Finally, Nintendo 3DS has a true Donkey Kong game in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, a remake of the 2010 Wii title.
It’s not very often that a home console game is given a handheld makeover, however Nintendo seem to be keen on exploiting the extra power and resolution the Nintendo 3DS offers by bringing their classic series to the mobile device.
Of course, we all know that simply cramming a console game onto a new console isn’t enough to warrant an upgrade. The question is, does Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D bring enough to the table?
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D follows our confusingly named ape Donkey Kong and his sidekick Diddy Kong through Donkey Kong Island, a banana paradise for our beloved monkey family.
An alien wizard clan, known as the Tiki Tak Tribe, show up and hypnotises all the animals on the island, causing them to steal Donkey Kong’s horde of bananas. Thankfully, Kong is a little too dimwitted for the power to take any effect (as displayed in a hilarious The Simpsons-inspired cutscene), and so the great ape sets out to retrieve his stolen snacks.
The game is played in a similar style to the classic Donkey Kong Country series, which should come as no surprise. It’s very faithful to those old platformers, too — levels are full of surprises and challenges.
To help make the conversion to a handheld easier, the developers have tweaked the difficulty settings thanks to “New Mode”, which gives the player more health and slightly easier enemies. This is actually a well thought-out addition to the game, as hurling a console across the room in frustration at constant failed attempts to complete a level is much more expensive than a Wii Remote.
For those who do plug through to the end, you will be rewarded with nine new stages based on each level you come across in the game. These are tough to complete and add great value to those who already own the Wii version.
Graphically, the game doesn’t miss a beat. Levels are beautifully rendered though one might think the colours are undersaturated if they are used to playing the game on a plasma TV.
However, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D still feels like a port. A high quality port, but a port nonetheless. The reason comes down to the way the game is displayed. The camera is pulled back, just like the Wii version. It might be too much to ask that the game was made from scratch for Nintendo 3DS, but what we’re left with is an awesome game that simply looks small. Those who haven’t played the original might not notice whereas those upgrading may feel like they’re looking into a miniature version of the game. Everything’s there, of course — nothing has been left out for this version in terms of graphics, features, sound or otherwise. It just looks small.
In fact, even multiplayer has made a triumphant return. Two Nintendo 3DS users can pair up and play the game together in the same way the Wii version works. Setting up is a little haphazard and it feels more of a chore than a party experience, but it works pretty well by allowing one player to control Diddy Kong. Multiplayer is not has fluid as New Super Mario Bros. 2, but it’s there if you need it.
The soundtrack in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is addictive, crisp and memorable. Classic tunes have been remixed and stand against new music well. Sound effects have real punch and listening to the game with a good set of headphones is an absolute delight.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is a great remake of a modern classic. It’s presented well and the new levels and the fact that it’s portable are more than enough reasons to warrant an upgrade.
But who am I kidding? This is Donkey Kong! Do you really need an excuse to go out and buy it?