stall you are likely going to be greeted by an angry-enough-to-attack Nibbla coming at you at high speed from off the screen.
  • Normally, the Kongs have Super Not-Drowning Skills, able to stay underwater for as long as they please. However, the water in the marsh levels of DKC 2 is instant-kill if either Kong gets submerged fully, likely because it's too disgustingly polluted to be safe.
  • When you look at it a certain way, the Golden Ending of DKC 2 becomes this, in spite of the Visual Effects of Awesome- Crocodile Isle explodes and sinks below the waves, taking with it all those awesome and beautiful levels the player made their way through and bringing about an Inferred Holocaust with who knows how many casualties, and the only survivor we can see is K. Rool sailing away on a raft, uttering the same creepy laugh that Kackle made in Haunted Hall. The lack of music only makes it all the more creepy.
  • In DKC 3, if you beat Brash's time in Riverside Race and then talk to him in his cabin, he gets so angry that he starts slamming his desk while furiously grunting each time, and his tantrum is so strong that it shakes the entire map, all while you can still hear his roars of anger while outside, and dislodges a tree stump.
  • If you want to hear the aforementioned nightmare-fuel music tracks in a higher quality, here's a playlist of restored DKC music, and the person restoring them isn't even done yet! Have fun listening to the likes of Misty Menace in all its glory!
  • DKC gives up the Stop N Go Station, which is a pretty straightforward level, but you have to rush through to make sure the stop lights are always on, or else you have these unstoppable and ever-powerful things charge and attack you, with their manic pace and glowing red eyes. Making it worse is how well they blend into the background.

    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.
    • Speaking of Wizpig, some kids were rather intimidated by the aforementioned giant Wizpig face statue in the hub area, if not Wizpig himself.

    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. Doubles as a Tear Jerker.
  • 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.
    • The music played in the world map of the Cave World. It has parts which suggest that something may be lurking in the shadows and there's a general ominous feel throughout.
  • Stage 5-8 in the Forest world. "Muncher Marathon". Players afraid of spiders shouldn't even try it.
  • "Stormy Shore". It has the same atmosphere as the aforementioned "Tidal Terror", but instead of tidal waves, it features a vicious kraken that attacks you from the background for most of the stage.
    • The kraken comes back (and is more of a menace) in Tropical Freeze, where you have to swim up to avoid its tentacles and spreading black ink.
      • However, you can defeat it at the end, ending the nightmare.
  • In the final boss fight, Tiki Tong transfigures all the Tikis you fight in bosses throughout the game into huge wooden hands. After destroying these, they explode in a burst of light, to reveal bananas: they've been formed into inanimate bananas, with no way to move or do anything ever again. The only thing they can look forward to now is getting eaten, and that's without getting into the unpleasantness of being turned into hands to begin with.

    Examples from Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Did he get bigger?

  • 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.
  • The new "Bramble Scramble" not only brings back thorny vines en masse, this time they move, as if being controlled by some sort of malevolent botanical force, and there are huge brambles in the background that coil and slither around the rocky formations.
  • "Frantic Fields," which brings back the frustration and fear of "Lightning Lookout" (from ''DKC3) 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. Special mention goes to the shrieking statues that try to topple you from the background, making a return appearance just for this level. They were small time obstacles in Returns, but they more easily get in your way in this level, and the atmosphere makes them look more ghastly.
    • More horrifying if you're a fan of the environment.
  • "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.
    • In general, it's a little unsettling going across essentially the entire previous game and seeing it as a frozen, barren wasteland.
  • The final level before the final boss is scary enough, but then you hear creepy laughter. You then realize said laughter is in fact the Big Bad of the last game, Tiki Tong.
  • "Sawmill Thrill," has you come dangerously close to being sliced by a giant buzzsaw. The urgent music really doesn't help matters.

    Examples from the CGI cartoon 
  • Because of how poorly the animation has aged, the characters suffer a fair share of Uncanny Valley moments.
  • DK's description of the bog monster.
  • Also at the end of that episode, that terrifying roar that was heard by the Kremlings. Maybe the bog monster is real after all...
  • Krusha's true colors when his brain got knocked back into place in the episode "Speed." He was a deadly and genre savvy villain, willing to kill Diddy and Dixie with a bomb to get the crystal coconut, and without even batting an eye at the prospect of K. Rool accidentally being killed in the crossfire.
  • "Speak No Evil, Dude" was probably the darkest episode of the series. The extremely deadly Kongo Bongo Gone Wrongo disease is going around, and Diddy catches it. The only cure is a single purple banana, of which there is only one. If he isn't cured, he'll die. It goes From Bad to Worse when K. Rool gets the disease due to a misunderstanding, and his minions plan to blow up Kongo Bongo. DK is left with a Sadistic Choice: Save his best friend and let Kongo Bongo be destroyed, or cure K. Rool so he can call off the attack. Fortunately, in the end, things turned out all right as both Diddy and K. Rool are both cured and the attack is called off, but it's still an extremely dark episode for a kid's show.
    • Also, K. Rool has a stockpile of explosives big enough to destroy Kongo Bongo for some reason. In another episode ("Buried Treasure"), he seeks out a possible doomsday device. Basically, the king is deranged and corrupt enough to consider carpetbombing.
  • "The Curse Of Kongo Bongo" has the cursed letters sent by Bluebeard Baboon which if read aloud twice causes whatever island they are read on to sink into the ocean. The curse is so powerful that after Donkey Kong read the letter once the Crystal Coconut, the wish granting Macguffin, stops working. Since letters are sent to every person on an island, that must mean a lot of islands were destroyed.


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