An Animal Buddy is the name of a steed in the Donkey Kong games. Usually found in crates or animal barrels, the Kongs can either ride them, have their bodies transform into them, or operate side-by-side with them.
First seen in Donkey Kong Country, Animal Buddies were presented as creatures native to Donkey Kong Island who had befriended the Kongs and would assist them in various capacities in their struggle against the Kremling Krew. Their ranks would expand in later games to include animals from surrounding areas. An important aspect of an animal buddy is that it differs from the anthropomorphic, talking species originating from Timber's Island. They're traditional animals without a high-level of intelligence or the ability to speak language (minus exceptions like Squawks, who can mimic English).
The Donkey Kong Country Animal Buddies, all natives of the Kongo Jungle, set the standard for how all future Animal Buddies would be utilized. Four of them were rideable (with those four also being playable in special token-grabbing mini-games), while the fifth, Squawks, was the first "torch bearer." All returned in later games, with Squawks even being promoted into a rideable buddy.
The Crocodile Islers
When Donkey Kong was kidnapped in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, the Kongs encountered a myriad of new animals living on Crocodile Isle. While natives of the Kremling stronghold, they had no affiliation to the Kremling Krew itself. When the island was destroyed, all relocated to Donkey Kong Island.
Rattly and Squitter were capable of being ridden or of being transformed into, while Quawks and Flapper could only be ridden (although this would change in later games). Clapper remained stationary and would be able to cool water with his icy breath, while Glimmer used his natural light to illuminate a darkened underwater galleon, and supporting the same role that was previously done by Squawks.
- Rattly the Rattlesnake
- Squitter the Spider
- Clapper the Seal
- Glimmer the Anglerfish
- Flapper the Parrot
Northern Kremisphere Natives
After Donkey and Diddy went missing on a vacation, the search took the Kongs to the Northern Kremisphere of the DK Isles where they befriended two new animal buddies. Ellie was a standard steed and the first known female buddy, while Parry was unique in that he would fly over Dixie or Kiddy's heads and collect items out of reach or defeat certain enemies. He was also the only non-rideable animal buddy found in a crate, and the only one found in more than two levels. Although there was no "torch bearer" animal buddy this time around, there was an enemy that fulfilled the same role. (see "Helpful Enemies" section below)
Donkey Kong 64
Only one new Animal Buddy was introduced in Donkey Kong 64, serving the same role that Glimmer did in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest.
A number of items are associated with animal buddies.
- Animal Crate - These are crates that contain animal buddies. Much like DK Barrels will contain Kongs due to the Kremling curse, these are the containers for many of the buddies. A silhouette representing an individual animal buddy is painted on the exterior to indicate who is inside. When cracked open, the animal buddy will be exposed, allowing you to utilize their services (either by riding them, or, in the case of pre-Squawks and Parry, flying overhead). If your animal is touched by an enemy or obstacle, it will send them running away in a panic. It's sometimes possible to catch up with them and ride them again. Using an animal buddy from a crate, in essence, gives you an extra "hit."
- Animal Barrel - These are hollow barrels that have an animals image depicted on it. When jumping into one of these, the Kong transforms into that animal buddy. While it's believed by some that it's the Kong in the shape of their animal friend, the animal buddy is most likely in control, "beamed into" the reconfigured body of the Kong. Utilizing the animal barrel, the animal can have two hits, the second hit replacing where the second Kong would be. Therefore, as long as a transformed animal buddy opens a DK Barrel, it gains a hit. The animal barrels were created for levels where you would need to use an Animal Buddy for the entire level. Without these, your animal buddy would run away every time you got hurt, rendering the stage impossible to complete.
- Animal Token - Golden statues of Animal Buddies, when three of one kind are collected the Animal Buddy in question was sent to a bonus area with hundreds of smaller Animal Tokens resembling the Animal Buddy, depending on the level. These miniatures worked the same way as bananas, and for every hundred that was collected, Donkey and Diddy received an extra life.
- No Animal Sign - These magical signs were erected by the Kremlings. They each have a silhouette of an animal buddy in a red circle with a slash through it. If you are with an animal buddy or are transformed into one and try to pass it, your animal would disappear. On the plus side, you were usually granted a helpful item.
There are several enemies throughout the games that could actually be used to the Kongs' benefit. While not traditional Animal Buddies, in that their services aren't voluntary and all are members of the Kremling Krew, many did play valuable roles. These enemies usually would not intentionally try to hurt you, but many of them could.
- Booty Bird - These were big birds that revealed an item when defeated. They were also the only enemy that Parry could defeat.
- Bounty Bass - These were virtually the same as Booty Birds, except underwater. They could only be defeated by Enguarde, after which the special treasures they were hoarding would be revealed.
- Gleamin' Bream - A species of Bounty Bass, these fish would glow with a natural luminescence when jabbed by Enguarde.
- Koin - Koins are Kremlings that wear a bucket over their head and hold a trash can lid, which they will always point in the direction of their enemies, protecting themselves from harm. Because of this, they can only be defeated with a Steel Keg from behind. The first time any Koin was defeated in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! and Donkey Kong Land III, you were given a Hero Coin.
- Nibbla - The Nibbla in the Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! stage "Fish Food Frenzy" followed you around just like any other non-ridable animal buddy, eating any enemy he came close to. You had to keep him constantly fed (but not Lurchins, as their spines disagreed with him and made him angry) or else he would get hungry and attack you. He also had a no animal sign near the end of the level, although you didn't get any reward.
- Nid - These little red or yellow spiders with boards strapped to there backs appeared in the Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! level "Springin' Spiders." They jump up and down, and the player could stand on them and use them to reach heights in the level that even the team throw wouldn't reach. Although convenient, they were fiercely loyal to the Kremling Krew.
- Swoopy - Swoopies are rare woodpecker enemies, and when they saw they player they'd swoop down only to become stuck in the wood of a tree. The Kongs can then use them as a platform to reach an otherwise unreachable area.