I used to think that as well... Then Retro Studios came along and completely shamed every one of Rare's Sonkey Kong games. The old country games are still fun but moreso from a nostalgia angle. They don;t hold up the best especially when put besides Retro's master classes in platformer design
Tropical Freeze does get pretty close to DKC2 as far as I am concerned.
The reason I give DKC2 the edge might sound totally silly, but it is because I am completely baffled about how the bonus mini-games are ridiculously repetitive on the Returns series when they were so brilliant and varied on the original trilogy.