Nintendo's booth is one of the busiest at E3. Which is as you'd expect, what with shiny new hardware on show, a fresh bunch of never-seen-before titles to play and a huge fanbase desperate to give them a go. But it's not just twentysomethings in Mario hats and Zelda t-shirts who are lining up. Spotted at the booth this afternoon: Electronic Arts superboss John Riccitiello, standing next to a massive queue and looking like he was wondering whether he was really going to have to join it.
Riccitiello should have wandered a little further into the booth, where he'd have found the cordoned-off area set aside for retailers, high-profile media types and silver-haired business executives in charge of massive third-party publishing operations. Despite failing to fit into any of these categories, but with the help of a friendly PR man, I managed to sneak behind the cordon and jump on one of the specially set aside Wii demo pods. I was there with only one mission: to play Donkey Kong Country Returns.
The original DKC was the reason I became a games journalist. Not because its charming, sumptuous visuals and brilliantly balanced platforming gameplay instilled in me a profound and life-changing love of videogames, but because I spent two terms at university playing it instead of reading Ulysses, and failed to earn a good enough degree to get a proper job. Worth it for 101* per cent completion though.
So I was excited when the DKC Returns announcement was made at Nintendo's E3 conference. I was even more excited as I approached the demo pod and realised the menu music was exactly the same. By the time I saw that the first option on the screen was a level titled Jungle Hijinx, I was so excited I almost had to have a sit down on one of Nintendo's blindingly white lifestyle sofas.
However, I managed to remember I am a grown woman and get a grip on myself and the remote and nunchuk. The controls are instantly familiar, even though no one could have imagined waggling was the future of gaming back when the original DKC was big. You press A to jump and use the nunchuk's analogue stick to move around. It all feels brilliantly smooth, fluid and fast. Donkey Kong's jump has just the right amount of float, which makes bopping rows of enemies on the head just as simple and rewarding as it ever was.
But this is a Wii game, so of course there's a bit of waggling to be done. Shaking the remote and nunchuk while standing on stone blocks will make Donkey Kong bash them to bits. A sharp downwards jerk sends him spinning through trapdoors and into secret passages, while a quick flick left or right makes him perform a roll. Perhaps the neatest new move on show involves crouching down next to a dandelion then shaking the controllers to blow away the petals.
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