Donkey Kong’s return to ridiculously difficult platforming brings with it a number of changes that vary in degrees of contentiousness. King K. Rool and his goons are nowhere to be seen and the Kong family has been reduced to Donkey, Diddy, and Cranky. Further, your friends are limited to Rambi and Squawks.
Diddy, for his part, is no longer an independent playable character, if you go it alone. Instead, he acts as two additional hit points, a jet-pack that allows you to slow your descent, and the means to access an infinite roll. A second player can take control of him, however, while still being able to attach themselves to Donkey when they’re feeling generous.
These changes don’t bother me as I’ve always liked Donkey’s lumbering platforming abilities and was bothered by his disappearance from his own series so quickly in the original trilogy. I know many people enjoy the lighter characters, but this is DONKEY KONG Country, after all. The other playable Kongs can take a permanent vacation with Zero as far as I’m concerned.
The change I predictably take issue with is the motion controls. The ground pounding and blowing mechanics are fine and add to the variety of collecting activities but having rolling mapped to a flick of the wiimote is borderline inexcusable. This is notably remedied in the 3DS port. I will admit that it is impressive to see Donkey piloted by the competent hands of speedrunners, though.
Still, I can just BARELY excuse it as the time trials don’t count towards your completion percentage. Collecting the KONG letters in every level is the only thing that matters. Doing so unlocks the challenge levels in each world which, in turn, allow you to gain access to the final area. Clearing it will unlock mirror mode where you will complete the levels backwards, without Diddy, using a single hit point. This allows your percentage to climb to 200%.
There are also 5 to 9 puzzle pieces hidden in each level. I collect them because it allows me to explore the world. The rewards (images and songs) are NOT worth it. You can lease Squawks from Cranky if you have trouble in this endeavor. And, you will.
Overall, if you can live with Diddy’s new, reduced role and the lack of the extended DK and Krool crews this is a fresh but still very challenging adventure worth tackling.
Buyer’s Guide: Available on the Wii and 3DS. If you feel the need for speed--and can suffer a graphical hit--go with the 3DS version.
4 Barrel-Chested Banana Hoarders out of 5