The lights are on
Back in the days of the SNES and Genesis, I was an extremely young gamer, just earning my gaming wings. I had a SNES, and along with Goof Troop and A Link to the Past, one of my first games were the original Donkey Kong Country.
I still have fond memories of the level design, music, and good times shared with my father while playing this amazing game. That's why, when Nintendo announced at E3 that Retro Studio's next project was a new Donkey Kong Country, I flipped out. Once November came up, I eagerly awaited to get my hands on what I hoped would be an amazing game.
I'm glad to say that my anicipation wasn't wasted. Donkey Kong Country Returns was worth the wait. Donkey Kong Country has returned, and it's better than ever before.
The game starts off like the original Donkey Kong Country. (Albeit, with a lot more context) Donkey and Diddy's bananas have been stolen, and you have to get them back. However the twist comes with the enemies. These aren't kremlings, the main enemy of the series up until now, but strange tiki creatures that have come from the volcano on DK's island.
These tikis are hypnotising the animals of the island, forcing them to steal the Kongs' bananas. It's up to the simian heroes to find out what they're doing with the fruit, and stop them in their tracks.
The gameplay is just like the original DKCs, minus a few new elements. You run by holding down the 1 button, jump with 2, and roll, blow air and slam by shaking the Wii remote. While it's understandable why they would do this, it just doesn't feel as fluid as pressing the run button to roll, the same as the original Donkey Kong Country games. I only played with the Wiimote sideways, but I'm willing to bet that it's easier to roll with the Nunchuck set-up, same as Mario Galaxy.
The shaking was also a bit imprecise. Sometimes I'd be wanting to use the ground slam, but instead I'd just roll. You basically have to have your thumb completely off of the D-Pad to get it to work right.
Speaking of Wiimote shaking mechanics, there's a new gameplay element in which you shake the remote while holding down, making DK let out a stream of air that will blow out fire, blow dandelions, etc. While this is a nice idea for puzzles, it sometimes breaks the flow of the platforming when you have to blow out an enemy that's on fire. This isn't used often, however, and most of the time it's avoidable.
Did I mention that it also looks fantastic? With extremely detailed environments, great water and fire effects, and overall art style, DKC really pushes the Wii to its limits. Not to mention the beautiful silhouette levels sprinkled throughout.
In conclusion, Donkey Kong Country Returns is the best Donkey Kong Country since the original, and possibly one of the best platformers of all time. It's a must play for any Wii owner, or anyone who like platformers in general.