Oil Drums

Oh balls. I totally meant to do this earlier in the day.

Oh well.

Now, where were we?

Oh yeah. These things.

First showing up in the 1981 arcade release Donkey Kong, they appear in two stages. First, in the infamous 25m stage, and later in the much less well known 50m stage, which was omitted from the NES version due to memory constraints.

In 25m, it sits in the bottom left, and begins the stage unlit, dormant, and just generally not doing a whole lot. Until Donkey Kong starts off the action by hurling down a steel keg at it.

At which point it lights up and spawns a Fire enemy. Every subsequent keg to make it to the flames does the same. While the oil drum itself can't harm Mario, the little animate balls of flame it spawns can hunt him down and fry his Italian ass.

In the 50m stage, the oil drum (already lit) acts as an incinerator for the cement trays, and will again spawn little Fire enemies that Mario must avoid.

These are the only two appearances in the original, but since they're the first two levels of the famous game, the oil drum has become cemented in people's minds as part of the quintessential classic DK experience.

They appear in the Game & Watch version of Donkey Kong, but mainly doing duty as barrel disposal at the bottom of the stage.

And appear again in Donkey Kong Circus, also a Game & Watch, this time mainly as window dressing, to add to the DK aesthetic of the game.

They show up again in the 1994 Game Boy Donkey Kong release, first in the the remakes of the classic stages...

...and then sans barrel in the the Big City set of levels after you get the opening remake out of the way. These Oil (no barrel) 'enemies' are just basically flames that leap up and float down. Not really the biggest of threats.

Oil Drums appear again in much the same capacity in Donkey Kong Country. There's a couple different types in this game though. The standard ones, labelled "oil", still produce flames, which can hurt Donkey Kong and Diddy, and are usually used as obstacles to be avoided, though there are levels where the flames go out intermittently and use of the drums as temporary platforms is needed to progress.

The second type sports a skull and crossbones, and follows the other oil drum tradition of spawning enemies, usually grunts like Gnawties or Slippas, but larger dangers have been known to appear.

Finally, DKC features a big boss oil drum, Boss Dumb Drumb, which basically just spits enemies out at you and then accidentally blows itself up trying to pound you into smooshed monkey bits on the floor. As its name implies, it's not that intelligent.

They return in Donkey Kong Land, functionally identical to their DKC counterparts.

They do have a new younger sibling in the form of Snake Baskets, which rather appropriately spawn only Slippas.

The Oil Drum pseudo-enemies in DKC would spawn a slew of barrel-based bad guys in later DKC and DKL games.

DKC2 would feature Klobber, who would pop out of barrels and try to knock you back, with varying colors that would steal bananas or lives from you on hit, and Kaboom, who resided in a TNT barrel and would explode upon colliding with our ape-ish heroes. These two enemies would return in numerous games, including DK64 and Jungle Climber.

DKC3 would feature Knockas in green who act like Klobbers, trying to knock you back, Klasps in red TNT barrels who move along ropes trying to suicide bomb you, Krackas in the GBA port who act like land-bound Klasps, Kuchakas in purple, who are stationary but launch handfuls of bombs your way, and the boss Belcha, who is ginormous and must be dropped down a pit to defeat.

Oil Drums proper next appeared in Mario vs. Donkey Kong in 2004, acting very similar to the later of the two incarnations last seen in the 1994 Donkey Kong game for gameboy.

Next, they appear in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2's final battle in 2006, acting much as they did in the original arcade title. Appropriate, as the boss is the game's take on that classic confrontation. It even spawns little fire enemies when a barrel reaches it and everything!

Finally, Funky asks you to collect Oil Barrels for him in 2007's DK Jungle Climber. He uses them to fuel his plane, which he in turn uses to fly you to the extra stages in the game, if you care about getting a perfect clear percentage on your file.

Most recently, Donkey Kong Country Returns featured as the main antagonists the Tiki Tak Tribe, who are (mostly) all drums! But of the musical variety this time. While there are some flaming ones that remind of the oil drums of yore, I'm not sure these guys really count (though I still thought I'd mention them for good measure.)

So yeah, I think that brings us up to date.

As always, let me know if I've missed anything, and feel free to just shoot the shit about arcade era (and related) stuff in here.