The Nintendo 3DS has really picked up steam as of late. Owners of the system have really been spoilt with some top quality titles; and it doesn’t look like that momentum is going to slow down anytime soon as Donkey Kong has found his way onto the handheld with his latest title Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Originally released on the Wii this title rebooted a franchise fondly remembered by owners of the Super Nintendo. Back in its day Donkey Kong Country boasted the best graphics ever seen at the time and was one of the best platformers to be released. Does this ape still have it? Is Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D a must own or is this a lazy port with 3D thrown in.
Now if you have ever played a Donkey Kong Country game in the past then you will already have a good idea of what you’re getting yourself in for; but for those of you who haven’t then let me explain exactly what this game has to offer.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a traditional “2D” platformer. The aim of the game is to make it through each level from left to right while avoiding all the traps, enemies and obstacles that are in your way. What I have always liked about this series is that it is quite challenging and I am glad to say that this hasn’t changed here. Even playing in the “New Mode” which is designed to be a little more forgiving you will still have to have your wits about you.
When you boot the game up you will be given the option of New Mode or Original Mode. Original mode is the same as it was on the Wii version. Donkey Kong starts with only two hearts and collecting Diddy Kong in a level with grant you with an additional two hearts. Each hit from an enemy will take up a whole heart so I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that you need to be careful to preserve them as heart items don’t exactly pop up all over the place. In new mode you are granted an extra heart both for Donkey Kong and for collecting Diddy Kong granting you a maximum of six hearts. While this certainly helps you will still get punished for not paying attention properly.
I love the level design in this game. This is a prime example of how to do platforming right. Despite the simple goal of making it to the end of the level; DKCR does a great job of keeping the game play fresh. One moment you’re bumbling along jumping over pits and hanging from the ceiling the next you’re thrown into a classic mine cart level which just oozed with nostalgia.
This game looks down right beautiful on the 3DS screen. Fluid animations, vibrant colour palette and a killer soundtrack to boot. The 3D does look great and really does suit some levels more than others. Now this is possibly more of a personal gripe but I couldn’t play it with the 3D slider turned all the way up. I found it sent my eyes a bit crazy as there was so much going on at times. I found the slider at about halfway to be the sweet spot. Bear in mind that I say this as someone who plays most 3DS games with full 3D enabled.
There is a great deal of content available here. A great variety of stages, that all look very different from each other. This version even boasts some extra levels that were not in the Wii version, giving those who played that version something new to look forward to. Each stage also features a boss. These are all incredibly creative and most even had me laughing at just how ridiculous they are; for example three pirate crabs standing on each others backs chasing you across the screen. If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you have no soul.
Like a lot of recent Nintendo platformers this title also features what is called a “Super guide”. Personally I don’t like this feature as it completely takes control off you. Basically if you are struggling on a level the game will eventually offer you a prompt to go into “Super guide” mode. What this does is let you watch how the level should be played. Now this idea sounds good in practice as you could just have not noticed something and the guide could help you in that way. The problem I have is that if you let the guide play through to the end of the level the game will then let you move onto the next stage. So in theory you could actually watch the entire game be played for you without any effort on your part. Which is a detriment to the game as the challenge of the levels also leads to a great sense of accomplishment when you get through.
Overall Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is an incredible game and deserves a place in any 3DS owners library. This really is how you do a platformer right. Tight controls, great level design and creative boss fights. The challenge this title offers is just right and if you try to ignore the super guide feature then you will come away from this game with a great sense of accomplishment. I personally love 2D platformers and it’s good to see that they are still being represented well in the current game market. Another must own for the 3DS.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: 24/05/2013
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Donkey Kong Country returns 3DS for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 7 days on a Nintendo 3DS. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.