Review by KuchikiYuna
"Here's to hoping for a DKCR2!"
DKCR is a well deserved sequel, if you can even call it that, to the original 3 some 10-15 years ago. It's more of a new DKC1 than a sequel. It's levels are very dkc1 esk and leave much to be desired if you hoped for some dkc 2 & 3 elements. It leaves hope for another addition to the game, something I think it is getting enough attention for...but I'm not sure. It includes new levels, revamped old school music (mega points for this) and the return of many aspects we all loved such as mine carts, rambi and hidden levels/prizes.
Where it shines: The level designs are sick. And when I say sick, I mean both amazing and cruel. There were levels where company was watching from the couch and I would hear a quiet "you sick mother f*******". Quietly, since no good gamer will ever interrupt a difficult level with a loud noise or unneeded question- it's screws with your concentration! I am so happy that Retro didn't fall into the current trend of dumbing games down for casual gamers that, in my opinion, killed ff13.
Some levels that I was really impressed with include: the wave level (tidal terror I believe), which while visually is amazing, it's not one of my favorites to go back and re-do. The forest world over all has been my favorite and the mine cart level where at one point you are hanging from the grassy bottom of one and you have to jump back and forth between the upper and lower track was pure genius. I loved fear factory and it's new levels are pretty amazing. I thought switcheroo was insane, absolutely insane. And while I am not particularly awed by the choice of large hands, they make for some really careful platforming. The lava world is brutal and to date I've lost over 30 guys in a single level. Instead of superguiding it, which is a viable option at this point, I am flat out determined to waste these levels.
What's Different: First and foremost, the enemies are different, and to a degree, this sucks. There are no bees, no necky's, no kremlings, no guys on ropes that will slide down and kill you. No sparkle barrel, this drove my parent's nuts at the beginning, but I find that the check-point-pig's little "you made it dance" makes me smile. KONG doesn't give you a life. The letters are much harder to get in most levels and they unlock, if you get them all in a world, a temple. The temples, in my experience so far, have no checkpoints, no dk barrels, no hearts and are really hard. But the sense of achievement when you win is awesome. You also have hearts, you no longer take just one hit. You can take 2 usually or 4 if your in single player mode with diddy on your back. You can also either shoot a peanut gun in co-op mode as diddy or hover a little bit with donkey with diddy on your back in either mode. Puzzle pieces, that serve a purpose I have yet to discover. There are no snow levels, to my great dismay. You can buy extra lives, hearts (not containers), invincibility potion and keys (which unlock normal extra levels). And the barrel levels in which you ride ON the barrel. A neat idea, brutally hard and often with far too few check-point-pigs. Another new addition is the superguide. Retro's way of letting less experienced gamers advance is a super kong who will beat the level for you, although you keep no items he finds. My gamer pride won't let me use it, but it has really helped my father, who's patience wears thin with the new barrel levels. Co-op mode...
What didn't work so good: Co-op mode, in my opinion, is the games biggest failure. Co-op is no longer, only 1 active player at a time. It's now a free-for-all, which results in mass deaths and a demand for very carefully planned action in more dangerous parts of the game, or your both dead. You can't push each other off of stuff like you could in NSMB, but you can get each other killed. So you lose two lives a pop instead of 1, which is bull I might add. The brilliancy of the original co-op was the non-active player would sit in wait, waiting for the exact moment when he or she would be called into action due to a death, which could eave you in precarious spots like mid-air, or wait for player 1 to decide you are better suited for this spot. Which could be, I need DK to kill this enemy or diddy to make this jump, OR when playing with someone you are familiar with, it's hey I know player 1 is far better at these types of areas than I am. For example, when playing with my father, I am better at things requiring high speed. My platforming approach is "just run" and a lot of times that works great. But my father is very much a "sit and pick the best way" type of gamer. Which in this game, will get you killed a lot since it is over-the-top speed. It actually started to frustrate me at times. When you get 1 touch on each platform before it falls and not a second to breath, it gets old. Co-op in this is, both of you go, at the same time, and basically fend for yourself. If your diddy, you can ride on DK's back as a boost to his jump and a way to protect yourself. But if the big guy dies, you likely do too.
Another failure, which might be a little harsh, is a lack of online capabilities. I don't believe every game needs this. But how awesome would this have been to be able to play with friends who are elsewhere? This mode is where I would have utilized the forced new co-op mode. Even an option for "classic" mode would have fixed this. But nope.
My least favorite world was the prehistoric "cliff" world. This stems from a long time dislike of all things dinosaur. So my ability to objectively review these levels is non-existant.
Finally, the bosses are a bit too much for this type of game. You shouldn't have to hit one boss so many times to kill it. This isn't a combat type game. A lot of the time I find myself not interested at all in the bosses and feel that the game would survive, quite well, without them.
Overall: The music is amazing. The levels are brutal and rewarding. The graphics are decent. The mass of collectables and unlockables make replay value through the roof. This is almost exactly what a new dkc needed to be all of these years later. My complaints aside, this is a worthy game in the series and much like the originals, will bring years of entertainment and cussing to my living room.
Here's to hoping for a dkcr 2!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/12/11
Game Release: Donkey Kong Country Returns (US, 11/21/10)
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