Donkey Kong Country Returns Level Preview
We were invited by Nintendo to check out Donkey Kong Country Returns a short while ago (click here for our previous coverage), but were unable to discuss the latter two worlds, Volcano and Factory, until now. As far as we know, we were the only journalists to actually complete the game (entirely in co-op, no less) and figured we’d provide some in-depth details regarding the later levels in the game.
FactoryAfter finishing the Cliff section, we found ourselves exploring the more industrial side of DK Island: The Factory. Here’s a small taste of some of the levels within.
The first level, Music Madness, interwove fantastic platforming action against many different types of machinery, all moving in sync with the fantastic musical track backing the level. It was reminiscent of Mario Galaxy 2’s Beat Block Galaxy, where the obstacles actually moved in-time to the music. In this case, it included giant mallets slamming down and timed platforms. One especially cool sequence involved traversing a series of vertically aligned drums, rebounding off one to the next as the hammers slammed down. Oh, and one of the enemies in the level is a robot chicken…
In this stage, we found ourselves clinging to a barrel-rocket as we blasted from the jungle floor, through the canopy, and well up into the sky. Like the other rocket-levels, the A-button controlled our acceleration, so pressing it would make us rise. We were also able to move the rocket to either side, which proved useful in dodging the Tiki’s army of blimps.
Boss: Feathered Fiend
A chicken that has found itself under the spell of the Tiki’s mind-controlling magic mans a giant mech in this battle. It’s not often the GameXplain crew gets stumped, but we found ourselves dying constantly as we attempted to find the boss’s weakness. The battle begins with the boss side-stepping slowly across the arena, forcing us to carefully run underneath his feet as he stomped across. Our impatience was our undoing, as our attempts to attack him during this phase yielded no reward.
As it turns out, we simply had to wait for him to perform this maneuver a few times before he took to the air and stomped the ground, causing some some green goo to leak from his underbelly. This goo looked suspiciously similar to other green things DK and crew have clung to, such as grass, ivy, and vines. As such, we grabbed hold which enabled to to pummel his underbelly with a few shakes of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. After a few attack rounds of chicken-groin pummeling, he tried a new strategy: Dropping eggs from above. After evading each batch, the boss would slam to the ground, giving us a chance to jump onto his head–a feat which would eventually end this initially daunting battle.
After wrapping up the factory, we were thrust into the toasty caverns of the local volcano. If the smoldering lava on the world map wasn’t indicative enough, the level names served as a constant reminder: Furious Fire, Hot Rocket, Roasting Rails, Smokey Peak, Bobbing Basalt, Moving Melters, and Red Ring Rising are among the smattering of smoldering levels.
In Furious Fire, we had to traverse copious precarious platforms hovering over a lava-filled reservoir. To make DK’s jaunt even more perilous, these platforms were often guarded by giant roaming fireballs that would slowly work their way around the platforms’ perimeter, making carefully-timed jumps a must.
Hot Rocket brought us back to one of our favorite mechanics: the side-scrolling rocket-barrel. The controls are simple: Press “A” to rise, let go to drop. That’s it. Though simple, the devious level design makes completing the stage anything but. For example, as we found ourselves racing toward a solid rock wall, it began breaking apart at the last minute, steadily revealing a tunnel we could (just barely) glide through. It took extremely careful manipulation of the accelerate-button to avoid smashing into the ceiling, or crashing to the rocky floor.
As we closed in on the end of the level, lava snake-like creatures shaped like an arch, would spin in circles–sometimes overlapping each other–forcing us to to plan ahead and find a route through their treacherous traps. And as if we weren’t already hot under the collar, a series of fireballs barraged us from the left, followed by a giant tidal wave of lava as we raced through one more tunnel to the level’s goal. It was sheer insanity, and something that will bring a smile to the face of anyone who likes fun.
What would a Donkey Kong Country game be without minecarts? This level, unlike some of the previous ones we had already played, actually had Donkey and Diddy jumping independently of the cart (instead of with it) while it continued its race underneath our airborne feet. This level was, without question, one of the most difficult we experienced in the game. Quite often, the cart we were riding would careen off a break in the tracks, forcing us to jump to another before falling victim to the same fate.
Annoyingly, getting hit by an enemy would knock us from the cart and into the lava, reducing this level to what amounts to a one-hit kill (from the usual 2-hits). Roasting Rails was one of the very few times where I found myself getting frustrated with the game’s difficulty.
Smoking Peak is set at dusk, resulting in another one of the ‘silhouette’ levels that we had become such fans of. This brilliant art style–that of DK and Diddy silhouetted against a colorful sunset–is striking every time it appears. This time, however, we discovered Rambi the Rhino early on in the stage, on whom we could catch a ride and trample through the remainder of the level. Of course, the myriad platforms that would begin to collapse as we hopped from one to the next did make it a bit tricky, but luckily Rambi’s charge move allowed us to speedily pass most of them by without too much effort. This level was our personal favorite of the Rambi bunch, making great use of his unique abilities.
This level was a fairly standard lava level, until we reached a sinking-tower section, which forced us to make some hasty jumps before we sank into the liquid inferno below. After escaping the treacherous tower, we had to perform some quick platforming feats to avoid a series of collapsing platforms before the goal.
In Moving Melters, we primarily caught a ride on a platform as it slowly floated its way down the lava river. At some points, we had to jump ship onto a giant stone wheel, which rolled its way through the lava instead, forcing us to keep moving–like on a treadmill–to avoid a fiery fate.
We hope you enjoyed this very small taste of what some of the later levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns has to offer. Stay tuned for GameXplain.com for more coverage. And if you haven’t already watched our video discussion regarding the game, you may want to check it out just below, where we discuss the game in extreme detail.