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Donkey Kong Country Returns


16 years after the original Donkey Kong Country (created by Rare) surprised the SNES crowd with amazing gameplay and, at the time, cutting edge graphics, Nintendo thought it would be a good idea to see the Kong back in action again. They called on Retro Studios, the folks that built the Metroid Primes games, to give Donkey Kong Country the New Super Mario Bros treatment. They took the classic DK: Country design and gave it a brand new coat of paint as well as tweaked some of the gameplay. The end result is absolutely gorgeous and builds on the solid gameplay foundation that Rare originally created. Thereís not a deep narrative that comes along with Donkey Kong Country Returns, but there never really needed to be one. The short story is that Donkey Kongís bananas were stolen and heís off to get them back with little Diddy Kong in tow.

donky kong country returns bananas

The game sticks to the classic platforming style; run around, collect bananas and stomp out the enemies. The game can be played with just the Wii-mote or the combination of the Wii-mote with the Nunchuk. I preferred sticking with just the Wii-mote as the motion control on the Nunchuk was far too sensitive and threw off the position of Kong all the time resulting in a needless death. However, giving Kong the ability to climb in the game is fantastic and exactly what a giant gorilla should be able to do. Between the levels, you can purchase power-up items in the store like extra lives. Other cool items in the store include another health bubble and a little squawking parrot that points out the locations of the hidden collectibles within all the eight worlds.

The difficulty of the game might throw off some younger gamers that arenít used to old school platformers. The opening levels are simple to blow though, but the latter stages of the game can become frustrating. Itís not sadistically difficult like Super Meat Boy, but you are likely going to want to throw that controller at some point. Fortunately, Retro Studios made it accessible for inexperienced players with the auto-play function. If you die on any level multiple times, the game offers the option to play through the level for you. Itís an easy way to skip the current level thatís giving you problems and move onto a new challenge. For the gaming purist, they will try to beat all the times set in the time trials as well as collect all the Kong letters to get that 100% rating for the game. Itís a shame that Nintendo hasnít implemented a much better achievement system for the Wii as thatís something that any gamer would want to show off to friends.

donky kong country returns rail ride

While you can switch between Donkey Kong and Diddy during the game while playing by yourself, a friend can join you for co-op play. Combining their abilities is often extremely helpful allowing Donkey Kong to use Diddyís hovering ability. Diddy also have a sweet set of guns that helps for enemies off in the distance. However, you really do have to work together at times to beat sections of the levels. Diddy feels perfect for a child to play an ancillary support for Donkey Kong on the latter levels with increased difficulty.

Graphics

The visual depth in the game is surprising, particularly when Retro pushes and pulls the in game environment to create an allusion of 3D. The character models were created in loving detail of the originals and the massive detail in the level backgrounds is very impressive. Animation is also superb as well as the vibrant, intense color palette. Frankly, Iím amazed that the game looks this good on the Wii. It also runs smoothly nearly all of the time, no small feat on the Wii hardware.

donky kong country returns shoot diddy

Audio

If you played the original on the SNES, you will immediately notice the catchy jazzy tunes remixed for the release on the Wii. Listen for all the original Donkey Kong tunes from previous games as well. The entire soundtrack captures the jungle ambiance perfectly. The sound effects are also reminiscent of the original and do an excellent job of bringing emotion to both the main characters and the enemies.

Conclusion

If I had to pick out one glaring fault with Donkey Kong Country Returns, it would be the lack of classic controller support. Old school gamers will be disappointed that it wasnít included, but will be able to adapt to the new controls. However, the rest of the game really fires on all cylinders; dare I say, better than New Super Mario Bros. Itís pretty amazing to see Retro Studios improve on Rareís original classic, both in game design and challenge to the player. If you have a love for platformers or are simply looking for a new challenge, donít hesitate to pick up Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Nintendo Wii. It also makes for an excellent gift for all ages due to the entertaining feel and increasing difficulty at the game progresses. Highly Recommended!



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