Halloween is just around the corner, and for the Duck’s final Rare Scares post, it’s about time we dialed the spook-meter up a notch. Donkey Kong Country 2 is one of my favorite games, what with the pirates and the awesome team of Diddy and Dixie, not to mention my favorite world of the game, the spooky Gloomy Gulch. My second favorite level here is Ghostly Grove, a location that contains rather eerie…ghost-ropes? The focus of this post, however, is on my favorite stage in the entire DKC series, Haunted Hall.
I actually wrote about this topic a little over three years ago, but now’s as good a time as any to revisit one of gaming’s spookiest platforming levels. Two things that really stress me out are time limits and being chased, both of which are present in Haunted Hall (making me wonder why I enjoy this level so much). Over the course of Diddy and Dixie’s trek through this creepy, cobweb-ridden library, we are repeatedly made to deal with a frightening ghostly presence who follows closely behind us as a timer counts down. It’s been so long since I originally played through this level, so I can only imagine my initial shock when our simian heroes passed through the first gate to find a crocodilian apparition awaiting their arrival.
Once you encounter Kackle, he remains right behind our heroes, neither losing nor gaining ground. The fact that Kackle is able to effortlessly follow along behind you, patiently waiting for the timer to run out, is thoroughly unsettling. It’s almost as if he’s toying with us, like some powerful presence that can, and does (if the timer hits 0) kill us with a single touch, but simply chooses not to out of his own accord rather than our own ability to elude him. The only escape from Kackle is to pass through the skull-shaped gates, this respite only a brief one before you encounter yet another Kackle and his timed course of death.
Video from Youtube User: Virtual Bastion
Not only is the thought of a skeletal-pirate-crocodile-ghost as scary as it is cool, but the stress of watching the timer dip closer and closer to zero is very real, especially when one happens to accidentally break one of the red minus barrels strewn about the tracks. For these reasons, Haunted Hall is easily one of the spookiest levels Rareware has ever created and more than deserving of the Duck’s final entry in Rare Scares. With that, I hope everyone has a happy Halloween tomorrow! And remember, if a bandana-clad Kremling ghost decides to follow you while you’re Trick-or-Treating, be sure to stay away from any minus-emblazoned barrels!