Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii is the complete package for any fan of old-school side-scrolling platformers.  Its got highly diverse level structures, crisp and colorful graphics, great upbeat music, and great charm.  Its also got a level of difficulty that has been forgotten for a long time.  Nintendo doesn’t pull any punches to ease the difficulty of this game at all, you will loose many balloons(lives) playing through this game.  On quite a few levels I went through 40-50 lives(DKCR is quite generous with the 1ups) just to reach the end.  But the great thing of the challenging nature of Donkey Kong doesn’t come from bad controls or cheap enemy shots, its from the amazing level design that Nintendo and Retro Studios created.  Never once does a lost life feel cheap, you fell into that pit or got hit by that enemy because it was your fault(ie. mistiming a jump, running too fast, ect.).  And no matter how many balloons I was popping, I never stopped playing because the levels are just that fun and engaging that you will want to keep playing through them.  If you lose enough lives on a level a little pig shows up and offers to show you how to play through the level, but I never used this feature.

The setup for your quest is quite the same as the older DKC games, Donkey Kongs banana horde has been stolen so the big ape grabs his best friend Diddy Kong and goes on a quest to get them back.   The quest brings you through zones such as jungles, caves, factories, mountains, and beaches along with many others.  Most of the levels have the traditional run and jump style gameplay, but on many Nintendo changes the side scrolling goodness up some.  On some levels you need to control a haywire rocket barrel and navigate through crumbling caverns, on others you need to ride on a speeding minecart while jumping pits and avoiding all kinds of hazards.  These minecart levels were some of my favorite parts of the game by far and I wish there were more.  They’re insanely difficult but such a blast to play.  Check out the video below to see how cool the minecart levels are.

Another great thing about DKCR is the sense of humor it has.  It’s all very lighthearted and silly.  Dancing pigs, DK’s silly facial expressions, goofy sound effects, and Kranky Kongs quips will have you giggling through the entire game.  The music the humor with silly island music and pirate tunes on beach levels and tunes that reminded me of “Yackety Sax”(the Benny Hill theme song) when levels get hectic and goofy.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is proven testament that games don’t need to be gushing with blood, have soldiers cussing to no end, include multi-player death matches and have apocalyptic settings to be wonderful and engaging.  If you have a Wii DKCR is a must buy whether you are old, young, or in-between, this is easily one of the best game on the Wii or any other console for that matter.   I guarantee you will play through it multiple times and push yourself to find every hidden secret in the game(something that I still am doing as I write this).