Sunday, January 02, 2011

Donkey Kong vs. Kirby

Now that I've spent a good bit of time with both Donkey Kong Country Returns and Kirby's Epic Yarn (I've played the former for just over seven hours and the latter for more than 15), I've decided to sit down and compare various aspects of these two games--which I consider to be two of the very best platformers of this generation (if not ever).

Story--Who plays platformers for their stories? Not me. That's good, because both of these games feature stories that could, at best, be described as "thin." ("Trivial" is another apt word that comes to mind.) If I had to choose one over the other, though, I'd go with the one that backs Kirby's Epic Yarn--since it involves a baddie named Yin-Yarn who sucks the titular Kirby into his magic sock.

Graphics--There's no question about it: Both of these games feature graphics that are among the best on the Wii. Stylistically, though, they're on opposite ends of the spectrum--with Donkey Kong Country Returns' graphics focusing on characters and worlds that have been sculpted out of polygons to give the game a beautiful, three-dimensional sheen and the graphics of Kirby's Epic Yarn focusing on hand-drawn characters and worlds that look as though they've been crafted out of fabric. Although I slightly prefer the latter to the former--especially since the graphics in Kirby are more varied--it's hard to find fault with either.

--This one's another toss up, and for a number of reasons. First, both games feature a slew of tracks pulled from previous releases--which makes the overall soundtrack a bit less exciting (in my mind) than it would be if it were made up of original music. Second, the majority of these remixed tunes are fairly subtle and often fade into the background. Still, a few of them manage to stand out--such as "Cranky's Theme" from Donkey Kong Country Returns and "Cozy Cabin" and "Snowy Fields" from Kirby's Epic Yarn. In the end, I once again prefer Kirby to Donkey Kong in this area, but only by a smidge.

Gameplay--It's rare for Nintendo to release a game, especially a platformer, that doesn't control like a dream, and neither Donkey Kong Country Returns nor Kirby's Epic Yarn are exceptions to that rule. That said, both games have a few, small issues that could be problematic for some players. The roll move in Donkey Kong has tripped up more than a few gamers (especially those, like me, who play the game with just the Wii remote), for instance, while the train transformation in Kirby can be a bit trying. Other than those niggles, though, both games control as smooth as butter. As such, I'll call this area a wash.

Miscellaneous--If you're looking for a stiff challenge, Donkey Kong Country Returns is the game for you. Honestly, I don't think I've ever died as many times as I've died thus far in the latest entry in the Donkey Kong series--and I'm still making my way through its sixth world. That could be seen as a negative to some, I'm sure, but to me it's a positive--especially considering how easy most platformers are these days. Speaking of easy platformers: You've probably heard that Kirby's Epic Yarn is, for the most part, a total pushover. It is--but that doesn't mean it's not fun. On the contrary, I'd say it's one of the funnest platformers I've played in a while. So, Donkey Kong is tops in terms of presenting a challenge and Kirby is king when it comes to fun.

Overall--After reading all of the above, it likely won't be much of a surprise to hear me say that, overall, I slightly prefer Kirby's Epic Yarn to Donkey Kong Country Returns. I've been completely blown away by both games thus far, though, and I honestly don't think you can go wrong with either title if you're any kind of platformer fan.

Now that I've had my say, what do those of you who have played both games think? Do you prefer one over the other? If so, why?


Viewtiful_Justin said...

My take? I feel exactly the opposite about the music. The music in the forest world of Donkey Kong is all my favorite tunes from the original. Some of the music in Kirby I have found to be fairly grating. But for the most part, both are good.

I'll agree about the fun vs. challenge assessment, for sure! I keep going back to Kirby because it doesn't beat me like DKCR does. Currently I'm stuck on world 6 of DK, because the first level is completely BOGUS! Don't get me's the first time I've felt that the game has been cheap.

DKCR is beautiful and moody and gorgeous. Kirby is sooooo cute it makes my teeth hurt. But it's good. See? I dunno...I like the DKCR graphics better, for sure, but Kirby has more surprises, graphically.

Overall? I like DKCR better. But it's a close race.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Justin!

I think my opinion regarding the music in DKCR may be different from yours because I don't have many memories of the music from the original DKC games. That said, I do like the music in DCKR -- I just find most of it too subdued/subtle. I much prefer the jaunty tunes in Kirby :)

Also, I'll say this about the challenge in DKCR, which I agree is often "cheap" -- I laugh nearly every time I die, which is a LOT. After dying a number of times on one level, though, that laughter often turns to yelling and swearing and threatening to put a controller through the TV :)

I think I'd appreciate DCKR's graphics more than I already do if they were more varied. Honestly, this game is all about the earth tones. That make sense, of course, but why couldn't we have seen more of those wonderful sunsets that are seen in the the first world?

Anyway, I'm with you in saying it's a close race. Both are wonderful games and offer players something completely different and unique.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

The levels that NAIL the moody, graphically amazing thing are golden! But yeah...a lot of it looks fairly the same.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, yeah, I agree completely. Like I said earlier, I'm a bit confused as to why the designers didn't use more brilliant sunsets, etc. -- like they did in some of the early stages. Also, they could have used more of those shadow/smoke levels, IMO :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I haven't gotten to any of those yet...still working on it.