Michael De Piano
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Donkey Kong Country Returns is a fascinating technical achievement. It combines characters and style from the original while create an experience that is every bit as challenging.
Traditional 2D platformers seem to be making a comeback of late.With the commercial success of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii, combined with the critical praise for Sonic Colours and Super Meat Boy, Nintendo has decided to give the Donkey Kong franchise a thorough reboot.
Unsurprisingly, Donkey Kong Country Returns does not deviate too far from Rare's Super Nintendo classic.Expect the return of several familiar features, from the catchy music, to Cranky Kong's shop, to the collectible K.O.N.G. letters scattered throughout each level.
There have even been several gameplay devices that Retro Studios have shamelessly lifted from Rare's masterpiece, as each of the eight colourful areas are littered with familiar barrel blasting and mine cart sections.The Wii version even includes the return of DK's pet rhino to ensure that there is enough nostalgia to keep Donkey Kong aficionados happy. That said, I was rather upset to discover that the swordfish was not afforded a similar cameo appearance.
Yet Donkey Kong Country Returns is not a cheap imitation, as there have been several technical new additions that make Retro's Wii title a refreshing and memorable experience.Firstly, there is no place for King K Rool in the games story.Instead, he has been replaced by a villainous group of Tiki instruments, who are hypnotising DK's pals and using them to steal his banana stash.
There have been several technical new additions.
I must also report on the slightly controversial news of Diddy Kong's relegation to a supporting character in the single-player game.But this has only been done to enhance the gameplay, as although Diddy is no longer playable in single-player, he still serves an important purpose.
As well as gaining two extra hearts with Diddy on-side, the diminutive Kong has also been equipped with a Jetpack, which gives him a few seconds of invaluable hovering time following a jump. Hence, Diddy's services should not be overlooked, as not only does he help make the latter levels more manageable, but he also makes the collection of K.O.N.G. and puzzle pieces a less arduous task. My advice is to look after your little simian friend, as you will be needing his assistance.
There are also several new gameplay features. For instance, DK can now attach himself onto mossy surfaces, and climb on them. This makes for some interesting level designs, particularly when this mechanic is used in conjunction with some of the aforementioned classic features. Donkey Kong has also, rather curiously, been given the ability to blow. This new skill is actually quite pointless and does not really improve the experience, but it can be used to uncover some collectibles.
But where Donkey Kong Country Returns truly excels is in the challenge it offers. Although the first few levels are a bit of a breeze, before long your gaming skills will be strained, and by the time you reach the volcano, a few unlucky Wii Remotes may have be hurled against the wall in frustration. Donkey Kong Country Returns is a difficult game, which requires both patience and a fair degree of trial and error to finish.
A game that is as challenging as Rare's 1994 favourite.
Yet the feeling of accomplishment upon the completion of a challenging level is extremely satisfying. Although it may not seems so at first, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a technical hardcore game. However, if you are prepared to fail, then I assure you that your eventual success will feel very sweet and enduring.
So Nintendo have again successfully managed to take a 2D classic and make it both enjoyable and contemporary. Fans of the Super Nintendo original will enjoy the intelligent level designs and timeless gameplay features, but they will also be treated to a game that is as challenging as Rare's 1994 favourite.
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