Things I Think Too Much About: The Kongs

I’ve recently went back to playing Mario Kart Wii after a long respite. The game is equal parts fun and frustrating. Racing on the bizarre courses and nailing the other racers with weapons is fun. Likewise, your opponents can hit you back and send you to a lower placing bracket through a sheer lack of luck, not skill. It can be maddening to run a course while in first place the entire time, only to get hit with an unavoidable blue shell as you’re going on a jump in the final stretch, sending you falling down an abyss and ending up in tenth place (which actually happened to me last night). The Rubber Band A.I. can be brutal and, at times, downright unfair.

But I’m not writing this to talk about how Mario Kart Wii cheats (which it does). I’m here to discuss a little malcontent who doesn’t even belong in the game, and yet he’s available on the roster. I’m talking, of course, about Diddy Kong.

Diddy Kong, I want to kick you in the face. Nothing personal.

Diddy Kong made his debut in the Super Nintendo game Donkey Kong Country. Through the Fourth Wall-breaking narrative of that excellent platformer, we learn that Cranky Kong, the lovable old coot who dispenses advice, was the original Donkey Kong from the 1981 arcade game. The tie-wearing Donkey Kong that we know today is his son (or grandson, depending on what game you’re playing).

Cranky Kong has seen better days. Insert: Better days.

Here’s where the confusion comes in: Rare, the developers of Donkey Kong Country, originally wanted to make Diddy Kong an updated Donkey Kong Junior, but Nintendo said that either he wear the white singlet from previous games or be given a different name. Since Rare liked their design of the character, they renamed him Diddy Kong and made him Donkey Kong’s nephew. To make sense of the new family they created but still keep it in the Donkey Kong universe, they aged everyone and made the already-approved Donkey Kong the original DK Jr. and Cranky Kong the original Donkey Kong.

But before DK Jr.’s redesign into the new Donkey Kong, he raced in his white singlet with the other Mario Karters in Super Mario Kart.

"Boy, Mario, I'm glad we could put aside our petty differences about you kidnapping and enslaving my dad! Now let's go go-karting! DERF!"

So in my opinion, Donkey Kong can stay in the Mario Kart games. He’s in the Mario universe and has interacted with Mario in several games outside of their non-canon, franchise-milking crossover games. (I’m looking at you, Super Smash Bros.) I’ve got no beef with him.

But why the hell is Diddy in the Mario Kart games? He doesn’t belong. He’s from an entirely new universe and in a different series of games. He has no idea who the hell Mario even is. Sure, you could argue that Diddy is sort of related to Donkey Kong and belongs in the game by proxy, but you’re reaching. Through association, I could argue that Link and Samus belong in the Mario Kart games since they had cameos in Super Mario RPG. Despite how weird that would be, they have more of a right to be there than Diddy does: they’ve at least met Mario. There’s TONS of characters in the Mario Universe who could be in a Mario Kart game who haven’t been in one yet. Why resort to Diddy freaking Kong?

To add greater insult to the fact that Diddy’s now in the Mario Kart games, the most recent iteration added Funky Kong, the one-dimensional XTREME SURFER DUDE who felt dated back when he first appeared in ’94 with the original Donkey Kong Country. For those who love Simpsons references, Funky Kong is essentially the Poochie of the Nintendo universe.

"I'm Funky, the rockin' Kong!"

Now that I look at him, he looks like he belongs in a pride parade.  But if that’s the design Nintendo is sticking with, then more power to them.

Before I end this tirade that no one cares about, here’s something else to consider: Gorillas live to be 35-50 years old, depending on whether they live in captivity or not. How is it that the Kongs get older (and die), but everyone in the Mario universe stays the same age? How are these future versions of the Kongs meeting up with a Mario who hasn’t aged? Is there some sort of time rift going on in the Mario Kart world?

Uh... I'm gonna go with a "yes" on that.

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