Donkey Kong Country Returns (DKCR) was an excellent game on the Wii. It was a return to form for the Donkey Kong Country franchise, made by Retro Studios instead of Rare. It brought Donkey and Diddy Kong back to their Island, only to find a new foe. Tikis have started to hypnotise the island's animals and have stolen Donkey's banana stash.
DKCR is a return to unforgiving old-school platforming; a heavy dose of nostalgia right to the eyes and ears. After three Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES and Donkey Kong 64, the cast has been stripped right back to just Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. Cranky Kong is still hanging around with Rambi the Rhino and Squarks the Parrot sometimes joining in. Donkey still has a forward roll to take down enemies, a ground pound, and can now blow out a puff of air onto certain objects in the stages. Diddy Kong now just clings onto Donkey's back and gives you extra health and an incredibly helpful jet pack. With the difficulty of this game you'll want to keep Diddy around as much as possible. There are eight areas of the island all with a different environment, with the letters K-O-N-G and puzzle pieces to collect to give you a good reason to replay levels. Make sure to collect all the letter pieces as they help unlock an additional level per world that weren't included in the Wii version. These new levels blend in well with the levels that were included in the previous version, like the main game they can also be tough as nails.
One of the main issues that people had with the Wii version of DKCR was that it was so difficult! On the 3DS you are given a 'New Mode' and the 'Original Mode'. New Mode gives Donkey an extra heart before he dies in a level, and there are also extra items available in Cranky's shop to help out as well. I played in this mode, and it is still difficult! I suggest you purchase items to help in the minecart and rocket barrel levels.
While the game might not look as great as the Wii version, it still looks good on the 3DS. Some concessions have to be made shrinking the game down to the handheld; the frame rate is not always that smooth. Regardless of the frame rate I never found it to be an issue, or worse, the reason for losing lives. The 3D effect looks great most of the time. On occasion there is some 'ghosting' effects, but besides that, levels with things happening between the background and foreground layers feel like they were made for 3D.
One of the best things in the Donkey Kong Country series has always been the music. To this day, the original SNES music is memorable and high on my list of best game music. DKCR retains some of those familiar tunes and some remixed versions along with all-new music that fits in perfectly. The ambient sounds always bring the environment to life
One of the most notable issues with the Wii version of DKCR is that Donkey Kong's roll move could only be done by shaking the wiimote, with the games more difficult moments it made the game frustrating. Thankfully this is no longer an issue. Every move is relegated to a button, and the game is much more playable for it. The only problem I still come across is that at times when quick reflexes are needed and you need to ground pound, it sometimes sends you into a roll. Most of the time it isn't dire but it can still be an issue in a few occassions.
If you have two people and two copies of the game, you can always get into the two player mode. One person is Donkey Kong and the other is Diddy. Like with the Wii version, only the Donkey Kong player can save progress, with Diddy as support. If you're having difficulty getting through the level separately, Diddy can still cling onto Donkey's back.
As much as I go on about the difficulty level of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D it is still such a fun game. You'll curse every death, but you'll keep pushing to get to the next level and find out what new things the game can throw at you.