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Donkey Kong Country Returns
Format: Video Game|Change
Price:$59.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on March 1, 2017
I feel weird reviewing a game on the Wii days away from the Switch coming out, but dor anyone who has a Wii and hasn't played this game yet (pretty sure it's also on the Wii U virtual console) really should. It will need the Wiimote and nunchuck, even the virtual console version.

If you played the first 3 DKC games on SNES, this is more than just nostalgia. It takes all of that and uses the Wii tech to it's full advantage. Nearly every level provides something new to the series and hardly anything is done twice in the game, which is very impressive. Just about every level has it's own feel and I even forgot how FUN a game could really be. This full-on reinvented the series and I feel bad for missing out in it when it came out.
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on March 23, 2016
True story.

First copy: It came with my Wii. But then someone kicked the my apartment door open and took it (along with my wife's wedding ring). I was super sad but it helped me relate to Donkey Kong when his banana hoard got stolen.

Second copy: I bought it from some dude on Craigslist. But then, like a total idiot, I left it at my friend's house. For a year or two my friend told me he'd find and return it. He never found it. I don't think he really looked that hard.

Third copy: After losing the game twice I debated whether I should to shell over more cash to get a third time. After waiting a year or so I finally broke down and bought it again. So worth it! This game immediately puts me in a good mood. I can't describe how stupid happy this game makes me.

If you like platformers at all, BUY THIS GAME. Here's what I love:
-Incredible gameplay. Every level is platforming genius. This is easily one of the best designed 2D platformer out there. Every level is clever.
-Tons of extras to find. True to form this DK game has SO many secrets tucked away. There's a lot of replay value here folks.
-Beautiful graphics, gorgeous vistas, and set pieces. I really wish Wii was in HD to do this game justice.
-Nostalgia overload. This game brings back so many fun elements of the original DK Country game but with a fresh twist. The entire soundtrack is a beautiful rearrangement of the first game. It takes me back to when I first saw this game at my friend Dylan Young's house in second grade. A lot has changed since then! Dylan has been in and out of jail a few times but he's got a good heart. Really.

BUT BE WARNED. The creators of this game are sadistic. It starts off fine but the difficulty ramps up quickly. You will want to scream. You will want to punch a monkey in the face. I know that you don't wear that little gray wiimote wristband. No one does. But you should wear it for this game. That way you won't break your TV when you throw your remote in a fit of frustration.
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on July 15, 2016
Got it for my 10 yr old, she really likes it. I have only played it with her once, and it is a nice combination of being easy to figure out, while still being a challenge. Gameplay is broken up into smaller levels, each with a somewhat different method of play, adding something fresh as the game goes along. So far, from what I have seen, the actions the player needs to take to complete the level are fairly straightforward, the player just needs to figure out the proper timing and moves. My only gripe is that if she plays with her younger sister, the younger one can fall behind and lose a life. I have not figured out a way for her to 'float' and catch up with the older one without losing a life, like they can in Super Mario Bros.
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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!
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VINE VOICEon December 23, 2010
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.
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on December 19, 2010
Until recently, those of us who grew up on (and loved) 2D side-scrolling platform games had been suffering a 15-year starvation. The rather awesome reincarnation of New Super Mario Brothers Wii put an end to that in 2009, while this year we get a restoring of the other most beloved game of the genre, Donkey Kong Country (yes, more beloved, and better, than any Sonic). Like NSMB, Donkey Kong Country Returns strikes me as a faithful sequel that's about 90% as good as the original.

The original was clearly the directive for this game's design. While a different company did the development work this time (Retro Studios, filling in for Rare), most of the characters, level themes, and creatures were borrowed from past games, and every song from the first game's awesome soundtrack was lifted almost verbatim. As a traditional platformer, this is very much a running & jumping affair, with a smorgasbord of bonus items littered throughout the levels: collect 100 bananas and get a 1UP; collect coins to buy power-ups and extra lives from Cranky Kong's Store; find the letters K O N G to unlock hidden levels; and find the puzzle pieces in every level for the heck of it. Rambi the Rhino makes a return on a few levels, letting you ride him and ram your way through the course for a fun change of pace (sadly, the frog and dolphin are no-shows).

Here are the main differences compared to DKC:
-Diddy don't do diddly. Except for the new 2-player cooperative mode, you now only control Donkey Kong; Diddy Kong has basically been demoted to a piece of luggage on your back that provides two extra life hearts, plus a jetpack that lets you hover for about two seconds and land with a greater degree of control (kind of like the cape in Super Mario World).
-To utilize the better graphics, the creators gave a nod to modern times by incorporating some semi-3D elements: the background drawings are in 3D (occasionally causing some confusion as to what objects are tangible), and on some levels you transport over via barrel cannon to the far distance of the level.
-Because this is the Wii, some of the controls are retarded, forcing arm waggling to pull off normal moves like rolling, blowing, and ground-pounding. On top of being an annoying waste of energy, it occasionally screws with your precision and causes needless deaths. This game would have been an ideal candidate for Classic Controller support (which also would've solved the issue of the Wiimote being uncomfortable to hold sideways), but Nintendo offers no such option.
-This game is way mother****in harder than DKC. I'm probably one of the better gamers out there, but by the end of World 8 (there's an unlockable bonus World 9) I'd died at least 100 times. Some of the deaths seem kind of cheap and unfair too, requiring some godlike combination of cat-quick reflexes and super-high precision to get right the first time -- basically, think of the hardest Mine Cart level from DKC and picture 40 more of those. Success seems to depend on trial/error and memorization as much as actual gaming skill. I do think the level design reflects a lot of smarts and creativity, but the original DKC managed to provide a more reasonable level of challenge while also feeling more inspired.

Like I said, 90% as good. But remember that the original might still be the best platformer EVAR, so that's a pretty good showing. I'm still glad I bought it, and I'm sure you'll have fun.
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on July 14, 2012
DK Country was my favorite game from the 16 bit era. I was really looking forward to playing this modernized edition, but it has unfortunately fallen well short of my hopes. This is a game that requires VERY precise platforming skills. Normally, I would embrace this challenge, but Nintendo decided they wanted to implement some goofy motion controls into the schematics, thereby ruining the experience. Even while playing with classic controller setup, a brief movement of the wiimote will accidentally send DK into a roll... right off the edge of that platform. Even in the 90s, I never experienced such poor platforming controls.

Please note that this an Amazon Verified Purchase... I tried my best to enjoy this game, but I just can't do it. Playing it only makes me want to return to the super tight controls of Rayman Origins, which has this game whipped in every conceivable category. You can't expect every game to be as good as Rayman Origins (especially since it came out one year later), but the difference in quality is downright staggering.

On the plus side, this game has very good art design. I enjoyed the weird enemies, and DK and Diddy are just as lovable as ever. But... as a platformer, this game is not in the same league as Rayman Origins.
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on March 9, 2011
I was fortunate enough to have an SNES when the first Donkey Kong Country hit stores in 1994. That game changed everything in the console war between Nintendo and Sega, and the graphics alone blew everyone's mind. Essentially, DKC was a Super Mario World clone, but my god did it have style. 5 animal friends, 101 hidden bonus stages, hands down the best soundtrack I've heard in a game, and it was just plain fun. DKC2 was just as strong, but DKC3 lost a lot of people, myself included. Since then, the poor gorilla was stuck with bongo games on the GameCube, which were fun and all, but not the DKC that many were hoping for. Retro Studios revives another franchise, and does great things once again. And while I really, really wanted to give this game 5 stars, a couple of big cons that stuck through the whole game held it back. Still, this is one of the best platformers I've -ever- played, and I have nothing but high hopes for an improved sequel.

The story is simple- Donkey Kong's beloved bananas have been stolen once again, but not by the Kremlings this time. No, it's a bunch of little tiki masks with magical powers. As you progress through the game, you'll find out that somehow the bananas power the tikis, and they want to make more and more of them...hence why they took so many freakin' bananas. Donkey Kong isn't too keen on his banana stash being stolen again, so he and his buddy Diddy go out once more to make things right in the jungle. DKCR is a platformer just like the previous entries, meaning you'll do a lot of running and jumping, bouncing on enemies, collecting items and discovering secret areas while taking out some pretty nasty bosses.

First things first, Retro really did a heck of a job here. From the minute Donkey Kong clobbered a tiki and jumped out of his tree house, and that classic track kicked in, I felt like I was 9 years old in 1994 again. And don't get me wrong- I'm not one of those people who thinks that something's good just because it makes me nostalgic, but everything felt so right at first. Very rarely do I stop and enjoy the scenery and level design in games anymore, or kamikaze myself and jump off ledges to find a secret area, but my old way of playing games was revived with DKCR. They took the first DKC for the foundation of this game, but have truly made a new game, not just a remake. The art direction is a sight to behold, especially the levels where you just see Donkey Kong as a silhouette, with his red tie being the only other color. Gameplay is classic DKC, right down to collecting the KONG letters and extra life balloons, and succeeding or failing in bonus stages. Stages range from the jungle, beach, rocky cliffs, a volcano, and more. There are just the right amount of levels in each world, as well as a secret level for each one if you get all the KONG letters in every stage. This is something that drove me to collect everything, knowing that getting all the letters was necessary for entering a secret area after you beat the game. In addition to this, there are puzzle pieces in every level, and if you collect them all in one stage, it opens some bonus artwork on the main menu to look at.

Now, a ton of people have complained about how hard this game is. I won't deny it- I probably died over 400 times by the time I beat the game. Like New Super Mario Bros, DKCR is very generous with extra lives. You can even buy them from Cranky Kong with the of banana coins you find. But where this is much different from New Super Mario Bros is that the levels are actually tough. This game does not hold your hand once, and if you think you've reached a dead end, you're going to have to sit there and think about how to advance until you get it. Techniques like rolling off a ledge, then jumping in mid-air, were big in the original games, and very useful here too. Veterans of the older games won't have as much of a problem with some of the trickier areas here, but there are some other levels I'll mention in a minute that will. The boss battles weren't that tough, but sometimes it's hard to get the timing just right without dying a few times. If you scoffed at them giving Donkey and Diddy an extra hit each, rather than dying with one hit each, playing a couple stages in the cliff world will slap some sense into you, and you'll be thanking the heavens when you find an extra heart or DK barrel...or a checkpoint. Yes, this game did get hard in some places, but it seemed like the difficulty wasn't consistent. There'd be times when I'd breeze through 6 stages in a row, hit a tough one where I'd die 30 times, then I'd moonwalk my way through some more. And if all else fails, you can bite the bullet and let the checkpoint pig do the work, and he'll have a white Donkey Kong clear the stage for you. You can still advance to the next stage, but the one you needed help with will remain red on the map screen, and all the power ups you got won't count. I never used this option because of that very reason, but I can see why they put it in here. But I'll tell you, beating a tough level, or even quick area where fast paced platforming went on, I felt accomplished, and was happy. Usually when I get past a hard level in a game these days, I think nothing of it and move on. Here? As frustrated as I might've gotten at times, I felt like I was getting the hang of things.

As for what keeps the game from getting 5 stars, I'll bring up the obvious first- waggle. There's absolutely no reason why I should have to shake the Wii remote for DK to do a simple roll attack. NO REASON. In the old games, it was a push of the Y button, and DK would roll, or Diddy would cartwheel. Here, you have to shake the controller, and playing with the Classic isn't an option. One of the reasons I died so many times in a stage would be because of this, and I kept wishing that there were a Classic feature, or way to just program the roll attack to one of the buttons that wasn't used for anything else. Imagine having to shake the controller to make Mario shoot fireballs. Yeah, it wouldn't be fun would it? Fortunately, you can do most of the attacks with barrels or jumping on enemies or with Diddy's rocket pack, but when you have to roll off a ledge and then jump for an extra boost, it'll drive you crazy. Shaking the controller for slamming on the ground is fine, and fun since it makes sense, but not for a main attack. Next, the lack of animal buddies. Rambi's here, and so is Squawks (to an extent), but that's it. No Clapper, Winky, Espresso, Enguarde, Squitter, Rattly, etc. Don't get me wrong- riding Rambi and smashing through everything is way more fun here than it was in the first DKC, but I would've liked some more variety, or even more chances to use him rather than like 5 times. Co-op play is pretty bad too, and the less said about that, the better. If you're playing with a friend, just take turns when you die. It'll be less stressful. I also don't like the fact that the only way to play as Diddy Kong on his own is with a second person playing. If you're playing by yourself, you're stuck with Donkey. Finally, the main thing most people hate- the mine cart and Rocket Barrel stages. I actually didn't mind the mine cart ones until near the end, when you could only make a jump if you jumped off your current rail at the absolute last second, but it did get tricky later on. The Rocket Barrel stages are just cruel, and I made the mistake of joking to myself 'watch, the last boss is just a Rocket Barrel stage'. As it turned out, that's how you GET to the boss in the final level, and is a part of the level too. Ugh. Just when you get the hang of these stages, it'll throw a curve ball, and you'll have to watch out for things coming up behind you, not just in front. Oh, and my final complaint? No underwater levels at all. Not one. What gives?

Visually, the game is beautiful, and maintains the classic Donkey Kong Country look. There's nearly no slowdown until the last 5 stages, and they have some creative animations in here. The music is just as good, though for a diehard fan of the first DKC's soundtrack, it's a mixed bag. Some of the tracks from that game (and the sequels) are here, and redone...and they sound really good. But the rest of the tracks aren't very memorable, and I wish they would've just had a totally new soundtrack, and tried to make it great.

In the end, I enjoyed this game from start to finish, and it never left my Wii. I was determined to get everything in it, and felt great when all was said and done. The difficulty isn't as bad as say...getting an S rank in Ikaruga or clearing the last level of Metal Slug 3 with one life, but it's pretty high, if only because of those crazy Rocket Barrel stages. Any platformer fan, or anyone who wants to feel like a kid again playing the first DKC, I wholeheartedly recommend this. It's one of those rare games I can say that I didn't mind paying full price for, and will keep playing months/years later down the road.
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on March 7, 2014
I grew up playing Donkey Kong Country 1-3 when they originally came out. While I do miss the old Donkey Kong Country games, I think this game has done an excellent job at capturing the original gameplay. This game was incredibly challenging, and I actually have yet to beat it. People used to use the phrase "Nintendo Hard" to explain how difficult a game was, and this game certainly has done a good job at remembering that video games may be challenging and fun. I think this game makes good use of the Wii Remote, with the shaking making Donkey roll, pound the ground, or blow on flowers. I loved how the game makes use of the background, by making it part of the game experience. An example would be how certain enemies will come from the background to the foreground, or how you will jump into barrels that shoot you around the stage, giving this side scroller some dimension. I liked how they did this as opposed to a making the background a mere painting.
I think this was a great game, and I recommend to any gamer.

While I loved the game, I do have some complaints. However, my list of criticisms doesn't hinder the game at all, this is just me nitpicking. Because my complaints don't take away from the 5-Star rating, feel free to stop reading here. Again, these are simply little complaints.

1) Firstly, I would love to be able to switch between Donkey and Diddy. Unfortunately, Diddy has become more of an added easy switch, if that makes any sense. All Diddy does is allow Donkey to have more life bars and float. This makes the game slightly easier. I want to emphasize, slightly easier. This is all so unfortunate because Diddy is a fun character and it would have been nice to play as him.
2) I wish the bosses were a little more memorable, like Kleever from DKC 2 or the Dumb Drum from DKC.
3) I would have like to have seen other animal buddies make an appearance rather than just Rambi and Squawks (who is only used as a guide to find puzzle pieces). I would love to see Winky, Enguarde, and Squitter make a return.
4) I miss the DK coins, which I believe made a great challenge, especially getting to the DK Coin Kremling, appropriately named Koin.
5) Lastly, I thought the Tiki's made great villains, but it would have been nice to see a Kremling, at least once; even if there was a Kremling used an opening appearance. I just want to see if Nintendo owns all the rights to the DKC games or if is Rare that owns certain parts of the game, because I want to see 'K. Rool' come back in later games.

Anyway, that's it. In short, this was a great game and I recommend it anyone who loves Donkey Kong, and to anyone who also loves a challenge!
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on December 29, 2010
First off I am just a casual gamer. Have played DK since the Super NES days and loved it - N64 game not so much though. Read the reviews and was concerned about how hard this game may be so I also ordered the DKCR Guide at the same time. Just a note on the guide - it is helpful to find all the missing puzzle pieces and the little details, but the Super Guide in the game is just as much help for getting through the level and it shows you what to do and also clears the level for you. You will have to go back and play it through on your own in order to actually "beat" it but if you get stuck on a level and want to move along it at least opens up the next level and if you are like me and "die" a lot on a particular level it gets very frustrating and you want to move ahead and come back to the one you are having trouble with later.

For me the game is difficult and I have died a lot - my reflexes are probably not as good as a younger or more experienced gamer but I am having a blast none the less (I have also used a lot of very inappropriate language while playing this game!).

There are save points in each level - at least one - and as you progress through the game there are more. This comes in handy as some are quite tricky and it is a challenge (at least for me) to get to the save point. I haven't had a problem with enough lives because when I get low or am about to start a new level, I just go back to an easy level in the first world and play through a couple of time in order to get banannas and coins so I can buy some lives from Cranky. I have also found it very helpful to get the potion from Cranky that gives you 10 extra hits from enemies - I wouldn't have been able to get through some of the levels without that EXTRA help.

The graphics and music - colors are vivid and bright, music is reminiscent of old DK and fun although it can get monotonous when you have to replay a level over and over (ergo my bad language : ) ).

I am playing with super motion controller and numchuck and haven't had a problem other than the "blowing" feature, sometimes I roll instead of blow (although my gaming blows but that is another story). Am also playing 1 player mode so cannot comment on 2 player.

All in all a fun game if you are able to walk away when you get frustrated and if you loved the old DK games I don't think you will be disappointed.

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