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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Donkey Kong Country Returns

I'm sure many of you reading this look back on the Donkey Kong Country series' glory days on the SNES. It's sad to say, I never actually played a Donkey Kong Country game until the recent Wii entry. That being said, keep in mind that this is being reviewed by someone who has absolutely no emotional or sentimental attachment to the series at all. Despite this, Donkey Kong Country Returns still manages to instill a sense of nostalgia in me.

DK's banana horde has once again been stolen, this time by a gang of evil Tikis who are using a hypnotic rhythm to enslave the jungle inhabitants. The Kongs appear to be immune to this enchanting tune, and as such, Donkey and Diddy set off to get back what is rightfully theirs, and save the jungle.

Many games these days are being called out as being too easy, or pushovers. I'm happy to report than DKCR will make you break things. Yes, I said I'm happy to report that. I don't know when I've played such a challenging game! DKCR will push your platforming prowess to the limit, and then keep pushing it some more. Every level is masterfully crafted, and almost perfectly paced.

There are two control types in DKCR; using the Wii remote held on its side like an NES controller, or holding it upright using the Nunchuk. Personally, I prefer the former as it feels more natural. The controls are extremely tight and responsive, which is a must in any platformer.

Gameplay is pure 2D platforming goodness, while the 3D environments are bright, crisp and highly detailed. You progress by completing levels which all take place in worlds. After beating a number of levels, you may challenge that world's boss, and progress to the next world. Any level already completed can be played again anytime via the world map. This map, reminiscent of the world map from the first Crash Bandicoot is where you can access levels, check your progress in each level, and visit Cranky's hut to buy useful items. Each level has puzzle pieces to collect, unlocking artwork for your viewing pleasure, and the classic KONG letters. Collecting all KONG letters in every level of any single world unlocks a special level that is sure to try your patience. Collecting these, and beating these levels is entirely optional, but there is a great sense of accomplishment when you choose to do this.

Borrowed from other Nintendo games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the superguide feature. After losing eight lives in a level, you can call on super Kong to show you how to play the level. If you allow super kong to complete the level for you, you may progress in the game, but you will retain no collectibles from the level, and it will not be counted as completed. Unlike the games this feature comes from however, it is actually useful for showing you how to get through some of the tougher parts.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is an amazing platforming experience that should definitely not be missed, especially if you enjoy a challenge. I'm sure it will get compared to New super mario Bros. Wii, as they are both platformers with the intention of bringing back memories while creating new ones. I have to say that DKCR blows NSMBW out of the water in every possible way, and is a superior platformer. Mario has been dethroned this generation, perhaps for the first time in the history of platforming.