OnTheShelf: Donkey Kong Country Returns
I don’t know what it is about Nintendo games, but they always put me to sleep. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess provided this reviewer another way to take a nap, and the first level of Donkey Kong Country Returns gave a similar experience.
My first impression of the Donkey Kong (DK) remake was filled with sighs as I traveled through tranquil beaches without a care in the world, but it didn’t take long for the game to crank up the difficulty and throw my monkey into chaotic realms of insanity. The first world was the easy path before the twisted road full of racing mine carts, exploding rockets and destructive scenery. As much as I wanted to sleep, Donkey Kong Country Returns wouldn’t allow me the satisfaction.
This game is extremely entertaining, but at the same time it’s mind-numbingly hard — just like a DK game should be. I think I died at least 200 times, 30 of which could be attributed to me being dumb; the other 170 were just the game being mean or stupid. Playing DK is fun when you can beat a level in under five deaths; it’s annoying when it takes you more than 30 lives.
Throughout each level, there are a few checkpoints where you re-spawn following each death. However, these checkpoints are poorly placed; more often than not, seeing the checkpoint will induce rage instead of relief. If you’re doing terrible, a little pig will be waving a white flag asking if you want the Super Kong to beat the level for you, which provides a cheap thrill for DK aficionados wanting to get it on like the aforementioned primate.
Donkey Kong Country Returns provides a fun romp in the jungle. It’s not your typical Nintendo game (full of “play patty cake” fun). Instead, players find themselves skating on a mine cart as bombs blow up cavern walls that send debris every which way, providing that rush of adrenaline and “OMG, I just did that” moments. And it’s all beautiful. Everything from the bananas to the crocodiles is gorgeous, and it really pushes the Wii to its limits.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the best Wii games this year. It’s a stunning, smooth game with chaotic level design. Gamers will feel at home with this blast from the past that even includes fully orchestrated, classic Donkey Kong songs. In the end, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a must-have for any serious gamer looking for an excuse to start up the Wii again.