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Arcade originals return

Dec 20, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Donkey KongDonkey Kong and Pac-Man, they are legend. After making their debuts 30 years ago, the two video game icons are still going strong. Over the years, they have appeared everywhere and been turned into everything from breakfast cereals, toys, Saturday morning cartoon characters and even car air fresheners. They have been there and done that but no matter where their respective brands take them, it is the games that keep their legends truly alive.

This year both the muscle-bound ape and the "Puck Man" are back in the spotlight with their respective titles released just in time for the holidays. Are they worth putting on your wish list? Let's see if these developers have been naughty or nice.

Nintendo Wii's 'Donkey Kong Country Returns' is one of the toughest but fulfilling releases of 2010. The game has so much in common with its predecessor 'New Super Mario Brothers' that you could almost consider it an unofficial sequel but that might be stretching things a bit. Developers Retro Studios did the smart thing and followed Nintendo's approach to 'Mario Brothers' when putting 'Country Returns' together. It has everything we loved about the original games in the series but with a new spin on things courtesy of the Nintendo Wii technology. Donkey Kong can now climb better and use his breath to blow objects but other than those abilities, Retro doesn't mess with the original blueprint too much.

Donkey KongTheir cache of bananas stolen yet once again and their jungle friends controlled by a new gang of villains, Donkey and Diddy Kong hit the vines to set things right. In contrast to the co-op in 'Mario Brothers', the rocket pack wearing Diddy Kong is more than just an invisible helping hand. It is more like how things go down in 'Mario Brothers 2', in the sense that whoever is controlling Diddy can really hinder or help Player One.

It is a lot of freaking fun, let me tell you.

As you move forward in the game, the levels just get better and better. The mine carts and barrel runs mix things up while not straying too far away from the formula fans love. 'Donkey Kong Country Returns' is not a harmless stroll through the jungle though. Like any demanding Mario platformer, you will leave each game session missing clumps of hair but not with a bad taste in your mouth. If things get too stressful, you can always hit the Panic button and activate the "Auto Play" feature so you can move ahead without a care in the world any way. If you thrive on the exasperating but brilliant challenges found in any of the Wii 'Mario Brothers' titles, 'Country Returns' is your game this holiday season and a must-have for any Wii owner.

Pac ManUnlike Nintendo's burly jungle beast, Pac-Man doesn't fare too well in his return. 'Pac-Man Party' is exactly what it sounds like: a weak multi-player party game. I for one have never been a fan of anything else but Pac-Man (or any one of his relatives) roaming about a maze and gobbling power pellets as well as any fruit or ghosts that get in their way. 'Pac-Man Championship Edition' on the Xbox 360, for example, was an inventive twist on the classic game, however, I am not a fan of 'Pac-Man World', 'Pac-Man Fever' or any of those 3-D platforming Pac-Man titles.

I don't want my Pac-Man to have arms and legs, ever.

Pac ManIf you play story mode, you will help Mr. Cookie retrieve his stolen recipie from those meddlesome ghosts otherwise there is no grand difference from the story or party (multiplayer mode) selections. Part board game, part arcade game, in 'Party' you race around a game board completing challenges to build more castles than your opponents. To steal, defend or create castles you will have to be victorious in over 50 or so mini-games which include all the usual suspects you have mowed down in other party titles.

As a special bonus the Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig-Dug classic arcade games are included with 'Pac-Man Party', although, with those games being available in all manner of retro game collections on various platforms, chances are you have them…somewhere. Even with those additions, 'Pac-Man Party' just doesn't have very much going for it at all.


COD Black Ops COD Black Ops 'Donkey Kong Country Returns'
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Retro Studios
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:
Rating: 9 / 10

'Pac-Man Party'
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games America
Developer: Namco Bandai Games America
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:
Rating: 3 / 10



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