Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review #375: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

 The Kong returns... now in 3D!
 A few years ago I played and reviewed Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Nintendo Wii, and you could say that I liked it quite a bit. Turns out it had a 3DS port, and seeing how my biggest pet peeve with the initial release were the motion controls, if this game traded them with proper button inputs... it was bound to be brilliant. But alas, it was not meant to be, not exactly.

 Firstly, a brief description of what the game is for the uninitiated: This is a 2.5D platform game styled after the Donkey Kong games of old(Or rather, the SNES era). You jump, and roll-attack your way through the game, but can also come across a barrel holding Diddy Kong, which works as a few extra hits as well as letting you hover for a while with his jetpack. The game is quite challenging, specially if you factor all the collectibles per level. It's pretty good. A lot of care and love went into bringing Donkey Kong back into modern standards, level design is fantastic and almost every level has its own gimmicks, only to be revisited if to offer a new twist on it.
 So, what's new with this version? There's a 'New Mode' which translates as Easy Mode, Donkey Kong can tank three hits instead of three, and Diddy doubles it up to six hits instead of four. There're more and better power ups for you to buy at Cranky's store as well. It will probably let newer players ease themselves into the game, since later in the game, most deaths will come from bottomless pits or 1-hit-kill obstacles, so it's not an absolute cakewalk. The 3D effect works beautifully with this game, one of the very few games I'd actually recommend playing in 3D.

 And then, what matters most, the new control scheme...s. It would've been too smart to let the player pick and choose what buttons does what, but instead, you've got to choose: Either use the analog stick and X/Y to attack and R/L to grab stuff or use the digital pad and L/R to attack and X/Y to grab.... What? I don't get it, you should've been able to indistinctively use either Digital or Analog pad at a whim, y'see, the analog stick is too imprecise for a platformer on a 2D plane, but I also wanted to use X/Y to attack... What a baffling design choice! Attacking felt unresponsive as well, I think that it's because the attack button also works as the ground-slam, so unless you press the button while moving, you won't attack. I dunno, but on more than one occasion I meant to attack but nothing came out, not even the slam. And I know for a fact that it wasn't my buttons' fault, since they work fine with other games. It might also be because the game now runs at 30FPs instead of 60...
 The game also promises a new world with 8 new levels... but you have to collect every KONG letter in every single stage. No thank you. I already played the Wii version, so... no thanks, I'll pass on that, I've more important stuff than forcing myself to replay levels in order to find all the letters. This was a bad, bad design choice as well, why lock the new content behind busy work? Maybe later down the road I might feel compelled to unlock these levels, but right now I've better stuff to do.

 I'd love to be able to say that this is the definitive version of DKCR, I'd love to say that it fixed the unreliability of the motion controls.... but I can't. The new stuff? Locked behind busywork. The new control scheme? It has its own kinks. If you ask me, I'll stick with the original release, but either version will suffice, as both are great versions of the same great game.
 8.0 out of 10

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