Now Reading
Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

by Bradley DeLorenzoNovember 23, 2010

Gaming Age – 100
I absolutely adore Donkey Kong Country Returns. It’s a throwback to games of yesteryear, but infused with new and exciting game play mechanics that create a similar, but all-new experience. The audio and visual presentations are astounding, especially for a system that isn’t known for pushing the boundaries in either category.

Destructoid – 100
With a ton of incredible levels to conquer; gorgeous, perfectly designed graphics (wait until you see the first sunset level!); retro-inspired music; and smooth, flawless gameplay, videogames don’t get much better than Donkey Kong Country Returns. I can’t recommend this game enough.

1UP – 100
Donkey Kong Country Returns hits all the right spots; it’s filled with childhood nostalgia, stunning visuals, and mentally taxing challenges. The game offers a wealth of inventive, wild fun and works even for those with no inherent emotional attachment to the cartoon gorilla on the cover.

Cheat Code Central – 98
Retro has done an incredible job bringing DKC’s traditional mechanics into the world of modern game design. The only thing distinct lament is the absence of more rideable animal buddies. Still, a must-buy.

Digital Chumps – 96
Those who lamented Nintendo’s loss of Rare to the competition need only spend a few short hours with Donkey Kong Country Returns before realizing that a legitimate successor may indeed be upon us.

Game Informer – 95
I’ve been looking forward to this game for months, but the final product blew me away. It’s gorgeous visuals, awesome boss battles, varied stages, and cleverly hidden secrets guarantee gamers will have a great time revisiting this classic franchise… One of the best platformers I’ve ever played. [Dec 2010, p.124]

GameFocus – 93
Even though some things were changed or completely removed (notably the underwater levels), DKC Returns feels a lot like the game we played back in 1994. Needless to say, its a great comeback for our favorite ape.

Game Revolution – 91
DKCR also has a ton of replay value for completists.

Wired – 90
The best 2-D platform game I’ve played in ages. Its level design meets the gold standard set by the 2-D Mario games. Retro Studios can add another feather to its cap.

GameTrailers – 90
It’s a clever and challenging platformer that consistently hits the sweet spot between fun and frustration. You’re guaranteed to rage in a few stops, but at the end of the day, it’s still good to be Kong.

IGN – 90
Understand there are times where you’ll want to throw your controller against a wall — Donkey Kong Country Returns is not a cakewalk. It’s a hardcore challenge for the hardcore gamer, and because of its difficulty, it offers an amazing sense of satisfaction when you’ve completed a level that’s kicked your butt five ways to Sunday.

Joystiq – 90
Donkey Kong Country Returns proves that Retro Studios doesn’t just have a talent for first-person sci-fi adventures. This is a game that succeeds not because of incredible innovations, but simply because it was designed really well. Retro took a series I didn’t even want to care about, and made something great with it.

Eurogamer – 90
This game has the potential to win over a whole new generation, and to do so without eliciting any whinges from those of us old enough to remember the taste of a McRib washed down with Tab Clear.

Computer and Video Games – 88
An impressive, worthy successor to the Super NES series – but only the brave will finish.

Games Radar (in-house) -80
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a lush, vibrant re-imagining of the DKC franchise, but a barrage of cheap deaths, uneven difficulty and iffy motion controls keep it from matching Retro Studios’ previous amazing work with Metroid.

GamePro Video Review:

GamePro – 80
Where the original sold itself at least partially on the “wow” factor of its then-impressive pre-rendered visuals, Donkey Kong Country Returns is all about what matters most in a high-quality platformer: Inspired, challenging, and inventive level design, backed up by a delightful, cartoon-like atmosphere.

Giant Bomb – 80
I wish the game offered more control options–namely, options that don’t involve shaking the controller around–but overall this is a really well put-together and fantastic-looking platformer that will really challenge your ability to play hard games the way you used to way back when.

Edge Magazine – 70
Retro Studios has done a fine job with the Donkey Kong Country concept, ably translating its appeal for a modern platform, but it doesn’t push it much further. [Christmas 2010, p.92]

GameSpy – 70
I could have done without the gimmicky Wii-mote shaking (I lost several lives to misfired rolls when I meant to ground-slam) — but overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a (mostly) pleasant surprise and a return to form.

Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Country Returns
From Nintendo

List Price: $49.99
Price: $44.44 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Ships from and sold by

7 new or used available from $44.40

About The Author
Bradley DeLorenzo
  • March 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    This really is a great game. Personally, I think the controls could have used a little more work (and the multiplayer mode could have been improved), but this is one of my favorite games ever. There is a lot to collect during the levels, and if you have the patience to find everything you’ll unlock even harder levels and galleries full of extras. I’m going through the game to write a walkthrough right now, check it out, it has detailed level explanations and it’ll tell you where you can find the puzzle pieces and KONG letters!

  • March 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I had a few problems with rolling, because I was used to (and loved) the classic Donkey Kong Country games, I kept pressing the run button and expecting to roll into running speed like before. You do have to be careful with rolling in this game, because it seems harder to control than before, and you can overshoot where you’re jumping to. I wish the multiplayer mode would zoom out when one player leaves the screen (like NSMBW does), on levels where there isn’t enough room to wait players can get left behind and lives will run down quicker. It did seem easier playing through the game as one player. But aside from controls and multiplayer, this is one of my favorite games. The graphics are awesome, and will even interact with you in some levels (like waves and lava). It’s also been a blast to go back through the game to collect all the puzzle pieces to unlock the extras, the puzzle pieces are usually well hidden or tricky to reach. I’m writing a detailed walkthrough for Donkey Kong Country Returns, it’s still a work in progress, but maybe it will help someone who is looking for some hints for the game.

Leave a Response