#83, September 21st, 2020
Originally a Wii game ported over to the 3DS, Donkey Kong Country Returns flies into action after the Tiki Taki tribe robs Donkey and Diddy Kongs precious bananas. Having only played the original Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, Returns stays true to Rares original in terms of movement and difficulty. Spread across eight regions, levals are chaotic with a number of enemy and environmental hazards, keeping you always on your toes sprinting forward. Donkey Kong has a unique top heavy feel, and any collisions with objects or enemies along the way typically spell death as the loss of momentum leaves DK falling to his death.
Levels can be frustratingly hard due to the fact that without any knowledge of what’s up ahead, you typically don’t have enough time to correct the course you are heading in. This is especially true in the rocket sections where you only have one hit before death. As you slowly progress through each level, memorizing the twist and turns you typically will come across one or two checkpoints which serve not as a reward for getting through a tough section ,as you typically master it upon reaching, but a base to go back to start the cycle all over again to learn what’s next.
One perk of the overly dangerous level design though is you feel like you are playing through a high octane action movie and when I reached the end of each level I exclaimed “Wow!” on numerous occasions. The game is generous in its life system, giving you ample ways to earn additional lives. Once you run out, there is no real penalty besides losing progress within the level you are on.
Overall the game looks excellent on the 3DSXL and was one of the few experiences I enjoyed playing with the 3D turned on. One negative I had with the game was with the controls. This may be more of a personal preference but I never found a sweet spot. The game gives you two options, either using the d’pad or the circle pad. While I personally prefer playing platformers with the d’pad the game requires you to ground pound and grab onto branches and the buttons corresponding to those inputs felt more natural on the circle pad so I found myself going back and forth between the two depending on which level required more of.
The games soundtrack will invoke nostalgia to those familiar with the series and I enjoyed it through my entire playthrough.
Similar to previous titles, the story is mainly a quick tool to provide reason for the gameplay and those looking for anything deep should look away. Regarding the world layout, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D does a good job in difficulty progression. While there are a number of difficult spots throughout the game, by the time you get to the 8th and final section of the game, each level is a step up from what you played previously.
It took me 13 hours to finally take down the Tiki Tribe. Besides the main route, each section has a few levels hidden off behind a key purchase in the shop. The game alsol has a number of collectibles, some silly such as spelling out K O N G as well as others that are needed to play the Golden Temple section which is available after completing the main story. I personally did not return to gather the remaining collectibles I had missed during my initial run through the game but for those masochists out there it should offer hours of additional gameplay.
Time To Completion 13 Hours