Back Alley Games: Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

In my first review for the Clarion, I talked about New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. This is relevant because the way I see it, Donkey Kong Country Returns is the evolved form of that game. Where Mario chooses to stay the same in order to sell a product, DK is the less successful passion project.

When comparing the gameplay aspects of the two games, it’s easy to see why I think DK is better than Mario. Donkey Kong’s traction is higher than Mario’s, giving an extra sense of control to the player. He also has a roll ability that can hurt enemies, which is accessible even without a power-up, unlike Mario. The gameplay revolves around the same idea of Mario, jumping from platform to platform usually in the direction of right. You’d be surprised from that description how fun the game actually is. Overall, the way DK moves in this game is just easy and fun to control. Also, if you’re a “pro gamer” you can roll off a platform and then jump midair.

The real fun of this game besides the gameplay is all of the collectibles. There are bananas, banana coins, balloons, puzzle pieces and KONG letters. My favorites are KONG letters, because they unlock a time trial mode, and if you get all of them you unlock a new secret set of levels that crank the difficulty to eleven. The puzzle pieces are also pretty cool, because they unlock little art pieces that are viewed in the pause menu. Balloons are your lives, banana coins are currency and 100 bananas turn into a balloon. I love how many collectibles there are in this game because they add a lot of replayability.

The art design and graphics in this game are downright beautiful. Every level has a different theme, like running around in a tornado, avoiding multiple tidal waves in a row, jumping from vine to vine or riding a rusty minecart through a mole cave. Each and every level in this game is beautiful, and for being on the Wii, this game looks way better than it deserves.

This game is what I wish Mario could be. It’s a wonderful platformer, and the direction that these kinds of games should go in. When the next DK game comes out, hopefully sooner than the last one, I’ll be sure to buy it. I really can’t say that about the next Mario game, though.