Review: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is full of a-peel-ing nostalgia

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Image

The main difference with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is the added option of choosing which game mode you want to play in. When you start a new game, you can choose from playing in original mode or new mode. Original mode, as you've probably guessed, is the same gameplay as the original Wii version. New mode makes the game more friendly to those that aren't necessarily great at platformers. New mode accomplishes this by adding an extra heart of health to Donkey Kong, and by making items available for purchase at Cranky Kong's shop.

That white-bearded, grouchy old man of a monkey can sell you green balloons that save you from falling into pits; DK barrels that summon Diddy Kong, which refills yours hearts upon use; and extra lives, among other things. The challenge of the original game is still there, but the changes in new mode make the game much more enjoyable. None of the items are an instant-win for a level; instead, they simply help you on your journey, which will still require memorization and skill.

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Cave Gameplay

Make no mistake – skill is definitely needed, as this is a challenging platformer at its core. If you want to get every KONG letter, you're going to need to learn these levels inside and out, replaying them multiple times. However, once you beat the standard eight worlds, you can purchase orbs from Cranky Kong needed for the Golden Temple. It just offers another way to get post-game content.

Co-op is also back via local wireless with another 3DS owner. One player will control Donkey Kong, and the other will control Diddy Kong. They each feature their own set of moves, but the two combine for combo moves that are only available when two players are playing.

I played on a 3DS XL, and visually, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D looks great. While it doesn't always run quite as smoothly as the original on the Wii, the colors are vibrant and the use of the 3D effect is great. That's especially true when everything in the foreground is black, with only the backdrop colored. It's one of the few games I played with the 3D slider all the way up the entire time. There are times when you get shot over to some platforms in the distance, and you have to play with an extremely zoomed-out view. While it wasn't a problem on the larger screen of the 3DS XL, owners of the original 3DS might have some issues at those parts. Other than that, the soundtrack is perfect and full of nostalgia, so there's no complaints there.

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Gameplay

If you enjoyed the original game on the Wii, you'll find equal enjoyment with the 3DS version. It's totally worth a replay. That's especially true with the eight bonus stages that weren't in the Wii version. If you didn't play the original and enjoy a challenging but extremely enjoyable platformer, I definitely recommend you play Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. He likes talking sports, video games, movies, and the stupidity of celebrities. Email at

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