Nintendo Wii News
E3 2010: Hands-On With 'Donkey Kong Country Returns'
By Hector Cortez Jun 21, 2010, 3:01 GMT
Retro Studios is at the helm of Donkey Kong Country Returns, a throwback to the classic trilogy on the Super Nintendo.
Retro Studios (Metroid Prime trilogy) is at the helm of Donkey Kong Country Returns, a throwback to the classic trilogy on the Super Nintendo.
It's always interesting when a new developer takes over a pre-existing franchise, especially one as near and dear to gamers' hearts as Donkey Kong. Four levels were on display: a jungle level, a beach level, a mine cart level and a boss battle.
Aesthetically the game is gorgeous. The art style is the vibrant world previously seen in Donkey Kong's Jungle Beat, but Retro has introduced new enemies and tricks to the world. One notable addition to gameplay is the use of the background. As opposed to just being, well, a background, expect to travel back there from time to time to complete key puzzle elements or take out enemies. It's a fun little mechanic that Retro clearly plans to utilize, especially if you want to collect K-O-N-G or the puzzle pieces hidden in each level.
It's clear that Donkey Kong Country Returns is a return to its roots, but the controls have me concerned. The Super Nintendo's controls were tight, while DKCR has added more float and slide into DK's movements, resulting in a series of miscalculated jumps. The controls also feel rather complex. As DK you can ground pound by shaking the Wii remote and that's fine, but if you want to perform a roll you must run and then shake the remote in the direction of your run, which didn't always seem to work. The roll easily could have been assigned to another button, so I'm hoping that there will be an option to toggle the control set up.
So you've got your ground pound and roll, now add Diddy to the mix and things get really fun, especially if you're in two player co-op mode. Diddy, in my opinion, has always been more fun to play and this time is no different. He has his peanut pop-gun and any time you shake he'll fire. (I didn't get a chance to see if he too performed a roll.) He also has a jet pack which gives him an additional hover and if he jumps on Donkey Kong's back he can transfer that extra hover to him.
The game's co-op also borrows from New Mario Bros Wii, regarding the bubble system. If Diddy or Donkey happen to fall off the side, a barrel with a balloon will float on screen and you can shake the controller to get closer to your ape-in-play.
Despite some control issues, the game works. The mine cart level is everything you'd want it to be. The nostalgia is there without being a simple rehash. The beach and jungle levels have plenty of barrel cannons and platforming to go around and the boss battle allows DK to deliver a well deserved pummeling.
Retro Studios Donkey Kong is definitely going to be a strong return for the franchise when it arrives in stores fall 2010.
Michael Barryte is a Monsters & Critics Gaming contributor and is also the co-creator and co-star of the internet series Ari & Stone.