Review by StormCroc
"Donkey Kong Country Returns... but along with more Nintendo Wii Disappointment..."
Once again the Wii has failed to blow me away using games that I really enjoyed back then and mucked it up with silly motion controls. I really hope one day it becomes clear that holding the remote sideways NES style is a silly idea because the remote too thick and wide to feel like an actual controller. I hated this in Super Paper Mario, NES VC's, New Super Mario Bros Wii, Metroid Other M and now Donkey Kong Country Returns. Oh but I'm not only ragging on those games simply because of the controls. The games just weren't all that fun. ESPECIALLY Other M... But enough. Let's get back to Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Controls - 6/10
So far, it is the best Wii game I have played so far. But it really isn't saying much with the said mediocre games I've played on the Wii. I feel like Nintendo isn't even trying anymore and they're just raking out as much cash as they can because they feel the need to build a rocket or something to avoid an impending zombie invasion in 2012. So why is this game the best so far yet fails to win me over? Simply is the silly "innovative" motion controls. I can't stress that enough. I've already explained how bad it is playing it sideways but the standard controls are not that far from its bitterness. The motion gimmicks allow new gamers and kids to get sucked right into it. On the other hand, gamers who played the original will feel the controls to be completely strange and awkward. Ground pounding (shake the nunchuck and remote up and down) is almost at every corner which may make you groan now and then. It's also kind of degrading when you're playing this game with your hot, non-gamer girlfriend is over and she's wondering why you shake the controls like you're trying to rip of a cow's udders. Shake the remote while moving to do a roll. This makes it tricky to collect KONG letters off an edge or make a jump across certain areas. You call it tricky platforming, I call it bad control innovation. Hold Down and shake the remote to blow leaves, dandelions, etc. A rather pointless addition but it adds more to do in the levels. What happens if you just shake the remote? A quick ground pound.
Mechanics and Etc. - 7/10
What's new with Diddy? Diddy's Jet Pack. Press A again while airborne to hover for a few seconds. While hovering sure makes things easy for platforming rookies, it's downright troublesome if you don't time your high-jump right after bouncing off a spring or an enemy. However Diddy does extend the roll attack which will give gamers that satisfying destroy-them-all feeling. Just watch out for enemies with spikes or claws in front of them! Barrels are still around but they don't seem as common as older Donkey Kong Country games. Love them or hate them, water levels, most animal buddies, kremlings and the extended Kong family are gone. Rambi is the only animal buddy available but the levels designed for his use bring destructive fun, you'll not mind the lack of Winky, Enguarde or Expresso. Although one underwater level with Enguarde would have been nice. Kremlings are gone unfortunately and are replaced by Tikis and random animals. These enemies didn't tug my heart like the old ones did but it's forgettable. However I do say that the bosses are... well I can't say it any other way besides butt-ugly. None of these bosses were really difficult either but maybe I'm just getting old. Tiki Tong however is really a big let down as a giant head and two hands isn't exactly an iconic and original new villain. Should have just stuck with King K. Rool, but that's a personal opinion. As for the Kong family... well I would have liked Candy and Funky back as it would have made the game feel less like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. With the new map design and levels it really just feels like a Mario game. I mean, red circles that turn to blue when you beat them, puzzle pieces to find, a shop, and 8 worlds with the final being a volcano theme... does this sound familiar? If you were going to pull all this, you may as well included Tiny and Dixie Kong as the 3rd and 4th players. Actually I wouldn't have mind having them in at all as the helicopter hair would have been cool in some areas of the game. But wait, why have that when we have Diddy's Jet Pack...? Well I have two little sisters who would have liked to show some girl power. Anyway, if it weren't for the gameplay, this would have felt exactly like New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
Gameplay and Graphics - 8/10
Nobody does it like Nintendo when it comes to pick up and play. Nothing like old school platforming and collecting items and finding secrets. Bounce, roll, thrash, blast your way through levels as you travel through jungles, caves, the ocean, forests, factories and more. I can't describe it any better than that. The collectibles are nicely placed throughout levels so you'll have to do some brain storming to get them. With 2 hit points this gives new gamers an opportunity to learn and feel out the game instead of dying instantly and calling it quits. It also offers a co-op gameplay that works similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, making levels a little more forgiving if you die. Just make sure at least one Kong is still alive to get that barrel! The gameplay is challenging but not frustrating. Once you know how things work you overcome these challenges. Game veterans however may find the levels to be a joke and will be able to clear the game in 4-10 hours, however that's still longer than the levels offered in the older Donkey Kong Country games as this one is packing up to 70 levels. As for graphics they kind of look like cardboard cut-outs like Super Paper Mario sometimes, but maybe that was intentional? Either way I don't play Nintendo games for the graphics but they could have been more impressive. Although I might have given this a 10 had it not be for the controls messing up the gameplay.
Sound - 7/10
Well the sound effects aren't bad. You get a nice plonk noise when bouncing on enemies. You can also lower the sfx to 0 if you just want to hear the music. Same thing you just want music, you can turn the sound off. The soundtrack offers some very nice remixes of the old Donkey Kong Country themes but a couple of them sound uninspired or are lacking passion. For example, Aquatic Ambiance has a nice melody but the main instrument sounds ear piercingly painful. A violin or cello substitute would have made it lovely. It's not a perfect soundtrack but it does its job matching the game's environment and you'll probably be humming some of the themes when you bored.
Overall - 7/10
I definitely really liked this game and it's one of those that's hard to stop playing and get back to work but when it comes down to it... this is not as good as I hoped it was going to be and it's all due to Nintendo's wacky innovative motion controls. In fact I might even say this is worth only a rental. If you find you're able to tolerate the controls and stuff then by all means buy the game. It'll definitely be fun playing with your children or younger siblings. However I don't think I'll be able to play the game ever again once I beat it 100% so it pretty much destroys my replay value.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/06/10
Game Release: Donkey Kong Country Returns (US, 11/21/10)
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