Donkey Kong Country Returns

I was over at my parents this weekend, and my brother had gotten this game. So, I decided to give it a try, since I liked the older Donkey Kong games. What I ended up experiencing was an unfamiliar mix between easy and hard that made it impossible to get mad at the game and stay mad. More on those specific instances in a moment.

First off, the game will trigger nostalgia in many ways. I was disappointed to have a distinct lack of crocs among the cast of enemies but it wasn’t detrimental to the game at all. Like the original, DK and Diddy head off together to fight their way through the jungle. Unlike the original, you can’t throw your partner around, instead, Diddy clings hard to DK’s back and uses his jetpack to carry them a further distance and help you hover when not moving forward. This is only for a couple seconds but you will notice that not having Diddy on hand makes things a LOT more difficult.

Cranky’s shop is also included in the game, where you can use your banana coins to purchase items to help DK, as well as Balloons. I would say though that banana coins are a LOT easier to obtain in this game. After playing for about 3 hours I wound up with every secret key up to the point I was at purchased, 3 of each item, 99 balloons, and still had over 100 coins left. If you remember the older games, you’ll be glad to know that Cranky still makes snarky comments about items you purchases, and other random things.

The difficulty level of the game is also something that changes quite frequently during the course of the game. On the one hand, balloons, which still represent extra lives are abundantly available, as I said before a few hours in I had 99 ..balloons.. erm… Anyways, in any standard level you might earn 2-4 balloons, and probably enough coins to purchase even more. However, each world tends to have at least one level in which you will probably end up spending 10-20 lives in just one spot.

The most frustrating part of the game, would probably be the time attack mode. Essentially to get medals you have to complete a level as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, while bronze and silver are typically fairly do-able, gold and the hidden shiny medals take a level of perfection that those of you who are not ‘professional’ speed-runners probably will spend hours on each level trying to get the medal. Seeing the same level 40-50 levels only to find that I was around 2 seconds too slow each time wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed but some people do like the challenge and it is there for those who wish to reach for it.

You can also gain bonus artwork by finding puzzle pieces in each level, and the KONG letters are hidden in each level like the original. These do a lot to help give an excuse to search every nook and cranny of each level rather than speeding through to the end. Alternatively, it can give you something to do after completing the main game.

Overall, I’d say Donkey Kong Country Returns is a pleasant experience. Nostalgia factor helps it along a good bit and the modern graphics only add to the quality of the levels which are still side scrolling. It still feels like Donkey Kong, and if you like the old Donkey Kong you are more than likely going to enjoy this; not something I can really say about some other franchises.

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