The original Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Nintendo Wii was a breath of fresh retro air. Rather than continue the trend of gimmicky shuffle-ware games with Donkey Kong thrown in, Retro Studios and Nintendo decided to return to the original SNES formula that became widely popular in the 1990s. Complete with a higher level of challenge than New Super Mario Brothers, along with some fantastic level design, Donkey Kong Country Returns was a great game on the Wii. Now Nintendo is bringing Donkey Kong’s latest adventure to the 3DS with some new changes that enhance the experience of the game. It’s time to get back into the swing of things.
Most of what was present in the original Wii release is the same in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Players will be jumping and swinging as Donkey Kong and his friend Diddy Kong through 8 worlds. For the 3DS version however, there is an extra ninth world that is exclusive for Nintendo 3DS, complete with 8 new levels to explore. Don’t expect to be able to jump into the new levels right at the start, you’ll have to play through most of the game before you get to see any of the new stuff. Yet don’t let that discourage you if you’ve played the original game on Wii, this game still has plenty to go bananas over on 3DS.
The biggest changes come in the form of the game’s New Mode exclusively for 3DS. New Mode gives players a little more of an edge by allowing players to purchase power-ups at Cranky Kong’s house. These power-ups range from a parrot that helps you find secrets and collectibles, to potions that give temporary invincibility. In addition, should you lose a life multiple times in a level, the “Super Guide” option becomes available to have the game auto-play through the entire level. The best part is that the game doesn’t force you to use any of this, as everything is completely optional. Those who want the extra challenge can instead tackle the game’s original mode and play through without any of the new items and Super Guide options.
The controls for DKCR 3DS have been redone and work very well on the 3DS. There are two ways to control Donkey Kong with either the Circle Pad or D-Pad. Unlike the original Wii game, there are no waggle-like motions, but instead actions are mapped to the shoulder or face buttons to roll, ground-pound, or run. This all comes together nicely when tackling through the game’s eight worlds, with little to no instances where the controls feel dull or frustrating. It is commendable that Nintendo decided not to have any sort of microphone or gyroscope features in this game; doing so would’ve completely dulled the experience and probably would’ve made some sections more annoying than challenging.
While the entire game can be tackled solo, playing through with a friend through co-op is just as interesting. In a solo game, Diddy Kong takes a backseat as Donkey Kong’s extended jump ability. In a co-op game however, another player takes control of Diddy and can help in going through each level of the game. The local co-op play is smooth and runs beautifully, with no hiccups in gameplay at all. Playing with a partner adds a very interesting dynamic that keeps the momentum of the game going even when a player loses a life in the middle of a level. It is disappointing however that no 3DS StreetPass features were implemented at all, especially in the New Mode where it could have possibly allowed players to aid each other with items or coins.
Overall Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is a great addition to the 3DS library. Despite being the same game released on the Wii before, there is enough new stuff to keep anyone who played the original game occupied. Newcomers may feel a strong reality of challenge here, but will not become intimidated of it because of the New Mode features. If you want a strong platforming experience for your Nintendo 3DS, you can’t go wrong with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. If you are lucky to have a friend nearby to play co-op, you may even go bananas for this game.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game for the Nintendo 3DS.