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Dark Caves and Lush Forests
As my run through Donkey Kong Country Returns continued, I reminisced about past entries in the series. Though I had only played the first of the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES, I spent a great deal of time playing Donkey Kong 64 repeatedly. Though I secretly cling to the hope that a sequel to DK’s 3D platforming adventure will someday grace a Nintendo console (secret’s out), I still managed to enjoy the latest entry in the long-running franchise.
By the time I got to the Cave world, I had fought nasty bosses, braved the dangers of a mine cart and a rocket-propelled barrel, and engaged in some of the most satisfyingly challenging platforming in recent memory. I had no idea the game would get even more awesome the further I progressed.
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Riding Vehicles in a Dark Cave
The moment I stepped onto the Cave world map I noticed that there were only six levels. I figured this area would be shorter than the previous ones, but I was mistaken. The difficulty that these levels posed kept me busy for quite some time, and I’m pretty sure it took me longer to clear these six levels than it had to get through past worlds with more stages.
Because of my fondness for cruelty in games, I gladly welcomed the increased challenge with open arms. Granted Donkey Kong Country Returns has yet to get cruel, but it hasn’t exactly been a breeze either. This is definitely a good thing, as I appreciate the Donkey Kong Country games for their old-school level of difficulty. One thing I found unique about the Cave area was that each of its six levels were vehicle-based. One moment I was riding a mine cart and avoiding bombs, the next I was speeding away on a rocket barrel as a giant bat chased me. It was fun, but it was definitely tough. (Thank goodness for checkpoints!)
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Swinging Across the Forest
I thoroughly appreciated the change of pace that the Cave world brought. After doing plenty of running and jumping, some vehicle-based gameplay was a great way to keep me engaged. The Forest world changed things up a bit as well. Although I was back to doing more running and jumping, the levels in this area also had me doing a lot of climbing and swinging. The first level in particular featured more vines than I could count. I led DK and Diddy through wide clearings and over massive gaps. Suffice it to say I plummeted to my demise about as many times as there were vines, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless.
Being at the top of the Forest was certainly something else, and this level of fatality was completely new (even despite my countless brushes with death prior to this world). Part of what made the Forest levels so much fun was the placement of collectible items. K-O-N-G letters, banana bunches, banana coins, and puzzle pieces weren’t just strewn about in hidden locations. These items were out in the open, but they were placed in spots where I had to risk DK’s life just to grab them. I swung from vines across perilous depths just to snag puzzle pieces, and looked death in the eye numerous times as I claimed that precariously placed letter K. What a rush!
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Heading to the Cliffs
Between the intensity of the mine cart stages and the high fatality rate that comes with soaring above huge chasms, I had a total blast in the Cave and Forest worlds in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Am I looking forward to playing through the upcoming Cliff world in the game? Well, does Donkey Kong’s tie looks fashionably awesome? (The answer is yes.) See you next time for the next entry of Donkey Kong Country Returns Road Journal.