A minute or so into this level, you’ll come across a giant octopus that’s shredding a pirate ship into tiny bits. As the pieces float near you, DK and Diddy can hop across a raging sea, eventually forced to also avoid the monster’s swiping tentacles. However, even when you make inside a rainswept cave, the octopus continues to pry around in search of simian snacks.
Other levels let you take the time to play around and search for hidden stuff. With the octopus hot on your tail, this level practically pushes you forward. Again the constant interaction of the DK team with the world around them makes the whole experience connect in a way even the SNES versions did not.
The key feature here was a semi-elaborate puzzle involving several of the series’ trademark cannon barrels. Some fire you automatically, others let you choose when to spring forth, but the trick is finding the right path to take amongst several floating barrels. Choose the wrong path and it’s bottomless pit for you.
It ended with a spinning monkey totem that opened and closed its mouth, and naturally your exit is located inside that monkey’s head. So, you have to time your blast perfectly or, yet again, tumble into the abyss. At this point I really started to enjoy all these various flourishes in each level – hopefully they don’t repeat, as each level I saw this time around felt very different from the rest. That’s a good sign, but then again there’ll probably be something like 40 levels to complete, so chances are some of these clever surprises could pop up again.
Remember the menagerie of animal pals in the SNES trilogy? I bet several of them return for DKCR, but now we know for sure that Rambi the Rhino is back, complete with a “waggle to dash” charge that blasts him through previously unbreakable fixtures.
The coolest part, possibly of the whole demo, was a section of the level that continually crumbled under your weight, forcing you to dash-dash-dash through as pieces fall all around you. Meanwhile, if you’re feeling particularly skilled, you can try to dash into the K-O-N-G letters, grab floating Banana Coins or some of the game’s puzzle pieces as you attempt to stay ahead of the collapsing environment.
As with Kirby’s Epic Yarn, DKCR isn’t about re-inventing something or pushing any kind of envelope. It’s about delivering the same 8/16-bit style thrills that made Nintendo the juggernaut is today, albeit with a fresh coat of paint and a few new ideas to boot. I’m not totally sold on the 2-player co-op aspect (I’d honestly prefer to keep Diddy on my back and make use of his hover-jump jet pack), but the main game, so far, is undeniably fun.
DKCR releases on November 21 - by sheer coincidence, the same say that the original DKC launched in 1994. I actually asked about this, and Nintendo says it is, in fact, unintentional. Still cool though!