Gaming's favorite primate Donkey Kong has come a long way since he was throwing barrels in the original arcade game. The 1994 Super Nintendo release of “Donkey Kong Country” marked the first game where Donkey was not the enemy, and it was his own adventure. Very different from the arcade game, “DKC” was a side-scrolling platforming game in which Donkey Kong and his nephew Diddy had to recover the Kongs' bananas from the Kremlings.
“Donkey Kong Country” on the SNES was revolutionary for its time; the graphics were great, the music was good, and as you traverse the levels, you go through many different themes and play styles as varied as mine cart riding, swimming, riding on your animal pals, and much more. “DKC” went on to be the second best-selling game on the SNES behind “Super Mario World.”
In 2010 on the Nintendo Wii, “Donkey Kong Country Returns” brought back all the great things about the SNES version and was an improvement in almost every way – the visuals where outstanding, it added some new game modes, and it really ramped up the difficulty level. If you missed “DKC Returns,” now is your chance to play it on the go with this week's release of “Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D” for the 3DS. The new 3D version retains the quality of the Wii version and adds some new features that help make the difficulty more manageable. When you start, you can choose between “Original Mode” or “New Mode.” If you select New Mode, you start with more help and can gain extra power-ups throughout that make the game easier. Even though it can be easier, it is still fun and challenging collecting all the “KONG” letters, bananas, and collectables in each level.
In my opinion, this game is better than the Wii version because there are no motion controls or silly Wii gimmicks. On the Game Boy, the controls are just like the SNES version. The more you play the game, the more varied the game levels can be, from snowy terrain, volcanoes, and many other themes. Aside from the addition of the new game mode, there are also eight new levels and 3D game graphics. The 3D graphics aren't the most groundbreaking thing I have ever seen, but they still look good and perform adequately. There aren't really any innovative uses of the 3D; sometimes the camera does shift around and make the levels pop out, but you don't need the 3D on to proceed. There are some scenes where things come flying at the screen that make it worth using the 3D, but it's not utilized as much as it should be.
If you are playing single player, you don't get to see Diddy Kong much; he just helps you out from time to time, but if you have a friend, you can play two-player via local co-op, which can be loads of fun.
There aren't too many problems that I found. Sometimes, on the little screen, it can be harder to see everything that is going on because of the size, and there are some frame rate hiccups, but nothing that takes away from the experience.
If you liked the original “DKC” games on the SNES, you will love the nostalgia this game brings on. If not, you will find one of the best action platforming games that has been released in this console generation, this time on the go. So stop monkeying around and pick up this game.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]