Platform: 3DS

Originally released in 2010 for the Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns was a semi-remake/sequel of the 1994 SNES classic Donkey Kong Country. The game saw the inclusion of some classic elements, such as the game series’ music and level characteristics, as well as most of the classic cast from Donkey Kong himself to Diddy and Kranky Kong.

However, one of the more jarring aspects of the game was that despite the level design being crafted with a love of ingenuity and fun in mind, overall they sometimes tended to drag a bit and had obtuse difficulty balance. Nintendo has sought to correct these mistakes with a re-release of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the 3DS.

 photo dk-returns-01_zps708d2fbe.jpgFirst off, the story is incredibly simple. A very musical tribe called the Tiki Tak Tribe with their musical prowess has possessed the island’s animal inhabitants, forcing them to do their bidding. Through their possession, the animals steal Donkey Kong’s stash of bananas, and it's up to Donkey and Diddy Kong to go after the Tiki Tak Tribe and reclaim their hoard.

When starting up Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D the player is presented with 2 game options to choose from; New Game Mode and Original Game Mode. One of the major differences between them is the length and difficulty of the stages in the game. The original mode is exactly what it is, the Wii version of the game. However, the New Game mode has chopped the original levels and taken out some very tricky areas.

The other major difference is that Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong now can both take up to 3 hits each instead of 2. This makes it an easier experience, but the original was pretty hardcore for new players, as death was always only two hits away.

There are also more items that can be bought from Kranky Kong’s shop, and at heavily discounted prices compared to the original. For example some of the new items in the New Game mode are; the Green balloon that saves you once from a fall, a “Crash Guard” potion that makes your mine cart or rocket barrel temporarily invincible and a DK barrel for an instant Diddy Kong summon.

Banana coins are also more plentiful in the New Game mode version, which is a good thing because you’ll often be going back to Kranky Kong’s shop to buy more 1-up balloons to get more lives.

 photo dk-returns-02_zpsccdabbfa.jpgThe game's controls feel a lot more at home on a portable console – I really didn’t like how the Wii handled the game’s control scheme, it just feels much more comfortable now having several buttons within thumb reach that activate all the necessary moves that the player can utilize to his advantage.

However, one major annoyance that has carried over from the Wii release, of the game is the enemy “double jump/bounce” mechanic that activates when you jump on a enemy. When this happens, you can press the jump button again to do a nextra high jump. In some levels this extra jump is an absolute necessity, but if you are not dead-on precise, Donkey Kong will do a smaller regular bounce jump. Now, this doesn’t sound so bad, however it can become extremely frustrating when you realize that you need it for challenges that require almost superhuman abilities to foresee what's coming up in the next few frames of the screen. For example the mine cart levels need you to memorize what type of jump you need to activate at which exact point; Either a long double jump or a small one – and its almost impossible to predict first time without dying a dozen times to memorize it all (Ed.'s note: So, a bit like the Donkey Kong arcade then?)

The difficulty of the game overall is pleasant, but not without frustration. There are specific “secret” stages that were in the original game that were extremely challenging, but for the most part the game’s difficulty still feels largely unbalanced and I don’t appreciate when a mine cart stage forces me to use up to 12~15 lives just to figure out the rhythm of jumps to avoid hazards before a checkpoint even decides to appear in the level. (Ed.'s Note: At least you didn't have to pop money in your 3DS every time you ran out of lives.)

Graphically, the game is absolutely gorgeous, one of the best 3D uses of the 3DS’ hardware I probably seen to date – and it's a port! The framerate is also silky smooth considering there is quite a lot going on screen at some points.

The co-op still has its niggles from the original game where the two players really need work in tandem or they'll pretty much jeopardize each other, and die incredibly easily. It’s for the most part well implemented, but it depends on your gaming style: are you playing for fun or for the challenge?

 photo dk-returns-03_zps0745fa55.jpgThere are buckets full of challenges in this game, from the many stages, time trials and lots of in-game extras to unlock such as music, art galleries, dioramas and more. So the replay value is always there, and considering you have basically two games in one, you're never going to feel shortchanged.

The digital download version of the game is VERY large, clocking injust over 2GB in size (17,693 blocks roughly). I would say this would be a disadvantage for most 3DS owners who don’t have larger memory cards - but you can’t really fault Nintendo: it's basically an original Wii game + a heavily modified and updated version in an all-in-one package. It's going to be large.

Overall, Donkey Kong Returns 3D is a truly wonderful choice of port for the Nintendo 3DS. It really suits portable gaming, more so than its original debut on the Wii. I would say that the difficulty could have done with a bit more balancing, but for the most part the game is very fun and full of challenge - that cannot be sniffed at.

With a ton of content and basically two full games in one, it's a platform game enthusiasts dream and a lovely addition to the Donkey Kong Country series, providing hours of fun.