Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)

From my 2010 Wii review of Donkey Kong Country Returns:
"Stop rolling into the pits!" 
This happened to me again and again. For some reason, to perform the ground attack a player has to quickly shake the Wii Remote. That's fine. However, if you happen to be moving forward at the time, you'll roll forward. That's good for attacking enemies and bashing things but it's also a very efficient way to send you wheeling into a hole. There are some really tricky platforming elements in the game and the inability to just press a button to perform this action makes some areas far more difficult than they needed to be.
I've placed a special emphasis on the last part of that paragraph for a very good reason. Donkey Kong's ground pound attack has been transferred to a button and I rolled into just as many pits. It's maddening to navigate a tricky set of platforms only to goof on the dismount and roll into oblivion. It does confirm that my coordination just might not be what it used to be -- my "button excuse" doesn't hold water when they gave me the button and I still managed to screw things up.

That's not the only aspect of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D that has been made "easier."

For one, both Donkey and his peanut-shooting sidekick Diddy Kong have three hit points over the original's two each. However, it does call into question my offline assertions that "I could have finished that level if I'd had one more hit point!" because just as often I flubbed my timing and those glorious three hit points never
seemed like enough.

My excuses for constantly dying seem even more feeble when it's possible to activate purchased (with in-game coins) power-ups, like one that adds an extra hit point or a green balloon that saves Donkey Kong from a roll into a bottomless pit.

Whatever efforts were made at making the game easier, the original game was so difficult that any attempts to blunt the difficulty feels like using a ball peen hammer to knock down the Great Wall of China. Sure, you have a tool to make the job easier -- not having to use your bare hands -- but it just goes to show that a difficult game is a difficult game.

There's always the fall back of the Super Kong guide that I freely admit to using a few times. Besides being able to really appreciate the graphics and the way most of the levels are designed -- it feels like there are mini-stories running through each level -- it's a sure-fire way to complete a level because control is entirely taken away from me, the player.

I didn't want to mention the 3D effects because it's trite to talk about the 3D in a 3DS game but it's really cool in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Familiar levels suddenly had a depth and look to them that is fun to watch. I re-played or re-watched levels just so I could get a good look at the stuff again.

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is better than the original -- still a difficult game -- but the advantage of being able to close the lid of the 3DS and take a break rather than hurling a Wii Remote in frustration and the lengths the developers went to make the game more accessible without really changing anything about the game elevates the entire experience.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- Looks great
- Some minor tweaks to the game, but most everything is unchanged from the original Wii game
- Great music
- Two-player via local play

The Bad:
- Even with the tweaks to make it "easier" the game's still pretty hard

Score: 9.0 / 10

Hear what my 4-year old son has to say about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D!