As Nintendo fans continue through ‘The Year of Luigi’ following a string of rather solid 3DS titles, Nintendo has seen fit to bring Donkey Kong back into the spotlight. The iconic tie-wearing ape has swung onto the 3DS in a direct port of 2011’s very successful Donkey Kong Country Returns (see our review) for the Wii. Appropriately renamed Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D following its console transition, the handheld version manages to pack the same punch as the original, but it’s very much the same experience for those that played it less than two years ago.
The story starts off with Donkey Kong’s island buddies being hypnotized by musical enemies known as the Tiki Tak Tribe, and they instantly begin stealing all of the bananas on the island. For whatever reason, DK and his little buddy Diddy are immune to the hypnotizing powers of the tribe, and they set off to retake the delicious yellow fruit. It’s not the most riveting story ever being told, but it works just fine considering the main protagonist is literally an ape wearing a tie.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D has brought all eight worlds from the original back into the mix, and the levels that make up each section of Kong Island have been brought to the handheld with incredible precision. Every aspect of the worlds that made the Wii game so invigorating and satisfying are present and accounted for on the 3DS, which is somewhat of a double sword for those already very well acquainted with them.
The intricate designs of each level are bursting with personality, and each is so original that they demand to be remembered for a multitude of reasons. Be it the runaway mine cart that becomes entangled with a piece of circular track as it rolls down a mountain, the moment DK first encounters Rambi the rhino, or a daring escape on top of a rocket barrel as a giant bat gives pursuit, each level provides its own challenges — with plenty of nods to its Rare-made predecessors.
For those that have already conquered the Wii version of this platformer, however, they’ll already be all too familiar with these levels. The biggest complaint that can be drawn from Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is that it doesn’t offer much at all in terms of new content for loyal fans that have already played through the original. Granted there are several new features and a handful of bonus levels that unlock after the main campaign has been completed, but for the most part it’s the exact same game with downscaled visuals and 3D effects.
Bringing a challenging game to a handheld does offer up its own type of challenge for developers, and Nintendo has taken the necessary steps to make sure that DKCR is a little more accessible on the 3DS. This 3D-enabled iteration helps out those who aren’t privy to challenging platformers by offering gamers ‘New Mode’. This option, which is only selectable at the beginning of a new game, eases the burden of trotting through Kong Island by giving players 3 hearts instead of two, portable DK barrels, and more. Gamers still looking for more of a challenge, however, can simply select ‘Original Mode’ and they’ll have access to the game in all of its original, teeth-grindingly difficult glory.
While anyone who’s already played the title won’t gain anything new from the portable iteration, there’s no denying that Donkey Kong Country Returns is an exceptional game. As one of the best platformers in recent memory (not just on the Wii, but debatably of all time), 3DS owners can’t go wrong with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Those that have played the original to death will enjoy the additional 9th world that is accessible after beating the initial campaign, but they may not want to trek through a game they completed a short time ago to access the content. That said, it’s still a phenomenal title, and the ability to play it on the go is far from a bad thing.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is available now, exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS.
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