PAX 2010: Hands-On with Donkey Kong Country Returns

When I was a kid and had an SNES, I didn’t have a lot of games for it, so I just played the ones I had over and over again, with the main titles being NFL Quarterback Club 96 and Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. I also had the third Donkey Kong Country, but I didn’t really like it much.

So while I, as I tend not to, have no real nostalgic desire to get my hands on Retro Studios’ Donkey Kong Country Returns, I was certainly curious to see if it could stand up next to those SNES titles I loved so much, because if I don’t get my hands on it myself, how am I supposed to know whether or not I should make fun of the folks who will inevitably be obsessed with it once it arrives in November?

So I knew when I paid a visit to the Nintendo booth at PAX that I had to give it a try. Well, guess what. I liked it.

For my demo, I chose to try out the new game‘s mine kart level. I mean, of course I did. In the level I found mine karts. And I found barrels that shoot me across the screen. And I found the letters that make up the word “Kong” scattered throughout the level. And it felt all so very familiar. In terms of design and controls, what I found was a bona fide Donkey Kong Country game. Happy wuz me.

There is a new twist, of course: co-op. (Nintendo doesn’t want you to play the Wii by yourself.) Co-op play is difficult, on one hand, because the two players must be in sync enough to, when it comes to jumping in barrels and hopping to and from mine karts, do everything at the same time. On the other had, each player get his or her own set of lives, so from that standpoint it’s forgiving.

Oh, and it’s also forgiving in that Donkey getting hit by a bee doesn’t immediately knock him out. You actually get three health hearts this time. Those don’t help when you fall down a mine shaft, however.

Conclusion: The big question all along has been, “Is this a legit Donkey Kong Country game?” Yes, it is. It really is like playing a co-op better looking version of one of the SNES DKC games. So you can feel pretty confident, based on my very reliable word alone, that come November 21, you can pick this up and pretty much know what you’re in for.

Convinced? Got a copy of the game? Check out our complete Donkey Kong Country Returns Game Guide.

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1 Comment on PAX 2010: Hands-On with Donkey Kong Country Returns

Ross Lincoln

On September 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Wait wait. How does a country return?