Guardians of treasure, champions of justice, and proof that if you've got enough brute strength, you don't need to be smart to kick some serious ass!
The twenty-sixth episode of the second season resumes a long-standing rivalry, as two of the platform genre's most iconic franchises wage war with enemies-turned-allies whose strength compensates for their lack of smarts. As was stated the last time the two series traded blows, most powerups from the Mario and Sonic universes are capable of cancelling each other out, which remains true here, such as with the Strong Kong and Hyper Knuckles abilities; thus, the combatants bring to the table only what they alone have to offer. The duo will compare blows with power enough to can rock the cosmos with those that can shake the earth, a force that can put down all comers against one that can evade all opposition, for as Donkey Kong and Knuckles spark a conflict anew, both muscular mammals will show them and their powers as worthy of triumphing in a death battle.
Beginning the episode, Wiz and Boomstick start off Donkey Kong's analysis by quoting the Law of the Jungle until the latter botches it up before tying it into the legacy of the family tree. Starting with the original Donkey Kong, who is now Cranky Kong, he fought his abusive owner, Jumpman, atop a construction site, but lost in the ensuing conflict; thankfully, he was freed by his son, also named Donkey Kong, before the both of them fled to a tropical island. The second Donkey Kong would go on to produce a son destined to rule the island, and yes, he, too, was christened Donkey Kong. Unlike the gorillas of the real world, Donkey Kong's diet consists predominantly of bananas, which he spends his time enjoying from the clan's hoard stationed under his home, at least when the armies of his enemies aren't out to steal his collection of his fruit.
But just as often as those armies are willing to take Donkey Kong's hard-earned treasures is the gorilla himself willing to destroy them for their actions. Weighing eight-hundred pounds and standing nearly eight feet tall, DK is much larger than a typical gorilla, and he uses these attributes to fight his adversaries, most often by punching them, very, very hard. Donkey Kong possesses a colossal amount of strength, with enough force to create earthquakes when striking the ground, or, with some time to prepare, release his trademark giant punch; so powerful that it sends his enemies careening beyond the air. But even then, his punches rely on more than mere brute force. His strikes are also immensely fast, generating speeds and explosions in the air akin to a meteorite entering the atmosphere. That said, for times where his muscles alone won't do the job, Donkey Kong has a small yet reliable tool to fall back on, a wooden gun which relies on homing coconuts for its ammunition. Donkey Kong communicates through a series of grunts, though on occasion he has also been known to sing... a lot.
The duo take a moment to purge the cartoon from their memories before resuming their analysis of Donkey Kong Island's champion. Among his myriad of accomplishments, Donkey Kong can produce shock waves strong enough to shatter meteors, ate an entire plantation of bananas in a single sitting, was agile enough to dodge arrows on narrow ledges, and have taken the brunt of various impacts point blank, including explosions and cannonballs from a blunderbuss pointed right at him. Topping all of that, however, is his greatest feat of strength: punching the moon out of orbit through a fully charged giant punch and sending it down to the earth at a high velocity. However, such strength comes with a great weakness; DK's physical prowess is tied to the consumption of bananas and somehow the presence of hair on his head. The gorilla's flaws don't end there, either; Donkey Kong is stupid, to the extent where he is immune to hypnosis and could be fooled into imagining himself to be a Kremling while amnesic. Coupled with his lazy attitude, this would make him an easy foe. But overestimating his weaknesses is a grave error; bananas are one of Donkey Kong's only motivators, but if he's separated from his stockpile, nothing will stop him from reclaiming what's rightfully his.
Having finished studying the competition, the pair move on to the next opponent, Knuckles, member of the Echidna race, which thousands of years ago thrived on advanced techonology and a talent for warfare. The Knuckles clan had a drive to conquer the world, and in their desire to acheive this goal, they set out on a raid to obtain the Master Emerald for its immense power. The gem's protector, the giant water dragon Chaos, wiped out all the tribe except a single echidna girl known as Tikal, who managed to seal Chaos inside; the resulting output of energy and resulting in the Echidna's native home, Angel Island, being lifted from the ocean and remaining airborne, so long as the Master Emerald remains in its shrine. Centuries later, the sole heir to the clan still watches over the Emerald to this day; his name... Knuckles the Echidna. However, he spends most of his time resting since very few would consider taking the Emerald until Dr. Eggman decided to do exactly that, but not before duping Knuckles into thinking that Sonic and Tails would seek to steal it. Without the Master Emerald, Angel Island was brought down to the surface, until Sonic knocked some sense into Knuckles; thus, Eggman's ploy was discovered and the two teamed up to return the emerald and restore Angel Island to its rightful place in the sky, with Knuckles becoming a close ally to the hedgehog, helping him on further outings.
While the Emerald and the hedgehog have faced adversity over the years, Knuckles has always lent both a helping hand. His role as the guardian of the Master Emerald allows Knuckles to sense its presence and harness a fraction of its energy, which he then focuses in an ancient martial art passed down through his clan; luckily for Knuckles, this art involves lots of punching. Many of the the obstacles he faces, he tends to solve by punching, which to his credit, actually works often, and he knows his craft well; with his physicality, he can dodge machine gun fire, punch so fast that he can cause explosions, much like his opponent, and punch with enough force to trigger a volcanic eruption. And thanks to the Master Emerald and the ties he shares with it, its power has granted him more niche abilities, such as gliding through the air with his dreadlock-like quills, and being able to dig through rock with the spikes on his fists; with the aid of shovel-esque attachments, he can go so far as to dig through solid metal.
Knuckles is one of the strongest members within Sonic's circle of friends, and for good reason. As impressive as all of the above accomplishments are, they're all dwarfed by the fact that he, too, has a moon-punching feat under his belt; when Eggman destroyed half the moon and replaced the destroyed half with machinery to remote control it and make a perpetual eclipse, Knuckles went into space, and punched out the remote control to create an explosion visible from Earth and return the moon to its proper orbit. However, with all this strength, it would be safe to assume that Knuckles lacks intelligence to back it up, and one would be correct in that assumption. By far the least intelligent of Sonic's compatriots, Knuckles is illiterate and inattentive, once unaware he was eating a napkin, only to continue eating it after the fact. He also lacks strategic planning, preferring jump into a fight all guns blazing. To crown off his ignorance, although he had already been duped and declared him an enemy before, Knuckles has been tricked by Eggman into allying with him on multiple occasions. Regardless, with as much strength as Knuckles has, sometimes it's enough to carry him through.
- Amy Rose: (in an Imagine Spot) What a dreamboat! (her and Sticks hug Knuckles)
Sonic: I wanna be just like you when I grow up.
Tails: Knuckles, you've been elected governor!
Knuckles: All in a day's work! (Twinkle Smile, then unhands Amy and Sticks before gliding away from the earth as the spot ends)
Sonic: ... Wait, that's not how it—
The feats of both parties have been measured up, and now, it's time to put them to the test. It's time for a death battle!
Over the vast jungles of Donkey Kong Island, a figure glides overhead. The lone guardian of the Master Emerald, Knuckles soars aimlessly, his attention caught only by the growling of his stomach. It only takes a moment for him to focus his attention on the course ahead of him, and as luck would have it, the banana hoard of the Kong family is nearby, so Knuckles takes advantage of this change of fortune by descending near the fruit and helping himself to just one out of the hundreds of bananas in the collection. Unbeknownst to the echidna, right behind the stockpile of bananas is its rightful owner, Donkey Kong. Staring at Knuckles consuming his hard-earned bananas, Donkey Kong's grimace is met with Knuckles' own awkward glance. It takes a moment for Sonic's red friend to weigh his options before taking the last bite of the banana. Donkey Kong, enraged at this intruder stealing from his horde, tosses his bananas aside, ready to face down the echidna and defend his treasures once again.
Donkey Kong starts the fight by throwing punches at Knuckles, but to no avail; his crimson adversary nimbly evades every strike. The pair soon find themselves involved in a flurry of blows... which would actually be the case had Knuckles not just walked out of his foe's barrage and, taking advantage of the Kong's newfound disorientation, unleashes a series of punches that knocks Donkey Kong into a coconut tree. While DK may be lacking in intelligence, he at least knows an opportunity when it falls on him; he takes hold of a vine and swings towards Knuckles, too busy chortling to notice the gorilla, now armed with his coconut gun, firing rounds of edible ammunition at him. Knuckles seems barely phased by the fruit encircling him, even as he dodges coconuts one after another; the ruler of the island steps in to take matters back into his own enlarged hands. The duo trade blows, with Knuckles having the advantage until the coconuts, still out for his blood, hammer into him. Soon, the sole inhabitant of Angel Island reaches his breaking point with the fruits, hurling them well into the distance. With Donkey Kong distracted by his only weapon's sudden lack of effect, Knuckles makes a run for it, dashing straight through the undergrowth.
Knuckles' bid for freedom is cut short as he passes through a seemingly innocuous bush; but, to his surprise, Donkey Kong leaps out of the bush, burying the echidna into the ground with a ferocious headbutt. The coconuts return to pester Knuckles once more, seemingly infuriated with how the battle has played out thus far. Donkey Kong swings his fist about before striking his foe with a giant punch. A turn of events arises, however, when DK sees the hole to be empty, a set-up for Knuckles' counterattack. The ruler of the island finds himself in an ambush, his foe leaping out of the ground to strike, only to hide once more. The gorilla tries a change in his attack, smacking his palms against the earth, but it serves him more harm than good; underground, Knuckles can feel the tremors, so he hastens his offenses, digging a massive pit beneath DK and appearing above ground to run a series of circles around the ape. Donkey Kong can only stare in confusion for a moment before he finds himself falling into the depths of the earth. Knuckles, confident in his victory, mocks his enemy and prepares to leave the battlefield before the coconuts carry out their vengeance against him, knocking him right into the abyss he subjected Donkey Kong to not more than a moment ago.
The fight resumes deep in an underground mine, where Donkey Kong finds his fall halted by a mine cart. The look on horror on the ape's face is short-lived before he finds himself careening along the rails, soon spotting Knuckles gliding alongside him. Both of the mammals throw punches blocked by the other, their battle travelling with the cart. By the time Donkey Kong has caught Knuckles in a grapple, they can only watch as the end of the rails are in sight; the animals huddle together and release screams of horror before DK, with Knuckles in tow, leaps out of the cart as it sails towards oblivion, lucky enough to reach a rock wall that Knuckles embeds his fists into. The echidna, losing his grip, attempts to climb the wall, but his foe forbids it, smacking the wall to destroy whatever progress Knuckles has made. In turn, the guardian of the Master Emerald throws a punch enveloped in fires, desperately trying to shake his adversary loose. A series of explosive blows rock the wall before the duo are finally sent tumbling into the depths. Donkey Kong decides to end the battle once and for all by releasing his foe and spreading his arms wide. Knuckles takes his impending demise relatively well, as a moment after, Donkey Kong swings his arms together, smashing Knuckles into a red paste.
Yet, even as the entire island is rocked by the duel, a stone column erupts from the ground, a pair of red arms jutting alongside it; Knuckles has seemingly survived a mortal blow. But as Donkey Kong emerges afterward, holding the other combatants' disembodied arms, it becomes clear that they are only remains of the now-extinct echidnas, used to carve a path out of the mines. The gorilla tosses Knuckles' arms away and pounds on his chest, his hollers echoing across the jungle. The bananas were lost in the battle, but so was Knuckles; a bittersweet victory if ever there was.
Even in death, Knuckles cannot evade the homing coconuts; his arms are bombarded by the fruit as Donkey Kong frustratingly begins rebuilding his banana hoard anew, while also going to have to look for his missing bananas. While Knuckles was far more faster and agile than his simian foe, these advantages meant nothing when paired with his strategy, or lack thereof, of charging fist-first against his enemies, thus playing right into Donkey Kong's strong suit of close-range combat. Both mammals are tough enough to survive the vacuum of space and falls into earth, but only DK was stated to possess the durability to stay intact during the blast that launched him out of the planet to begin with. With regards to both their moon-punching feats, neither is as impressive as it sounds; the moon Donkey Kong punched belongs to the Mario universe, and is consequently much smaller than the moon of the real world. That said, Donkey Kong possessing the strength to knock it out of orbit can be calculated at being over 3000 megatons of force; well over a thousand times as much as Knuckles causing a volcanic eruption. In comparison, Knuckles did not punch the moon itself, but only a receiver manipulating its orbit, so it would be safe to assume that Knuckles lacks the same strength as Donkey Kong himself. In short, while Knuckles is strong and durable, Donkey Kong possesses an extra touch that allows him to endure anything Knuckles could throw at him and ensure the same wouldn't hold true for his foe.
- Boomstick: DK just wasn't echidna-ing around!
Wiz: The winner is Donkey Kong!
Donkey Kong vs. Knuckles contains examples of:
- Aside Glance: DK sneaks in a quick look at the screen before the mine cart starts its voyage.
- Berserk Button: Knuckles eating even a single banana from DK's banana hoard was enough to get the ape pissed.
- Broken Win/Loss Streak: After three rounds in the Mario vs. Sonic conflict, Donkey Kong finally brings home a victory for team Mario.
- The Chew Toy: Poor Knuckles can't catch a break in the fight, what with the many times he got hit by homing coconuts, even in death.
- Cool Pet: Boomstick sees echidnas this way both before and after Wizard tells him that the males of the species have four-headed penises.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The reason why the fight starts, Knuckles is caught taking a banana from Donkey Kong's hoard, invoking the latter's wrath. Not the entire thing, not a fraction of the hoard, a single banana.
- Dull Surprise: Knuckles seems almost incapable of emoting anything other than a monotone "oh no" throughout the fight, up to and including seconds before DK turns him into a bloody smear.
- Dumb Muscle: One uniting theme between both combatants. Both DK and Knuckles are very powerful physically, but their intellects are very lacking.
- Excuse Plot: The reason why DK and Knuckles had a death battle? Knuckles ate one of DK's bananas.
- Foregone Conclusion: Just after announcing the two combatants, Wiz mentions that both Super Forms can counter each other, thus having them would not change anything.
- Funny Background Event: While Knuckles is ambushing DK by leaping in and out of the ground, he makes chirping noises akin to a dolphin at one point.
- MacGuffin Guardian: The Crystal Coconut and the Banana Horde for DK. The Master Emerald for Knuckles.
- Oh, Crap!: Both Donkey Kong and Knuckles huddle together screaming when the mine cart is about to fall off the tracks.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Played for Laughs. Donkey Kong puts down Knuckles, but has to rebuild the banana hoard from scratch and he has to find all of his missing bananas all over again.
- Running Gag: The coconuts attacking Knuckles.
- Spiritual Successor: Much like Luigi vs. Tails, this match carries on the rivalry of Mario vs. Sonic.
- Too Much Information: Boomstick reacts this way when Wiz informs him of a real gorilla's diet, which includes termites to combat diarrhea problems.