Why I Let Nintendo Beat A Video Game For Me

Why I Let Nintendo Beat A Video Game For Me

A couple of weeks ago, I finished Donkey Kong Country Returns. I was warned that it would be tough. I was told I could get assistance. I resisted, until the end when I let Nintendo finish a game for me. I have no regrets.

Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii is a difficult side-scrolling platform game. The player makes Donkey Kong runs to the right, jumping and collecting bananas and tries not to fall off ledges, tumble into spikes, stumble into bad guys, or die in any of the myriad ways side-scrolling Nintendo heroes often do.

I let Super Kong take over. I let him sweep the cliché away.

The game was easy early on but very tough late. The developers are merciful, though, and allow the player to rack up free lives. If you die eight times, you can activate the “super guide”, a feature Nintendo introduced a couple of years ago in a Super Mario game. It lets the player cede control to the game system. The computer runs through the level for you. Your brown-furred Donkey Kong is replaced by the silver-backed Super Kong. He gets the job done.

Pride kept me from using the Super Guide. But pride melts once one reaches the lava levels of this game. I was using the Super Guide even earlier than that, letting the computer play through tough levels for me, though pride compelled me to go back and then replay the level myself. I marvelled at how much easier game levels were once I could see the path through them. Once I reached the lava levels, I didn’t care about replaying levels. I just cheerfully played the levels I could complete and let my Wii play the levels I couldn’t.

(Beware! I am about to spoil the nature of Donkey Kong Country Returns’ final boss)

I believe that we who play games want some sort of resistance. If a game doesn’t require us to struggle, if the game is all decline and no incline, there’s usually little fun in victory. I’m not sure those of us who play games, however, should be happy with cliches. The final boss of Donkey Kong Country Returns wasn’t simply difficult, he was a floating head with two giant floating hands. If you’ve played a few games from Nintendo, there’s a chance you’ve fought a bad guy like this before. He’ll swipe his hands at you! Beware his clap! I dealt with that kind of obstruction when I was playing games on the Nintendo 64 a decade ago. I let Super Kong take over. I let him sweep the cliché away. Victorious, I had finished the game.

Nintendo introduced its helper system to get us through hard parts of games. I hear from many games who consider the feature an affront to the spirit of pure play. They wouldn’t use it. I did. And if I could use it in the future, I would – not necessarily when a game gets tough, but when a game gets clichéd. I will happily let Nintendo and other game companies play the parts of games I’ve played before. I’ll take over when the game gets interesting again.


  • Yeah, I’m going to disagree. I nearly pulled my hair out going through DKC: Returns but I did complete it without the Super Guide, and that felt really rewarding. Whilst the last boss could’ve been more exciting, he was still phenomonally hard and once you destroy his hands the fight changes completely. Sorry Stephen, but the last time I remember fighting a boss like this, I was in an Arwing. I don’t think you can use the excuse that you’ll use the Super Guide when things get “cliched” because I don’t think they really ever did – they only got hard.

  • Sorry to say, but you didn’t finish the game! What is the point of playing a game, then as soon as it gets tough passing the game off to the cpu and then try to fool yourself into thinking that you actually completed the game?

  • So the main problem is clichés? If it’s such a big deal for you, why would you even touch a Nintendo title? From the pedigree, you know what you’re going to get, with this game.

    Going forward, games will be increasingly similar to something before it. That’s just what happens.

  • Yeah this is a pretty piss poor and lame excuse, honestly. I too beat the game without the use of the super guide, and actually enjoyed fighting the final boss. Overall the bosses in DKCR weren’t the most compelling you’d find in a video game though and nowhere near as difficult as the levels themselves, but the final boss was certainly challenging and original enough. I don’t remember the last time I fought a boss that was a floating head and hands…the big rock/ghost boss in Super Mario Galaxy was close – but the big difference is they both needed entirely different strategies to beat.

    • I can think of several other floating hand-head bosses off the top of my head:
      Bongo Bongo from Ocarina of Time
      The stone dude from Mario 64
      The stone ghost guy from Mario Galaxy
      The stone boss from Kirby Super Star

  • If you let Super Kong play the levels for you, then you will never actually finish the game completely, as anything collected by Super Kong is disregarded at the end of the level. What about the secret sections within each level and the secret level once you actually complete the game properly?

  • I haven’t played a game in a long time that made me sooo furious – but the feeling once finally finishing it, without super kong (including the golden temple – grr) was quite satisfying

    • There is, but it is called a “Super Moderator”. Unfortunately if you use it, you end up on a secret level called “whiney self rightous fanboy rage”

  • The only part of the game I couldn’t figure out, was how to even attack the final boss…once I found out how (using Youtube), it wasn’t as tough as other parts of the game (although that very last hit is a real bastard).
    I’m not gloating or anything, I mean I lost hundreds of lives in this game, but I never NEEDED the Super Guide, I used him one time in curiosity of what it was like.

    PS. Have fun with the temples, the rising lava one is a real bitch ;D

  • “I marvelled at how much easier game levels were once I could see the path through them.”

    I can’t recall a single moment in the game at which I couldn’t see the way through; the difficulty comes not in seeing what to do but in actually doing it. I’m not trying to brag here and say I have some incredible ability, I’m genuinely surprised that anyone who’s played enough games to complain about cliches having trouble figuring out what to do in DKCR.

    Aside from that, the Super Guide isn’t for me but I don’t mind it being there. If it helps less experienced gamers get through a few times and enjoy the game more, then that’s cool for them. For me, however, a game like DKCR is all about the sense of achievement when you finish a tough level, so the Super Guide defeats the point and removes the satisfaction. The lava world was absolutely the most frustrating, but all the more satisfying for it.

  • Wait… so you used it.. because the boss had similar traits to other bosses from the past…. come on dude that’s weak.. I mean if he is so similar to past bosses you should of been able to beat him easily, right? I have no problem with the Super Guide nor people using it less skilled gamers may need it to just enjoy the game and some of us hardcore gamers have used it in place of looking up strategy guides or walkthroughs on youtube, but still going back and finishing a level themselves. I for one didn’t use it but I don’t condemn it’s use.

    And besides as other said… his attack pattern changes and really isn’t all that similar to the likes of similar bosses from SMG, TLoZ:WW or SF64.

  • I think people here tend to forget that the whole point of playing a game like this isn’t to pull your hair out in frustration. It’s to have fun. Maybe some people enjoy playing a ridiculously hard game, but I have a feeling that a lot of people fool themselves into thinking they’re having fun. I haven’t played enough of DCK:R to comment on this specifically but if you have fun with the game, who cares if you technically finish it or not? Life is tough. Games are fun.

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