Donkey Kong Country Returns was developed by Retro Studios for Wii in 2010. It was then ported to the Nintendo 3DS in 2013!
In 2010 the world saw the return of Donkey Kong. Who had some adventures throughout the years, but no one truly talked about him ever since Donkey Kong 64. Sure there were the Donkey Kong games in the age of rhythm games, and Jungle Beat, but no one played those. Or at least no one I talked to. It wasn’t until 2010 that we got a return to roots! In the form of this 2D platformer!
I remember when my dad came home with the game. We all sat down, and popped it into the Wii, on the big television. I enjoyed it when I played it, but I didn’t make it too far before I dropped it. Throughout the years I had tried many times to finish it, but would only get halfway before I dropped it again. Then it came onto the 3DS. So I tried again, twice. But the third time around, and maybe the 7th time all together, it finally clicked and I fell in love.
So the story, as with almost every Donkey Kong game, is that DK’s horde of bananas was stolen…again. This time by weird mind controlling Tikis. They control the minds of the animals of DK Island, steal the bananas, then enter Donkey’s house and try to mind control him. Unfortunately this doesn’t work. So he beats up the Tiki, notices his stash is gone, then his adventure begins with the help of his old pal Diddy Kong.
The game plays like a 2D platformer, but on the 3DS version, there’s a “New Mode” added on. This is basically just an easier mode where you get 3 hearts for Donkey and Diddy each, as opposed to two. Unfortunately you only get to play as Donkey Kong. You can find Diddy in barrels, like in traditional DK games, but all he does is sit on your back and let you glide through the air with his jet pack. I will say that this time, I actually really enjoyed the level design. The first few times I tried playing the game, it was a lot of “oh this level is cool!”, but now there was a lot of love with regards to how it was all made. You had levels where it was dark and all silhouettes. You had minecart levels, which if you remember Donkey Kong Country, were a pain in the neck, but so well done. But my favourite levels were easily anything that included water. Yes I love water levels!
But the closest I got was running on a coast line, hiding behind brick walls, while tidal waves came crashing towards me. There were no actual underwater levels and this made me truly sad. There are some levels at the end of the game though where you actually can’t just reach the end and move on. Well you can, but if you don’t find the 3 switches in the levels, you’re forced to replay them again and again until you do. I had to play each one twice to fully understand what it was I had to do. But the music through all these stages were bouncy and fun or great remakes of original soundtracks. So hearing them again was amazing.
Then there were the bosses. I’m not sure how to talk about them. They were fun to battle and learn their attack patterns to dodge them. But at the end of the day, that’s all it is. Dodge their attacks, then bounce on them a handful of times and they die. Some were fun to fight, some were frustrating. Like the mole in a minecart. Then you have a rehash of what I presume to be a giant bullfrog. You had to fight it a good two or three times throughout the game. I don’t like when bosses are re-used in games, just with a different colour palette swap, or a new piece of armour on them. Each boss gave you a barrel for Diddy Kong so you got extra health. Except for the last boss. If you died against him, sure you got to restart at the fight, but you weren’t able to get Diddy, so it half felt like you were left at a disadvantage.
As for the controls. They’re pretty tight. Again, you can’t have a platformer without tight controls. The only thing I just couldn’t get a handle on was that there was no run button. So Donkey was basically always running. I’m so used to needing to hold a run button on platformers to be able to make long distance jumps. So hitting what I always perceive as the run button would make me roll. Then I would jump and then get a bit of extra distance, but then would return to the same speed. Even in the original games there was a run button you had to hold. So I guess it’s just ingrained in my mind.
- Great Level Design
- Amazing Music
- Tight Controls
- No Real Run Button
- Bosses Were A Bit Underwhelming
- No Underwater Levels
I’m glad I finally found the love for this game. Yes it has its issues, but the whole package is so good even with the couple faults I found in it. I’m so excited to now jump into Tropical Freeze and see how it stacks up. Are the bosses a bit underwhelming in this entry? Yes they are. But it’s a fun platformer regardless. At least they made it a bit more accessible and easier on the 3DS as well! Welcome back DK. I missed you.
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Game & Developer Information
Developer Website: Retro Studios
Developer Socials: Twitter
Developer Website (3DS): Monster Games
Images curtesy of https://www.igdb.com/