Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Retro and Donkey Kong

Well, pretty much since I opened this blog, I've been speculating what Retro Studios' newest project would be. My guess was, that they worked together with the Zelda team on the newest Zelda game for Wii. This even might have been true at one point. After the release of Twilight Princess the Zelda team had experimented with first person gameplay in Zelda (with Link's Crossbow Training as the result). And they probably consulted Retro Studios at one point for their experience with the Metroid Prime Trilogy. However, the First Person Zelda idea probably didn't turn out so well and was dumped at one point.

With Nintendo been saying, that Retro is doing what they do best, I guess a lot of people including me jumped to false conclusions. What is Retro doing best? At that time you might thought it's first person gameplay, adventure and exploration, since that's what they've done for years now with the Metroid Prime Trilogy. But that's not what's their biggest strength is. What they do best is reviving old franchises, they are able to understand the essence of the franchise and make a game, that brings this essence back to life. They know what the fans of the franchise want and how to attract new players at the same time. It's what they've done with Metroid Prime and it's what they do now with Donkey Kong.

It's entirely different from everything Retro has done in the past decade, no one would have expected that from Retro. But we all agree that this is absolutely the kind of game, that brings Donkey Kong back in the spotlight. Well, it's a similar approach to New Super Mario Bros., but good 2D platformers on home consoles became a rarity since the Super Nintendo times and there's tons of demand for it (New SMB Wii sold over 14 million in half a year). The Donkey Kong Country games were very successful on the Super Nintendo, but since then there wasn't any other good Donkey Kong game. Well, I guess Retro did it again.

I personally haven't played any of the Donkey Kong Country games yet, but this might change with Retro's new game. They are that good. Nintendo really has found quite the ace in Retro, Retro is now what Rare once was for Nintendo in the 90s. And Retro making a new Donkey Kong Country game is symbolizing this very well.

1 comment:

Golem said...

You hit the nail on the head--Retro was great at picking up on what people liked in Super Metroid. I think the transition from Super Metroid to Metroid Prime is comparable to the transition from Link to the Past to Ocarina of Time. (I am glad to see Other M is returning to 3rd person to provide a more acrobatic Samus, though.)

As for the Donkey Kong Country games, they're solid but gimmicky platformers. In one level, the lights flicker on and off, in another level you race along some rails in a mine cart, and in another level you leap up a tree trying to outrun a giant saw cutting upwards through the tree. The gimmicks are always well executed and the animal buddies you get are a blast. While I feel platformers like Super Mario Bros. and Metroid provide enjoyment through refinement of subtle aspects, the DKC games are entertaining because you're doing a different thing every two seconds.

Oh, and you've probably heard this already, but DKC2 is the best one in the series. ;)