Review by Dark_Gunner929

"The return of the King of Swing is definitely worth checking out"

Back when the Super Nintendo was still in high swing, and Mario and Sonic were bitter rivals, another series of platformers came and wowed us with 3D rendered visuals and solid platforming that could easily stand tall against our favorite plumbers. It's been a while since a Donkey Kong Country game has been made, since the 3rd installment way back when, but now the King of Swing is back, and he brings to us an all new adventure. At the hands of Retro, the guys who brought us the fabulous Metroid Prime series, Donkey Kong and his side kick Diddy are ready for some action, but does the return of Donkey Kong hold up to recent games like New Super Mario Bros? Or would he have been better off left in our memories? Lets find out.

Much like most platformers, Donkey Kong Country Returns doesn't focus on its story. Regardless of that though, the cutscenes at the start of the game, and before each boss fight do a decent job of telling what story there is, and are more then capable of bringing a smile to your face. Fans of the old series will be disappointed finding out that the Kremlings and King K. Rool are nowhere to be found. But we are given a new set of enemies known as the Tiki's. They are basically musical instruments who are hypnotizing the animals in the Jungle, and they have stolen Donkey Kongs horde of bananas! So off you go on your epic and heroic quest to find your bananas. Its silly and ridiculous but it works very well with the style of the game. The Kremlings will be missed, but the Tiki's are an interesting replacement for this game. Who knows, maybe the Kremlings will return one day too?

If you have played any platformer in your life, then you will be familiar with how this game works. You jump over cliffs, and you jump on the enemies. Donkey Kong also has the ability to roll into certain enemies, as well as throw barrels if you can find some laying around, blow on random objects like candles for items, and slam on the ground to break boxes or the ground itself. This game changes things up a bit from the original DKC games though. Instead of having a tag team that you could switch on the fly, Diddy hops on DK's back and sort of acts as a power up. You can use Diddy's jet pack to glide a little bit and having him on your back allows you to continually roll into enemies as oppose to stopping after a certain amount of time. It works very well, though it takes some getting used to for hardcore DKC fans. You also have 2 hearts per Kong so getting hit isn't instant death save for a few special situations.

The control scheme is fairly basic. There are 2 ways to play, just the wiimote on its side, or with the nunchuck. Either way works great, with the waggle usage actually working. To roll, blow at certain objects or pound the ground you waggle the wiimmote. While this may seem odd at first, it really becomes second nature to you and it becomes extremely fun to shake the controllers furiously as DK slams on the ground, giving you the feeling that you're actually doing the slamming.

Each level contains 2 things to collect. the K O N G letters, and puzzle pieces. Collect all the letters in each level of a world, and you will unlock an extra hard level in that world. Beat all of those levels, and you will unlock one last very challenging level to beat. The puzzle pieces vary in number depending on the level, and they unlock some absolutely gorgeous art work for your viewing pleasure. Also, once you beat a level for the first time you unlock the time trial for it which is just for bragging rights, but sometimes its fun to see how fast you can make it through a stage. And if all of that isn't enough there is one extra challenging way to go through the game, but I wont spoil that for you.

You can also buy items from Cranky Kong (the only other returning Kong) such as more lives, a power up that allows for one extra heart if you use it before a level, one that causes a sort of invincibility for a certain amount of time and Squacks, who will help you find puzzle pieces. Other then Squacks the only other animal buddy for you to ride on (and only in certain levels) is Rambie the Rhino. This is rather unfortunate considering the animal buddies were some of the most interesting parts of the old games, but with how crazy some of these levels get, it is understandable and you wont be too sad about it while playing.

The game also contains a 2 player multiplayer, where one person plays as DK the other as Diddy at the same time ala New Super Mario Bros Wii. It works quite well, but you'll want your partner and you to be at the same skill level, or else the lesser of the 2 will fall behind and probably get frustrated.

The amount of effort put into this game is astounding. The music is some new, and some very nicely remixed from the very first DKC game. The nostalgia you get when hearing these tunes is incredible. On top of the excellent music, the level design is some of the best seen in any platformer for a long time. Every level feels different and fun in its own right, and some of them get very hectic and crazy. Just as a few examples, DK has to deal with pirate ships bombing him on a beach, flying on a rocket barrel through a collapsing cave, and surfing on a mine cart while riding a breaking rail track with pieces of rocks falling all over the place. On top of all that insanity you have some peticularly stylish looking levels, most notably the one in the sunset which you have to see to believe. A lot of love went into making this game and it definitely shines through.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the best platforming experiences this generation. It easily lives up to the old games, and has an odd feeling of nostalgia while still feeling fresh and new. While some fans will be sad about the lack of characters like Funky Kong and King K Rool, there is still so much enjoyment to be had in this game that it would be a shame for everyone to not give it a well deserved chance. Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Nintendo Wii earns a well deserved 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/30/10

Game Release: Donkey Kong Country Returns (US, 11/21/10)

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