“It’s on like Donkey Kong” and only the hardest of the hardcore are going to survive it. First of all, I want to start by saying that this game is hard. The difficulty goes from intense to “who thought that was fair?” With Nintendo’s recent reboot of Super Mario Bros, and Metroid, many have been lead to believe that they are making something more accessible for the casual gamers. This is not the case with Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Nintendo Wii, is a game for the die hard fans. The game invites you in with a simplistic story that is fitting for a children’s game. Tiki mask creatures stole your bananas and you have to get them back. However, that is as “kiddy” as this game gets. The first three or four stages, depending on your skill level, invite you in with its simplistic controls, and it even seemingly holds your hand along the way. By the fifth stage, the difficulty ramps up to ridiculous heights, where you will have to use context sensitive parts of the environment and perfect timed attacks and jumps to survive, with little to no heads up. I’m all for a challenging game, but the rail cart stages will make even the hardest of hardcore gamers shed tears of frustration. The difficulty is so intense, that it may even turn off some gamers, but for those who stick with it they are in for one awesome ride full of nostalgic bliss.
This game is also one of the most beautiful games to grace the Wii. The environments are lush and lively. Even with all of the action going on, the framer rate never once skips a beat, as opposed to other plat formers that experience slow down in scenes of intense action. The animations are also nice and fluid, almost as if watching a CG film. Retro Studio’s influence can be seen though out several stages. Having worked on the Metroid Prime games before this, they seem to have put some Metroid-like particle effects, lighting, and character design in this new Donkey Kong.
As for the controls, they are well implemented, however, it takes some getting used to. Seeing how shaking the Wii remote makes Donkey Kong roll if you’re already moving, pound the ground if you’re stationary, or blow to extinguish flames if you are holding down on the d-pad, it may be a little awkward at first. Admittedly, I rolled off several cliffs while trying to ground pound before I got the hang of it. Aside from this small learning curve, the controls work great, and allow you to do so much, with so little.
The music in the game is to say the least, superb, classic tunes from past Donkey Kong Ccountry games have been re-mastered and updates, as well as some new additions. The tunes all have that sort of African safari, yet jazzy beat that the Donkey Kong games were known for and adds intensity to the dynamic portions of the game.
Overall, I’d give Donkey Kong Country Returns a 9 out of 10. The game has tons of collectables for replay value, top notch presentation, great graphics and music, and good controls once you learn them, but I can’t give it a perfect score with that insane difficulty level. Some parts that should be easy, are just overly hard, because there is no clue to show you what to do, aside from Super Kong playing for you, if you so choose after losing a certain amount of times. I greatly recommend this game to all Donkey Kong fans as well as any hardcore gamer looking for a challenge, and at the same time I send a warning to the casual gamers: This game is hard. So, if you think you’re up to the challenge or if you just love Donkey Kong , I recommend you go out and buy this game. Can you really afford to miss the new Donkey Kong Country after a nine year gap? I would hope not, because this may be the single greatest game in the series. Donkey Kong Country Returns is definitely a game that should be in every hardcore Wii gamer’s collection.