Donkey Kong Country Returns

aka: Donkey Kong Returns
Moby ID: 49878
Wii Specs
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Description official descriptions

Donkey Kong Island awakes to the sound of an unusual hum, the musical beat of a new source of evil calling themselves the Tikis. These unusual characters are turning the animals of the island into slaves for their own food gathering purposes, but unfortunately for them, they've also raided the banana horde of one Donkey Kong! Enraged by another act of greed, the King of Kong and his trusted pal Diddy are out to retrieve the banana's and set everything on the island back the way it should be.

The return to the Donkey Kong series sees many familiar elements from the original saga combined with a host of new features and game play improvements. DK is once again the main playable character, while Diddy hitches a ride on his back through single player, and can be controlled by another gamer in multiplayer (replacing the old tag system). New additions include a Peanut Pop gun and a jetpack for Diddy, new hidden items to collect within each level (the classic K-O-N-G letters as well as new puzzle pieces), and upgrades for the Kongs that can be purchased within each sub-world. And of course what DKC game would be complete without the trusty mind cart levels, upgraded and given a burst of added speed.

The Wii also allows motion control elements. Moving the remote and nunchuk up and down rapidly, for example, makes Donkey Kong slap the ground, revealing hidden items or breaking apart rocks and land beneath him. Other little tricks with motion control allows DK to roll quickly across the landscape or create a gust of wind to reveal even more secrets.

Spellings

  • ドンキーコングリターンズ - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Wii version)

183 People (156 developers, 27 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 32 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 35 ratings with 2 reviews)

Returns is the right word, the game has the same good and same flaws as the original

The Good
Just like the original Donkey Kong Country looked very good for the SNES, this new installment in the franchise looks really good for the Wii. This is not only limited to the graphics, you will often see very good cinematic effects like explosions and chain-reactions and you can also be fired into the background to continue platforming there.

Every world has it's own theme and every stage of every world has it's own obstacles. There was; a rain-forest stage where I had to flee from an army of termites, a sea level where I had to take cover from waves and an industrial stage where platforms and enemies could hide behind smoke just to name a few. There is barely any repetition and I loved it.

There were a lot of secrets and collectibles to be found in each stage. I didn't make too much of an effort to find them all, but I know that a lot of people do. Donkey Kong games have always been known for having lots of stuff to collect. This game might even get you interested in collecting stuff, unlike Donkey Kong 64 which had way too much to collect.

The Bad
Waggling the Wii-remote in order to roll sounds fair enough, but in the later stages you need to do these rolls quite a lot and with a lot of precision. roll-jumping is already very hard to predict, but when I also need to hope the wii-remote will register my shaking at the right moment... Especially in the last few stages it depended mostly on pure dumb luck.

The difficulty is beyond reasonable. My little sister couldn't even make it past the sea-stage and I couldn't make it through quite a lot of stages either and had to let the AI do the stage for me. I didn't even defeat the last boss because defeating him requires you to put RAM-memory in your brains in order to achieve the necessary speed. You got like 1 second to react when he drops his guard and if you miss he will attack you for two minutes again. It doesn't help that ever single thing he does starts with a boring ten second animation.

The stages in which you had to ride the mine-cart were alright, but there was also a rocket-barrel which was just a perfect example of terrible game design. To control this wooden construction from hell you had to repeatedly tap the A-button to maintain altitude. Imagine doing that for entire stages, assuming you will die a few dozen times per stage, I think this is the point my sister stopped playing the game.

The story has nothing to do with Donkey Kong Country or any Donkey Kong game I have ever played. King K. Rool or any of the other familiar enemies are nowhere to be found. The only enemies you will find in this game are possessed animals and tiki-masks. No charm, not fun and it makes no sense. How is this a return of the Donkey Kong Country games if it's story has nothing to do with the already established story.

The Bottom Line
My sister and I got this game for Christmas and most of the time games I receive during the most wonderful time of the year have a special place in my hearth. This game however is just plain terrible and the difficulty curve which shoots into space before you can even get used to the controls is an act of pure cruelty. I wonder how many unfortunate children bought or got this game, thinking it was a fun game for people of all ages, only to find out it is a game for psychotic people who mastered old arcade games.

Wii · by Asinine (957) · 2011

Yes, you will die a lot. But you probably won't care.

The Good
You will die a lot. It is frustrating. So why is it still fun? I can think of three main reasons:

  1. Early levels are quite easy, much easier than the early levels in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2, for example. There are hard levels and there are easy levels. Just ignore the hard levels (use the skip level feature) and have fun replaying the easy levels over and over again. That's what I'd do.

  2. It's not really more difficult than, say, most games in the Mario series or most games in the Zelda series. It's not more difficult than the previous Donkey Kong Country games either. The Nintendo franchises have always been this difficult. My point is, it's not that "this game itself" is difficult. People who complain about its difficulty are quite possibly the ones who bought it for their kids. This game is not really meant for kids. (Rayman Origins and Kirby's Epic Yarn are.)

  3. It's exceptionally easy to earn lives. Every time you die (lose a life), you typically will have earned three more lives. I accumulated a shocking number of 75 lives in two hours. Replay the early stages over and over again and you will get as many lives as you can possibly want. So, what if a level takes 100 tries to beat? I don't really mind. The levels are meant to be played through dozens of times, and you are supposed to play them so many times that you memorize the location of all the enemies and powerups and such. This is not an RPG or a shooter game in which you are constantly moving forward. No. You are constantly thrown back to the beginning of the level, or a checkpoint in the middle of the level. You have to make an effort and be careful about your each jump.

When you die, the things you collected aren't gone. The KONG letters are gone, but the other stuff -- puzzle pieces, coins, bananas, lives -- will all remain.

The checkpoints here are almost like a Metroid Prime save room, recording all of your progress (including the KONG letters you collected prior to the checkpoint), except that it only stays in the RAM memory -- you can't turn the console off and load that progress later.

The puzzle pieces can be acquired one at a time (much like collecting missiles in a Metroid game). The KONG letters (all four) must be collected in a single run (the checkpoint makes this much easier, since you restart from the checkpoint when you die).

Everything is big and shiny. Your character is big. The objects that you interact with are big. Everything is clearly visible and easy to interact with (unlike in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where the opposite is true). The objects in this game make sense. When you perform a move on an object, you know what to expect. When something is happening on screen, you know what it is and how it affects your gameplay.

Donkey Kong is moderately powerful. He can take two hits (Mario can only take one). His advanced form can take four hits. He can knock enemies unconscious (Mario can't). Generally, Donkey Kong is much more maneuverable and stronger than Mario. There are health powerups all over the place. You feel that you're in control (while in a Mario game, you feel that you're being bullied and crushed all the time).

The moment you finally collect the KONG letters is an "OH-MY-GOD" moment. The moment you finally, FINALLY collect a hard to reach puzzle piece is an earth-shattering moment. There are many moments like this. The level design is often "hard, but doable if you have the patience to try 20 times".

The location of the KONG letters and the puzzle pieces are very reasonable. Well, there's some really amazing level design to be found. I was able to find almost all of the KONG letters and 90% of the puzzle pieces without consulting a guide. They are not hidden in ridiculous places. They are big and shiny and they are eagerly waiting for you to collect them. I genuinely feel that they are.

And the good stuff just keeps coming. Who would have thought that the best "traditional" platformer of our generation is actually a workout/fitness game? You need to shake the controller with both of your arms to perform Donkey Kong's important moves. The Time Attack mode is great workout for your muscles. Right now I can feel the arm muscles that this game helped me develop.

The Bad
Some KONG letters or puzzle pieces are impossible to collect. The Time Attack mode is ridiculous. Only the professional speedrunning people can beat those.

And yeah, there are plenty of bottomless holes, just like in Mario games. There are plenty of "quick deaths" (things that kill you immediately even if you're at full health). If you don't want that in your game, go play an RPG or a Metroid game instead.

The controls are sharp, but some of the moves are totally unpredictable. Sometimes you jump higher the normal, and sometimes you do a rolling jump. What's that all about? :-(

The boss fights are stupid. Typical Mario-style boss fights. Just die eight times and skip them.

The Bottom Line
From what I've read, 99% of the negative commentary about Donkey Kong Country Returns is that it's too difficult. You will die all the time. It's impossible for a human to beat these levels and you have to use the "skip level" feature in this game a lot.

Yes, that's most certainly true. Aware of that fact, I still believe that Donkey Kong Country Returns is the best traditional platformer today. It's miles better than Rayman Origins, Sonic Colors, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and many others that I've played on the Wii.

Wii · by Pagen HD (146) · 2014

Trivia

Awards

  • 4Players
    • 2010 – #3 Best Wii Game of the Year
    • 2010 – #2 Best Dexterity Game of the Year

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  • MobyGames ID: 49878
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MegaMegaMan.

Wii U added by Michael Cassidy.

Additional contributors: Patrick Bregger, Michael Cassidy.

Game added January 14, 2011. Last modified August 3, 2023.