Nintendo‘s vast catalog of mascots really began to hit its stride in the late ’80s to early ’90s. Names like Metroid, Mario, Zelda and Star Fox all appeared or re-appeared to mainstream and critical acclaim. Perhaps the single best representation of the era’s unique attitude, however, is epitomized in the character of a certain Funky Kong.
Debuting as part of the original Donkey Kong Country for Super Nintendo, Funky embodies the age of wraparound shades and surfer style, complete with board, bandana and a “bad” attitude. Despite being DK’s adrenaline junkie cousin Funky typically avoids adventure in favor of a more subdued assistant’s role, operating machinery and the occasional item shop.
It’s this latter position that the newly returned Kong will be filling when he appears in next year’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. With Cranky Kong, moving on from his role as shop manager to assist DK more directly, it now appears the coolest ape in entertainment has been drafted in to provide cover.
Announced on the official Nintendo of America Twitter page this Thursday, the brief reveal failed to mention whether the character was actually playable, leading many fans to believe that Funky would indeed join Cranky, Dixie and Diddy as one of DK’s interactive sidekicks. However, GameXplain broke the news of Funky as new shop manager a day earlier, on Wednesday 17, suggesting that the bandana-clad Kong is unlikely to appear in playable form here.
The lack of any character-specific reveal trailer – ala Dixie and Cranky’s announcements – in favor of a simple Twitter message, also supports the notion of a non-playable Funky Kong. It’s also plausible that Nintendo could be holding back the character as a potential incentive to completion, or as a part of some future DLC.
It remains highly unusual for a company to hype the return of a background character like this, though given Nintendo’s recent appearance at the VGX Awards – in which the Cranky Kong announcement was deemed important enough to drag out head-honcho Reggie Fils-Aimes – perhaps the studio is keen to reposition Donkey Kong as a major tentpole franchise.
Where does Funky Kong rank among your all-time Nintendo favorites? Do Ninty need to create a new line of mascots or is the current roster up to snuff? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest Nintendo news, right here on Game Rant.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will appear in store and online (via the Nintendo eShop) from February 21, 2014. The title is exclusive to the Wii U platform.
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.