Donkey Kong barrels his way onto the 3DS for a remake of the Wii classic. Does it hold up to the same level of greatness as its predecessor?
With the constant drive to push the envelope in terms of presentation, many gaming developers are focused on the next “blockbuster” hit and as a result, gameplay takes a tumble. With the more recent Indie movement of gaming, however, a revival of classic gaming elements has been focused upon in a large portion of titles over the past several years. One of the more trendy styles of gameplay created is that of the HD, 2.5D platformer, a style that simplifies and perfects the gameplay, while providing some of the most beautiful presentation imaginable.
Games such as Braid, or Shadow Complex were a few of the early adopters of this style of gameplay in the current generation of consoles and it’s great to see some of the larger game developers jumping on the bandwagon. Just recently, Nintendo alone has created 4+ such titles (Warioland: Shake It!, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, and Donkey Kong Country Returns) whereas Ubisoft has created their own platforming revival in Rayman Origins and the upcoming Rayman Legends. (that’s not to mention the countless other games that could be included in the category).
With 2010’s Wii hit Donkey Kong Country Returns, Nintendo not only revived a series that hadn’t seen a sequel in 14 years, but it also showed off the development skills of Retro Studios beyond that of the Metroid Prime series. By improving upon the classic series, Retro reminded us just how magical Nintendo’s 2nd party studios can be. For our full review of the game and more coverage, check out Steve’s review.
Easier Difficulty for the Faint of Heart
For those of you who didn’t get the opportunity to play through the original title, Nintendo has provided the perfect opportunity in the form of a 3DS remake+. Not only has the entire original game been remade on the 3DS (difficulty and all), but there are also further levels and options to sweeten the pot. For one, those gamers that lack the skill or patience to complete the game’s more difficult Wii-mode are given the option of playing an easier mode with all sorts of additions to lighten the difficulty.
The first noticeable change in the easier mode is that Donkey and Diddy both have an additional hit-point, making the total amount of possible hits 6-7 (with the use of the extra hit-point item). Secondly, the new mode features several new items in the shop to help troubled gamers such as Portable DK Barrels (to revive Diddy Kong at any time during the level), Green Balloons for pit protection, and Crash Guards for protection on the game’s mine cart and Rocket Barrel levels. All-in-all, for those who are a little shy towards difficulty, this version of the game gives you no excuse for passing it up as you can play either difficulty from the start.
In case you’re a more hardcore gamer, the original difficulty plays nearly identically to the Wii version in every way. For those who have already experienced the title on the Wii and are looking for bonus content, there are eight extra levels that are extremely difficult, so they do reward the bold who stepped out and purchased the game twice (though I must admit, if you already own the Wii version, there’s little incentive to pick this one up aside from having the ability to bring it anywhere on your 3DS).
Changes (Good & Bad)
Gameplay aside, the game does have some differences for better or for worse in terms of its presentation and controls. First of all, though the game is very pretty to look at, the Wii version’s graphics are a little less jagged around the edges and the frame rate of the 3DS version is not the silky smooth 60 fps of its console counterpart. This isn’t a major issue for the non-snobs out there but side-by-side, the Wii version is much smoother. The 3D effects of the 3DS tip the presentation back towards the 3DS somewhat but the effects were surprisingly a little underwhelming (despite the level design being a perfect demonstration of the 3D effect, it just wasn’t as powerful as other games on the system such as Super Mario 3D Land or Ocarina of Time: 3D).
As for controls, the 3DS version wins the prize with its simple, intuitive button layout. Gone are the unnecessary waggle controls on the Wii and seeing as the 3DS actually has more buttons than a Wii Remote, there are many options for replacement. Thus, A and B are used to jump, X and Y are used to pound the ground or blow air (while holding down), and the L and R buttons are used to grab onto vines and barrels. There is also the option to use either the circle pad or the directional pad for movement, depending upon which you prefer (I actually found the circle pad to be more comfortable despite my initial instincts). Thus, this game is actually an improvement upon the Wii’s controls; by omitting the wonky waggle controls that felt unnecessarily tacked onto many Wii games, DKCR: 3D feels even more like a classic gaming masterpiece.
Finally, to complete the remake, Monster Games threw in a 2-player co-op mode for those who want to experience this type of gameplay. The catch, however, is that both players must own a copy of the game and it’s only available for local Wi-Fi multiplayer. And, on a final side-note, I found one minor gameplay improvement that I wish they would have added to make the game more accessible without reducing the difficulty: allow us to spend a few banana coins to revive Diddy Kong outside of a level so we don’t have to go to an easier level just to get him back! (I digress ;-)