Donkey Kong Country Returns

donkey kong country returns box art
8.0 Overall Score
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 9/10
Controls: 8/10

Challenging, nice sounds and graphics

So difficult that it sometimes stops being fun, some buggy controls

Game Info

Game Name:  Donkey Kong Country Returns

Developer(s):  Retro Studios/Nintendo

Publisher(s):  Nintendo

Platform(s):  Wii/3DS

Genre(s):  Platformer/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  November 21, 2010 (Wii)/May 24, 2013 (3DS)

ESRB Rating:  E


Strap in and hold on tight!

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.


Setting sun levels show that you don’t need powerful systems to have great looking games

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.


Barrel-riding levels kill my will to live!

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.


I hate, hate, hate this guy

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!

Related Links:

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong 3

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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