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1/18/2011

REVIEW: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)





Donkey Kong Country is finally back on the Nintendo Wii after 2 and a half entire gaming generations and it’s simply amazing in every possible way. This time the game is developed by Retro Studios, the guys behind the famous Metroid Prime trilogy, instead of Rare who also made Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and other famous franchises.


DKCR is a 2D platformer like the classic ones, you can play it either solo or with a friend in cooperative mode, in which one player will control Donkey Kong and the second one will play as Diddy Kong. In single player, you get to use both at the same time (Diddy rides on Donkey’s back providing rocket jumps). The game is missing the iconic Kremlings that have always been DK’s signature enemies. So that means, no kick-ass boss fight with King K. Rool at the end. This time around the enemies are the “Tiki tribe” a bunch of beings made of wood who look like voodoo masks and they hypnotize animals in DK island to get them to steal bananas for some reason. This, of course, pissed DK off and he sets out on a journey around the island to kick ass once again.

The game is extremely inspired on the first DKC for the SNES, providing pretty much the same kind of environments. You will have several maps available in the island each with a name like “Jungle, Beach, Factory, Caves, etc” and each one has around 7 to 10 stages. One of the great things about the game is that every stage in every map is different, meaning you’ll get stages with common platforming, the iconic mine cart levels, you will bounce on springs, escape from a danger chasing the apes, swing on vines, etc etc. Now, unlike most present Nintendo games, DKCR is very hard. You will die a LOT. To get around the levels is just a matter of trial-and-error and memorizing what you see in every stage but the game gets pretty hard as you go by, it’s not impossible but it can get a little frustrating. So it’s not really recommended for the casual crowd the Wii is usually aimed to.

In terms of graphics, the game looks very good (for the Wii’s standards). There is nothing really impressive about the graphics themselves but they’re not bad. In fact, the models for Donkey and Diddy on Smash Bros Brawl look better than the ones on DKCR but again, there’s nothing bad about the graphics in here. The best things about the visuals are the environments and how the game handles them for gameplay purposes. It’s really common to see objects in the background interacting with the level itself, example: a bunch of pirate ships will shoot cannonballs at you in the beach levels, you’ll have to avoid getting crushed by debris from a mountain collapsing in the background in the caves levels and things like that. You’ll even see a familiar face in one of the factory levels just chilling in the background.

Probably one of the best things in this game is the soundtrack, especially if you played and like the first game from the SNES trilogy. They’re pretty much the same songs remixed in many ways including jazz and techno versions of known DK songs. I really recommend getting the OST since it’s truly one of the best in the entire console along with both Mario Galaxy games. The sound effects are also very well made, especially for the levels. Everything emits a sound: wind, lava, water, objects falling down, etc. Most of them are cartoony but they fit perfectly with the game. One of the let-downs can be the lack of voice acting, but then again, the only Nintendo franchises with it are Star Fox and now Metroid so I personally think that the apes speaking would have ruined the experience.

Gameplay-wise the game is simple as far as actions go. I played the entire game using both the Wiimote and Nunchuk. If you play that way you control DK with the analog stick, jump with the A button and hit the ground with your palms by moving both controllers up and down (this wasn’t well received by the public but to be honest, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly). If you’re running and move either control up or down, DK will roll on the ground providing the opportunity to make a longer jump which you will need a LOT of times to survive. If you’re carrying Diddy on DK’s back you’ll be able to hover for a couple seconds using his rocket backpacks by holding the A button in the air. You can also duck by pressing down on the control stick and blow by moving the Wiimote while crouching. Those are pretty much all the actions in the game. You can, of course, press switches and interact with objects like the usual barrels.

Each stage offers the usual four KONG letters scattered around it which you need to find in all the stages in a map in order to unlock a hard-as-hell extra level. Also, each one has from 5 to 9 puzzle pieces very well hidden around. If you manage to find all the “jiggies” in a stage you’ll unlock some concept art or image in a gallery. In all, the game offers tons of items to find and stuff to unlock. As expected, at the end of every map there is a boss battle waiting for you and to be honest, they’re not very good. It’s usually some hypnotized animal running around and you have to jump over it a few times after avoiding some attacks to kill it. The bosses in the SNES trilogy were much better than on the Wii.

            DKCR is probably my favorite Wii game now; I like it more than Mario Galaxy and Muramasa (my old favorites for the console). It offers infinite amount of hours of gameplay since the game can be pretty different if you play it with a friend in Co-op, and the amount of hidden items on it guarantee at least 40 hours of endless platforming, jumping, swinging and dying (lots of dying). The game is 100% recommended especially for that huge hardcore crowd that waited for years for a great DK game after the SNES trilogy.

Graphics and Visual Effects:………….8
Music and Sound Effects:……………..9
Gameplay:……………………………..10
Replay Value:………………………….10
Final Score:……………………………9.25

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