03
Dec
10

Donkey Kong Country Returns Impressions

I am learning once again to never take game review scores at face value. After glancing over Destructoid’s 10/10 score for Donkey Kong Country Returns, and having a lot of fun with Epic Yarn, I was ready to get on board the nostalgia bandwagon and put the Wii to good use. I can’t say what exactly I was hoping for, but surely 10/10 (and a very positive Metacritic score) indicated that there was something good going for it. Instead, I’ve found that it really means that it is very good in as far as it replicates much of the original Donkey Kong Country experience. It is certainly capable of evoking good memories of the original game, and it is very faithful overall, but I’m starting to feel that the original game has not aged well.

At the heart of the matter, in my eyes, is that the only reward for playing DKC Returns well is unlocking more DKC Returns to play. That was cool in 1994. DKC was propelled in large part by the gimmick it brought to the table: pre-rendered CG animated sprites. It blew everything else out of the water at the time. And maybe I was more patient with games than I am today (especially since I had limited access to them back then.) It was a new way to explore a pre-rendered game world that was more quickly paced than something like Myst. The game play formula otherwise was about simple matter of precision, reaction time, and memorization.

One half of the DKC equation doesn’t hold anymore, and the other half is hardly worth retaining. There are far better options for platforming games than what DKC brings to the table. It is clearly a game aimed at fans of the originals. But I am one, and I am completely fed up with playing it. It doesn’t add anything new the series’ formula like Epic Yarn did. It actually offers you less than the original did. If you are desperate for nostalgia, or just for a chance to play a game on the Wii, then DKC Returns is your game. I think there are far better games out there to play right now that you’ll be able to wax nostalgic about in the near future instead.

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