Dodging cannon fire on the back of a wooden rocket ship is commonplace
If I were a gorilla spending his days hoarding bananas, taming rhinos and chucking rickety wooden barrels at marauding buzzards, I’d want a reviewer to get to the point, sharpish.
So I will. Donkey Kong Country Returns is completely brilliant.
But perhaps more importantly, DKCR is a rampant joy to play. The interface is simple (move, jump, grip, ground-pound and combine as necessary), the level design is constantly surprising, the game mechanics are consistently original, the music is jazzy, the visuals are stunning and the two player co-operative is addictive.
But honestly you should expect no less from a gorilla that puts in the effort to make himself presentable with a snazzy red tie!
The ‘platform’ genre hasn’t advanced as significantly as its sister archetypes, however titles like New Super Mario Bros and the infinitely creative Little Big Planet series have gone a long way to rectify this, raking up both critical and commercial acclaim.
Be under no Tiki Tak illusion, in terms of sheer playability DKCR make a monkey out of them both!
The controls are accessible and elegant and prompting a ground-pound by intuitively shaking the Nunchuck and Wiimote is a guilty pleasure.
This simplicity of input shouldn’t be mistaken for lack of variety as each level offers something unique way to augment your basic repertoire: steering rhinos, jumping mine carts, careening from exploding barrels, swinging from vines and dodging cannon fire on the back of a wooden rocket ship are commonplace circumstances in DKCR.
Nor should you assume the return of the scrappy simians to be a walk in the park. More like a trek through the jungle. Exactly like, in fact.
Respecting its “Old School” roots, DKCR is punishingly difficult. For instance, the Caves’ multi-level Mine Cart extravaganza, forces even veteran “Hardcore” gamers to frantically search out banana coins to trade old Cranky Kong for precious, life saving red balloons.
Mercifully aware it provokes regular bouts of open weeping from frustrated players who have just mistimed their sixth consecutive barrel roll, DKCR is happy to offer assistance.
Suck enough and a helpful pink swine will unlock the “Super Guide” function.
This utility will escape all but the nimblest apes. The rest of us will occasionally need to employ an invincible silver DK to bulldoze through troublesome levels and unlock subsequent areas. Players of slighter skill will undoubtedly treasure this godsend, enabling them to actually enjoy the bulk of the experience they shelled out for, without requiring inhuman dexterity.
Levels are more digestible in pairs and at any stage a partner can join the fray as the cap wearing, jetpack assisted DIddy. Co-op is where DKCR shines like a magnificent golden banana, as the potent primates can combine their divergent skill sets, enabling unlimited rolling and Diddy’s floating jump, reminiscent of Peach in Mario Bros 2.
Deviously the cost for pal play is obvious; twice as many balloons are consumed twice as fast. DKCR lets you tear through troublesome levels, pounding your chests with glee but teaming up remains a gamble.
Easy? DK doesn’t know the meaning of the word. As he is a bit dim.
As if powered by Jason Statham and Superman combined, the Wii had a very strong 2010. Yet a more perfect conclusion to the consoles greatest year to date is hard to contemplate.
Seems there may be some fight left in Nintendo’s little white box yet.