|Dev: Retro Studios|
|Release: November 21, 2010|
|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.
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 There's the standard KONG letters, of course, but DK coins have been replaced by puzzle pieces that are scattered throughout levels.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.
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.
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.
CCC Freelance Writer