Nintendo keeps giving me more things to talk about lately — a good thing too since I keep having technical setbacks. For anyone that missed it, Diddy Kong is the latest veteran to be confirmed for the new Smash Brothers roster. Diddy has become pretty popular, even outside the Donkey Kong Country series at this point; thus, I found it unlikely he would be removed at all.
Of course, Diddy’s confirmation brings with it a question: who else from the Donkey Kong Country games can we expect to see in Smash Brothers? Rumors have circulated about two particular entrants from the series. One is the first playable girl Kong, Dixie. The other is the rough and rotten antagonist of several of the DK games, King K. Rool.
King K. Rool is self-appointed ruler of Krocadile Isle, home of the Kremlings — a wide-assortment of crocodilians. Rool first invaded Donkey Kong’s home to conquer it, and generally ruin Donkey’s day by stealing his bananas. Over the course of the main series, and a few side games, Donkey Kong and his extended family have thwarted his ill-conceived plans time and again.
K. Rool himself is a bit of an oddball when it comes to Nintendo antagonists, however. While most Nintendo villains have their quirks, there is clearly a method to the madness somewhere. With K. Rool there is simply madness. K. Rool is generally referred to as King K. Rool, but he has gone under the name of Kaptain K. Rool, Baron K. Roolenstein, and Krusha K. Rool — each time with different personality traits and abilities. When K. Rool takes control of Donkey Kong’s Island, he specifically takes Donkey’s banana horde for unknown reasons. At least, when Bowser steals Peach, one can think of a few things Bowser might want with a princess; what does an alligator king need with bananas? K. Rool continues to take Donkey’s bananas while also stealing Donkey himself or members of his family over the course of the games he is in, for reasons that have little explanation. The only probable causes for his behavior are a ridiculously inflated ego, terribly under-developed sense of reality, or mild cases of schizophrenia or multiple-personality disorder.
This is somewhat endearing, as he is certainly a villain that is wildly unpredictable. This also allows some interesting translations into a playable character, as his many personalities allow him to have a greater variety of abilities to pull from than other characters. They also allow for some possible alternate costumes, or even lend themselves to a new mechanic by changing his outfits. K. Rool is a varied and unique villain, and with more villains entering the Smash Brothers arena, it is argued that he is a guaranteed addition to the franchise.
Or is he?
Despite his odd cult following (or extreme internet popularity, it’s at times difficult to determine which), K. Rool has a few issues that may take him out of the Smash Brothers spotlight.
V is for Villain
The preconceived notion that supports K. Rool’s inclusion is as I described above: more villains appear to be entering into the Smash Brothers franchise as playable characters. However, upon closer inspection, that isn’t necessarily the case. The total cast of Super Smash Brothers Brawl is 36 characters. The total number of characters that could be described as villains amounts to 6 at most. Of those 6, only 4 were newcomers in Brawl itself. We discussed one of them, Wario, in great length in our last installment. Also, Wario almost doesn’t qualify, since he is also the protagonist of his own series. However, 5 is a nice small number. So then, lets compare our five other playable villains to K. Rool and see what sticks.
Wolf O’ Donnell
Starting with the least well known of the five, we’ll look at Wolf. Wolf is the leader of the Star Wolf team, and a rival pilot to Fox. However, he has never been the primary antagonist. His first appearance was in Star Fox 64, where he and his team were simply reoccurring boss fights, showing up at most twice in a typical play-through. Wolf and his cohorts are a challenge, but not the main figures to be defeated. It’s also worth noting that Wolf actually joined forces with Fox in StarFox Assault, and could do the same in StarFox Command as well.
So why include Wolf? It’s likely because he forms a good triangle with Fox and Falco that represents what the series is about. Fox is the ace pilot; Falco is the hot-headed wing-man; Wolf is the rival pilot. In a series that primarily focuses on dogfights, this creates a strong sense of what the games are about.
But then, you could argue that K. Rool completes a similar triangle — DK the hero, Diddy the sidekick, and K. Rool the villain. The question then becomes ‘is that what the DK series is about?’ We’ll continue to revisit that question; in the meantime, there are still 4 more characters to discuss.
Meta-Knight / King Dedede
I decided to talk about these two together, as they are somewhat intertwined. Both of these characters serve as typical antagonists in the Kirby series. However, both share some commonalities with Wolf that are worth mentioning.
Meta-Knight is a mysterious creature that looks very similar to Kirby, who has appeared in several Kirby titles over the years. Much like Wolf though, he is rarely (if ever) the primary antagonist, and many times actually aids Kirby — though sometimes only after Kirby has bested him in a duel.
Meanwhile, King Dedede is the ruler of Dreamland, who is at best lazy, and at worst indulgent. He’s the most similar in personality to K. Rool in the current zSmash Brothers cast, though Dedede is not as loony. He premiered in Kirby’s Adventure, where Kirby spends most of his time fighting to reach him. King Dedede is not the ultimate enemy in Kirby’s Adventure though. King Dedede was being manipulated by a dark force called Nightmare, who Kirby then has to destroy upon Dedede’s defeat. While this isn’t always the case, many of Kirby’s final foes are actually some dark force that is controlling Dedede, as opposed to the giant penguin himself.
What’s more, King Dedede’s relationship to Kirby is more complicated than just being an unjust ruler over Kirby’s homeland. Dedede competes with Kirby, and even helped him and his friends in Kirby and the Crystal Shards for the Nintendo 64.
Therefore, while the relationship between Kirby, Meta-Knight, and Dedede can be stereotyped as hero-rival-villain, it is often more complicated than that. It’s that odd combination of rivalry and friendship between them that makes the series odd and unique. By comparison, the relationship between DK, Diddy, and K. Rool is not this deep or complex.
King Koopa himself, Bowser needs little introduction, as he as dogged the Mario Brothers for nearly 30 years. He’s faced the plumbers in wide array of arenas, and has failed time-after-time. His relationship has also changed from time-to-time, siding with his red-shirted arch-enemy in bad times, but as soon as the dust clears, Bowser is back to his old ways. In many ways, Bowser is similar to K. Rool in literary function.
Bowser has a significant difference over K. Rool, however; namely, Bowser is incredibly prolific within the Mario franchise. In the original Mario brothers, Bowser appears in every castle, regardless if there was a princess in it or not. In Super Mario 64, Bowser appears on every floor to thwart Mario’s progress. Other games take his appearances at a slower pace, but Bowser makes himself known in every Mario installment he appears in, not just appearing at the end of the game.
K. Rool, unfortunately, is notorious for doing the opposite. Donkey Kong 64 probably gives K. Rool the most screen time, but even there, he appears in his crown and cowl early on, which he subsequently ditches by the end of the game. In just about every other game, K. Rool is simply the unknowable baddie at the end. Anyone who doesn’t complete the game will likely never see him.
Something else Bowser has that K. Rool doesn’t is relevancy. Bowser has appeared as the antagonist in all of Mario’s recent forays. K. Rool has not appeared, villain or otherwise, in Donkey Kong Country Returns or Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. K. Rool hasn’t appeared in a main series Donkey Kong game since the Gamecube era (his last appearances being a DK racing game called Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, and a Mario baseball game called Super Mario Sluggers — and as a secret character in both).
Therefore, even though K. Rool is similar to Bowser in some respects, it is clear K. Rool does not match Bowser, both in his renown and his relation to his own franchise. But perhaps there is hope. After all, there is one more classified villain to go.
The proper Legend of Zelda villain, Ganondorf knows what he wants; he gets what he wants. Only the Hero of Time stands to impede his progress, and he will stop at nothing to destroy the hero when he reveals himself. Ganondorf isu unique, as he is the only one on this list to never appear either as a playable character in his series proper, nor as an ally to the protagonist at any point.
In all of his appearances, Ganondorf is the primary villain, but doesn’t appear in every Legend of Zelda game. In fact, his first appearance was in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. He also wasn’t featured in the last Zelda title, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Ganondorf appears to counter every possible point built up in this article. Surely, this lends K. Rool some credence.
In spite of all this, Ganondorf still holds a stronger foothold than K. Rool. Firstly, Ganondorf is still prolific, even if he’s not in every game. In Ocarina of Time, he shows up very early in the story, even if he is not interacting directly with the player character yet. In The Wind Waker, Ganondorf appears frequently throughout the proceedings, and is given more depth to his character. Secondly, Ganondorf’s relationship to Link and Zelda, as well as their relationship to the Triforce, inevitably shows up in every installment that involves Ganondorf. Thus, the Legend of Zelda trifecta feels incomplete without Ganondorf, and Toon Link does not fill the niche by any stretch.
Most importantly, however, Ganondorf is the only villain in the Nintendo Universe who ever won. One timeline in Legend of Zelda’s collected history actually accounts for Link failing to save Hyrule from Ganondorf during the events of Ocarina of Time. As strong and persistent as he is, not even Bowser can claim that. This means Ganondorf is possibly the most dangerous villain Nintendo ever created. Ganondorf’s incorporation into Smash seems more like an inevitability, rather than a privilege.
But on the topic at hand, K. Rool has not seen such success as the primary villain. He has kidnapped Donkey Kong, only to be defeated by Diddy. He’s captured Diddy only to be defeated by Dixie. He’s captured all the available Kongs, only for them to break each other free and beat him anyway. He’s more on par with Bowser in that respect, but as stated before, he still falters in that comparison as well.
Krool, Krool World
Looking to the most recent Donkey Kong outings, it has become apparent that the series has little to do with the villains. When a bunch of tikis or penguin vikings can evoke the same amount of animosity as the Kremlings, it becomes clear K. Rool and the Kremlings are not anywhere near the heart of the franchise. Instead, the Donkey Kong Country series is more about the Kong family uniting to protect their home and belongings. Family, friendship, and teamwork overcoming obstacles is a stronger theme than the Kongs’ relationship to the particular threat befalling them. For this reason, it seems more likely to me that another Kong would join the fray before K. Rool. Even then, I’m not even sure another Kong is necessary to represent the series. Donkey and Diddy perfectly encapsulate this theme by themselves.
K. Rool meanwhile, has no other legs, or tails, to stand on. He’s not as significant as Bowser or Ganondorf, does not relate to his counterparts like Dedede or Meta-Knight, and does not even serve as an approachable rival as Wolf does. K. Rool is simply a villain with a few interesting, but forgettable quirks.
Probability Forecast: Fair to Slightly Unreasonable
As one may recall, I gave Krystal as similar Forecast a few installments ago. My reasoning is a little different this time, however. While I’m pretty sure I’m accurate on this one, there are fewer roadblocks in the way for this character — the main one being that it’s very clear he is owned by Nintendo (his appearance in Mario Sluggers was well past Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare). Also, in spite of him not being a good choice, he would offer a distinct difference in the cast. If he did not, he would have scored much lower.
Also, as a side note, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was worked in as a mini-boss of some kind if this game is doing those again.
I’d probably place a couple copies of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D against his inclusion as a playable character — though this time I don’t have anyone to give the other copy. Post a comment detailing why I should give you the copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, and I’ll contact the best one if K. Rool shows up playable later this year.
Of course, if you just want to voice your opinion, have at the poll below: