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Motion Controls: Nostalgia Killers

by TriplZer0   //   1:59 PM on 07.28.2011



Dtoid, have I told you how much I love the Donkey Kong series? Well letís just say Iím bananas over the franchise. Okay, that was awful. I promise there will be no more monkey-based puns in this blog. Back to the matter at hand, I love Donkey Kong. This is a tale of a young manís nostalgia being crushed by imposition of motion controls.

My brothers and I got an SNES for Christmas in 1994 with two games: Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. Mario holds a special place in my heart, but itís a tight fit because good olí DK is right there next to him.

I spent countless hours playing the original DKC with my brothers. I learned all the tricks and secrets, including cheat codes. Then a couple of years later Donkey Kong Country 2. emerged onto the scene.[I could go on for pages about how much I love that game. Then came the not-as-good-but-still-damn-good Donkey Kong Country 3 during the SNESí waning years.



Over my roughly twenty years of gaming Iíve owned and played: the 3 DKC games mentioned above, the Donkey Kong Land Gameboy games, the collect-a-thon [i]Donkey Kong 64, Diddy Kong Racing, and the GBA remakes of the DKC trilogy. At one point I also owned the Donkey Kong books for kids that were based off the Gameboy games.



Yes this is a thing that exists. But not even Amazon had a pic of the cover.

So imagine my delight when Donkey Kong Country Returns was announced for the Wii. The setting looked gorgeous. There was retro-remixed-throwback music. There was Rambi! Yeah there werenít any Kremlings, but I was okay with that. Then of course, the catch. The proverbial turd in my nostalgia punch bowl: motion controls.



On the surface, the motion controls in DKCR donít seem like such a big deal. You can play the game with a Wiimote or with the Nunchuck. However, the problem is that you have to shake the Wiimote in order to get Donkey to roll or pound the ground. Veteran DK players know that a well-timed roll/cartwheel jump can make or break many levels and tricky sections. The fact that this integral part of the game got mapped to a motion rather than a simple button press worried me. But, still I was enthusiastic. I wagered I could look past the motion controls and enjoy the game just like the DK games of old.

Nope. I was so wrong. People have made comments how DKCR is a challenging game. Yeah itís challenging--in a completely bullshit way. I swear Iíve died more times from having DK not roll when I want him to than from actual enemies. I made it to the end of World 5 before I had to give up.

This is an instance where motion controls do far more harm than good. Imagine how amazing the game would be if you could play it with a Gamecube controller or a Classic controller. I wouldíve done that in a heartbeat. Instead Nintendo and Retro Studios shoehorned motion controls into a game, and technically a genre, that didnít need them. They turned simple mechanics tied to precise button presses into a garbled mess of me waving my Wiimote around in the air like Iím trying to shake a baby to death.*

*It disturbs me that that was the best analogy I could come up with



Iím not a motion controls hater--at least not completely. If implemented properly and in genres that work well with them, then motion controls can be great. I just dislike being forced to deal with suboptimal control schemes. For me Donkey Kong Country Returns is a failure. Iím probably not going to go back to it. Instead of waggling my Wiimote, I think Iíll fire up DKC2 on the VC and bask in my untarnished nostalgia.Photo Photo Photo view gallery
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