16th December 2010 - Most modern day remakes of classic games try to change a lot. They add dimensions, characters, gameplay mechanics, and needless to say, a lot of these remakes are failures in the eyes of those who grew up the olds. Donkey Kong Country Returns is the latest is a long running trend of Nintendo to continue production on many classic gaming series from their hay days of the late 80’s and 90’s. Last years New Super Mario Bros was a huge success both critically and commercially, so read on to find out our definitive verdict on whether or not Donkey Kong Country Returns is set to follow the same fate as DK’s Italian Stallion counterpart in reviving a classic series for the better.
In true Nintendo style, Donkey Kong Country Returns lacks a gripping narrative of any sorts. Its pure gameplay, and that’s the way the old DK fans will want it. But if you’re really held up on it, DK Country see’s Donkey and Diddy facing off a tribal terror who’s brainwashing the islands animal inhabitants, and its up to the dynamic duo to put an end to the madness and solve the riddle. See, boring?
To further the connection this game has to the original DK Country series, Returns is a much more challenging affair than the previously mentioned similar ordeal Mario title of yesteryear. Just like the originals, the game has a varying amount of ‘worlds’ and ‘levels’ which range in settings, difficulty and this time around; enemies. Each area has its own unique enemies which can require different techniques to overcome and defeat. While I was personally looking forward to stomping on some crocs just like old time, I do admire what Nintendo have managed to do with this title in this respect. Its adds depth and makes for a much more replayable experience. And then there is the boss battles. We all remember these from the classic Country games im sure, and Returns is no stranger to making them as hard as ever to newcomers.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is, in a separating bid from most games these days, best enjoyed co-operatively. That it, one player as Donkey, and one as the less iconic Diddy Kong. New players will enjoy the standard Nintendo enjoyment from playing with a friend and helping one another through missions, and fans of old should really appreciate the similarities between co-op play with old Country titles.
One thing I found with this game I cannot necessarily praise however, is the fact that it has undergone the fate of most Wii games; bad controls. They aren’t all too bad, but a few of the new features mean that the controls are all-together compromised by some awkward button presses and chunky combination requirements.
Im happy to announce that DK Country Returns is purely a 2 Dimensional playing experience. But to modern itself a bit, has a fair amount of interactive and playable 3D backgrounds and perspective-based levels that give a slight 3 dimensional feel without sacrificing any nostalgia or classic ideals. So to paraphrase, it’s a 2D platformer with a twist or two.
The graphics over are all quite stunning, too. All of the character models look great, from the playable characters to the boss’s, and the ominous settings and environments you would expect make a return amongst the more beautifully designed and intelligent areas of jungle, beach and mountainside. Plus, the ever engaging cart race levels are just as well designed and enjoyable as ever.
Ah, Donkey Kong Country, how I remember your upbeat and bountiful tunes. Wait, what’s this? The modern DK game features every and all classic DK tune I remember all too fondly, only updated to match the new pacing and graphical features of the game? JOY! That’s right DK fans, Country Returns also see’s the return of the DK music sets and ambient sounds. The bongos are back. The chimp sounds are back. And all your best child hood memories are back. Even people who haven’t played the originals before will recognize the iconic tunes instantly and be subconsciously persuaded to bust a move.
This game surely isn’t only for those who loved the original series, as some may assume due to my constant references of the originals. But rest assured, those references are only because I myself have always been a huge fan of the series and to see such a faithful remakes warms my heart. Donkey Kong Country Returns is a game that can have many fans, both old and new, and with good reason. It’s a long adventure, as most Nintendo games happen to be, and it of a very high quality. And while it may be best enjoyed with a companion, a lone soul will find all the joys and excitements of the game on their lonesome too.
Nintendo have done it again - they’ve successfully remade one of their best series’ for both new audiences and nostalgia hunting long-time fans alike. Donkey Kong Country Returns is everything it attempts to be, and thus fails to fall short on any merit. It’s a great adventure, and one of particularly high quality. So why not grab a friend, get ready to feel the groove of the great Donkey Kong sounds, hop in and pound the heads of some native beasties as you jump, pound, run and rumble through everything you could want from a Donkey Kong remake and more.
AAG SCORE: 9/10
+ Classic Donkey Kong fun
+ Great in co-op mode
+ Top-tier sound quality
+ Nostalgic yet fresh
+ Well-rounded and challenging
- A few bad controls
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott