Go Ape S**t! Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Super Mario Galaxy 2 was by far the biggest game to hit the Wii in 2010. It won the coveted Game of the Year Award from various sites and publications such as Metacritic, Nintendo Power, Edge, and Destructoid. With such a big title stealing focus, it is easy to forget that a little gem called Donkey Kong Country Returns came out that year for the same platform.
It was a fun, and sometimes brutally difficult game that some might argue is just as good, if not better than Mario’s second intergalactic outing, and everyone owes it to themselves to play.
Fortunately, if you missed it the first time around, or are just dying for an excuse to play it again, you can with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Donkey Kong Returns 3D is a port of the original Wii version for the 3DS, with new levels, an easier mode for those who want it, and just as much fun.
If you’ve played a Donkey Kong Country game before, then you’ll be right at home.
You jump from platform to platform going left to right and smack any and all bad guys that dare to show their ugly faces, out of the way. And just like the SNES games of days long past you’ll find plenty of barrels, mine carts, and giant rhinos to help diversify each level and mix up the gameplay.
The way that Returns distinguishes itself from its predecessors, is by making Diddy Kong more than just a sidekick. This time in addition to giving DK more health he’s also packing his jetpack from Donkey Kong 64 and can help more precise jumps. It may sound cheap, but believe me, you’ll want him around as much as possible.
Another change from the original formula, are levels that use the background to it’s fullest. Sometimes DK will hop in a barrel that will allow him to explore ruins in the distance, and other time it allows for giant squids and pirate ships to attack him as he runs in the foreground.
Even when the background isn’t used, it’s obvious that Retro Studios really put their all into making each level a new experience that’s completely different from the rest. Sometimes the Kongs will be silhouettes and occasionally they’ll have to ride a rocket to escape from bats and lava. The game is worth playing just to see what’s going to happen next. It could be anything.
The visuals obviously aren’t as great as the Wii version.
While the original game ran at 60 frames per second, the 3DS version dropped to 30. This isn’t a big deal as the game still looks amazing, but when compared to the Wii it is noticeably less crisp and the animations aren’t quite as fluid. The 3D effect that has been added to the game doesn’t really add anything to the game either. It can make the backgrounds and cut scenes look a tad prettier, but overall it’s just a distraction.
One of the areas where it improves upon the original is in the controls. I never realized how much I hated wagging the Wii remote to get Donkey Kong to do something until I got him to perform the same action just by pressing a button.
Nintendo must have realized that their game was outrageously difficult because this time around they included a new mode (titled “New Mode”) that makes the game much easier and includes items that increase health, as well as stopping DK from plummeting into an infinite abyss should he accidentally over-estimate a jump. Hardcore gamers will likely never touch this mode, but it works great for young and casual gamers.
As an added incentive to get veterans of the series to invest again, Retro Studios has added eight new levels to the 3DS version. These levels are tucked away at the end and can’t be unlocked unless you take the time to collect the K, O, N, and G letters in each preceding level. So it’s entirely possible to miss out on them entirely, however, completionists will go bananas over their inclusion.
If you missed the Wii version, or just loved the original and want an excuse to tear through the jungle again, now is the time. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is a love letter, not just to everyone’s favorite ape, but to platformers as a whole and needs to be in every gamers 3DS library.