As a passionate gamer, it’s sometimes difficult to justify the quality of Wii Music in comparison to a Final Fantasy, Halo or Call of Duty.
But when it comes to Nintendo’s time-honoured flagship titles, and their re-Wii-invention, it’s clear that when the Big N tackles its long-term fan, non-casual gamer, they can more than hold their own with the big boys.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a prime example of the developer’s skilful ability to marry the latter with the former, crafting one of this generation’s greatest platformers under the guise of ‘just another cutesy looking Nintendo game’.
While the platforming primate has been around longer than a certain moustachioed plumber (his first headlining game way back in 1981), it’s Mario who’s received chief mascot status and, as a result, the more development TCL.
Donkey Kong made a triumphant return to rule the platformer jungle during the early 1990’s, but his adventures were championed more for their revolutionary graphics than gameplay innovation.
His first Wii outing may not be a groundbreaking evolution in the genre, but by refining its retro appeal and streamlining any new gaming gimmicks, Donkey Kong finally gets his deserved chance to stand (or monkily slouch) centre stage and surpass his 2D Wii brethren (that includes you, New Super Mario Bros Wii).
Recognisable power-ups and partnership dynamics (with Diddy and Rambi the Rhino) hit the nostalgia nail on the head, but Retro Studios have expertly woven new and electrifying gameplay moments into the old-school 2D adventure.
Refreshingly for the console, Donkey Kong Country Returns makes no concessions for your newbie nan or the little’uns. This is a unashamedly difficult platformer, and one that will challenge even the most schooled of gamers. With 8 worlds to explore (all of which look absolutely beautiful), countless ‘KONG’ letters and puzzle pieces to pick up, it’s also one of the deepest, richest and more rewarding experiences on the Wii.
Admittedly, it’s not perfect. The initially enjoyable ‘shake to roll’ Wii-mote action is prone to a few insensitivities, and with a game as frustratingly hardcore as this, that can lead to some serious remote rage at crucial moments.
Ultimately though, for all the Wii’s retro reboots and passionately infused reimaginings, Donkey Kong Country Returns is the one with the least monkeying around.