There are a number of reasons I could tell you why I "hate" Donkey Kong Country Returns, sir. Let's start off with this one: It's called Donkey Kong Country RETURNS, right? Well exactly how much of Donkey Kong Country ended up returning, anyway? Very little. Five characters out of the entire series, in fact: Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong (the latter of which isn't even playable in one-player), Cranky Kong, the only helper Kong, Rambi (the only ridable animal buddy) and Squawks, who is relegated to being an item. As for who's NOT here, well, you're already familiar with that, but I'll give them a shout-out here since they're not getting love from anyone else around here it seems: God bless you, Kremling Krew.
Now onto the gameplay. Let's face it, it's atrocious. You can't even play with a Classic Controller. You're forced to use a Wii Remote on its side or with a Nunchuk. Donkey Kong's flow of movement somehow just doesn't fell like it does in DKC. And like I said, you can't control Diddy separately in one-player. This is ! Plus, the signature roll that helped make the original game famous, where you plow through enemies in succession with a slight pause each time you hit one, is gone. Instead you get a roll that requires you to (sometimes violently, in my case) shake the Wii Remote and expires after a short time, so if you're rolling through a series of enemies and your roll runs out you instantly get hit. I'd complain about the blow mechanic here, but the game's already full of so much insanity that it seems rather a moot point.
Then the art style. Oh God, the art style. At least Paon had a kind of distinct direction and charm, but with Returns it seems like they just threw a bunch of ideas together to see what would stick, and the end result is just an unmemorable, unremarkable blah. Everything looks like it was made of Play-Doh. I can understand Retro not using the ACM graphics that Rare pioneered in its heyday (although that would've been cool), but at least give us SOMETHING to look at! I admit, several levels did have interesting atmospheres, namely the stormy dock or cave levels, but these were far and few between. Also, enemy design. Ugh. All of the enemies were completely retarded. Look at those little birds that replaced Gnawties as the first and standard walking enemy: what the hell is that? What about this creature's design suggests that I'm supposed to do anything to it, let alone jump on it? Jesus. And half the boss fights were bland and boring as . Don't get me started on these three crabs at the end of World 2... mother of God. Oh, and that reminds me that the worlds didn't even have names outside of "Jungle" and "Beach". And another thing, granted the (terrible) player's guide named most of the minor baddies, but what's with the main "big bad" Tikis not having names? You guys are awesome, Retro!
Time Trial is atrocious, by the way. The GBA versions of DKC and DKC2 had time trials, but at least those were remotely fun. In Returns you're required to constantly shake the Wii remote and roll through the entire stage, leaving you gasping for breath and rubbing your arms after a few minutes. And what the is up with Mirror Mode? I normally don't complain when I'm required to play through an entire game again (see Super Mario Galaxy) but this? This is torture! It's not even fun! With Diddy out of the equation, all you do is run through the level, not collecting any puzzle pieces or bonuses, just run straight through it and pretend you're having fun. Except that would be impossible. And I normally side with Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. movie when he says that nothing is impossible, so you KNOW that's saying something.
So, I have plenty of reasons to hate this game. I'm not even sure if I covered all of them here, because I have so many. The one feature of Returns that was remotely cool was the unlockable art gallery and music section, but most of the music is barely memorable so you forget it right when you turn the Wii off (and yes, I know most of the songs are shittier versions of Wise classics). Overall, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a MUCH better game and I am not ashamed to say that, besides Rare's masterpieces and some of Paon's title, the GameCube version is one of my favorite Donkey Kong titles ever. I know most ignorant DKC fans, such as those at the non-biased and great Donkey Kong Universe, might knee-jerkingly shudder at the mere mention of Jungle Beat and tell you to stay ten miles away from it, but at least Jungle Beat didn't pretend to be something that it wasn't. Right from the get-go, that team said "Look. We're doing our own thing here, this is our take on the Donkey Kong story, and we're completely happy with it." True, some mistakes were made (either Miyamoto, Iwata, or someone saying DKC wasn't fresh enough for today's gamers) but really. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was a refreshing, unique, innovative experience and I am a better man for having experienced it.
Like I said, I don't want Retro making a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns. I hope they never get to touch Donkey Kong again. Hell, I'm ashamed I have to buy Mario Kart 7 because it looks damn good and I love me some Mario Kart, but Retro's had their dirty little hands all over that. I wonder what it would be like if Paon took another shot at Donkey Kong. I loved every DK game they made. Of course, if God was merciful, Rare would get their back together, re-assemble the old team and make the best damn Donkey Kong Country 4 that any of us could have imagined, but since that might not happen any time soon, we should be happy with what we get. Within reason. Being happy with Returns, however, is not within reason. It is a complete and blatant disrespect and insult to the legacy of Donkey Kong Country and Rare's former glory, and if you are a true fan of either than you could do well to stay far, far away from "Donkey Kong Country Returns". God, it's almost blasphemous just to type its name.