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After destroying some haunted tiki idols, you’d think the great ape could catch a break. A group of animals that act like classical Vikings storm DK Island and force all the animals off to go live elsewhere. Along with his good friends Diddy and Dixie Kong, Donkey Kong must muster all his strength to reclaim his home and evict the Vikings invaders once and for all.
I was able to go hands-on with a segment of the game that, unfortunately, did not show off the return of underwater sequences—but it did show often something that might be one better in terms of classic Donkey Kong Country fun: a minecart level. As the cart worked way through a cave and into an outdoor area, I encountered dozens of new hazards that put even my idiot savant–like platforming skills to the test. Everything from a crashed plane’s fiery propeller blades to new enemies littering the track attempted to knock me off course and away from the barrel at the end of the level. But I would not be denied, and I managed to come away relatively unscathed.
Aside from the absolutely gorgeous visuals, a new key visual element that we also saw in the minecart level was the 3D stereoscopic camera, as the minecart track wrapped around the trunk of a massive tree. This added another layer of difficulty, since it offered even less reaction time, with obstacles on the cart’s path appearing with just a second’s notice from around a corner.
The added difficulty doesn’t mean the game is anywhere close to impossible, however. If anything, it feels like it maintains a lot of the stellar balance of Donkey Kong Country Returns, and it’s a credit to Retro that they can keep adding new features while maintaining the same degree of challenge, tight control, and fun.
Aside from not taking Donkey Kong for a swim, my only other regret was not getting to twirl Dixie’s ponytail. I wanted to see how she’d fit into Donkey and Diddy’s classic tag-team relationship. I guess we can’t have everything spoiled for us before November—when I know I’ll be picking this game up for sure.