The lights are on
I still remember it like it was yesterday... I invited my friend, Isaac over for my 13th birthday, and I just KNEW I was going to get Donkey Kong Country 2! I had played the first DKC at my cousin's house, and the sequel had been out for several months (November 21, 1995 was the release date, according to Wikipedia.) Man, I REALLY wanted that game, and when I finally opened the gift and confirmed that my parents did get it for me... well, I don't think I've ever been more over-the-top excited in my entire life. I FREAKED, and Isaac and I played it (for what seemed like) the entire day. Combined, I've probably invested more time in the Donkey Kong Country games than any other games on the Super Nintendo (or any other console for that matter.) Needless to say, I like the Donkey Kong Country franchise.
As we all know, nostalgia can only do so much for a game. Fortunately, DKCR doesn’t rely on nostalgia alone, but actually has a lot of new things to offer. First of all, this game has a whole new set of enemies to fight. That’s right, K. Rool and his crocodile crew are absent in this title, and instead are replaced by the Tiki Tac Tribe. Personally, I like the original “baddies” more, but the new enemies are satisfying enough, and a nice change of pace.
Oh, man... the pirate themed bad guys in Donkey Kong Country 2 were so awesome!
Second of all, this DKC has some new gameplay elements. Instead of switching between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, Diddy gives Donkey Kong some extra abilities when you grab him from the DK barrel. When teamed up with Diddy, Donkey Kong’s jumps can be followed by a temporary float by holding the A button. He can also do a near infinite role (as opposed to his limited role when he’s by himself.) On top of that, the game has something I haven’t seen in a sidescrolling platformer before – moving from the foreground to the background, which is a nice touch.
As for the elements from the original Donkey Kong Country, they were implemented really well. The launching barrels are back, but they’re not overused. Rambi (the rhino) is back, but only in a few levels (and he's the only returning animal friend (besides the parrot, but you use him in a much different way in this game.) The bouncy tires are back, but you don’t even see them until world 7. I really appreciated the minimal use of the things that made DKC a classic in the first place. They were used, but not abused, which is great. The only thing they seemed to do more than the originals was the mine cart levels (which are some of the toughest levels in the game.)
You don't use Rambi very often, but when you do, it's pretty fun!
With all that said, my favorite part of Donkey Kong Country Returns is the art-style. This game is beautiful. I especially like the silhouetted levels, those were my favorite! Yes, Donkey Kong Country was visually advanced back in the day, but the art-style in DKCR helps take the focus off the fact that Donkey Kong isn’t ahead of the pack in graphics these days.
Donkey Kong is definitely back, and he's better than ever. If you liked the Donkey Kong Country games on Super Nintendo, you'll like this just as much or more.
I'll have to get this.