Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Game Review - Donkey Kong Country Returns

Format: (Wii)

Like Batman and Superman before him, Donkey Kong Country Returns in a new
adventure for the Wii, crafted this time not by franchise owners Rare, rather by Nintendo's new golden child Retro Studios. Most famous for their reinvention of the Metroid series (check out Metroid Prime 1-3), Retro Studios stay true to their name this time round by distilling Donkey Kong back into his SNES-era form: Hardcore controller-smashing 2D platforming.
 




Simplicity is the name of the game here: the player must move
 Nintendo's prime-ape across hazardous levels, collecting bananas and
hidden icons before facing off against the zone's boss. Retro studios
manage to take DKCR's simple format and deliver something fresh and
exciting in each and every level, either by featuring stunning visual
effects or thrilling gameplay. Every stage is crafted lovingly, with
incidental details crowding both the foreground and background. DKCR 
may be a 2D game, but Donkey Kong's actions often have an effect in
three dimensions, with impressive results! Donkey and Diddy Kong
 themselves are superbly animated, moving with fluid animalistic grace, and fit in well with their surroundings. The big ape himself seems to have retained his rhythm-based moves from his earlier bongo games, as he pounds on his enemies with percussive abandon! There's not often a static element in any of the stages and from beginning to end my screen was alive with colour and movement. Retro Studios obviously breathed a lot of character into both the level design and characters.
 




While DKCR follows a simple format, completing the game is no simple
matter. In all honesty, Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the hardest
 games I've played in a long time, and I've bested the likes of Super
Meat Boy and Henry Hatsworth. Some levels will have you retrying over 
and over, especially the rocket barrel sections! The less co-ordinated among you need not despair however, as DKCR features the same hand-holding 'here let me do it for you' feature seen in New Super Mario Brothers Wii and Mario Galaxy 2. After losing the prerequisite number of lives, the option to have the computer play through the rest of the stage for you opens up. But you won't be needing that now, will you? (don't worry, I won't tell anyone!)


Unfortunately it's not all golden bananas. Once again the ungainly Wii motion controls rear their ugly head, as some of DK's moves require a drumming motion to activate. While I'm aware that this fits in with his bongo-M.O., in situations where the slightest twitch causes the monogrammed monkey to roll off a platform to his death rather than extinguish a fiery enemy, a button press would have been much preferred.


Donkey Kong Returns is a must-have game for fans of the SNES DK
 series, as well as anyone who enjoyed the co-op platforming from New
 Super Mario Bros Wii. With plenty of hidden icons and stages to
unlock, as well as bonus content, DKCR will have you returning for more again and again. Just try not to throw your wiimote out the window!
 


Lukao gives Donkey Kong Returns 8 game-overs out of 10.

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