"NO, you lunkhead! I'm not fat, you're just paying attention to all the wrong things!"
To start this off, let's talk about Paon.
Paon was the company who saved DK when he and his pals were in turmoil. Yes, Diddy's not the only one who's saved the big lug before! And with turmoil I'm referring to post-buyout. Rare left, leaving all DK characters with Nintendo and only taking Banjo and Conker with them. Disaster struck. Nintendo took matters into their own hands and came out with Donkey Konga. While a fun little game filled with cute little references to past outings, it was obviously no Country and the same would be for its two sequels. Not only that - it missed so many opportunities! DKC, games known for its splendid soundtracks - and none of them appeared in Donkey Konga. Not a single one. Well, the Japanese got a track from the TV show... but that's it.
Nintendo later got Miyamoto back and he did to DK what he wanted to do when the ape was still in the arcades. He created Donkey Kong Jungle Beat - a game that was beautifully rendered but deconstructed DK's personality brutally. Literally and figuratively.
Now bear with me, I have never played the game before, so I will not judge it. I like the visuals, but I'm not too keen on the lack of characters from the SNES era.
Enter Paon. These guys took DK back from 'Moto, nursed him back to health and made DK: King of Swing. While obviously quite different, it brought back many if not all original characters, even slightly redesigning some. They later came out with DK: Jungle Climber and DK: Jet Race/Barrel Blast (the later flopped though... for shame!)
That brings us to our subject. Lo and behold, it's King K. Rool.
Since Tumblr has... changed me abruptly, we're gonna plainly discuss his tail and the lack thereof.
His first appearance in 1994, Donkey Kong Country, introduced him as a portly crocodile who wore a red cape, some golden bracelet... things, and a crown. Like any crocodile, he obviously had a tail and he continued to have one for the rest of the trilogy. Not spiny or anything, but more... lizard-like. He wasn't very spiny, as were other Kremlings...
But the TV show threw it all around. They shortened his cape and got rid of his tail, resulting in the crocodile scheming about with his butt in plain sight. It got awkward when you found out that Klump and Krusha did have tails... just not K. Rool. It never got addressed though, which is fine by me... but there's just so many times that it was in plain sight.
Donkey Kong 64, which came out not too long after the TV show, disregarded the tail-less design, though, and that's fine by me, seeing as I think he looks much better with a tail.
After that, and the buyout, it began getting a bit vague. He got a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, where he suddenly didn't have a tail - well, perhaps just barely. For some reason, Dixie Kong got a trophy too while Diddy Kong did not... huh?
When Paon was at hand, they gave him a little redesign, the first in years.
Comparison time! Left: Rare's version. Right: Paon's version. (I have a cape like that too! And it's awesome!)
The most obvious differences are that Paon's version is a tad more biologically realistic, with more believable proportions. That, and his crown shrunk. And I believe he's a tad rounder. And, dare I say, cutesy. Sure, it doesn't really show in that render there, but in Jungle Climber he can look pretty dang adorable at times, like when you first beat him with DK. He's all sad and pouty and goes "Ugh... bad monkey!" N'aww.
Oh, and his eye tic's a bit less scary in Paon's rendition as well.
BUT(t) there's a little something that has been obvious to me for a while.
I think Paon got their inspiration from the TV show. A lot of elements seem to derive from that in their games and K. Rool's design as well. Most obvious; he is tail-less here. But unlike Nelvana, Paon isn't too keen on showing his behind. He finally got his old cape back to cover it up, and in DK: Barrel Blast/Jet Race, he drives a different kinda thingy than all others.
Like a boss! A final boss, to be precise.
Against all odds, he also got a playable role in the game Mario Super Sluggers, but there he suddenly lost his cape because 1. he likes dressing up (canon!) or 2. Nintendo was too lazy (not canon!). And instead of that, he wore some Egyptian-like accessories. Like some pants. Why pants?... The only conclusion I can come up with is that even though Paon likes the TV show design, they don't want to show off K. Rool's butt. I presume it has something to do with the Japanese's standards. Or just people's standards in general these days. Back then, a lot more was allowed.
The only time it can be seen in plain view in his Paon design is his trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And to get that trophy you need to clear Break the Targets on maximum difficulty. With all characters.
And yet I still managed to do just that. Just to confirm if K. Rool has a tail these days.
The things I do for this blog.