Pages Navigation Menu

Let's Talk Video Games

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Review

Cart: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Cab: Nintendo 3DS
Coin: Retro Studios/Monster Games

Donkey Kong Country Returns was one of the very best games for the Wii, and was superior to the original Donkey Kong Country in just about every way conceivable, yet is a woefully underappreciated game, despite garnering a fair amount of praise at the time of its release. With Retro Studios at the helm, there was a beating heart of pure creativity in each and every level, and although quite difficult, the game was immensely fun.

Now, Monster Games have been handed the job of porting the game to the 3DS, with the main concern being that they may have felt pressure to dumb the experience down and make it far too easy for the sake of inexperienced gamers.

Luckily, this is an intelligent and well though out conversion that manages to cater to everyone, while adding a few nice extras along the way.

Careful now

Careful now. The 3D really does pop out the screen

Donkey Kong Country Returns is a 2.5D platformer, starring Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong as they set out to reclaim their banana stash from a gang of hypnotic, totem mask, things. They set off on their journey across the island, with each world having a couple of routes you can take, although you will probably want to unlock and play all the stages, as they are all brilliant fun.

While not quite giving us a new idea on each level, like Super Mario Galaxy, it is fair to say that each level is a new idea, with no filler whatsoever. The worst of the levels are still brilliantly designed, and the best are a real test, yet utterly joyful. If you love games where the balance of difficulty and fun is perfect, and where you know you are always just on the edge of survival, yet still have your own creative freedom to tackle new problems on the fly, then you will love this game to bits.

The graphics on this version don’t look quite as smooth as they did on Wii, and the framerate is not quite as perfect, with a few minor dips here and there, but there is nothing to worry about, and if you have not played the original, you won’t notice a thing. You can play the game with the exact difficulty of the original, or in a new mode that gives you one extra heart, a wider range of items in each world’s shop, and the option of a super guide popping up to help you out if you keep dying on one level.

Not as sharp as Wii, but still looks good on the small screen

Not as sharp as Wii, but still looks good on the small screen

There is also an extra world in this version, with eight new levels to play around in, unlocked after you complete the story mode. The controls really are the very best thing about this 3DS iteration however, as the gimmicky and unnecessary waggling found in the Wii game is thankfully replaced by simple button presses, which does mean that the games doesn’t feel quite as ‘physical’, but also gives you a far higher degree of control over DK.

There is also a superb co-op mode, which does require two copies of the game and two 3DS consoles, but allows you and a friend to take Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong through the entire game. If you have a friend with a 3DS, go all out on persuading them to get this game.

Now, if you are reading this, thinking that you can get similar looking games on iPhone for a couple of pound, believe me when I tell you that this game is worth every one of those 29 extra pounds over even the very best mobile platformers. It packs more invention and gameplay into each level than you would find in 30 iOS games, and as the editor of a smartphone app site, I know the score when it comes to mobile gaming.

Give Donkey Kong a chance to impress you, and you will lose ten hours of your life to this game, and you won’t want them back.

The following two tabs change content below.
Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.

Latest posts by Simon Burns (see all)


  1. Fantastic review! Gone straight to the top of my list when I get a 3DS. I was obsessed with all three of the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES. One thing I think you forgot to mention was the OST. One of the most memorable things about DKC is its music…does the music still have the same ‘feel’? As none of the original composers took part in this game.

    • Sam Hewitt Yes, it still has the same tunes, with a few new ones besides:

      • Simon Burns Sam Hewitt I am a bit of a weirdo when it comes to this sort of stuff. I will listen to the music when I get the game as I enjoy it more that way. You can most probably tell now…I do enjoy my music!

  2. The Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D contains some action packed adventures, with dynamic 3D graphics combined. Still have to roll those barrels and gather banana’s while swinging through the jungle so not much changes there. I saw one review that said the game was challenging but not challenging enough to frustrate you. Interesting!
    The biggest addition to the game is the easier difficulty level called “New Mode”. is still great to play With the 3D version you can buy a handful of special items that take the edge off the more unforgiving elements.

    • It can still be frustrating in places for newer players

What do you think? Leave a comment!