Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MJ Reviews | Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D


    2D platformers are one of my favourite genres (perhaps only being ousted by first person shooters and 3D Action adventure titles) so you could imagine my excitement when I picked up Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D for my freshly owned 3DS. I have always been a fan of Rare (since the N64 days) and while this title is not published by the Goldeneye Gods (monster games did the 3DS port of Retro Games wii original), it does build on their groundwork.

The plot itself is fairly perfunctory, with a group of aliens called tikis swooping in and invading your habitat and stealing all your bananas. A story about an invading nation taking your natural resources…hmm, where did I see this before? As you can tell, it doesn’t’ matter who really took ‘my’ bananas – it could have been crocodiles, aliens, heck - even the monkey from the coco pops adverts. 

I guess the mark of a good platformer is that the story will take a backseat. (I don’t remember needing a detailed plot for sonic the hedgehog – it was just run, collect rings, destroy rotund academic or medical practitioner).  Donkey Kong has a great mix of traditional platforming mechanics peppered with jet propulsion areas, rhino bulldozers and an extended on-rails section. Worlds’ are split between jungles, a volcano, mines and even a cool silhouette level that reminded me of Limbo( Although – the Original Donkey Kong Country returns came out first for the wii) 

The visuals stand out as the best I’ve seen on the handheld, with a vivid palette that drew the eye of anyone around me while I was playing at a social media conference or at the local Wimpy. 

Doing my bit for Rhinos

This brings me to the game’s double-edged sword – difficulty. Donkey Kong Country Returns is 'riDonkeylisly' difficult (nope, doesn’t work). I’ve been gaming for over 25 years (having bested a variety of Super Mario Brothers, Rayman games, Sonic titles etc) but I found the challenge to be borderline crazy at times. I don’t mind admit to giving up when games get too tough, or are difficult for difficult’s sake (dark souls). Luckily, DK has a get out of jail card in the form of super kong (an optional character who will complete a level for you (provided you have died at least five times I think). I admit to using Super Kong to defeat a ridiculously difficult boss (the caterpillar type chap who weaves around the various wheels).

Donkey Kong took me around 15 hours to complete, with the extras (KONG letters, Orbs and puzzle pieces) probably adding an extra 10 hours or so to the length. 

In an age of mobile gaming, saturated with quick fixes and repetitive mechanics, its refreshing that handheld games are getting a second breath. Donkey Kong Country is an essential 3DS purchase, but more than that, It is a must have for anyone who enjoys 2D platformers.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Donkey Kong Country Returns is available from all decent retailers. 
Thanks to Princess Peach (give her a follow on Twitter) and the team at Nintendo South Africa for all their support and for the Nintendo 3DS XL. 

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