Donkey Kong Country Returns Wants To Make a Monkey Out of YouS

Donkey Kong Country Returns isn't just shaping up to be a great single player game, it looks like it could be one of the better two-player cooperative games to hit the Wii this year.

Yes, that means that making your way through Retro Studios' Donkey and Diddy Kong game with a friend seems to be much more fun than cooping through Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Where Galaxy 2 allows a friend two ride shotgun on your Mario adventures, Donkey Kong Country Returns gives you the option of having two fully controllable characters. But if your team mate isn't quite up to platforming certain areas, you can press a button and have Diddy Kong climb atop Donkey Kong's shoulders. While riding Donkey Kong, all Diddy can do is fire off his peanut gun and use his jet pack, essentially providing support for his uncle, without having to master timing and jumps.

It's a fantastic way to create a game that is fun to play with two gamers whether they are college roommates or father and son.

During my time with the game I checked out two sections of the Wii title, due out Nov. 21. Rickety Rails has you riding mine carts through a cavernous level filled with collapsing rails and exploding barrels.

It's just the sort of level that, if I were playing the game with my 9-year-old son, could frustrate him enough to kill the experience. But because Diddy can hop onto Donkey Kong, that's not really an issue here.

And Donkey Kong Country Returns is exactly the type of game I'd love to play through with my son. It's colorful graphics and sharp game design are augmented by some slick game controls.

You can either play with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck or by holding the remote sideways. I played through the levels with the two controllers.

As Diddy, you have to shake both controllers to fire off your peanut gun, drumming your hands in front of you like an angry ape as your on-screen gorilla popped off endless peanuts in small arcs.

The game also does a good job of keeping you on your toes, making use of both the foreground and background graphics throughout the game, sometimes even shooting you off to the background, having you control the characters in the distance, the muted sound of their combat emphasizing how far away they are from the screen.

Donkey Kong Country Returns feels like more than just a return to classic, fun Donkey Kong gaming, it feels like a return to the sort of games that made us fall in love with Nintendo in the first place.