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Video Game Rant: Donkey Kong Country Returns


One of my favorite games of all time is Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. When I heard they were making a new one, I was super excited, but also somewhat skeptical. So a few months ago, I picked up a copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns to try out the new game. My fiancee also joined me for 2 player mode. I was looking forward to new levels, new music, and a new challenge. No sooner had I picked up the controls than I realized DKC had been >dun dun dun< Nintendized.

Nintendized games are very tragic. Symptoms include kiddy elements like cartoon pigs and goofily smiling giraffes, retarded bosses, and worst of all an abuse of under-sensitive motion sensor controls to the point of frustration and contempt. There is no known cure for the condition at this time. The most common cause is the Wii software, which causes a meltdown of all things hardcore or fun in the game.

Though I wanted to prevent the spread of this terrible disease, I decided to suffer through the first area. I wiggled and slapped my Wiimote through several uninspired jungle levels featuring maybe 4 different enemies. I blew on the stupid dandelions in hopes of uncovering secrets (seriously, you blow on dandelions). To my delight, Rambi was a hidden pet in one level. Unfortunately, my jungle rampage was short lived and not repeated during the first world. Based on my research, he seems to be the only pet available. Even worse, the first boss, a spiky slug-like affair, looked like he belonged in Pikmin, not Donkey Kong. At least the music was fine or taken right from the old games.

the porcu-slug is very intimidating

My main complaint was the controls. In the old DKC, run/roll was Y and jump was B. If you hit the button, it did what you wanted. With the Wii-mote, you have to hold a direction and shake it to roll. The problem is you can’t predict when he’ll start to roll; it might register it after one shake, or two, or never. If I want to do something, I want to hit a button and have it happen, not frantically wave at Donkey Kong and watch him run into enemies. Also, they’ve changed the jump mechanic, which threw my muscle memory for a loop. I could maybe have forgiven the radically wrong environment if the controls had actually been responsive.

Elton John could sing a song about these guys

Aside from the mechanics, the game felt like a Mario game which just imported Diddy and Donkey Kong. There were big bouncy flowers and little tiki guys to jump on. The barrels were sometimes in 3-D, which was strange for someone expecting the barrel mechanics from the 2-D SNES. The Kremlings are no longer the enemies; instead our Baddies are weird little psychic/hypnotist tiki guys– incredibly lame and kiddy. I’d much rather see a monkey fight a crocodile; a monkey beating up Miss Cleo is just ridiculous.

After putting away the awful travesty of the Kong name, I traded in my copy at GameStop in an attempt to salvage something. Both me and my fiancee agreed that this is not something you want to subject yourself to. Game Informer should be ashamed for giving it the high rating it did. I’ve lost some faith in this magazine now. If Donkey Kong Country Returns is the future for platformers, I’ll be sticking to the PC and Xbox 360 for games like Castle Crashers, Super Meatboy, and Portal 2.

Back in the Old Days

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