Donkey Kong Country Returns Review
Donkey Kong Country Returns Box Art
System: Wii
Dev: Retro Studios
Pub: Nintendo
Release: November 21, 2010
Players: 1-2
Screen Resolution: 480p Mild Cartoon Violence

It goes without saying that the music of the game is absolutely vital to achieving this feeling of nostalgia, a notion that Miyamoto himself was adamant about keeping around for DKCR. As a result, all the classic Donkey Kong tunes you probably listened to on the DK Jamz soundtrack are back in full force, with the same original touches that Retro integrated into the rest of the game.

Donkey Kong Country Returns Screenshot

True to the series' roots, DKCR is also packed with secrets to find. There's the standard KONG letters, of course, but DK coins have been replaced by puzzle pieces that are scattered throughout levels. Some mechanics have changed slightly; Donkey Kong can't put down a barrel that he's already picked up without breaking it, and secret bonus rooms and the like are hidden by the level itself rather than in plain sight behind a destructible barrier. In single player, however, the core gameplay remains the same. This time around, getting Diddy Kong nets you an extra two hearts (each monkey goes down after two hits) and essentially attaches Diddy to your back, allowing you use of the little guy's jetpack to perform useful hover jumps.

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Co-op is a different beast, however. With free control, a second player can use Diddy to perform his standard rolling attack and other moves, as well as shoot his peanut pop-gun. Much like with the originals, co-op makes DKCR much more fun, and a little easier when dealing with some of its trickier challenges. Donkey and Diddy are on their own this time, though. With the exception of Cranky, all the other Kongs you might expect to find loafing about the island are absent in DKCR, which also means you don't have access to your usual assortment of rideable animal buddies. Only Rambi the Rhino makes an appearance, and even he only shows up occasionally. And since there's no animal buddies, don't expect any animal bonus rooms to gain a ton of extra lives, either—you'll need to rely on Cranky's shop if you want to stock up.

Donkey Kong Country Returns Screenshot

With DKC Returns, Retro has left very little to complain about. Some fans may lament the absence of water levels (though the only thing worth missing there is probably the music); many will probably be saddened by the lack of furry and feathered animals friends, though Squawks makes a cameo of sorts. Fans that are new to the series may find DKCR's level design tougher than they're used to, though you can call on Super Kong to help you beat the level a la New Super Mario Bros. Wii. If a good game is measured by how fun it is, then a great game is one that you want to revisit again and again. Donkey Kong Country Returns, much like its 16-bit forerunners, is more than deserving of such a distinction; this is one ape you're not going to want to pass up.

By Steve Haske
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.9
Graphics
Some of the best graphics on the Wii to date, DKCR is lush and lovely to look at.
4.8
Control
Classic DKC controls, though the absence of classic or GC controller compatibility is missed. The DK Jungle Beat-inspired motion controls are great, though rolling into enemies can be a little tricky.
5.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
All your favorite Donkey Kong tunes are here (mostly) in one form or another. You'll want to listen to the soundtrack over and over.
4.8
Play Value
Retro has done an incredible job bringing DKC's traditional mechanics into the world of modern game design. The only thing distinct lament is the absence of more rideable animal buddies. Still, a must-buy.
4.9
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Feel the power of Donkey Kong by shaking the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to perform Ground Pounds and Barrel Rolls. These moves can be used to destroy blocks, defeat enemies, and reveal hidden areas. Donkey Kong also has the new ability to climb walls and ceilings.
  • Diddy Kong has a few new tricks of his own. He can use his Barrel Jet to hover high above the ground or defy gravity and fly across small chasms. He can also help Donkey Kong with this ability by hopping on to Donkey Kong's back. In two-player mode, a quick shake of the Wii Remote will give him the ability to fire his Peanut Popgun to assist Donkey Kong.
  • The levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns are beautifully rendered and creatively designed with lots of hidden items to discover. Try to collect all of K-O-N-G Letters and hidden Puzzle Pieces in each level to unlock something special.
  • Two-player co-op.
  • In cooperative mode, players of different skill levels can play through the game together.

  • Screenshots / Images
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