Review: Donkey Kong Country Returns

In: Reviews by Anthony McGill

3 Jan 2011

donkeykongcountryreturnsIf you, like myself, grew up with and thoroughly enjoyed the Donkey Kong Country games for the SNES, then the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii caused you to become just a little misty-eyed.

The story goes like this: A group of evil Tikis known as the Tiki Tak Tribe have hypnotized the animals on DK Island who are now stealing all of Donkey Kong’s bananas. Your job is to team up with Diddy Kong and retrieve your beloved bananas. This story is almost identical to past Donkey Kong Country games, and I’m sure the reason is to keep it familiar for established players as well as newcomers.

The game is composed of eight environmentally distinct worlds, each with a number of levels to complete — not unlike New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In fact, Retro Studios may have taken quite a few notes from the game, as much of the interface style and mechanics come directly from New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is everything fans of the series could have hoped for and more in terms of gameplay. This is your standard platformer with a few hooks. You start a level and race to the finish as you collect bananas, banana coins, puzzle pieces, and the infamous K-O-N-G letters, all while bouncing on the heads of your enemies and smashing them to a quick end with barrels.

In terms of graphics and sound, Retro Studios has done a brilliant job of keeping things familiar while adjusting just enough to make it feel fresh. Almost all of the same sound effects and jingles that were found in previous games can be heard (including the one that plays as you fall to your death over, and over, and over again).

One thing I immediately noticed when I started my first level was how much farther the camera is from the landscape than games prior to this. I soon found out the game now uses a foreground/background style, allowing you to play on different levels, which often carries great rewards. That being said, the landscapes are fantastic, and this truly is the best looking Donkey Kong Country game to date.

All things considered, the game is tough. I’m most sure people buying this game will be parents for their kids this Christmas. Although, once I hit world four, I began to pull my hair out, and it only got worse from there. If you’re looking for a challenging platformer, look no further. However, the game has a “super guide” option also found in New Super Mario Bros. Wii that will complete the level for you and show you a video of how it’s done. I for one could not bring myself to be mocked by Donkey Kong and his fiendish mine carts, but maybe you will find it easier.

If you have a friend to play with, the multiplayer works great. The second player plays as Diddy Kong following alongside the primary player. But if you find yourself having a rough time, you can jump on the back of Donkey Kong and act as a jet pack for player one as Diddy Kong does in the single player.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a fantastic addition to the series and ended up being everything I wanted it to be: Catchy soundtrack, detailed environments, and the sigh of relief you feel after just barely landing on that final ledge. My only complaint is that the developers borrowed a bit too much from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I completed that game over a year ago, and don’t really feel comfortable being fed the same type of experience. Rehashing aside, this game should certainly pique the interests of fans of the series and anyone looking for a challenging platforming experience for the Wii (or something to play on the Wii in general.)

Score: 8/10

Donkey Kong Country Returns
Retro Studios
For Nintendo Wii
Available now

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2 Responses to Review: Donkey Kong Country Returns



January 4th, 2011 at 9:40 am

Nice one, Anthony. Now, I have to get this game. Time to use my gift cards! wooo hooo!


Anthony McGill

January 4th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Thanks DaddyGamer!

I’m always hesitant to use gift cards right away. It’s like, “Now I know, when I use this, I’ll see something else I want next week.”

Next week: God damnit!

Doesn’t help that we’re all buried in gaming goodness as it is. ;)

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