Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are relaxing on DK Island when a group of evil hypnotist Tikis, known as the Tiki Tak Tribe, hypnotize all the animals on the island. Under hypnotic control, the animals steal Donkey Kong's banana hoard. Now it's up to Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong to retrieve the banana hoard and throw the Tiki Tak Tribe out of DK Island for good!
Donkey Kong Country Returns plays similarly to it's past games. The game is a side scrolling platforming. You control Donkey Kong and run around stomping, tumbling on, and basically killing anyone who gets in your way.The game controls like any standard platforming, however given it's on the Wii, Retro Studios decided to add simple motion controls (similar to the way Nintendo did with New Super Mario Bros. Wii), unfortunately I found that the motion controls got really annoying and seems to be more of a gimmick then anything else. I really wished that the game had an option to use a classic controller, or GameCube controller. The game is very fun but the motion controls (in my opinion) damage the experience. Basically you start off at Donkey Kong's house (similar to the first game) and learn the basic controls in the first level. After you complete the level you progress through the levels on a map system. Map systems have been in the Donkey Kong Country series since day 1, and basically allows you to choose any level you want to play (providing you either already beat it, or are currently on that level) and play it at any time. This is great since you'll most likely need to replay the level multiple times in order to collect all of the hidden puzzle pieces, or the K,O,N and G blocks scattered throughout the level. There are between 7-10 levels per world, last level being a separate boss battle. As you play through a level you will see barrels with "DK" written on them. These contain Diddy Kong (surprise right?). Unlike past games you where you could play as Diddy Kong if Donkey Kong died or vise versa, you don't actually play as Diddy (in single player mode). Instead you continue running around as Donkey Kong with Diddy on your back. Diddy carries a jet pack on his back. This allows the 2 of you to glide through the air for a short amount of time. In addition to that you also now have a heart system instead of one hit kills. I personally feel this is a great addition due to the games difficulty.
The graphics in Donkey Kong Returns are fantastic. They are some of the best I've seen on the Wii. The backgrounds are full of detail, color, and beauty. The lighting in this game also really sets the mood. Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and the enemies all look fantastic. The graphics definitely show that if done correctly, the Wii can have great looking quality graphics.
The controls are very similar to those of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, only you can play two different ways.The game can be played with either the Wii remote held sideways, or with the Wii remote, and nunchuck. I personally prefer holding the Wii remote sideways, but either way works. When holding the Wii remote sideways you move using the D-Pad, jump using the 2 button, grab/run using the 1 button, and smash/blow/and roll by shaking the Wii remote. I personally don't like the motion controls, and find them to be the only major gripe I have with Donkey Kong Country Returns. They are really more of an inconvenience and are a pain to use, considering you'll be using them a LOT throughout each level. The motion controls just seem like a gimmick that really could/should have been avoided, had they included Classic Controller or GameCube Controller support.
The sound and music in Donkey Kong Country Returns is incredibly well made. There is a lot of new catchy tunes that you'll wanna hum along to as you play, but at the same time there a a good chunk of classic tunes remade to fit into the current generation. The majority of the music in this game has a jungle/African vibe to it, however considering the game takes place in a jungle this isn't a bad thing at all. The sound effects are what you'd expect from a Donkey Kong Country game. Donkey Kong occasionally grunts when jumping or attacking, Diddy screams and yells when trapped in a barrel and, of course, enemies squeal when stomped on or rolled into.
All in all Donkey Kong Country Returns is a great return of one of the greatest side scrolling platforming series of the 90s. The game still retains a lot of classic game play, but makes it modern, so it doesn't feel dated at all. Rather or not you played a Donkey Kong Country game or not, the game is easy to pick up and play, but provides a challenge that will be frustrating, and fun!