Donkey Kong Country Returns • Page 2

Chimp off the old block.

The moves are easier to perform using the remote and nunchuck combo, but miserable purists who prefer good old d-pads to those new-fangled analogue sticks will no doubt whine about this. And they'll probably write very strong letters to their MPs when they learn you can't play DKC Returns with a Classic Controller.

This does seem like an oversight. Old Donkey Kong Country games downloaded from the Virtual Console can be played with the Classic, so why can't this new one? Why not map the waggly moves to the shoulder buttons?

Presumably because Nintendo wants to remind us all that motion control makes for more immersive gaming, as if being a huge primate with the power to cause earthquakes feels just like shaking a small white plastic cuboid, and as if immersive is even a word.

But before you race off to download the old trio of DKC games, hold up. Remember that they weren't designed for the nice big widescreen LCD telly sitting in your lounge today. Know that they won't look nearly as pretty as you recall, but will appear to have been constructed out of thousands of small yet individually distinguishable LEGO bricks.

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He's copied that stare from Nick off The Apprentice.

DKC Returns, by comparison, looks beautifully detailed, smooth and polished. Just as the old games did on the SNES, in fact. (Remember when the height of cutting-edge visual sophistication was snowflakes which went in different directions? Heady days.) This is undoubtedly the best-looking instalment in the series, and a strong contender for the title of prettiest Wii game released to date.

It helps that the environments you get to explore are so picturesque. Lush jungles, sandy beaches, blue seas, pink dawns, golden sunsets, sparkling waterfalls, arching rainbows... Good job there's also the odd rusting industrial power-plant and lake of boiling lava to provide a bit of balance.

But even the darker areas have been designed with a lighter touch. Take the ominous-sounding Caves. As it turns out, these are painted in various shades of purple and populated by massive lilac bats.

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What savage Tory cuts? We're too busy being shot out of exploding barrels into the mouths of giant stone monkeys amongst showers of golden stars to care!

Every location is packed with power-ups, collectables and secret bonus areas. Along with the traditional K-O-N-G letters there are hidden puzzle pieces to seek out. Finding them all will require the kind of time, dedication and single-minded focus only possessed by pre-teen children and English Literature undergraduates.

For many people, finishing the game at all will be a challenge. By the time you reach the fifth world, DKC Returns has become a properly hard game. There's always an awful lot happening on-screen and it's often occurring at a rollicking pace. Lightning reflexes and precision control are essential if you're to have any hope of handling all the moving platforms, exploding barrels, airborne missiles and massive lilac bats.

Good job there's a Super Guide feature, then, just like the one in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Activating this enables you to see how the level should be played through and skip on to the next. Yes, it's cheating, but you won't care when it's a choice between embedding the Wii remote into your own eye socket out of sheer rage or using the Super Guide so you can carry on playing.

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