Game Name: Donkey Kong Country Returns
Developer(s): Retro Studios/Nintendo
Release Date(s): November 21, 2010 (Wii)/May 24, 2013 (3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
The Kongs are back…and the Tikis have taken over Donkey Kong Island! Now Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong must battle their way through the ups-and-downs of the island. From the deep jungles, to the underground, and to the cliff tops, Diddy and Donkey are the only hope rescuing Donkey Kong’s bananas and freeing the island from the Tiki Tak Tribe.
Released for the Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns continues the side scrolling series that last appeared on the GameCube as Donkey Kong Jungle Beat in 2005 (which later was re-released on the Wii not using the GameCube Bongos). The game was met with positive reviews and is also had a version released for Nintendo 3DS.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is possibly the hardest side-scrolling platformer I’ve ever played. Previously, I believed New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the hardest game in the format, but Nintendo managed to top it with Donkey Kong Country Returns. The game pushes your skills to the limits by having extremely precise jumping…one miss jump means instant death. This is even more difficult and somewhat glitchy when you are dealing with the barrel riding.
There is a failsafe for this difficult jumping. Like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns features the Super Guide which gets you through the level after eight deaths…which will happen…repeatedly. You are going to end up hating that pig that shows up to help and opposed to many games, I’ve been so tempted to use it.
With the increased difficulty, Donkey Kong Country Returns almost becomes less enjoyable and sometimes more frustrating and tedious. Multiple deaths (sometimes immediately after you start a level) means that you have to play and replay levels if you aren’t willing to use the Super Guide. While I felt that the original Donkey Kong Country games for the Super NES were too easy, this game almost goes mind-numbingly hard…though it does increase replay because you end up just wanting to get through the level rather than attempting to collect each puzzle piece or K-O-N-G letter. In addition, a mirror mode once the game is completely finishes reverses the levels and becomes a one-hit and finished challenge (and no Diddy either).
The graphics and stylings of the game are great. Some of the sets are so amazing and barrel blasting points are very clever. The game flows scene to scene making me forget that Rare is no longer involved in the series, and I find myself really impressed by Retro Studio’s adaptation of the series.
The controls of Donkey Kong Country Returns becomes an important part of the difficult game and sometimes they can be a bit frustrating. The game can be played with either the traditional handheld classic style or using the nunchuck with the controller (which I preferred). A second player can join as Diddy Kong but it is virtually worthless because timing the jumps as a team is impossible. The game does have to be motion controlled because things like ground pounds require shaking the controller which also can make certain boards tricky.
With a rather limited range of “excellent” games for the Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a must…especially if you love side-scrolling. I’m glad to see side-scrolling continue in the day and age of 3-D animated games. Donkey Kong Country Returns is a challenge, but worth the ride…just get ready to be frustrated and keep collecting those bananas!