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Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS) Review

Nintendo goes back to the jungle for a new and ‘improved’ rerelease of Donkey Kong Country Returns, this time on the 3DS.

Well, there go the bananas again

As we bring the year to a close here at BG, we’re taking a look back at the year that was and checking off our list of some of the bigger games that we might have missed reviews on in 2013. With that in mind, one of the biggest handheld releases (for any mobile console) this past year was Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and here finally is our official look at that particular banana-hording adventure.

DKCR3D (there’s an acronym and a half) is basically Donkey Kong Country Returns as it was when it was released on the Nintendo Wii. This is classic Nintendo stuff and if you’ve played any of the games in the series, then you more than likely know what to expect from this one. That said, there’s probably a good chance that you haven’t played a DKC title in the past since the series was dead in the water for a long time before the Wii release.

If you haven’t played one, then here’s DKC in a nutshell- the famed Nintendo character (who’s actually Donkey Kong jr in series lore) has a banana collection that’s stolen with ridiculously regularity. Seriously, every villain and their mother who come anywhere near isla de Kong takes a stab at DK’s naners. And not that the story is all that important here, but it’s the same this time around too, though the psychic Tiki-like villains are new to the series.

DK’s ride-on pals make a return as well

Much like DKC back in the day on the SNES, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D’s graphics are some of the best that you’re likely to find on this console too. The visuals are cartoony and lush with a really deep and rich color palate that pops on the 3DS’ little screen like nobody’s business and there are some really great graphical chances taken here that pay off big time (like the silhouette level) and the 3D itself factors in beautifully.

Normally, I’m not a fan of the 3DS’ main gimmick and I tend to actually shut off the 3D (or turn it waaaaaay down) whenever I fire up a new game- not this time though. Too much 3D on the slider still bugged me slightly since I tend to move my hands/head around a lot when I play and lose the effect too much, too often for me to enjoy it properly. For DKCR3D though, I made the effort.

There really isn’t anything spectacularly amazing about the 3D element in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, it’s just that it’s done really well throughout pretty much the whole game. Little scenes here and there while you’re traversing a stage will catch the 3D perfectly and interact with it in wonderful ways like with the tidal waves in the tidal stages.

Also terrifically on point are the controls, which are just as sharp as you might think. Moving DK and DK Jr (you’re always partnered up with the little guy) around the levels is just as easy as ever and Donkey Kong Jr’s jetpack is awesome at getting out of some jams or hovering over pits. I will say that the mine cart stages are still tough as nails though; and maybe a little too hard at times. More than once I could have sworn that I had leapt in time to avoid a pitfall or obstacle only to fall to my death over and over again.

I suppose this could easily be a combination of the fact that I was never much good at these stages in the legacy DKC titles to begin with and I’m also horribly out of practice at this point, but it did feel like the collision detection might have been just a smidge off. Probably just me though.

Mine carts… why’d it have to be mine carts

Much like the looks and controls, you won’t find too much to dislike about the music either. The tunes are appropriately upbeat and poppy with just enough of that familiar Nintendo-y goodness to please without being overbearing. I wasn’t all that crazy about the sound effects, in particular Donkey Kong’s grunts, but that’s really not all that big of a deal.

As for the big differences between this and the Wii version, there definitely are some and they’re mainly aimed at making the game easier for the massive chunk of gamers who aren’t from the ‘blisteringly hard’ platformer time period of the genre. Now, if you don’t want to use any of these ‘enhancements’ you don’t have to, but if you do then New Mode is there to hold your hand. Maybe that’s a little too harsh though as even Easy Mode is pretty tough- it just allows for things like additional health. Oh, and if you die too many times in the new mode, the game will get you past the part where you’re stuck- which come to think of it kind of does make for some serious hand-holding.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you’ll enjoy Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D kind of rests on a few key questions. Namely 1) Do you like excellently made platformers? 2) Do you like Donkey Kong Country (or any classic Nintendo platformer)? and 3) Have you played the Wii version? If you answered in the affirmative to either of the first two questions, DKCR3D is more than worth your time.

If you answered ‘yes’ to the third, it might not be something that you’ll get a whole lot out of since the game is basically, at it’s core, the same title as that Wii edition. For the record, I’ve played both versions and loved the pair of them. And DKCR on the Wii was fun and all, but the 3DS version packs something that the console edition never did- portability.

That’s a pretty big deal to me and if it is for you too, then Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is kind of a no-brainer. Grab a copy, it’s great.

About Jason

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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