Friday, December 10, 2010

Review : Donkey Kong Country Returns

Ok I have had 2 problems playing this game. One is the weather in Australia is extremely hot and two, the game is more frustrating to play when your sweating to death. A new Donkey Kong game hasn't come out since Donkey Kong 64 and a new Donkey Kong Country since '96. How well does this one do? Keep reading to find out. Here's my review of Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Donkey Kong Country Returns has Donkey Kong chasing after his bananas again, but this time they have been stolen by Tiki's instead of Kremlins and this had me wondering, "Why the hell aren't the Kremlins doing this? Where's K. Rool?" and strangely "Why are there squirrels in the jungle?". As per usual with 2D Nintendo platformers, story doesn't really need much depth because it's just a framing device for the game not the focus.

As mentioned it's a 2D platformer so it's got a simple control scheme that anyone can learn and unfortunately they shoehorned motion controls because Nintendo isn't happy unless they make gamers like me frustrated but it isn't that frustrating unless it's hot. The game is set up like the original Donkey Kong Country from the music all the way to the difficulty. The level design is fantastic and even though they brought back the aggravating mine cart stages and made an even more irritating barrel rocket stages, the game is a satisfying romp. What's new to this entry into the Donkey Kong Country series is that you can blow pinwheels and certain plants to find secret items and blow out burning enemies. You can also as mentioned earlier ride a barrel rocket, which drives me crazy because the control scheme for it is just one button that has no pressure sensitivity and is hard to guess how much time you need to hold it to boost upwards.

As for collectible items the game has the KONG letters again but this time instead of getting an extra life, you collect them in every stage in a world to unlock a super difficult temple stage. Beating all of these stages unlocks mirror stages for even more of a challenge. Banana coins are also collected in the game to buy items like extra lives and power up items and keys to unlock a locked stage at Kranky's shack. On top of those jigsaw pieces have been added but believe it or not they aren't as important as you may think. They are used to unlock images, dioramas and music in the galleries and are only there for those who are enthusiastic about that stuff.

Bonus stages and Rambi also make a return in this game but the bonus stages are just for jigsaw pieces and extra bananas. Rambi has been overhauled to pretty much be a cheaters item since he can destroy spikes and spike balls. He can also destroy certain walls to find secrets and open some easier paths. Speaking of cheating the super guide make a return from the New Super Mario Bros. Wii and to be honest makes me feel insulted when it chimes but I understand why its there. The super guide is design for the under skilled players so they can actually advance through the game.

Now the game is tough and the boss fights are tough too but it's a good difficulty curve. It's not until world 5 that the game starts kicking you down. The bosses like the old platformers of yester year all have patterns to learn but some of the patterns of the later bosses are harder to learn then you'd expect so you'l need a lot of extra lives to get through it.

The games also introduces 2 player simultaneous Co Op play, which can be fun with a similarly skilled player but absolutely frustrating with a 3 year old or under skilled player. During Co Op play both players share the lives and if 1 person dies they use a life and they can hog all of them if the are really bad. Here's an example, I played Co Op with my 3 year old nephew and we had 35 lives for the world 2-1 and we got game over because he used them all up even before we got 3/4 of the way through the stage. What I'm trying to say with Co Op is play with people of a similar skill level or be extremely patient.

Donkey Kong Country Returns has a retro feel to it that old school platformer fans will love and even the difficulty level will return them to the old SNES days. The game can be fun but some stages and Co Op can hinder enjoyment for some. If you are a nostalgic gamer like me it's a must buy. Even though it's a tough game, younger audiences can still enjoy it... even the Co Op. It's a 4/5 from me because it's retro fun from Retro Studios and gives you a difficulty level that you haven't seen since the old days. It's definitely a Christmas stocking stuffer for sure for any age.

Score 4/5

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