Donkey Kong Country Returns Reader Review
After completing work on three Metroid games and putting together a fantastic compilation pack, Retro Studios wanted a new challenge, so Nintendo gave them the DK license and instead of rewriting the formula like they did with Metroid and going all modern and 3D, they continued Rareís legacy. The final result is an awesome platformer with some really good visuals and a challenge any gamer will find difficult.
Retro havenít just taken what Rare did though. Theyíve thrown their own ideas into the mix, like the Rocket Barrel, as well the Super Guide feature which made its debut in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. As in that game, you have to die eight times on a level before a pig waving a surrender flag pops up offering you the chance to take the Super Guide option. Unlike New Super Mario Bros. Wii however, chances are you will see this pig a lot more than you saw the Luigi box.
Story wise, this is typically Nintendo, as in not a huge story. Essentially, some new creatures have hypnotised the animals of the jungle into stealing all of the bananas on the island. Thatís all. But you donít play this game for the story, and if you are, this is definitely not the game for you. The game looks fantasticÖfor a Wii game (I hate saying that). Both Donkey and Diddy Kong look and animate brilliantly. The worlds that you explore have so much attention to detail; you will admire what goes on in the background as well as the foreground. Mainly because they are quite a few nods to previous DK games as well as other Nintendo franchises. Keep an eye out for Mr Game & Watch in one of the levels. There are some levels which look like an interactive silhouette and they are superb, you can tell the developers had fun making them. Itís just a shame they are so few of them about.
Personally, speaking though, the design of the levels is where the game truly stands out. From running through the jungle, caves or swamps to jumping from cart to cart, the levels in this game are outstanding. The platforming varies from walking cautiously to a ledge, running from a horde of giant spiders, jumping, climbing, carting and rocketing through the levels, each providing a different test to your gaming skill from the last and the beauty of the difficulty not only comes from the levels, but from the gamer themselves. You know that the ground is going to disappear or an enemy is going to appear in a certain place, yet each time to seem to forget and you have to have another go because you know you can beat the level and as you remind yourself of the various perils that approach only to forget again. That one more go factor that Retro has clearly learnt from Nintendo after playing both Mario Galaxies and New Super Mario Bros Wii. Often in the game, whether itís a mine cart level or playing with an interactive silhouette, you will want more and the best thing about them is when you come across these levels again later in the game, there is a new spin on that type of level, especially the Rocket Barrel levels. Scattered about the levels are K-O-N-G letters and Jigsaw pieces to collect. Collecting all the K-O-N-G letters in each level in a world unlocks a bonus stage whereas collecting all the Jigsaw pieces in each level unlocks artwork and music. This collectable are well hidden and require a lot of skill to find the all, especially the Jigsaw pieces.
Like all Wii games, everyone wants to know about the controls. There are two control options, the Wiimote held sideways or the controls I predominately used, Wiimote and Nunchuk combination. Sorry Classic Controller fans, no love for you. For the most part, the combination I used was really good. The controls are really responsive and for the most part are really good. Swinging both controllers for a ground pound is cool and when you have Diddy by your side you can hover in the air by holding the jump button which jumping slightly easier, or hold the control stick, swing the controller and roll across they level, which is really fun. However, this control style can result in some accidental deaths. If the control stick is slightly tilted and you swing the Wiimote, you could end up rolling to your death instead of blowing a flower. Speaking of which, blowing is one of those new ideas the Retro brings into the DK series, but it doesnít really work. This unnecessary mechanic slows the game down as you blow flowers looking for bananas, coins or even jigsaw pieces instead of making your way to the end.
As mentioned earlier, this game is hard, especially the trying to collect all the K-O-N-G letters in each level. Unlike Jigsaw pieces, the game does not save the K-O-N-G letters you collect in each level unless you collect all the letters and reach the end of the level. Miss one and you might as well start the level again and some of these letters are so infuriatingly hard to gather you could easily lose 20 lives to get one letter only to die later in the level and have to get it again. This is not even considering the hidden temples in the game which have some of the most challenging platforming moments in any game and these levels have no checkpoint. You start off with only two hearts and gain two more when you find Diddy and considering the size of the challenge, donít be surprised if you run out of hearts quickly. This game will test any skilled gamer and may even put some people off. There is always the super guide for those people. Then there is Mirror Mode which ramps up the difficulty even further.
This game is a must buy for any gamer who likes a challenge and should be in any gamerís collection. Buy it now.