Remember when I said that Kirby’s Epic Yarn didn’t need be hard to be rewarding? Donkey Kong Country Returns is not that kind of game. Everyone’s favorite pink puffball works in a game filled with imagination and wonder, but Retro Studios gave Mario’s oldest nemesis a completely different goal: old-school 2D platforming.
DKCR certainly achieves everything that it sets out to do. I’m definitely not the only one on BT who thinks so either–just look at all of the praise we heaped on the title! Video Games Awesome did a Let’s Play, Sean Fausz filmed a highly positive video review, and Benzaie even found someone crazy enough to play through the whole thing and collect every item.
Even with all of that outstanding critical reception, the one thing people seem to remember about Country Returns is its difficulty. Sure, it’s no Battletoads or Dark Souls, but for a modern Nintendo adventure, it asks a lot. Just look at some of the later worlds below. Death is around every corner, in sharp contrast to the aforementioned Epic Yarn. It’s this dichotomy of challenge–with a constant level of polish–that allows the Wii to appeal to so many people all at once.
Of course, Donkey Kong Country Returns is valuable for more than just being a counterpoint. It’s also beautiful, charming, and has a great soundtrack. Say what you will about Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, the Wii has at least one great work featuring gaming’s most famous gorilla. What will the Wii U bring? Personally, I’m holding out hope for a return to 3D. What about you?
You can find more articles in our 25-in-25 series over here, and stayed tuned tomorrow for another look at a great Wii title!