Gamespot gives another 8.5 (the standard score to every Wii title) to a perfect game. Is that fair? NO WAY!
rushiosan wrote this review on .
Developed by Retro Studios (the same company that held down the Metroid Prime trilogy - a successful transiction from 2D to 3D in the series), Donkey Kong Country Returns presents you to a whole new DK island. The place, visually, still the same as our SNES era: we have beach levels, sunken pirate ships, jungle ruins, caves... but at this time, everything is wilder than before. Wait, I almost forgot! The Kremlings. Unfortunately, this time, they are not a part of this adventure. For some reason, Retro Studios just decided to not add the charismatic crocodiles to this sequel. But don't worry. You'll not miss 'em that much, trust me. The new baddies are decent enough to feature a DK title. Decent with a capital "D".
The gameplay was the most notable change here. While the game comes back to its roots, presenting a 2D side-scrolling experience with minor 3D camera changes, the control scheme offers a strong performance for every Wii player: with our without your friendly-evil Nunchuck attachment. But if you're an old-school addept, just pick the classic Wii remote position. It's easier to get used to. You can stomp enemies by shaking it while standing; roll by shaking when running, or blow (there's a lot of objects and enemies to interact this way) by holding down on D-pad and shaking. The two other actions are dated to explain - the classic grab and jump from almost every classic Nintendo title. By using just these two buttons, the D-pad and Wiimote's motion sense, it's possible to perform dozens of actions and combinations through the eight worlds of Donkey Kong Returns. You're advised - the game gets better and addictive the more you advance over it.
Multiplayer factor offers extra fun, but, personally, I like the single player mode way more. Why? Because... I don't like to share. Yes, yes. You'll have to share every red ballon with your partner, and be patient when he/she looses your precious lives for nothing. This makes the experience less competitive and more cooperative. By the way, sometimes, it's easier to defeat some fast bosses, like the crab triplets (whoops, spoiler), while working as a team; on the other hand, it's easier to die in some frantic stages. The first player controls Donkey Kong and the second, obviously, Diddy. While playing on single mode, you get Diddy right on your back to help with a jetpack boost and that's all. There comes my only complaint about DKC Returns. I really would like to fully control that fuball like in old times...
Well, the game is hard. Sure it is. But isn't bad at all. First because unlike New Super Mario Bros Wii, your game is saved right after a stage clearing. No more I-must-save-before-dying panic. Second reason is because the shop system is back and you can use your banana coins to purchase red balloons, extra hearts, golden keys, invincibility potions and guess who? Squawks! The green fellow is back to show you where to find a puzzle piece or two. These features can be unlocked through every world by finding Cranky's cabin. If you don't like to cheat, just keep 'em untouched. For an extra challenge, the classic letters "KONG" and puzzle pieces were added in each stage (there's a few rewards if you get as many of these golden puzzle pieces). Trying to reach 100% completion rate may leave you nuts without much effort.
And, finally, the soundtrack. Remember the old times? Some unforgettable themes are here again and remixed, like the jungle, underwater (one of the greatest videogame tracks ever), mine cart, ruins and, of course, the main DKC theme. There's also brand-new outstanding tunes. Hear the mysterious "Tidal Terror" theme and tell me what do you think. Kenji Yamamoto did another epic job here. Nuff said.
Donkey Kong Country Returns offers a well-balanced platform experience for newcomers, while it brings back, from a deep and dark cove, something that we have forgotten since 90's: a rewarding game experience.