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Fun and frustrating

  • Dec 23, 2010
Rating:
+3
I've never played a game that's both so frustrating and so fun at the same time. Here are some thoughts a bit more than halfway through the game:

The GOOD

The graphics are gorgeous. While Donkey Kong Country Returns' graphics don't have quite the same "wow factor" as the original Donkey Kong Country did for SNES, Retro Studios did an amazing job. Some of the cutscenes almost look like Pixar films. The music really evokes the classic soundtrack, with some tracks lifted directly from the original.

The best part of the game is the ingenious level designs. For 3-D platforming, Super Mario Galaxy is still king, but Donkey Kong Country Returns raises the bar for 2-D platforming. Levels aren't simply linear 2-D routes, but have several foreground and background layers that interact with you characters. The most famous example is the giant Octopus on the beach, which launches its tentacles as it tries to attack you. Other stages feature moles in mine karts that drive parallel to your kart and throw bombs. Meanwhile, the bosses are far more complex than the old SNES goons and can change their strategies according to your actions.

The BAD

First of all, there are no Kremlings. For a Donkey Kong game, this is a travesty. I can understand that Retro didn't want to simply copy Rare and rehash King K. Rool, but the Tikis - which look like giant drums - are just underwhelming as villains. Most of the villains you do encounter are simply animals, such as parrots and bats and frogs.

Speaking of animals, I also can't understand why Rambi and Squawks are the only animal buddies to make a return. What about Expresso, Enguarde, and Rattly? At least Retro could have created a few new animals. This was disappointing.

More seriously, the game is really hard. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about a challenge. But, even though you get up to four hears, there a lot of one-hit kills in the game. For example, in the SNES version, you had at least two hits on mine kart levels, whereas in Donkey Kong Country Returns a single crash kills instantly. Furthermore, the DK barrels are few and far between - sometimes there are not even any near the halfway point. This simply makes the game more frustrating than necessary. Fortunately, the Super Guide feature really helps and allows players to progress in the game even if they can't overcome some of the more difficult stages.

The MIXED

The control scheme isn't always intuitive. I definitely think the roll and jump roll should have been easier to execute. This becomes worrisome when you have to make careful jumps. It works well enough, but takes some getting used to.

In balancing platforming versus exploration, Donkey Kong Country Returns definitely emphasizes the former, even more than the SNES games. In Donkey Kong Country Returns, the bonus stages and hidden items are fairly easy to discover - the tough part is getting them. There aren't many barrels throughout the game, so no more running around with barrels throwing them at every wall to find secret chambers.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a true heir to the SNES classics. However, definitely don't get this game if you're impatient or have high blood pressure. I promise you, you will release a stream of expletives at some point in your quest. In fact, I'd highly recommend simply ignoring all of the puzzles and secrets during your first run-through, and instead just enjoy the graphics and sheer originality of the levels.

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February 07, 2011
So far I agree with the control scheme issues. It is definitely really easy to do the absolute wrong thing in certain situations. I've heard a lot of people talk about the challenge faced here... but I've hardly really seen it. I mean, some of it is challenging but I think those Super Nintendo games were far more difficult.
 
February 03, 2011
Nice review! I'll respectfully disagree on the Tikis! I LOVE the giant drums. They are so hilarious! It's a game after all - the super villain doesn't have to be something that looks terrifying at first glance. I rather something that cracks me up every time I see it!!
 
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About the reviewer
Dominic J Nardi ()
Ranked #12
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
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About this video game

Wiki

Inspired by earlier games in the Donkey Kong Country series, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a new take on a beloved Nintendo franchise. The first Donkey Kong Country game developed for play for Wii, this new iteration blends familiar actions, levels and characters with a whole new graphical treatment and feel, as well as new control schemes and play options. Features include: a co-op play option allowing you to team up as Donkey Kong and Diddy, radically different visuals ranging from nearly 3D treatment to others that appear in silhouette, two different controller schemes and more.

Donkey Kong Country Returns game logo
A New Country for Old Friends

Under the influence of a group of evil Tikis, the animals of Donkey Kong Island have raided Donkey Kong's banana hoard and stolen his stash of bananas - and being an ape of large appetites he understandably wants them back. Good thing that you are along for the ride. With Donkey Kong Country Returns, Retro Studios brings Donkey Kong back to a banana and platforming hungry public in a new side-scrolling adventure with familiar characters and new levels that reignite the passion players had for the Super NES original and all things Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong and Diddy from Donkey Kong Country Returns
Join Donkey Kong and sidekick Diddy in a whole new side-scrolling adventure.
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Gameplay

Like earlier Donkey Kong Country games, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a side-scrolling platformer, but although the game contains classic references, as well as levels and activities reminiscent of earlier ...

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Details

ESRB: E
Number of Players: Single player, Multi-player
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Retro Studios, Nintendo
Console: Nintendo Wii
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: November 21, 2010 (NA)
First to Review

"Fun and frustrating"
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