Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Monster Games
This title first appeared back in 2010 on the Nintendo Wii, offering players a return to the classic 90’s SNES platformers by RARE. Originally developed by Nintendo’s exclusive yet independent Retro Studios (one of their few developers based outside of Japan) the original game was praised for both its old school style and rock hard but totally satisfying gameplay. Monster Games (responsible for both Excite Truck and the mediocre Pilot Wings Resort), take charge of this port for their fourth outing under Nintendo, and to be fair, they’ve not done a bad job.
The core game remains the same; the delightfully bouncy score returns, the vibrant visuals that nod back to the 1994 original and the ruthlessly tricky platforming that infuriated Wii owners is back too. Included in this version is ‘New Mode’, which is basically ‘Easy Mode’. Donkey and Diddy get 3 lives each instead of two, 1UP balloons are more present as you swing around DK island and more items have been included in Kranky Kongs shop which previously only offered extra lives. Some of these items include green balloons, which save you once from tumbling into a pit and bumpers, which help you avoid defeat through the infamously challenging mine cart and rocket barrel stages. When you pop all of these elements into the mixer, you get a significantly easier game, maybe more suited to people who own a 3DS.
‘Classic Mode’ is the original Wii game. It’s harsh but fair. When you fail, you’ll know exactly why you did, and more notably, how you can avoid doing it next time. Every stage is beatable, there are no cheap deaths and the only person to blame is you. The thing missing from this version, and trust me it’s a blessing, are the undeniably maddening and awkward motion controls. They have been replacing by a single button which makes controlling DK far simpler and death far less frequent.
As with most 3DS games it’s nice to talk about the 3D effect. Monster have done a great job with bringing the world of Donkey Kong Country to life. The jump between foreground and the far off islands in the background in the Wii game translate seamlessly into 3D. Or when riding your rocket barrel underground and see a runaway train doing loops towards the screen as you fly through the centre of the track. This is one of the few games that actually uses the 3D to great effect, definitely the best I’ve seen since Super Mario 3D Land.
If you already own the Wii version, there isn’t a huge deal more for your money here, and for £29.99 it’s a bit pricey for something already in your collection. For new comers, this is a brilliant title. Some of the best platforming I’ve played since the 16-bit era. And the easier mode makes it a ton more accessible to people who maybe aren’t great at timing, judgement and all the little thing a great platform game requires. If you like your classic games, this is a definite recommend.