It's been a long time since we've had one of these, but I thought it was due, since Andre and I had the pleasure of tackling one of our stars of the show, Donkey Kong country Returns in its purest two-player form. I'll quit my yammering here and usher us into yet another installment in a series we like to call, "My Dinner With Andre [DK Edition]"
So, at E3 last week, we got the opportunity to go behind closed doors at Nintendo's booth and try our hand at pretty much everything they had on display. While Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, and the 3DS demo were all impressive in their own right, it was Donkey Kong Country Return's co-op that I walked away from the booth most eager to play again. Maybe it's just that I love tightly controlling platformers. Maybe it's the fact that simultaneous co-op in 2D platformers is the greatest thing ever. Whatever the reason, I just can't shake the feeling that this game is one to watch.
I was stuck playing as Donkey Kong in our demo run-through. This was a little disheartening, as I vastly prefer Diddy's increased mobility and extra moves to Donkey's lumbering qualities. I kept seeing Andre zip around on his jetpack and blast guys with his peanut gun, and I was more than a little jealous. Luckily, despite this, the pacing of game makes for an excellent co-operative experience. I can't be the only one who had always dreamed of playing through Donkey Kong without having to wait for my friend to die before I got to hop into the action. All of a sudden, Nintendo saw fit to answer my prayers, and it all works just as well as I'd always hoped.
All of the barrel-blasting, mine-cart-hopping, ground-stomping fun from the classic DKC games is gloriously realized in this sequel, but with absolutely none of the waiting. Not only must players pay close attention to each other and time things perfectly to get both players through challenges alive, but you'll also find that sometimes you need to team up and have Diddy ride on Donkey's back. This makes Donkey Kong into something of a DK tank, capable of sustaining his jump via Diddy's jetpack while the second player can take out enemies using the peanut popgun. I found this to be remarkably fun, and helped reinforce the idea that both players need to work together. There were only a few spots where it felt like we had to do this, but I have a feeling this will be more pronounced in the main game.
I'm not quite sure why, but being forced to nab tons of collectables doesn't bother me nearly as much in 2D games as in 3D ones. With that in mind, I was happy to scour the demo levels for any hidden goodies (puzzle pieces, coins, K-O-N-G letters, and bananas were all littered throughout the environment. There plenty of hidden rooms to find, and the need to pay close attention to your surroundings if you want to have any chance at collecting everything.
While I suppose some might say that Donkey Kong country Return's co-op was nothing too special, I can't shake this feeling that this game is going to be one that I'll play through over and over again with a different friend every time.
Damn right, I took Diddy Kong. I've always been fond of how this little monkey moves, and he didn't let me down in Donkey Kong Country returns--I felt immediately at home performing my death-defying rolls off of cliffs and jumping at the last second to reach a hidden prize, which impressed the game's exhibitor. I'm not exactly keen on having to waggle in order to perform the roll, but luckily, it's confirmed the final game will support just the Wii Remote as well (but we don't know to what extend it still uses motion control).
Diddy feels both lighter and more agile than Donkey Kong, and his unique move-set supports this. As Micah already hinted at, Diddy is now equipped with a Jetpack which allows Diddy to squeeze out a few more seconds of airtime, similar to Yoshi's flutter jump. He's also able to fire off some shells from his peanut gun, making its return from Donkey Kong 64. And as Micah mentioned, he can now catch a ride on Donkey's back to become what we like to call, the DK tank. Unfortunately, this isn't quite as exciting for the person playing Diddy, as they're at the complete whim of where their DK parter decidsd to go, leaving Diddy with only the ability to fire peanut shells. Luckily, you can also hop off at anytime--an ability we suspect most Diddy players will take advantage of.
Overall, simultaneous co-op was a great addition to the Donkey Kong franchise and left us excited to play more when it comes out this fall.