His name was one of the first to make Nintendo a household name, and now — nearly 30 years later — the Donkey Kong franchise is still alive & well, & carrying on into the next generation of gamers.
Released sixteen years to the day after the original Donkey Kong Country was released, IGN reports that Donkey Kong Country Returns is yet another fantastic visit to the company’s catalogue of amazing game designs. Other than the brutal difficulty – which many will (and rightfully should) see as a positive – there’s very little to complain about in Donkey Kong Country Returns. 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.
The classic Rare-developed Donkey Kong Country gained notoriety on the Super Nintendo as one of the first games to utilize cutting edge Pixar-like computer generated imagery for characters and backgrounds. It was a technique that really brought the environments to life in a world of simplistic pixel art from the competition. The game also established Donkey Kong as a bona fide platforming hero with a background story after years as a bumbling girlfriend kidnapper and part-time go-kart driver. The game was an incredible success that spawned two sequels and a bunch of handheld ports.
While Donkey Kong Country purists may cry foul with the omission of K. Rool and his evil gang from the Super NES original, it was in this area that Retro Studios made the game its own with a brand new set of baddies and end bosses. And at least Donkey Kong Country Returns makes it perfectly clear why a giant banana horde has been stolen. But that’d be a spoiler if I said anything more…