Donkey Kong Country Returns Reader Review
In many ways is analogous to . Both have revived gaming series of old, introduced true co-operative play for the first time and represent a back-to-basics approach for two classic Nintendo franchises.
However, I’d argue that expands far more on the template of its predecessors than does, providing a lot more flair and variety in the process.
Even in screenshots it’s obvious to see a visual disparity between the two. While strove for little more than a by-the-numbers Mario look, provides a 2.5D look that is much more vibrant and detailed than the majority of modern platformers. Unlike the Donkey Kong and Mario’s 16-bit days, tree leaves and long grass sway in the wind, structures crumble and collapse in realistic (albeit scripted) ways and more, all rendered in 3D dimensions.
Even better is that 2.5D aspect isn’t just for show, as frequently launches players into background or foreground sections. On many stages this opens up branching pathways and also displays some fantastic looking set pieces.
The key to success has to be its sheer variety. Much like the superb games it rarely feels like you’re doing the same thing twice. Donkey and Diddy Kong come with new abilities from the outset, building upon the typical game play. Probably most impactful is their ability to climb certain surfaces which allows for some interesting level design that simply wasn’t possible in the old days.
With some Wii-mote waggling both simians can now unleash a powerful ground pound to smash objects, hit switches and stun enemies. They’re also able to blow on objects too which - for as meagre as that sounds - does come into play in several interesting ways.
Much like the original trilogy, doesn’t shy away from delivering a high level of challenge. Though I consider myself a veteran of the previous games and 2D platformers in general, this one demanded that I dug deep from as early as world two. The one-hit kill nature of the infamous mine cart levels and the new rocket barrel stages does result in jarring difficultly spikes however, but the game is highly generous with extra lives and the punishment for hitting a game over screen amounts to simply to losing your checkpoint progress on the current level.
The motion controls are definitely the most criticised part of the game, particularly the way that waggling replaces the standard button press to execute the roll move. In my experience it didn’t take long to get used so it barely qualifies as a minor niggle.
Personally my main (though equally as minor) gripe is that I would’ve liked to have heard more original musical compositions. For as great as the arrangements of the tunes from the original are, it would’ve been another feather in the game’s cap to have some amazing new tracks too.
is 2D platforming at its best. Not only does it deliver on what you’d expect from a title bearing the name but it goes several steps beyond. Because of its old-school difficultly it’s maybe not one for less experienced, dare I say “casual” players, but platforming and series fans will come away thoroughly satisfied.