Donkey Kong Country Returns: Jeremy’s impressions

by: Jeremy -
More On: Donkey Kong Country Returns Experience Nintendo Tour
The first game that we got our hands on during our visit at the Experience Nintendo Tour was Retro’s Donkey Kong Country Returns. As I am sure that you have heard by now, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a return to the classic 2.5D series that was popular on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The build that we had access to contained four separate levels: Jungle Hijinx, Poppin’ Planks, Rickety Rails, and Mugly’s Mounds. We played through both Jungle Hijinx and Rickety Rails.

You can read my full impressions on the game after the jump…

<I want to apologize if the following impressions seem “unorganized” or scatter-brained. We had a very short amount of time with the game and I am going to try and express to you all of the thoughts that ran through my head during the short time we had with the game. The same can be said about the impressions that will come on the other titles shown during the event but hopefully I can give you an idea of what to expect in the game when it launches.>

The first up on the system were Chad and Sean playing through Jungle Hijinx cooperatively. The story of the game is very reminiscent of the original DKC title as Donkey Kong’s banana hoard has been taken and it is up to DK and Diddy to get it back. While the story sounds familiar, know that this game is not a remake of the original but a wholly original title. The first thing that I noticed was that the game looks great, and I don’t mean “for a Wii title”; it looks great, period. The graphical style of the game retains the 2.5D look from the original series but looks a lot more polished like the recent New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In addition to the great graphics, everything moved along using incredibly smooth and detailed animations. The brush and grass swayed as you ran past and dust flew up under each footstep; Retro has no doubt paid attention to plenty of graphical details. The graphical style also translates into the backgrounds and settings as the game incorporates a lot of 3D-like interaction between the foreground and background settings. There will be numerous times throughout each stage where the player will be required to switch between the fore- and background settings, usually using a barrel blast to launch Donkey or Diddy Kong into the other. This is done with a very nice 3D effect, particularly in the area that will require multiple barrel blast to reach the desired landscape. It’s is a nice effect and looks really nice.

Despite the fact that the game uses the Wiimote and nunchuck, it feels and plays a lot like the Donkey Kong Country of old. Your tactics are still the same, you spend a lot of time testing your platformer skills through the ever changing environments but there are also enemies to deal with everywhere that you look. The game does incorporate what has come to be known as the (dreaded) waggle control scheme for many actions but it honestly comes across better than I think it has in any other game. As Chad described in his impressions over the weekend, the basic movement and jumping is done with the analog stick and buttons but additional functions such as cartwheels with Diddy or ground-pounds with Donkey Kong require shaking the Wiimote while holding a button. The waggle motions required by the game are a little more “exaggerated” than they have been in other games; you will have to really put some “umph” into it with Donkey Kong Country Returns. This may turn a lot of people off, but I really appreciated it as it required you to put a little more into your game.

DKCR game seems to put a little more emphasis on cooperative play than the original games in my experience. While you could play cooperatively before, there appears to be more of a benefit to doing so now. The cooperative play benefit(s) definitely came into play when Sean and I played through the Rickety Rails level of the game. With Sean as DK and myself as Diddy, there was a section of the level that I just couldn’t get through (call me rusty I guess); I was able to piggy back onto Sean / DK’s back and let him assist me in reaching the next checkpoint. It was nice that I didn’t have to continually hamper Sean’s experience and was able to simply climb on enjoy the ride through the troublesome parts of the level. I could see this coming in handy when and if you play this game with a younger gamer. Some of the platforming gets tough at times and it is nice for an older gamer to have the ability to help out in such an easy manner.

Throughout the course of each of the levels that we saw, it became very apparent that Retro was filling the game with tons of collectible items, which will undoubtedly please “completionists”. There will be plenty for you to go back and collect throughout all of the levels: bananas, puzzle pieces, K.O.N.G. letters, and perhaps even more. One of the more interesting aspects of the game that the Nintendo rep pointed out to us was the ability to blow the flowers throughout the levels. While we didn’t unveil anything during the build that we played, we were told that the action would unveil some helpful items or bonuses in the final game. There is a definitely felling, following the completion of a level, to go back and play it again after you finish it. This is the sort of game that I like and makes Donkey Kong Country Returns more desirable to me.

Unfortunately, there were no buddies present in the build that we played, though Nintendo and Retro has announced that they will be included in the game. I have to admit, I had my fingers crossed that I would get to see Rambi prior to the event, but I guess that I will have to wait until November 21, when Donkey Kong Country Returns launches for the Nintendo Wii.