Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Review

DCKR3DDonkey Kong Country Returns 3D (Available exclusively on 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Retro Studios, Nintendo, and Monster Games
Release Date: May 24th, 2013
Download Size: 17,665 Blocks

Parent Talk: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is rated E for everyone because of mild cartoon violence. If you have never played a Nintendo platformer before you know what to expect here. Lots of jumping on enemy heads, and such. Nothing damaging whatsoever.

Plays Like: Remember Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, well imagine that series brought to life with modern day audio visuals. That’s basically it, a beautiful 2D side scrolling platformer that is tough as nails, and as enjoyable as you could imagine. The 3DS version plays exactly as the Wii original did, which means it’s super fun.

Review Basis: Completely destroyed the Wii version back in 2010, and played through a ton of the 3DS port to see all the changes and enhancements. Downloaded it at midnight last night and have barely slept at all to get you guys this review.

Donkey Kong Country Returns was one of my very favorite Wii games ever released. I loved its creative stages, fantastic gameplay, and absolutely stunning graphics, not to mention it’s blistering difficulty. I love games that prove challenging, but are equally rewarding. Taking DCKR to the 3DS was no easy task. This was a game that was designed for a home console, and people constantly take that for granted when it comes to portable ports of console games. So the bottom line isn’t so much how the game turned out, which is fantastic, but rather whether or not Nintendo made sure this excellent platformer was portable friendly.


The Great:

I can answer that portable question in my first paragraph, as the answer is a resounding yes, Nintendo did everything in their power to ensure this game plays perfectly on the 3DS. Players will earn free lives and banana coins with ease, and those coins can be traded in for additional lives, or new power-ups which go a long way in keeping DK alive. From invincibility potions to a special balloon that catches you if you happen to misjudge one of your jumps. These new items make the game easier, but they also make sure it’s portable friendly. You typically only have a few minutes to play while on the bus or train or whatever, and these items ensure you can make progress no matter where you happen to be playing. Excellent job Nintendo.


The Good:

+ Co-op is a blast to play, just as it was in the original DKC series on the SNES. If you’re going for the best times, or all the secrets solo play is usually the way to go. That said, having a friend beside you laughing as you both die is classic Nintendo fun. As per usual Nintendo fair, co-op is local only.

+ Superior controls. I much prefer playing this game on the 3DS than the Wii if only because this time around there are no motion controls. Players can opt to move DK with the circle pad or the d-pad (d-pad for the win!), and all the other actions are now simple button presses akin to the SNES games.

+ Incredibly difficult even with the new items. Make no mistake friends, this game will have you cursing in no time. If you plan to get all the hidden goodies the challenge increases exponentially, especially in some of the later levels.

+ Levels are super creative and vastly different than the ones that came before. Nintendo even added in an entirely new world with eight new levels to play through and they’re absolutely amazing.

+ Die enough times during a stage and there’s an option to let the game actually finish the level for you. This is a superb feature to ease new players into the tough game. It also helps with the portable nature of the game, because the game saves after each level.

+ The original Wii version is included for good measure, but I’d be very surprised if many of you have the courage to play through it. It is very hard.

+ The audio is just as addictive as it was on the Wii, and with a good pair of headphones you won’t really know that you’re playing on a portable.

+ 3D effect is brilliant. In fact this is the third most impressive game released on the 3DS to make perfect use of the 3D abilities of the system after Super Mario 3D Land and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.


The So-So:

+/- While the game looks very nice on the 3DS, the framerate has been cut in half. The Wii version ran at 60 fps, and this one runs at 30. That means the platforming isn’t quite as smooth as the original, and the colors and special effects aren’t as vibrant either.

The Bad:

I don’t have anything truly negative to say.

The Ugly:

My face after playing the same level for 25 minutes trying to get the bloody G in KONG. Gah!


The Lowdown:

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is one of the very best console to portable ports I’ve seen in a very long time. True care went into this title. The New Mode, which includes all the portable-friendly alterations is phenomenal. It still proves incredibly challenging, while being the perfect pick-up and play title. If you own a 3DS and already played through the original Wii version, the budget price (for a first party game) of $35 should help push you over the edge and give this one a download (or purchase). I can’t recommend it enough.

Final Score: 9/10

3 thoughts on “Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Review”

    1. If you enjoyed the Wii version you’ll love this one. I’m enjoying my time with this one even more so than the original, because I never liked being forged to use motion controls. I would have loved to use the pro controller, but that wasn’t an option. Thankfully this time I can play the game I want to!

  1. Nice review. I absolutely loved the Wii version. Sadly I got burned out by world 4 or 5 as the difficulty really ramped up. I guess I also got caught up with a certain game at that time and never got back to it. I also have the 3DS version downloaded and played for a bit via new mode and I agree with your review. For me though, the 3D overly compensates on the framerate cut. I don’t even notice any framerate differences to the Wii version while playing….because I guess when they replaced the waggle motion with a button on the 3DS, that alone has made the game a lot more playable.

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