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E3 10: Hands-on with Donkey Kong Country Returns

6:47 PM on 06.15.2010 // Chad Concelmo

All this week I am going to be giving ridiculously quick hands-on impressions of all the games I see on the E3 show floor. Since I think everything is a little amazing, they will be rated, from least to most favorite: 1 (A Little Amazing!), 2 (Kind of Amazing!), 3 (Pretty Amazing!), 4 (AMAZING!), and 5 (The Most Amazing Thing I Have Ever Seen!).

I am still recovering from the unbelievably awesome Nintendo press conference this morning. As a massive Nintendo fan, the constant barrage of classic series that kept popping up one after another was too much for me to handle. One of those -- and one of the biggest surprises of the show -- was Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii by none other than Metroid Prime makers Retro Studios.

On video and in screens the game looked great (I mean, LOOK AT THE HEADER IMAGE!), but I really wanted to see how the game played. The original Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo are classics and I was hoping this beautiful update would feel the same.

Great news: The game is incredible. Beyond incredible, in fact.

Everything that was great about the original games is intact in this Wii sequel. First off, you can play two-player co-op. Awesome. Even if you decide to go alone, Diddy is still part of the game, you just have to switch between him and Donkey Kong like in the first games (you even get extra powers when Diddy rides on Donkey's back!). Next, mine cart levels return. Boners. And, man, they are still RIDICULOUSLY HARD, which I love. Third, a lot of familiar details pop up, such as bouncing on tires, swinging on vines, collecting "KONG"letters, and finding hidden passages to bonus areas. It's all there and it all feels fantastic!

Surprisingly, the game is played with the Wiimote/nunchuk combination (nunchuk moves and A button on the Wiimote jumps). I first I didn't know why the Wiimote was not just turned on its side like Kirby's Epic Yarn, but there are a variety of moves in the game, so the extra buttons help (without being too confusing).

Most noticeably, though, the game looks ... AHHHHHH SO GOOD! The animation is silky smooth and the level design is top-notch. Just wait until you jump in a barrel, and instead of just being shot in a 2D plane, the barrel shoots you into the background, or farther into the foreground to an entirely different plane of action. It is so satisfying.

Man, I really need to lie down. The Nintendo games are killing me today. So happy ...

Rating: 5 out of 5 (The Most Amazing Thing I Have Ever Seen!)

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Chad Concelmo,
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