Donkey Kong County Returns: Chad’s impressions

by: Chad -
The Experience Nintendo Tour made a stop here in Columbus, Ohio last week.  A few of the staff here at GamingNexus had a chance to get in on the action and play some of the biggest titles coming to Wii and DS later this year.  Stay tuned for all of our impressions (and pictures) from the time we had on the tour trailer.  

The first game we played was actually my favorite for the entire evening: Donkey Kong Country Returns.  Everything you expect from and love about a DKC title is oozing out of DKCR.  From collecting the letters "KONG" to riding a mine cart through a cave, this is one game that will take you back to the SNES days of old.  However, not everything is a direct pull from the old games.

First up, the controls are changed to utilize the Wii Remote and Nunchuck.  Familiar moves like making your on-screen character roll are as simple as holding a button and waving the remote.  Some abilities are new to the series such as a ground pound, which result from you swinging both hands like drumsticks.  You can even take a moment to stop and blow the seeds off of dandelions.  It's not just for looks either; doing that mundane move will sometimes reveal hidden items and locations.

We were able to play through two different levels.  I had a lot of fun both playing and watching others play the levels.  There was a lot of action happening on-screen; it’s clear that Retro knows how to squeeze every ounce of power out of the system.  Explosions, enemies, and vegetation are crowding the screen to give a visual treat that’s also fun to experience.  

While it's still a side-scrolling platformer, a sort of "pseudo-3D" is created when your characters are thrown into the background to progress before popping back into the foreground.  Additionally, I found DKCR much more fun to play with a partner than New Super Mario Bros. Wii because you don't run into each other.  This removes the potential of knocking your partner off of a ledge and allows you both to focus on the action at hand.  

Donkey and Diddy Kong found a health bar in their long absence and can take a few hits before being knocked out of the action.  If you do die in multiplayer, a familiar "DK barrel" will float back on screen carried by a balloon.  Similar to the Mario Bros. experience, the other player can wait around for your barrel to get closer or can just proceed with finishing the level.  

In short, fans of the original Donkey Kong Country series should get excited.  Actually, everyone that enjoys solid platforming and couch multiplayer can get excited.  Donkey Kong Country Returns is easily one of my most anticipated titles for the rest of 2010.  Now I just have to wait until the end of November when it's released!
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