Donkey Kong Country Returns was released on the Wii and received generally positive reception. It was a new game in the classic Donkey Kong Country series and people were thrilled to see it stick to its roots. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (DKCR3D) is a 3DS port of the Wii’s 2010 title by the same name. To avoid claims of being a cash-grab port, they’ve added a new mode to the campaign and a 9th world. While these fresh additions are nice, are they enough to warrant re-buying the game for the 3DS?
The plot, much like all of the other games in the franchise, is very simple: Someone stole all of the bananas from Donkey’s banana horde. It doesn’t progress from there, nor does it explain the enemies in the game. To break it down for you, there are these creatures that look like Bongos called,”Tikis”. The Tikis are hypnotizing the animals in the jungle to steal all of the bananas and try to kill Donkey Kong. Unsurprisingly, DK and Diddy Kong set out to reclaim their treasured bananas and whoop some Tiki ass on the way.
First off, the game looks gorgeous on the 3DS. It is easily just as good-looking as the Wii version, but made better by the 3D element. With a stunning new depth, Donkey Kong is looking better than ever. With that said, I played this game almost exclusively in 2D. I would quickly slide my 3D bar from the bottom to the top for cutscenes or boss introductions, but I would put it back to, “Off” just as quickly. I may be the only player with this problem, but whenever my 3D is active (especially on the highest setting), I tend to get a slight double vision on the screen. Normally, it is so slight that it is easily ignored, but DKCR3D is such a precise game that I needed to have absolute clarity to progress through the campaign. Hopefully, no-one else had this problem, because the game really is beautiful in 3D.
The gameplay stays fairly true to the previous games in the Donkey Kong Country franchise, with the exception of an inventory system and some new abilities for DK. Aside from jumping on enemies, DK can now do his signature ground-pound to stun certain enemies, as well as blow a mighty gust to interact with the environment. In single-player, Diddy Kong rides on DK’s back, allowing him to have an extended jump by using Diddy’s jetpack . In two-player mode, one player can control Donkey, while the other controls Diddy. I won’t try to pull a fast one, I didn’t play the co-op. Sadly, I don’t live in an area that has an enormous amount of players on the 3DS. So, I sat and played DKCR3D alone and cried quietly to myself.
The best part of DKCR3D is that it is simply fun. The game handles well on the 3DS, making for a phenomenal platforming experience. Not only is the gameplay fun, but it transports you back to the mid-90’s, when we all spent our free time collecting bananas from King K. Rool and groomed our mullets. Sadly, King K. Rool and his Kremlings aren’t in this game, but the Tikis make a suitable replacement. It fits right into the franchise, without having the flaws of the older games. This modern iteration of Donkey Kong Country takes a fresh, new approach to Donkey Kong and succeeds.
Now, DKCR3D isn’t without its flaws. First off, the mini-games are repetitive and disappointing. Previous games in the series, like Donkey Kong Country 2 had wonderfully fun and varied minigames. Unfortunately, DKCR3D uses the same 4 or 5 minigames over and over, through every level and every world. While they were fun the first few times I played them, by the end of the game they were only ways to exploit some more extra lives out of each level. Also, the voices for Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong were terrible. Now, I haven’t played a game featuring DK and his friends since Donkey Konga. But, the new voices for the characters sound awful. They’ve dropped the realistic-sounding screams and sounds that DK used to make, for a more human voice. Now, you get to enjoy the shouting and screaming of some guy pretending to be half-monkey. It isn’t a huge gripe, but it was annoying every time DK opened his mouth.
Though the game felt short, my first playthrough net almost 8 hours. Now, I can attribute some of that to the formidable level of difficulty, but DKCR3D packs a lot of levels into a small package. These levels each contain the iconic “K.O.N.G” letters and new puzzle pieces to collect. Sadly, these collectables are the only replay value for this game. That means that gamers such as myself, who don’t care for collectables, only get so much out of the game. While the length of the game and how well it handles on the 3DS warrants playing, players who aren’t dying to play it may want to wait for a price drop.
All-in-all, DKCR3D is a phenomenal game for the 3DS. Even though it’s a port, this gives a whole new market a chance to experience the next step in the Donkey Kong Country series. I do have my little gripes and grievances, but DKCR3D has many more strengths than weaknesses. If you haven’t played Donkey Kong Country Returns yet, your 3DS is a great way to experience it. If you have played it, but own a 3DS, wait for the price to drop down a bit, then buy the 3DS version. With solid platforming and a challenging campaign, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D should earn a place in everyone’s 3DS library.
I give Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D 4 “Golden Bananas” out of 5
By Blake Edwards