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Once Again, It's On Like Donkey Kong
by Ryan Davis on
...Donkey Kong Country Returns, that is!
Prior to yesterday's Nintendo E3 2010 press conference, I had been harboring some free-floating curiosity as to what Nintendo accomplice Retro Studios, the team responsible for the Metroid Prime trilogy, had been up to since wrapping its last Samus Aran mission. And then, at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, I got my answer: Donkey Kong Country Returns, a sequel-slash-reboot of the platformer series that Rare produced back in the mid-1990s for the SNES. Though this does appear to be an original game, it's clear from my hands-on time with the game at Nintendo's booth that it's not doing too much meddling with that old formula.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, as much a fan of that monkey called Donkey as I am, I don't have much of a personal connection with the original Donkey Kong Country games, so I hope it doesn't come off as too dismissive when I say that this really, really feels a lot like the DKC games of old. The most significant differences being a few, simple controller-shaking mechanics, and the fact that the polygonal visuals are no longer prerendered, as they were on the SNES. Otherwise, it was lots of platform hopping, banana collecting, mine-cart jumping, and barrel busting.
== TEASER ==
A few things did pop out at me about Donkey Kong Country Returns. There's a good weight to the way Kong handles, and the way you shake the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to make him slam his hands against the ground to destroy objects or reveal treasures really underlines the often-underrealized brute strength of Donkey Kong. And I may be revealing more about my own personal shortcomings here than I ought to, but DKC Returns is kind of tough, and I found myself returning to the great big barrel in the sky with a certain regularity during my demo. Though, to be fair, I had just finished some quality time with the supremely easy-going Kirby's Epic Yarn, plus I was playing alongside another person who was controlling Diddy Kong, which was more of a liability than anything.
So, while it doesn't have that direct route to the nostalgic pleasure centers of my brain as it will some, I think Donkey Kong Country Returns is looking like a solidly built piece of throwback platforming action. I think the game's got a good feel to it overall, and the level of difficulty will likely appeal to the folks who do have fond memories of the original Donkey Kong Country.