on November 21, 2010
I don't normally write a review before I've beaten a game but after several hours of play I've got to say Donkey Kong Country Returns is grand. I've been playing it since the midnight release. Where do I start? It's like slipping on an old glove. I didn't even have to read the manual. The graphics are gorgeous, the controls are great and for once the motion controls didn't feel like a gimmicky addition. Rare just got owned!
Many hours of my misspent youth involved playing Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, whether alone or with a friend, I remember playing that silly Mine Cart Madness level until I had it memorized. All I can say is the people at Retro Studios must've loved DKC like many of us because they just knocked it out of the park with this one. They took everything I loved about the first DKC; barrel craziness, lots of enemies, easy and accurate controls, and beautiful scenery; and magnified these things by a factor of 100. This is just the kind of sequel I've been waiting for, for years. Retro Studios didn't reinvent the wheel, they duplicated and polished the wheels and then stuck it on a Ferrari. Let's break it down shall we?
Who cares it's DK! No seriously though, gone are the kremlins, now we're up against this mask thing a-la Crash Bandicoot. This mask thing steals your bananas, and now DK has to get them back... Donkey Kong Style. The classic DK humor is here, and the cut scenes have that DKC feel to them. Which are very well done by the way.
The controls are great for a platformer. I seriously had no problem slipping right in. They are tight and responsive. The motion controls are easy to learn, and actually make sense. For instance to do DK's trademark ground pound is just a matter of shaking the Wii Remote and Nunchuck up and down, in - you guessed it - a slapping type motion. Plus they give you multiple options for controls. (No GameCube controller though.)
Beautiful. Seriously. Bright and vibrant background with colorful and original enemies. DK and Diddy have never looked better. The detail in the respective character animations is awesome. The Wii is definitely getting put through some paces with this game. Everything is crisp and sharp. Nothing to complain about at all.
Yeah, those rocking jungle beats are back. Remixed in all of their glorious detail. I let it set on the start menu for a few minutes and just rocked out. XD The sounds also are very good. DK's deep roar and chest beating sound great, and Diddy's little squeaks and enemy deaths are clear and are recreated well.
You start out in the jungle just like the original DKC, except on steroids. You also have an over world view of the island also like DKC. But these aren't just clones. Yes the barrels are here, and the cool secrets that were scattered around all over DKC make their appearance too. Which was really cool. (That's another thing Retro Studios nailed on the head. All of the secrets.)
You have the traditional K-O-N-G letter finding, as well as puzzle pieces which unlock what seems to be some really cool stuff, coins (like DKC 2 and 3) which you can use to purchase alternative paths among other stuff, bunches of bananas. The list goes on. But it's all there for you to find on purpose or by accident. (Don't tell me that my friends and I are the only ones who used to swap secret locations around as though they were status symbols?) Oh and tons more Mine Cart levels. There's one on the first world even. Thank you Retro!
The checkpoints make their way back here too. That's right, just like in the old days. You die before the checkpoint you go back and restart the level. I smiled a little inside.
One weird thing though. I was the only one at Wally World who showed up at Midnight to get this. Surely I can't be the only one who was excited enough to drive 20+ miles to get it. It just shocked me because I really expected a long line. It was so worth it though. I'm not embarrassed to say I own a Wii now XD.
Any way, enough nostalgic gushing. If you're a DKC fan (forget that horrible N64 thing) this really is a must own. No joke. Maybe now I can finally retire my SNES cart... Nah. XD
on November 29, 2010
I always make sure I play a game all the way through before a leave a review about it since many games grow on me over time, and some games are very exciting for a week until you realize the replay value is non existent. Many of the reviews for this game and others are given on release day or the next day! Leaving a hasty assessment of the game. It was a difficult journey but I have finally completed the game and can give it a fair and honest review. To get 2 things out of the way before I start the review I want to say that this review is coming from a game developer and very looooong time fan of the Donkey Kong Country series. Needless to say I was extremely excited when I heard the announcement of this title at E3 and it became my most anticipated game of the year. I was also very pleased to hear that the game would be developed by retro studios who are held in very high regard with their Metroid prime series. But has the Return been a good one?
For the most part.....Yes.
The best part of the game for me was retro studios decision to keep the same difficulty found in the original games. THE GAME IS TOUGH! Collecting every puzzle piece and KONG letters for the game is a daunting, but very enjoyable task! Is that not hard enough for you? Try and get a gold medal on every level in Time Attack! Time attack is a spped run mode that will make the most hardcore of players squeeze the controller with frustration. This will keep you coming back for more for a very long time.
It is difficult for me to determine if this game will be too hard and difficult for the younger or casual gamer, But I think its safe to say much fun can still be had here from the younger or casual gamer just trying to play through the levels.
The Graphics and art style for this game is top notch (which is to be expected from retro studios) I would say a step above New Super Mario Bros which this game takes heavy influence from. That being said I dont get the nostalgia of the original donkey kong country games when I play this game. But yet again I wasnt expecting that to happen with this game. Dont get me wrong, the graphics and aesthetic are great but when the original donkey kong country games came out the visuals were revolutionary! Still to this day nothing matches the looks of that game, and I can give this game a free pass on that topic.
The game also gets increasingly fun as you progress through the game, the level design and level interaction are great! It is also good to see a return of mine carts and even Rambi!
Now on to some of the cons of the game.
Co-op is horrible. I never expected it to be any good especially since I heard it would be very similar to New Super Mario Bros. But Kirbys Epic Yarn gave me hope since the co-op in that game works great and is fun and not aggravating. Sadly to say the co-op in this game is nothing but frustrating and pointless. Me and my wife much rather play one player and take turns everytime we die or get to a checkpoint. This is the most critical aspect of the game for me especially since the 2 player mode in the original games worked Perfectly! The ability to switch characters on demand with select allowed you to work with each others abilities. I dont mind nintendo wanting to add these new co-op modes to there games, but they should really add a CLASSIC 2 player mode as well and the player can choose for themselves. Like mentioned earlier, the only game that got this right was Kirbys Epic Yarn.
The decision to give the game motion controls without the choice of opting out of them was also a very poor decision. This has been one of the most heated debates with the game. I dont believe this totally breaks the game like some reviewers think but I also dont think it makes it better. It is MUCH easier to perform a roll with push of the button then a control waggle. Its simply not as responsive. The option to have full classic controller support would have been an easy and welcome inclusion to the game (hint hint for game sequel) And for those who fully support the waggle roll for this game, have you tried completing the time attack levels using the roll? to obtain a gold you must roll almost the entire level leaving you with very sore and awkward gameplay.
My final cons are with the bonus levels and characters. The bonus barrel levels are extremely repetitive. They cycle through the same 4 or five throughout the entire game.
Its also unfortunate that rambi is the only animal friend in the game which you can ride. One of the best things about the originals are the variety of animal friends that can help you on your way. This game only has one. And he doesnt appear very often.
Both of these flaws are obvious time restraints from the developer, if this game wasnt trying to meet a christmas release I believe most of these problems would have been taken care of, and we would have been left with a near perfect game.
Now after all that being said the game is still a FANTASTIC gaming experience. Even though the flaws are many, the pros are great as well. I am very glad for this game purchase and I will be playing it for years to come. I really hope Nintendo is planning on releasing a sequel to this game!
on November 21, 2010
This is a quick review without my nostalgia goggles:
+ Amazing gameplay: The controls are really smooth and although you are only limited to the "wii remote" and "with nunchuck" controls, the game plays flawlessly, specially with the nunchuck.
+ Incredible level design: Most levels are very clever, they are a step ahead of you and I always liked that, specially coming from a DK game. I really love the fact that this element was left intact.
+ Challenging: Veteran gamers of DK games will not be disappointed. The game packs a somewhat high difficulty almost similar to the originals. However, you now have to get hit twice before you die (or 4 times if you have Diddy). And even with this new "life system" the game will manage to make you lose. Casual gamers should not get scared though, the game offers a vast amount of extra lives and an item that increases the amount of hits DK can receive. One warning though, stay away from the extra levels located almost at the end of some worlds. These levels are really challenging.
+ Long levels: On average, I think every level last around 5 to 8 minutes or probably even more. It's easy lose track of time while playing this game. Prepare to lose a whole week and probably even more with this game.
+ Great sound: Old tunes are back and will put a huge smile in your face once you heard how well remixed they are. It also contains some new tunes that are alright, but not as catchy as the classic DK tunes. These new tunes also try to capture the essence and style of older DK sounds and they succeeded in doing so.
+ High replay value: Collecting simple things has been a major factor in DK games and this game is no exception to the rule (except for the 64 version which took collecting stuff to a whole new level). Anyways, any true gamer will play this game many times just to get that 101% completition. One thing I like is that they now emphasize the importance of collecting the K O N G letters. Aside from a life, you get something else which I won't spoil. In older DK games they would just give you a life and since that was their only purpose, in many levels there were left unnoticed.
- DK's new ability: I wonder who thought that blowing things was a great idea... Yes, that's right, DK can now blow plants and enemies that are on fire. It's kinda lame since DK it's all about stomping and smashing. Who has time to blow stuff when you can blow up stuff?
- Forced motion control: The game feels really good with the wii remote and nunchuck but I really wanted to play this game with the classic controller.
- Diddy as a sidekick: Once you get him, he jumps on your back and helps you hover if you hold the jump button. However, he will always stay there, you cannot control him like you used to in the first DK. He is also very small now.
- Lame Boss fights. These new bosses take the word "useless" to a whole new level.
The negative aspects of the game are easily overshadowed by the amazingness of the game. Veterans of DK as well as newcomers to the series will find a place in this game. I can easily find myself revisiting this game many times in the future, just like I revisit the DKC series on the SNES.
Now, let me put my nostalgia goggles for a second. These aspects do not interfere with the rating of the game. These are solely my opinion and how the game compares to older installments.
+ The gameplay was well translated from 2D to 3D. I was worried the game would flop because 3D often do not feel as well as their 2D counterparts.
+ Old Donkey Kong elements are back, like Rambi, coin collecting, the K O N G letters on every level, and balloon lives.
+ The remixed music of older tunes was my favorite aspect of all. Although the levels feel fresh and new, the music gives them a familiar feeling.
- NO KREMLINGS. WHYYYYYYY!? I loved these guys to death and I think it was a huge mistake in taking them away. Sure, the tikis are cool and all, but beating a kremling felt better than bashing a tiki drum... Also, the kremlings had a variety of enemies while the tikis feel pretty much like the same enemy.
- No King K. Rool! ALL MY RAGE! Imagine playing a Mario Bros game where Bowser is not your main enemy! BLASPHEMY!
- The lack of animal friends is disgusting.
- The levels do not have the same charm of the originals. I don't know why but the textures and places do not form the same ambiance that the classic games had. Not a really big factor considering how the design had to be changed.
- The DK coin in every level was replaced by puzzle pieces (much like Banjo's jigies). I really liked the DK coin. At the end of the level, the pieces are put together to form a coin... of a fruit. Of all things it had to be a fruit? Really? Yes, I am complaining that this coin was not the DK coin.
on December 18, 2010
When my wife and I saw previews for this game, we both decided together immediately that we would get it. We both had hyper levels of nostalgia for the classic trilogy of Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES, and when I saw that Retro studios, the geniuses behind the best Metroid games in the franchise (I'm referring to the amazing Metroid Prime Trilogy, for those sadly unacquainted), I knew this sequel/reboot would be of the highest quality.
We were not disappointed.
We had an absolute blast playing together through each level to the end barrel, collecting red ballons, banana coins, and literally hundreds and hundreds of bananas along the way. We jumped around on evil sentient tiki torches, ran away from mountains of ants, and pounded on weird yet ridiculously fun bosses ranging from toad-armadillo-rhino hybrids, to a chicken operating a mech. All the while, we laughed, we fought, we screamed at the television, and we high fived when we actually got through a particularly difficult patch. This is not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it is one of the most challenging games I have ever attempted to play in my life. Oh, it starts out easy enough, but by the fourth world, every level will leave you breathless and your adrenal gland aged at least a couple more years. Playing it on co-op, as me and my wife did, makes it even harder as you have to be almost one minded in jumping at the same time in rapid succession across platforms that collapse within one or two seconds of landing on them. We didn't have too much of a problem though, and it was made all the funner for it. Who would have thought Donkey Kong would be awesome for husband-wife bonding? Plus, if a sequence is too difficult OR requires you to be too precise for two players to get through, the second player as Diddy can jump on DK's back and let player one get through that rough area. It's a brilliant, yet simple, design choice on Retro's part. This game has a ton of replay value as well, as you can't see everything this game has to offer without all the KONG letters and puzzle pieces. Heck, we were even playing optional levels, just to experience the greatness that is DKCR in every way we could.
Obviously, I am smitten with DKCR's gameplay, its strongest suit, but is there anything else that is great about it? The answer is a resounding YES! The graphics are fantastic by any system's standards. The backgrounds are full of depth and amazing originality. Because of this advancement in graphical technology, Retro could do things unheard of in the day's of DKC 1-3. For instance, some of the barrel shooting sequence send you in full 3-D trajectories and may land you way off in one of the background courses, only to send you crashing through giant stone totem poles to get you back to the main ground. Some levels also feature foregrounds being only black silhouettes with the only color being DK's tie and Diddy's hat and shirt. These levels were very, very unique and visually stunning. The animations are fantastic in every way, as well as the animal designs. The music is a perfect blend of nostalgic tunes and very cool new tunes that resonate with surprisingly deep atmosphere. I was very impressed.
All-in-all, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a brilliant and triumphant return to platform for DK, who has spent too long being cameos in Super Smash games and Mario Kart or starring in bizarre titles like Jungle Beat. After playing this, I can't help but wonder what took the big guy so long to come back, but boy am I glad he did! My wife and I can't recommend this game enough! BUY IT! PLAY IT! LOVE IT!
Ever since we bought our first Wii years ago we have been waiting for them to transfer this game into the Wii platform. When I saw that it was coming out this fall I was SO excited and hoped that I wouldn't be disappointed. Well... I'm not! This game is wonderfully versatile. It is difficult enough that my husband and I cannot beat all of the levels on the first try, and that's just beating it, not trying to collect every little puzzle piece and extra bonus.
Yet, the makers of the game were smart enough to not scare away their littlest customers by adding a neat little thing called "Super Guide". When you get to mid-point it pops up this little pig looking thing that has a thought bubble that is the plus sign button on the remote. If you push that button while you are standing near the pig he puts it in super guide mode. A silver gorilla goes through and completes the entire level while you watch and see exactly how to finish it. The bonus is that once he has finished going, the level is actually complete. When finished with a level it gets a colored dot over it, red if Super Guide did it and blue if you are the one that did it. Genius! Then you can go back and do the levels that stump you without feeling stressed and stuck!
They also allow you to have several games saved at one time so each person can have their own at their own pace. It is 2 player, but like Super Mario Bros for Wii if one of the players goes too far ahead on the screen it drags the other person along and can kill them if they are in a bad area. 2 player is definitely not recommended in playing with young children because they don't pay attention to where you are at.
I think the makers of this game added just enough Wii controllability to make it new and fun but left enough of the original intact that we don't feel like it's a completely new thing. The hardest thing for me to master was the roll, having to hold the nunchuk button sideways while pounding my hands didn't feel like a natural movement to make him roll.
Overall, I highly recommend this game to anyone that loved DKC back in the 90s or just anyone that loves a new challenge on the Wii!
on April 7, 2012
Do you remember when games used to be hard? Nintendo does. Donkey Kong Country Returns is hard. It's "we'll make you cry in frustration" hard. I haven't beaten the game because there just came a point where I no longer made progress. Some of the bosses are difficult to figure out, and if you are working with a partner, then you have half as much life as you would if you were playing alone. My wife wanted this game so I bought it for her. She dislikes how soul crushingly difficult it became. Her memories were of Donkey Kong 64, and mine of Donkey Kong Country for the SNES. After she quit, I continued playing till the next stage, at which point I had used the super guide so often it no longer felt like I was playing.
I respect the game for what it does. It wants to be that hard, but as an experience for me and my wife, it became too hard to enjoy.
on November 26, 2010
First and foremost, this is a really beautiful game. I'm so glad that not every game has to be a 3D rompfest through a forest, that 2D platformers seem to be making a comeback, like the new super mario brothers games. They did an excellent job with this one. All of the levels are diverse, each being stylistically different, and each having a unique challenge to it (such as riding a rocket barrel that cannot stop, or riding on the back of a whale that periodically dives under water.) The controls are fairly intuitive too, although I think the "blowing" was a huge mistake on the level of DS games that make you use the microphone. All in all, though, the game is very fun. The game captures the flavor of the original donkey kong games without copying them, although I wish the sense of whimsy was a little bit higher. I think the game takes itself more seriously as a game (indeed, it is much harder than the previous games) than the earlier ones, which I think had a bit more humor (such as in DK3 when Ellie the elephant spent the entire level stampeding through because she was scared of some rats.)
However, I have two serious gripes about the game. The most serious one to me is being locked in as playing donkey. In the previous games you could switch off between the two main characters. This wasn't just an aesthetic choice. Donkey was slow and lumbering, but very powerful. Diddy was small, quick, and agile. Dixie was slower than Diddy, but she could use her hair to break her fall. Throughout the earlier games you could constantly switch back and forth between them at will to use their unique talents, and in many places you had to to get hidden goodies. I don't like being forced to use Donkey when Diddy was always my player of choice.
The second is the lack of animal friends. Squawks is no longer playable, merely chiming in to tell you when something is hidden. Squitter, Ellie, Enguarde, and Rattly are gone. Rambi is the only one remaining, and while he is awesome, he is largely absent. In a sequel, I would like to see both points adjusted.
I also think the new enemies are lame in comparison to the Kremlings.
All in all, however, I think it's a worthy nephew to the original trilogy.
on January 1, 2011
Warning: This review is very big, detailed, and picky. I have an overall review of the game and then I give detailed lists of things I liked, disliked, and am neutral on in the game.
When I saw the trailer for this game on E3 I just had to get it. I'm a Donkey Kong Country fan! It looked like it was going to be just like the old side-scrolling games except in 3D, but not annoying 3D like the 64. In the very beginning I didn't like the controls. Using just the Wii remote without the nunchuck is much better. I have beat the game now and still don't like the controls. This type of game should really be played with a classic controller. That is my biggest complaint about the game. Overall this is a great game and I recommend getting it especially if you are a DKC lover like me. If you liked the first three DKC games then you'll like this one too. I give three big thumbs up for Nintendo!
1. They used music from the first DKC game. I never disliked the music they came up with in the 2nd and 3rd DKC games so I wouldn't have minded all new music in this game either. The old music did give that great, old feeling of playing the first one again though. I think it's fun to guess what level the music is from on the first game. I could be remembering this next part wrong because I wasn't paying full attention but I swore the game was playing the credits music from the first DKC and then stopped it quickly to play different music. That was disappointing. :)
2. At first I thought the game was too easy. It started getting challenging in the fourth world if I remember right. That is when I started losing several lives in each level.
3. In a few different levels they put everything in the shadows and just a couple colors stand out. It looks really neat.
4. One thing I always liked about DKC was the mine cart levels. You have to think quickly and the game always throws twists at you. I believe that there were only two mine cart levels in the first game (carnage and madness). In this game there are several. In fact there is a whole world dedicated to them and there are mine cart levels outside of that world as well. That's awesome!
5. After the game is over it's not over. The challenge continues. You have to get all letters and puzzle pieces in every level. I beat the game last night so I only did this in the first world so far. When I got everything in each level, a new level appeared. It's a cool level and the challenge was that it didn't include any save points. When you beat the level you get an orb. Earning eight orbs allows you to unlock the secrets of the golden temple.
6. The game is automatically saved after each level that you beat. So you no longer have to beat several levels to save in your current world or go back to a previous world to save. That's nice.
7. In DKC 3 there was a level that I really liked because it timed you. In this game you can do a time attack in every level and get awarded bronze, silver, or gold depending on your time (kind of like Mario Kart time trials). I know the first game like the back of my hand and I really wish they had this funtionality in that game.
8. You can roll forever if Diddy is on your back. It's like riding on a metal barrel whenever you want.
9. I like the image, diorama, and music galleries. You can hear the music anytime you want for each level in the game. You can see pictures of all the bad guys in the game and some include small drawing evolutions of the bad guys, which is neat.
10. You can now bounce off of bad guys while holding a barrel. In the past you would automatically throw the barrel if you bounced off a bad guy. Now you keep a hold of it. It kills that small challenge but I like it.
11. I love all the new ideas they had for each level. It made it different a lot of fun. :)
1. You have to shake the controller to roll, blow, and ground pound. This motion is very slow compared to a button press. You get used to it but it's annoying to the end.
2. When you roll and jump in the air, you roll and jump really far. This isn't like the other ones and makes it inconvenient to get items with this technique. I actually avoid using this technique because of this change.
3. It's impossible to get a game over. The challenge there is gone. You can go to Cranky and buy 7 lives at a time for 15 coins and the game hands out coins like candy. Therefore lives are pointless to track.
4. In each world you have to buy a key from Cranky to unlock a path to a level. Like I mentioned before, the coins are handed out like candy so you can always afford the key. Therefore it's a pointless part of the game. This should have been implemented like Kremcoins in DKC 2.
5. What made the old games more challenging was the fact that you could only beat the level if you didn't get hurt, unless you had a monkey friend with you. In this game you have two hearts per monkey. On top of that, bosses give you hearts while you're beating them. Bosses in these types games are easy enough as it is. There was no need to make it 2-4 times easier than normal.
6. You can't use Diddy. In one player mode Diddy sits on your back and enables you to "fly" for a short time. You can't switch characters. In the first game I only used Donkey for getting items out of the ground and making small, deep rolls. This is because Diddy is more... agile (can't think of a better word at the moment). He jumps farther, normally and after a roll in the air. He moves easier. He's smaller and quicker. Diddy is still this way in this game but you can only play him in two player mode. Donkey is the same in this game as he always was. I have nothing against Donkey. He's the main character, but his movements are limited compared to Diddy and it's annoying to have to be stuck with him sometimes.
7. Cranky's shop makes the game too easy. As mentioned above coins are super easy to get. You can buy an extra heart container, a helper to find puzzle pieces, invincibility potion, and lives. His whole shop is completely unnecessary in my opinion. I only use his shop to buy the key.
8. In any DKC game you roll for a short amount of time and then stop. However if there are multiple bad guys in a row you can continue to roll through them until the bad guys aren't there anymore. That's not how it works in this game. You roll for the same amount of time whether you are rolling through bad guys or not. So if there are three bad guys in a row you will stop rolling after the second one and be hurt by the third one. That's stupid.
1. Blowing on flowers to reveal items is very fruity and kinda dumb. It does get better though because the types of items you blow on change and get more creative. I kind of like blowing on the fans.
2. I found it odd that you can't swim. You've always been able to swim in every DKC game. Water kills you in this one. There are no swimming levels. The game is great without them but I think people found the swimming levels challenging and I'm really surprised they weren't there. I kinda wish they had swimming levels.
3. The bosses are still easy but they are always easy in this type of game. I'm used to it.
4. Donkey makes lots of weird noises and kinda sounds like Scooby Doo sometimes. :P
5. I found it interesting that Diddy got to keep his peanut gun and rocket pack from the 64.
6. King K. Rool is not the bad guy anymore. That's weird but I don't mind who they replaced him with.
7. You get to ride this barrel in the air sometimes. It reminds me of riding the magic carpet in the Aladdin game. I thought that was fun and challenging so I'm surprised that I'm not more 'for' the barrel.
8. I'm putting these two points under Neutral instead of Dislike because it's possible that I'm just crazy. First: To duck you hold the down arrow. For some reason I hold the down arrow sometimes and it just doesn't want to duck. Second: You can either do small or big bounces off of bad guys. It has always been easy to do a big bounce. For some reason, is this game, it's hard for me to get a big bounce. I have to actually try. Either I'm crazy or it's the controller... somehow.
9. Most people won't know what I'm talking about here but the movement changes slightly in every DKC game. It changed in this one too but you get used to it.
10. I think this is just because I'm a DKC fan/lover but most of the hidden areas and bonus levels in each level are easy to spot and find.
11. The only animal you can use is Rambi, and Squawks if count him as being used. You can buy Squawks as a one time use to help you find puzzle pieces. I liked using the animals in the first game because I always found it challenging to get through the whole level still riding your animal. In this game Rambi is basically invincible which is kinda cool but it loses the challenge.
12. In the first game the challenge was to find the bonus levels, not necessarily beat them. In this game you have to beat them in order to receive a puzzle piece and you only get one try. This is like DKC 2.
13. If you move in any direction quickly Donkey slips and slides for a second.
on November 22, 2010
Okay, I have never written a review for a video game, but after playing this game for a couple hours I had to! I have so many awesome memories of playing Donkey Kong Country a way back, so I was thrilled when I heard this was coming out! It does NOT disappoint! Lush graphics, fun new controls and so much vintage joy!!! Nintendo has a HUGE hit on their hands; well done guys! Even if you've never played a DK title, do yourself a favor and pick up this game! You won't be sorry. Adam
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 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.
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 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.