Donkey Kong Country Returns is a platform video game developed by Retro Studios, and released by Nintendo in 2010 for the Wii console.
This game also has a handled version for the Nintendo 3DS published in 2013 and a digital release for the Wii U in 2016 available for North America. However, this article will focus on the original Wii game.
The Donkey Kong Country series was one of the pillars of the Super Nintendo, along with other popular titles such as Mario and Metroid, thanks to its solid gameplay and colorful jungle motifs.
After the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy ended in 1996, the series kept evolving with Donkey Kong 64. But, the series didn’t continue Rare (the British game developers behind the games) got purchased by Microsoft in 2002.
As a result, Donkey Kong didn’t show up in another platformer until someone had the bright idea to bring back the franchise and the character to the spotlight.
Producer and video game legend Shigeru Miyamoto tasked Retro Studios (the developers behind the Metroid Prime series) with creating this game in 2008.
This choice would have a huge pay off. Before developing Donkey Kong Country Returns, Retro Studios earned the reputation of breathing new life into dormant franchise while staying true to their essence.
They designed Donkey Kong Country Returns to target veteran players’ nostalgia, while offering an attractive product for newcomers.
When Nintendo released Donkey Kong Country Returns in November 2010 for the Wii, the game got praised by both critics and gamers.
The game has something similar to a dual identity; it features a regular campaign which is relatively easy, and the time attack challenge.
Time trials need players to dedicate themselves to grind until developing the skills and reactions necessary to beat this mode.
The Donkey Kong Country Returns’ world is a lot of fun. The game visuals and sound design are a near flawless mix of both old and new.
The game’s premise is simple; everything is fine in DK Island until one of the volcanoes explodes releasing the Tiki Tak Tribe. The antagonists start to hypnotize the inhabitants and forcing to hand them all their bananas.
Fortunately, Donkey Kong is immune to hypnosis. So, it’s up to him and a few of his pals to get the bananas back and save the island from the Tiki Tak Tribe.
This story is rehashing of earlier Donkey Kong games. But, it’s clear the developers focused more on delivering a fun gaming experience than offering deeper characterization or plot, which it’s the best approach for the series.
Players don’t a complex story to enjoy this game. The cheerful and vivid setting, the gorgeous background and environment, and the amusing characters can easily bring a smile to your face.
However, some of the most interesting stages are the ones presented completely in silhouettes. They’re visually striking and offer some unique gameplay elements.
Instead of relying on light on color to detect potential hazards, players should pay attention to subtle movements. And even then, the game has some secrets you can only uncover by digging around and exploring.
It’s reminiscent of how classic Sonic the Hedgehog games encouraged exploration, which added replay value. Something similar happens with Donkey Kong Country Returns.
The soundtrack has several throwbacks to classic Donkey Kong tracks. This game feels like the classic Donkey Kong Country never missed a beat. It has what it take to become a new classic and it’s a nice way to introduce kids of today to the DK franchise.
Donkey Kong Country Returns starts up as a smooth ride with a mix of new and old gameplay mechanics. DK still can leap, jump, and stomp stuff.
This game centers on a solo quest for DK. He can still find his nephew Diddy Kong inside some barrels, but instead of directly controlling the little monkey, he only assists you by temporarily doubling your life, or helps DK to briefly hover.
However, multi-player mode will allow two players to control each Kong. But, playing this way will turn the game into a chaotic mess unless both gamers can coordinate their moves perfectly.
Unfortunately, several critical mechanics got tied to the Wii motion controls, which is detrimental to the game, and will make you wish for a more traditional gameplay.
Bananas are the primary collectible in the game, and when you collect 100, the game rewards you with an extra life. However, Donkey Kong Country Returns also feature banana coins, which players can use to buy stuff at Cranky Kong’s shop.
The game’s worst flaws are the time trials, each one of these challenges has minimum time you need to hit to get one of three medals, which needs incredibly good precision and near perfect timing.
Overall, the rest of the game is a lot of fun and a wonderful ride through memory lane for veteran players and a memorable game experience for newcomers.