Donkey Kong Country Returns

The box art to Donkey Kong Country Returns!

Donkey Kong Country Returns is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer developed by Retro Studios and released by Nintendo in 2010 to act as a sequel to the classic title Donkey Kong Country. The game's plot deviates from the plot of past games; the Kongs do lose their banana hoard, but it's because the Tiki Tak tribe, led by Tiki Tonga, has corrupted the animals on Kongo Island to force them to steal the bananas and wreak havoc on the island. Forced up against the proverbial wall (yeah, that's catchy by me...), Donkey and Diddy must retake their lost bananas and confront Tiki Tonga, along with his evil minions!

I got this game on Christmas in 2010, the year it came out, because I was also getting New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and since I have been playing Donkey Kong Country for years, I figured it would be exciting to have two sequels to the major side-scrollers of my youth!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii was excellent! This game was OK.

I just want to say amid all the spectacular reviews of this game out there that this game is amazing in almost every way I can think of. The controls were excellent; I love the fact that you had so many uses of the ground pound, plus you had the ability to blow certain enemies out, which was fantastic.

Diddy Kong's new powers: inspired. The barrel jet function was innovative and a huge addition to the series, I love the peanut popgun, and I really like the cartwheel (plus DK's somersault) move, because the game was really improved by that quick way to take out standard enemies.

DKC Returns is a wonderful combination of modern additions as well as classic elements of the series; you still have the ability to use special animal friends like Rambi once in a while, and you still unlocked sidekicks via barrels, but this time, you had things like the ability to do moves as a unit, like continuous rolling, combined jet flight, and health pooling. It was an enhancement of what you originally got in DKC, which was an greaat thing to see.

And the graphics! This is a completely gorgeous game, the backgrounds are well-designed and attractive, the character designs are realistic, and the level designs not only have those qualities, but are challenging as well! A great adventure and experience for two players.

Not to mention the fact that the game is spectacularly replayable; not only are there star coins and bonus levels in the game to complete, but there are also a a varying number of puzzle pieces in almost every level which, similar to the Star Coins in NSMBW, you can go back through in order to get new content.

Aside from the fact that there are no Kremlings in this game, there is only one...real...flaw with this game.

Three words: rocket...barrel...levels.

The minecarts, I can get behind. They're a well-rendered reference to past games, and you actually want to take the time to complete them in a way. But these ridiculous death machines are a completely unwarranted addition to an otherwise fun game.

The rocket barrel level where you had to fly through the bats in addition to the crazed gigantic bat is the reason I have no longer been playing this game. We tried for hours to try to bypass that one level, but they throw so many things at you at once, and it's made an ever-so-slippery slope because you have to press the "2" button to just the right degree in order to squeeze past the obstacles (which of course kill you in one hit). This is an unnecessary, grueling process that isn't even challenging as much as it is tedious, and I find that to be a mockery. If there were only a health bar for the barrel, so that you can play through without dying simply from hitting a single obstacle, then I would tolerate it. Not so. They just decide to drain your lives over and over again if you can't deal with what they have you grind away at.

So, what could I possibly say about this game in the end? It would be literally perfect to me if not for the rocket barrel levels. Those ruin the game for me (don't knock it, Kwing feels the same way about them, and he's a huge gaming expert!). I guess what you should do is rent the game for a little while, and if you can get past the mine cart level and the rocket barrel level with the bats that comes right after it, congratulations, may you and the game live happily. But if you're like me and find those levels to be tedious and frustrating to the point of tears, don't bother.