Donkey Kong Country Returns

10 Overall Score

Written by on December 27, 2010 in

Ready… set… slap those congo drums and get ready to jump and shake yer booty to the jungle beat! At long last Donkey Kong Country Returns in… um… Donkey Kong Country Returns.

For those of you whom were not fortunate enough to be alive in the Golden Era of Video Games (also known as the 1990s), or are currently just too stoned to remember anything aside from the 60s – Nintendo Partnered with the British company Rare to release one of the first major pre-rendered action games for a console, Donkey Kong Country. Releasing in 1994 for the Super Nintendo (or Super Famicom, depending where you live), and was an instant success. The game brought Donkey Kong – originally a nemesis of the fat Italian plumber – back to his Jungle home, to rescue his stash of bananas from the villainous King K. Rool, a gator with an attitude. Selling over 8 million copies worldwide, it’s not hard to see that sequels were just a matter of time. The Super Nintendo saw Donkey Kong Country 2 and Donkey Kong Country 3 over the following years, however neither really had the charm of the original.

Let us now pull back the curtain, returning from our travel to when the Game Boy was as household an item as the iPod Touch is today, and take a look at the most recent game in the series. It has been quite a while since we have seen a DKC game. We haven’t had the opportunity to slap the ground and jump into bananas since Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble was released in 1996. Yet here we are, where the King of apes Returns, in Donkey Kong Country Returns (or, for those who enjoy puns – The Ass of the Tower’s Land Comes Back).

Right off the bat, this game is curious as it does not involve Rare at all. Instead, this new entry was developed by Retro Studios, a company founded in 1998 and responsible for some of the more recent Wii based resurrections of popular Nintendo IP including Metroid with Metroid Prime. The game plays incredibly similar to the original Donkey Kong Country games – which is a VERY VERY VERY GOOD THING – only now the game is in 3D, or to use the more popular term – 2.5d – or a game that is in 3D, however, is played as a traditional side-scrolling action / platformer.

Arrr, a pirate ship!

The game opens with the volcano on the island erupting, and allowing the escape of the Tiki Tak Tribe – a band of evil Tiki masks bent on a crusade to steal bananas from Donkey Kong. While it sounds like the plot of a bad porn movie, it actually works quite well. Taking control of the island’s animal population by way of hypnosis (except, of course, for Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong and Cranky Kong), the Tiki’s steal all of the bananas and scatter them around the island and horde them.

The first stage opens beautifully, showing how bad-ass that Donkey Kong actually is. One of the Tiki masks goes into his hut, presumably to hypnotize him. DK gives him an angry look, and the view changes to outside the hut. The player is now able to beat the living hell out of the mask by shaking the controller – resulting in the sounds of intense wooden smashing while the hut violently rumbles back and forth. DK and Diddy emerge, with the Tiki mask sufficiently pw0n3d, to begin their quest to pummel, smash and pw0n3 numerous more masks on the island.

His ass may not be easy to find, but DK will still kick it into the next timezone.

From here, the game actually plays quite similar to the first game. There is an empty cave beneath DK’s hut where the bananas should all go, and is currently quite empty. The difference is the very creative gameplay. Each level has unique events and something that helps to set it apart. In one level there are tidal waves coming towards the screen, forcing you to hide DK behind walls to prevent him from getting washed away. There is even a level where the sunset is in the distance, causing the whole level to be in black with just the sunset in the background. When it’s time to progress further in the game’s map, key’s to unlock paths can be purchased from Cranky Kong’s store. All purchases are accompanied by Cranky’s trademark advice… like what it was like in his day. (Keep in mind, Cranky is presumably the ORIGINAL Donkey Kong, whose princess-kidnapping plans were foiled by Mario).

What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse. Er… wait, wrong series.

The gameplay is fun, the visuals are well executed, and the story is straight out of a sexy porno. To be perfectly honest, I’m actually hard pressed to find anything wrong with this game. Retro Studios did not overload the game with unneeded characters or members of the Kong family. The gameplay is original. Each stage does something fresh and new. There are challenging moments, but nothing so difficult that makes you want to cause your Wii Remote to stick out of total frustration.

My Final Score: Donkey Kong Country Returns gets an outstanding 5 out of 5 Perfectly Ripened Bananas. Now what are you waiting for… go buy it!

A copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.

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Author: Dave Calabrese View all posts by
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dave has always looked towards creative mediums as a way to showcase untold stories and to entertain others. From a young age, Dave would spend hours in his family's home creating home-made board games and writing stories. His father worked in the game industry, which allowed Dave the early insight on another direction he could take his creative inspirations in. He eventually found a job in the game industry, and seven years later had a stack of published games under his belt and a number of award winning titles to bulletpoint his resume with. Dave continues to pave the way to the future of the games industry by telling stories and entertaining through interactive mediums which will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you come back for more.

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