Donkey Kong Country Returns
|Donkey Kong Country Returns|
|Platform(s)||Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Nvidia Shield (set-top box)|
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a side-scrolling platformer video game developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the Wii console. The game was released first in North America in November 2010, and in PAL regions and Japan the following month. A stereoscopic port of the game, titled Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in May 2013, and in Japan the following month.
The game's story focuses on a group of evil creatures called Tikis known as the Tiki Tak Tribe that arrive on Donkey Kong Island, and hypnotize the island's animals to steal Donkey Kong's bananas. This forces him to retrieve the hoard with the help of his friend Diddy Kong. Donkey Kong Country Returns was the first traditional home console Donkey Kong game since the release of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat in 2004, and also the first Donkey Kong Country entry not to involve video game developer Rare. The game was positively received from critics, it has sold 6.53 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling games on the Wii. A sequel, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, was released for the Wii U in February 2014.
Players take control of the series's protagonist Donkey Kong, as well as his friend Diddy Kong in certain situations, with many traditional elements of the Donkey Kong Country series returning, including mine cart levels, the ability to swing between vines and collect bananas, and the golden "KONG" puzzle pieces. New gameplay elements include levels in which the characters and foreground environments appear as silhouettes, spawning several new gameplay mechanics. In single-player mode, players can only play as Donkey Kong, although Diddy Kong rides on Donkey Kong's back, and Donkey Kong can use Diddy's jetpack to jump further. Multiplayer mode enables a second player to control Diddy Kong. If a player's character dies in two-player mode, it can be brought back by using the other character to hit a "DK Barrel" that floats into view, a mechanic similar to the one used in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. To avoid problems arising from differences in the players' skills, Diddy can hop on Donkey's back to take on a more passive role, while his jetpack can be used to make his partner's jumps easier. Both Donkey and Diddy can pound the ground to defeat enemies and unveil secret items.
The game has two control schemes, with the standard system using the Wii Remote in conjunction with the Nunchuk, while a more classical approach requires that the Wii Remote be held sideways. Both methods use motion controls for the "Ground Pound" move. In addition to common series elements like secrets and unlockables, there is also an optional time attack mode. Two animal buddies, Rambi and Squawks, appear and assist Donkey Kong at certain points in the game. The game also utilises the "Super Guide" feature that previously appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2. If the player loses eight lives in a single level, he or she is given the option to allow a white-colored Donkey Kong named Super Kong to take over and complete the level for them. However, Super Kong will not look for collectible items, nor will he show the player where they are. He also keeps anything he happens to collect, so the player is not rewarded for these items.
After beating Tiki Tong, an additional stage called "The Golden Temple" is unlocked. In order to play the stage, the player has to find objects called "Rare orbs" hidden in each world's temple. Upon competing the Golden Temple, a new mode is unlocked known as the Mirror Mode. In this mode, the stages are flipped, Donkey Kong only has one unit of health, he cannot use items bought from Cranky Kong, and he cannot get any help from Diddy Kong.
The game's story revolves around creatures known as Tikis, which are new to the series. The different types of Tikis fill the role of the antagonists in the story, replacing the Kremlings from Donkey Kong Country. Cranky Kong, who owns shops throughout the island, is the only Kong family member that appears other than Donkey and Diddy. The story begins when a group of evil Tikis known as the Tiki Tak Tribe arrive on Donkey Kong Island after being awoken by a volcanic eruption, and play music to hypnotize the animals, mostly elephants, zebras, giraffes and squirrels on the island into stealing Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong's bananas. Since Donkey Kong is resistant to the Tikis' music, he works with Diddy Kong to retrieve their hoard of bananas from the Tikis. Throughout the game, the pair travel through eight worlds to recover their stolen bananas: the Jungle, the Beach, the Ruins, the Cave, the Forest, the Cliff, the Factory, and the Volcano. In each world, they must defeat a Tiki Tak Tribe leader: Kalimba, the Maraca Gang, Gong-Oh, Banjo Bottom, Wacky Pipes, Xylobone, Cordian (who hypnotizes other animals in the jungle to fight the Kongs), and Tiki Tong, the king of the Tiki Tak Tribe. After Tiki Tong is defeated, the Kongs are launched into space where they punch and headbutt down on the Moon, crushing Tiki Tong's base and sending bananas flying everywhere.
Development on Donkey Kong Country Returns started in April 2008, soon after key personnel of Retro Studios had left the company. At that time, Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to create a new Donkey Kong game and, at his request, producer Kensuke Tanabe recommended Michael Kelbaugh, the CEO of Retro Studios, who had previously worked on the Donkey Kong Country series while he was employed at Nintendo of America. Satoru Iwata frequently referred to this turn of events as "fate" in his meetings with Retro Studios, which is why Kelbaugh suggested the homophonous project codename F8 for the game.
Similar to New Super Mario Bros., the game was developed with the intention to invoke nostalgic feelings in players with its art style and sound, while trying to provide them with new gameplay experiences. Retro tried to make the game "accessible to all players", but with a "kind of difficulty that made players want to try it again". The game employs fully polygonal 3D graphics with levels containing three times the amount of textures and polygons that Retro's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption offered in a single room. Though Miyamoto initially opposed the idea, simultaneous two-player gameplay was eventually implemented, contrary to the tag-team system of the original series. Tanabe said a partial inspiration for the feature was to make Returns "stand out" compared to the New Play Control! re-release of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Over the course of six months, two-thirds of the game's tools and engine had to be rewritten by the programmers, the animation and collision systems being subject to the most changes, and while experiments were conducted with underwater levels, they were ultimately omitted as they felt too slow and unfitting to the overall gameplay. Two levels in the game, "Tidal Terror" and "Mangoruby Run", proved to be the most difficult levels to design and program, each requiring several months of development time. In Returns, Retro tried to use the same camera engine used for the Morph Ball in Metroid Prime, but found it unable to handle the quick and complex movements of the characters, particularly after the implementation of two-player gameplay.
Development accelerated in early 2010, and the project was "beginning to cohere as a game" around the time of E3. Donkey Kong Country Returns was officially announced at Nintendo's press conference held on June 15, with four playable levels available on the show floor. Although the game was set for release later that year, the team still had 70 levels to create or refine. Around the end of development, Tanabe had lower back pain and needed to take a week off. During that time, assistant producer Risa Tabata took over his duties, and Tanabe decided to keep her in charge for the rest of production. The music, which was inspired by David Wise and Eveline Fischer's score for the Super NES games in the series, was co-written by Kenji Yamamoto, who had worked on the Prime trilogy. Yamamoto wrote songs to fit the mood of certain levels, and some songs were rewritten if their matching levels were heavily redesigned. Takashi Nagasako voiced both Donkey Kong and Cranky Kong, while Katsumi Suzuki voiced Diddy Kong.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
On February 14, 2013, Nintendo announced in its Nintendo Direct conference that a port for the Nintendo 3DS, titled Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, was in development and was released on May 24, 2013. The port was developed from the ground up by Monster Games and features stereoscopic 3D graphics. The 3DS version includes two modes, "Original Mode" which plays the same as the original Wii version, and "New Mode" which introduces a handful of new items to make the game easier, including extra health. The 3DS version also contains an extra world with eight new levels not present in the original Wii version.
Wii U re-release
In the January 2015 Nintendo Direct, it was announced that the Wii version of Donkey Kong Country Returns and other Wii games would be released for download on Wii U via Nintendo eShop. Donkey Kong Country Returns was made available on the Nintendo eShop on January 21, 2015 in Japan, January 22, 2015 in Europe, and January 23, 2015 in Australia and New Zealand. Between March 31 and June 30, 2016 inclusively, the digital re-release of Donkey Kong Country Returns was made available for North American Wii U users exclusively as a My Nintendo reward. The title has since been made commercially available on the North American Nintendo eShop starting September 22, 2016.
Nvidia Shield release
|Donkey Kong Country Returns|
Donkey Kong Country Returns received generally favorable reviews. For its awards for games released in 2010, IGN gave Returns awards for "Best Retro Design" and "Most Challenging", then selected the game as the 5th best on the console. Game Informer named it Game of the Month for December 2010, with reviewer Dan Ryckert hailing it as "one of the best platformers [they'd] ever played". The publication later picked it as the "Best Platformer" and "Best Wii Exclusive" of 2010.
IGN's Craig Harris awarded the game an Editor's Choice award, stating, "This is an incredibly challenging, old-school throwback that might not set the genre afire with innovation, but in my book, it's better than the awesome game that inspired it. [...] Rare should be proud that its design is in the right hands. Or just insanely jealous. Either works." Video game talk show Good Game's two presenters gave the game a 9 and 8.5 out of 10, praising how true the music kept to the style of the original tracks, and that it managed to keep from becoming too complex while still avoiding being over-simplified, saying "If you're a fan of the old Donkeys, or you just want a great platforming experience, this is worth at least as much as Kong's golden banana hoard." X-Play praised the similarity of Returns to previous games in the series, the game's replay value, and its graphics, but the review criticized the motion controls "that force you to react quickly at bad times, a button press would suffice" and the co-op game play, saying, "If your partner has a penchant for dying, look forward to some short games as he or she will most likely drain the number of lives you both share." GamesRadar complimented the title for its standout levels and fan service, while criticizing it for levels that are "frustrating, unclear and often misleading way that is unlike any prior Donkey Kong adventure", and motion controls that make them "question the controls in a platformer". GameTrailers praised the game's gameplay and the diversity of the levels, while Giant Bomb claimed, "Retro recaptures most of Donkey Kong's venerated platforming roots in this fine Wii sequel."
The game debuted third on the Japanese video game charts, with 163,310 units sold, and it has sold 638,305 copies in Japan as of January 2, 2011. In North America, the game debuted at sixth place on the charts, with 430,470 units sold. By the end of March 2011, the game had sold 4.96 million copies worldwide. On September 12, 2013 Nintendo announced that the 3DS version has sold 268,000 units in the United States. As of March 31, 2014, it has worldwide sales of 1.52 million.
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