One of my favorite games for the Nintendo Wii as no question, Donkey Kong Country Returns. As a big fan of the SNES titles, I was ecstatic about the series’ return on the Wii, so when Nintendo decided to put the game on the Nintendo 3DS, in 3D, no less, I was happy to return to Donkey Kong’s world once again.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is of course, not for the feint of heart, as difficulty is ramped up as usual. You should expect to die frequently but don’t fret, the satisfaction of getting through many of these levels is great, as you’ll try to run through a gauntlet of levels, jumping, blasting and climbing your way to the end. The story itself is told through cutscenes which are pretty funny as DK and Diddy’s supply of bananas was jacked while their friends have been hypnotized.
Controls don’t suffer in this handheld adaptation either, as the 3DS handles it well, though you no longer have the ability to shake the controller, but does make the game feel more in line with the earlier DKC titles, which was fine by me. Though the game can be played with the Circle Pad, I preferred using the D-Pad to get that SNES feel. DK is the star of the show in this one as Diddy is more of an assistant when you get power-ups, but there is a local co-op mode where one player can play as Diddy and is a lot of fun to play.
I really dug the variety of levels and worlds in the game, from forests, to a volcano and even a factory, with platforming abilities really getting put to the test the further you go along – timing is everything. This of course harkens back to the days of really difficult games such as the old DKC games, Mega Man on the NES, etc. So while the game looks kiddy, this one requires the patience of a hardened pro.
Now for those who aren’t as skilled, the game does include a “New Mode”, which gives players extra health and items to assist them which will come in handy. And if some levels prove too hard, and you see yourself dying over and over, the game will activate an auto-play feature that will offer to play itself to get past the really difficult areas.
My only major beef with the game on the handheld (because 3D looks great on this game), is that it suffers from a drop in framerate. It does slow down the game noticeably when there are a lot of things going on in one screen. Graphics wise, the 3D looks very cool, though the colors don’t pop as much as they do on the Wii. Fortunately the 3DS version does at least offer up 8 new levels, which is a real treat. With these new levels, co-op and a ton of collectibles, the games does have some nice replay value, especially when going over time trials.
Truth be told, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is a fantastic game for the handheld and one that does the franchise justice.
Final Score: 4 out of 5
A digital copy was provided by Nintendo for review purposes.