Ride, Diddy, Ride!
I released this game from the “Games collecting dust I have yet to complete” vault. I played through a lot of it with my brother, but playing video games with an autistic person who is obsessed with grabbing every collectible and killing every enemy with no sense of self-preservation is nerve-wracking. I gave up at world 7 and didn’t look back for a long time.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is like the Mario and Kirby games on the Wii; you have the option to play co-op if you’d like. And by option, I mean proceed at your own risk. Remember trying to play New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Or whatever the hell it was called) with four players? The chaos, the betrayal, the ruining of friendships? DKCR felt almost as chaotic at times with only two of us playing. Some of the features really made me shake my head, wondering if the developers even tried playing it co-op.
DKCR doesn’t give the player any similar “bubbling” option like in NSMB. Instead of being able to save yourself from certain death as long as the other person playing is progressing and doesn’t happen to “bubble” at the same time you do, DKCR will teleport the off-screen character to (usually) whoever is further along. This was a life-saver sometimes. You see a counter on the side of the screen where the lagging-behind character is hiding before they get automatically teleported to their partner. Unfortunately, the game has no qualms against transporting the off-screen character next to a gorilla leaping over a bottomless pit. Insta-death. Good thing “Game Over” doesn’t mean too much in these games anymore. Same goes for barrels; USUALLY you’ll automatically get transported into the barrel your partner is patiently waiting in to advance. But the opposite seemed to be true of optional barrels. Diddy, who has more maneuvering skills, would be hanging out in a barrel and I’d hope the game would bring me to him, but the opposite happened a few times which was frustrating.
While I’m on the topic, I’m gonna vent about how Donkey Kong totally got shafted in this game. I made the mistake of choosing to play as the game’s namesake and passed off Diddy Kong to Steve-O. Biiiiig mistake on my part! Donkey Kong completely sucks. Diddy gets a hovering ability which makes acquiring all of those hard-to-collect-without-dying KONG letters and puzzle pieces a bit more manageable. Even traversing some of the crazy stages as Donkey made me want to pull my hair out. Or, you know, purposely die and just let Diddy Kong finish the stage without me holding him back.
A lot of my other frustrations align with typical Wii game complaints. The levels are too hectic at times for two players and/or the funky Wii controls aren’t responsive enough for their demands. Some levels or collectibles demand performing a roll-jump which requires running, shaking the controller, then jumping. Good luck with that. Nine times out of ten your monkey won’t jump when you press the button. Or when you’re only shaking the controller to pound the ground he’ll do a roll instead and plummet to an inconvenient death.
Again, thankfully death doesn’t mean too much anymore. With banana coins you collect from levels you can purchase an obscene amount of lives from Cranky at his shack. We had so many banana coins we didn’t know what to do with them besides frivolously spend them on fifty lives at a time. I’m not ashamed to say we had no trouble blowing through that many lives, either. When playing co-op, TWO lives are taken from you every time you die. Which means every time you don’t press the Jump button with the right amount of pressure you lose two lives during those stupid one-hit-kill mine cart riding levels. I hate those types of levels by the way… pressing a button with the incorrect amount of pressure shouldn’t result in losing two lives.
Aside from riding mine carts and rockets amongst ridiculous obstacles, I liked a lot of the level designs. I’d be happier if they didn’t require more accurate responses than my Wii remotes can give. But, like the Mario and Kirby Wii games, they show a lot of creativity. There isn’t a lot of gray area; I found them a lot of fun or extremely frustrating. The music is reminiscent of past DK games. The premise for the whole game is a bit silly, but isn’t that usually the case?
The boss fights at the end of each world are hit or miss too. They’re either enjoyable or you die about 100 times before finally progressing. So, yes, this game is difficult, but like a lot of games this generation, it is difficult for the wrong reasons.
Oh, and the new final boss is stupid.