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Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

by Aaron Kaluszka - April 18, 2013, 10:00 am PDT
Total comments: 6

There's no more shake, but do the new controls work?

Donkey Kong Country Returns headlined the renaissance of 2D platform games on Wii, featuring familiar gameplay and expert level design thanks to the team at Retro Studio. The game is being ported to 3DS by Monster Games, who seeks to make it ready for portable play and open up the game to a wider audience.

A new easy mode has been added to the game, which is a nice feature for those who may have been intimidated by the original, as it could be quite difficult in some places. In easy mode, DK and Diddy now have three life hearts each, and you can bring up to three items into a stage to help you. Three new items are also available: a green balloon that will save you from a fall, a portable DK barrel that lets you summon Diddy at will, and a crash guard item for extra protection in the mine cart and rocket barrel stages. However, once you go down the easy or hard path, there’s no turning back; the file is locked in that mode.

The game has been expanded a bit. The golden temple has been replaced by a cloud world, composed of eight new levels representing the various worlds of the game, and ending with the old golden temple stage. As a fan of the mine cart stages, I played through most of the mole stage, which had an interesting combination of mine cart sections and regular platforming in a level strewn with environmental hazards.

It took me a few minutes to get used to the controls in DKCR3D, and I still wasn’t happy. While the Wii Remote shake moves have thankfully been replaced with buttons, the actual control scheme doesn’t make a lot of sense. Having years of experience with the original Donkey Kong Country series, the button layout simply didn’t work well, as it was seemingly mapped from the Wii version’s Nunchuk scheme. In the default configuration, run and roll are mapped to X and Y, while jump is mapped to A and B. Grab is inexplicably mapped to the shoulder buttons, which was pretty unnecessary and frustrating, given the two duplicated face buttons and the tradition of mapping run and grab to the same button. The roll maneuver itself seemed twitchier than I remember it being on the Wii, even with its despised shake mechanic.

The stereoscopic 3D is a nice addition, and while the game wasn’t originally tailored around that experience, there are a few places where it works especially well, though the character models are degraded somewhat on the 3DS.

I’m definitely glad to see Donkey Kong Country Returns make its way to 3DS and made more accessible. It was an excellent platformer that deserves more plays and being able to take it on the go is a boon. However, the controls aren’t optimal, but I hope that will be fixed before release.


CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterApril 18, 2013

The button controls are concerning, hopefully it gets fixed for the release.

night814April 18, 2013

Custom controls please

Ian SaneApril 18, 2013

See the problem is that they seperated the functions into two commands in the first place.  In theory they could perhaps give the game classic DKC controls but the game wasn't designed for run and throw to be the same button.  There could be problems in certain levels where having them together makes it unbeatable.  Changing a games controls after the fact is something that has to be thoroughly tested as you never know what might suddenly break.  This might not be something that even can be fixed.

The moral of the story?  Don't force dumb gimmick controls to games where it doesn't fit merely because it markets well to rubes.  Though it is ironic that part of the goal here is to open the game up to a wider audience.  I thought that was the whole damn point of this wiggle waggle nonsense?  DKC Returns has a hardcore difficulty but hardcore gamers don't want to fight with unresponsive controls.  Motion controls market better to casuals but casuals don't want the game that hard.  So who the fuck was the game for?  I'm guessing NCL and Retro had different audiences in mind and we ended up with a compromised game that has a notable issue for both.  Since this version attempts to address both the difficulty and controls I can see more why Nintendo felt this game in particular needed a remake so soon after the original release.

AdrockApril 18, 2013

Please define "rubes." I looked it up and interpret it to be the plural of: a stupid and ignorant person.

MagicCow64April 18, 2013

The shake controls were only a serious issue for the speed runs. It sounds like button mapping here might actually be worse. Folks may have hated the motion control, but at least you didn't have to remove your fingers from a button to pull off a roll.

The biggest issue with DKCR in my eyes was the lack of a full-on Secret World, with only the Golden Temple at the end, which while a good level, was a let down compared to the Lost Worlds in the the last few DKC games.

There's no more shake


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Donkey Kong Returns 3D Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Monster Games

Worldwide Releases

na: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Release May 24, 2013
jpn: Donkey Kong Returns 3D
Release Jun 13, 2013
eu: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Release May 24, 2013
aus: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Release May 25, 2013
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