Donkey Kong is joined by Diddy Kong in the game, and the two travel on a quest to get back some stolen bananas. When you begin a level, a lone monkey is available, but the second ape joins up as soon as you find and toss a DK barrel. The pair have differing abilities; Donkey Kong is strong and a tough fighter, but Diddy is quicker and has a better jump. In single player mode, you can switch between the two with the flick of a button, causing the apes to slap each others hands, tag team wrestling style.
When I saw there was a Two Player Team mode, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, the execution is a bit lacking. In Team mode, one player starts the level alone, just as in single player. When the second ape is found, tagging out means the second player gets to control the game. So, one player controls DK, and when swapping out for Diddy, the other player takes over. In theory this sounds great, but I found it to be about the same as "pass the controller" co-op. I can see a very young player tagging along and enjoying the ride, and playing every once in a while as the more experienced player lets them. For the most part, though, I just wished the two Kongs could be used independently.
Though the co-op is a bit weak, Donkey Kong Country is still an incredible game. Of all the games we got from our neighbors, we've played this and its first sequel the most. Donkey Kong Country was a smash hit for Nintendo, and was a huge factor in keeping the company in the race vs. Sega. Rare became known as a quality developer, leading to many more fine titles, first for Nintendo and eventually for Microsoft. It also gave Donkey Kong more recognition as a familiar Nintendo character. DK's revamped designs from this game have lasted even to current-gen titles. Donkey Kong Country might not be the best co-op game for the Super Nintendo, but it's likely one of its best games overall. I know it was a real treat for me to play it on that happy Saturday several years ago, and we've enjoyed it for many sessions since.