If you're a big fan of Donkey Kong Country, then there's no doubt that you should get your hands on Donkey Kong Country Returns! The game will certainly feel nostalgic as it very closely duplicates what we loved about the original on Super Nintendo while bringing forth a fresh set of ideas. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves though. “They don't make games like they used to”, is probably what Cranky Kong would be saying. Is that true for this title?
Donkey Kong and Diddy are back and busting out of the house once again to recover their stolen banana stash. The Tiki Tak Tribe are a musical bunch up to no good. Using their musical powers, they gained mind control over various animals of the island and made them steal bananas from everywhere. It seems bananas are their source for greater demonic powers. The adventure takes the duo around the island to beat up each member of the tribe.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is said to be a tough game to beat. If you haven't had any problems making the transition from gamepad to nunchucks though, then you shouldn't much problem finishing the bulk of the game in under a week. While the original SNES games always gave you a second chance by having your monkey partner around, DKC: Returns still feels just as tough given 4 heart pieces for having Donkey and Diddy together. The other point that makes this game hard is the way some levels force you to keep moving. Some platforms will tilt or drop on your weight, while others exist only temporarily. A few levels that will cause you to die a dozen times, but the generous number of bananas, balloons and coins to be found, especially from bonus rooms, are always just enough to keep you away from ever seeing that Game Over screen if you're really trying hard.
Each level is very unique and sports beautiful graphics worthy for a DKC title. There is even some depth to the side scrolling, which becomes apparent when a cannon barrel launches you onto the background platforms. If you've already played though DKC: Returns, then imagine how cool this would be for Nintendo 3DS! Within each level are several puzzle pieces and Bonus rooms to grab up a puzzle piece upon successful completion. Bonus rooms are just not what they used to be though. In DKC2, bonus rooms were challenges such as killing all baddies or traversing through a tricky layout to get to the end, but in DKC: Returns the task simply is to collect all the items in the room. After you've gone half way through a level, some throw you a curve ball. Who would have known that the second half involves riding a rocket or minecart?! Indeed, there are plenty of minecart levels in DKC: Returns, which is great for the fans!
The Wii controls set this title apart from the original in a few ways. Donkey can now jump and hover like Yoshi with the help of Diddy's jet pack. Moving the Wiimote and nunchuck like beating on a drum causes Donkey to slap the ground which comes handy for breaking through cracked rocks or pounding down on a huge button to trigger an event. Other gestures with the wiimote include doing barrel rolls and blowing on objects, but pounding the ground is definitely the most satisfying. Accidental gestures do happen, causing you to roll to your death, but shouldn't be a persistent problem as you spend more time to train your muscle reaction.
I have two complaints with the game influenced by the originals. On SNES, you would push B to jump and keep it held down to continue bouncing high while knocking out one enemy after another. In DKC: Returns you have to let go of jump and push it again to ensure you'll get the height. Second problem: rolling without Diddy is intimidating. When Diddy is on your back you can keep doing a barrel roll (called the Kong Roll) as long as the land permits it, otherwise Donkey only rolls a certain distance and stops completely. This can result in deaths caused too often by being forced to stop rolling right in front of a walking enemy. In the original game, the Kong's roll would actually be accelerated or boosted again after hitting each enemy. Seeing even a row of 3 enemies made me hesitate to execute a barrel roll.
Diddy Kong cannot be played independently without Donkey Kong in single player, which is okay. That is similar to Prince of Persia on Xbox 360. When you do play co-op, then Diddy is highly superior given his jet pack alone, while Donkey has no advantages by himself. In the end, its better off for both players to just stick together (Diddy on Donkey's back) and further benefit from Diddy's Peanut Popgun. In that case, player 1 is doing the majority of the work.
Complaints aside though, this is definitely a great game to have on the Nintendo Wii. Once you finish the game, you can keep going back to it to take on the time trials. The examples we've seen so far look frightenly hard to execute if you want to achieve the gold model. Sonic could learn some new tricks from Donkey Kong at this point. There's many puzzle pieces in tough to reach places which adds another layer of gameplay if you want to get 100% for completion and unlock the secrets at the end. The enemy is not a compelling one by today's standards, but the challenging levels and overall presentation makes this a must get for any Donkey Kong Country fan.
Please login or register to comment.