Feb 162011
Authors: Ian Hopkins

For the last 30 years Donkey Kong has been on a seemingly endless search for bananas. Now, the big ape himself has come to the Wii where gamers can continue to play out real monkey stereotypes.

When I got a hold of “Donkey Kong Country Returns” the only thing I could think was, “Oh God, not another poor attempt to revive a game from my youth.” I am so glad to report that “Donkey Kong” wasn’t a butchered remake. It looks and feels like “Donkey Kong” of old, and this iteration is easily the best.

Nintendo worked the same magic that it used on the “Mario” games and transformed “Donkey Kong” into a refreshing old-school game. I was shocked that some of the bad guys got name changes, but thankfully Donkey Kong is still hunting down his stolen bananas.

Easily my favorite thing about this game is the soundtrack. It was fancifully re-envisioned to keep the feel and spirit of “Donkey Kong” games, but it is easily five times better.

Plus, everything in “Donkey Kong Country Returns” looks vibrant and beautiful. I was stunned at how good the game looks. The Wii doesn’t have a fancy graphics processor like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but it looks more impressive than many other games on these systems. It may not be realistic looking in the least, but the cartoony, stylized visuals are gorgeous, to say the least.

Playing “Donkey Kong” is like walking. The controls were easy enough for a monkey to use. Even the very funny-looking controller shake moves made sense. I’m sure I looked ridiculous pretending to pound the ground with the on-screen Donkey Kong, but I don’t care because it was so much fun.

I always remembered “Donkey Kong” games being fun but hard, and this game is no different. I like to think that I can play a game better than I used to be able to, so I appreciate how challenging it is to play “Donkey Kong Country Returns.” The exploration of each level is as close to limitless as a platform-adventure game can provide. “Donkey Kong Country Returns” won’t get stale anytime soon.

One last major drawing point: intense two-player monkey action! Games that you can play with a friend are the best because you can compete and share the fun. In “Donkey Kong Country Returns,” two players can play as Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong to take down the “Tikis” and get all of Donkey Kong’s bananas back.

Video game reviewer Ian Hopkins can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:42 pm

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