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It's On Like Donkey Kong
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