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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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Like with Super Mario Bros for the wii this game from the series shows a superior graphics detail from its predecessors though that's of course to be expected but the overall gameplay and fun you have with the game for hours is what makes this a great game to have. The game of course does play very similarly to SMB though with different levels and characters the basic style is there of course there aren't any fire flowers and such here though good old DK hardly seems to need them anyway. Of course you have two player co-op which is fun though it can get frustrating when you and your partner aren't on the same page on how to play through the levels sometimes. The game music like with SMB is very catchy as it has a nice tempo throughout each level of gameplay, the graphics background detail is nicely done as you can tell the creative team really put their hearts into this game and it's appreciated.

So if you already played the previous game this is a nice one to add to the series and for new comers a good game to play regardless. Now just have to get the Wii U DK:TF game to add to my game library.
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on December 26, 2013
I bought this as a gift for my son and myself for Christmas last year (I'm horrible at writing reviews anywhere near on time) because I once said "it's on like Donkey Kong!" and my son looked at me and said "who is Donkey Kong?". I realized then, that I had failed as a mother to properly introduce my son to videogame classics. Post haste to amazon.com to right that wrong and here I found DK. Very similar to the original, you get Diddy, you get your riding rhinoceros, and you still get to swing from vines and bang on the ground. I'm not going to critique levels or graphics (I'm not fluent in gamer speak, I just know how to play). My son and I have spent hours, days and full weekends doing nothing but playing DK and crushing every level we come upon. We beat the game and now that there's no other levels to destroy, we like to play the timed runs and fight for the best time. This still gets played at least once a month for a little while once homework is finished, but my son now knows what "it's on like Donkey Kong!" means. Mission accomplished high-five to me.
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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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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 11, 2014
I wouldn't call myself a hardcore gamer (due to lots of work and energetic ferrets), but I am quite experienced and it's my passion and life. I played the original DK Country and good god it really requires patience and fast puzzle solving skills. This version is just as tough. Just when you come across a level and think after finishing it, "god, what kind of douchery was that..." The very next level will be ten times harder (not all the time, but very often).

This game will make you rage. I don't care if you're the most experienced gamer in the world- there's never gonna be any gamer that says they beat every level without dying at least once. I died maybe 40 times on one level alone. I almost broke my Wii but I chilled and eventually beat it. It is super challenging and I highly recommend this game to anyone who is tired of playing intense RPG or FPS games. Trust me you'll be in for a treat. Just don't kill your stuff while playing.

5/5 for a challenge which games these days lack, cute sound FX, nice graphics, easy game controls, and fun puzzles.

Long live DK!
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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 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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on December 11, 2014
I was pretty into video games when I was a kid. So naturally I played Donkey Kong on occasion at the arcade. Not one of my favorites then - but this version really shows how far games have advanced. It's not too often that I hop in front of the Wii, but I have to admit the game impressed me a great deal. It has a pretty simple learning curve in the side-scrolling format - But packs a great deal of fun and variety that keeps it challenging and exciting.

My 9 and 6 year old really enjoy it but regarding skill and coordination, I'm thinking anyone younger than 7 will have a hard time unless they already have good gaming skills.

Sets the bar pretty high for Wii games. I can't say I've played a better one.
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on October 26, 2013
Nintendo made a bold move returning to a side-scroller instead of making a follow-up to DKC64. Perhaps the reason that Donkey Kong didn't translate as well to the 3D format as Mario is because Nintendo's technology simply wasn't and isn't up to the task of rendering the lush jungles and environments of the Donkey Kong universe. So for the time being what we have is a basically side-scrolling gameplay, but done exceptionally well.

The game, being rendered in 3D, plays with a third dimension by tossing the eponymous ape into the background or foreground, almost reminiscent of pinball games with a second, vertical component on the back board. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities that weren't there on the 16-bit offerings. Levels can be absolutely gigantic in scope, as the camera simply pans out to accommodate the size, or zooms into claustrophobic caves and catacombs. The level design itself is almost always brilliant with new and occasionally infuriating challenges guaranteed on every level. Donkey Kong is at one point forced to run along a beach being bombarded by tidal waves that wash away good guys, bad guys, and any spare items lying around, and he must make use of whatever meager shelter he finds. Another level is set against the backdrop of a tropical sunset, and all foreground objects, be they static or otherwise, are rendered as black silhouettes. Complete with a jazzy soundtrack, the level would be downright relaxing were it not for the parade of vermin looking to kill you. There are plenty of mine cart levels, some of which require you to jump into and out of carts, and others in which you must make the cart itself jump. Unlike in previous games, the game gives you a visual clue as to which is which. There is no shortage of creativity flowing in the levels and the sense of discovery is constant.

Unfortunately the game is definitely not perfect and prominently features some faults, both major and minor. The biggest is that the controls are absolutely awful. You never quite feel fully in control of Donkey Kong as he unpredictably bumbles along, falling to his death more often than he should. One of the mine cart levels requires a type of physically impossible double jump which is neither explained with in-game text or in any way intuitive or even logical. The game essentially requires that you die several times and memorize jumping spots to beat some levels. Very lame.

The second notable issue is the intangible aspect, the atmosphere and "feel". DKCR is not made by Rare and the hip attitude and character of those games is conspicuously absent. The vast majority of music in the game is simply a more advanced rendering of the music from DKC1 (no tunes from 2 and 3 are present), although some of the new versions are not an improvement over the old. The iconic factory music has taken a turn for the worse. The team seems to go to great lengths to avoid making new music, even repurposing some types of music from the original game to new types of levels. What little original music is found explains why the makers steered so clear of making their own music - they suck at it. The game's original music is downright lousy. In particular, the lava world music is boring and meandering; for some reason it did not occur to them to just yank the excellent lava theme from DKC2. Overall, the overall "cool" feel of the original games is missing and the game definitely feels as though it was made in Japan.

Beyond all that, the game occasionally just gets various other stuff wrong. In one level, the weather, which progressively gets worse as you go forward, reverts if you go backward unlike in the original game where the new weather conditions remained even if you went backward. There is no ice cave level, nor are there the swimming levels that were so fun and atmospheric in the originals.

The fact is, though, that I gave Donkey Kong Country Returns four stars for a reason: it's just plain fun. The faults do drag down the experience but not so much that I wouldn't recommend getting it. It's so goddamn hard that you won't be able to play it through in a day, although admittedly some of that challenge isn't the legitimate kind but based in crappy controls. Nonetheless, it offers a lot of exploration, discovery, and adrenaline plus a whole heap of replay value due to its numerous features and side quests. Give it a try.
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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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