Release Date: 2010
Developer: Retro Studios
Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. First off, and I promise it gets better after this, the games biggest down fall is its urge to please everyone, and in this case as usual with current generation Nintendo its ‘shoe-horned in motion controls!’ You see, 2 or 3 of the basic controls in DKCR are performed by shaking your controller. This is totally unnecessary and doesn’t add anything to the game and it immediately feels like the controls are letting the game down. In a world where Nintendo let you use a classic controller in some of their top titles such as Mario Kart Wii and Smash Brothers Brawl (amongst others) it’s so frustrating that this hasn’t been offered here.
This gets even more saddening when after some research on the internet I discovered that if you have a modified Wii, you can effectively use the equivalent of old school action replay codes to force classic controller support into the game. Now being a massive nerd and with no fear and no sense I took this route, so after an hour or so of messing about, I have a modified Wii, game disc copied to a hard disc and some codes entered. My hard work more than paid off.
Playing this way I feel like I am playing the game I played 14 years ago in front of the living room fire. It’s so good! This is one of the best platform games I have ever played. Ever. You honestly wouldn’t know RARE hadn’t made this. Retro Studios have outdone themselves. Donkey Kong has gained a few pounds over the years and is a little heavier than he used to be, he doesn’t run quite so quickly, but the physics are spot on (Ed. Sounds like DK and I have a lot in common). Diddy Kong can no longer be used separately as a character instead he rides on Donkey Kong’s back with a jet booster pack on, which allows for longer jumps. You have 4 hearts. After 2 hearts are lost, you lose Diddy until you find him in a barrel again. After 4 hearts are lost, you either start a level over or from the last check point. Which funnily enough is a pig running a lemonade stand… makes sense right?!
The level design is simply breath-taking (back on the Super Nintendo RARE used Silicon Graphics workstations to render the sprites to make the graphics something else) here Retro Studios have full 3D capabilities and have used them to create something very authentic to the originals feel. 3D is only used to add depth to the game, you always play on just 2 axis, the camera pans in and out and you may be fired into the background by a barrel cannon or you may be coming back towards the screen as the camera tilts on one of the games mine cart levels. Depth is also added by the way the level changes and interacts around the characters. The level that sticks with me most is in the second world on a beach. The weather is stormy and the waves from the ocean are crashing in from the background. When they hit they wash away any bananas or enemies or even yourself if you are not careful! So you have to run along, hide behind walls etc, wait for the next wave to clear and carry on. All this while lightning and rain crashes down. It’s simply wonderful. I cannot state how much this game oozes love in its design.
The music is sensational, it’s a mixture of original tracks from the 1993 game remixed, and some new content, and it’s fabulous, all the classics are in there, especially the underwater music called Aquatic Ambience which is one of my all time favourite pieces of game music. The depth and variety in the music is excellent and each world has an underlying theme to it to which the music follows, the music is also dynamic so it can change during a level. Something new which works really well.
This game for me is representative of what gaming would be like if technology had moved forward but hadn’t become a multibillion dollar industry, the game play is just sublime, it’s all about fun. It’s so colourful and it just had me smiling from ear to ear. My only real gripe is the motion controls, but I am happy with my work around with the classic controller. I could also say this game would look stunning in high-definition! Oh well, maybe next generation eh Nintendo… nudge, nudge… (Ed. I’m almost positive Nintendo do not read my blog – which is a shame).
Nintendo games always seem to be hampered by one big problem; they do not listen to its fans enough. This can be epitomised in Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. I am going to say this right now though, and set the record straight, this game IS a classic, it’s so incredibly good and seriously challenging in places, even with my hacked classic controller it’s insanely difficult, but it never feels cheap and you always know you can do it, you just need to calm down and think.
Score with motion controls: 4/5
Score with hacked classic controller: 5/5
If you like platform games. Buy it!
If you don’t like platform games, what’s wrong with you? ;)
Few links for the extra curious! (Ed.)
Also, see below for the release trailer at E3 for DKCR.