Donkey Kong Country Returns is a blast from the past. The demo level I played at E3 reminded me of the Super Nintendo games.
Aside from on the fly rendered monkeys, developer Retro Studios added new elements to Donkey Kong Country Returns. The most noticeable one is Diddy Kong’s jet pack. Once you free Diddy from a barrel, he climbs on Donkey Kong’s back. And Diddy has a wooden rocket on his back. This gizmo lets Donkey Kong hover in the air and gently glide to the ground. Donkey Kong also has a ground pound attack, which took some inspiration from New Play Control: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. You shake the remote and nunchuk, as if you were Donkey Kong slapping the ground.
While I was jumping on frogs, a blimp flew by in the background. Birds flew by in another spot. These little touches made Donkey Kong Country Returns feel lively. Eventually, Donkey Kong jumps into the background when a land mass pops out of the ground via a special barrel. The screen zooms in on the new area and I completed a barrel jumping segment.
Donkey Kong Country Returns wouldn’t be a Donkey Kong Country game without lots of secrets. Levels have hidden banana bunches, puzzle pieces, and KONG letters to collect. The “O” was tricky to get in this stage. It was floating over a pit. Diddy Kong’s rocket pack didn’t help me get it. I couldn’t get enough lift from the jet to avoid falling into the abyss. On my next try, i used rolled into the letter by shaking the remote. Right before falling, I hit jump and landed on solid ground.
With four letters collected, I felt accomplished enough to move on and play Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.