Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii was an excellent return to the Donkey Kong Country series for Nintendo, and did a great job of evoking the feeling of the old Super Nintendo games that so many of us fell in love with as children. While the name of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D might suggest a new game in the series, this title is simply a port of the original Wii game.
However, that is not to say that it degrades the game at all - in fact, Donkey Kong Country Returns always felt sort of like it should have been on the 3DS in the first place. The game's focus on multiple planes within a 2D platforming environment makes it perfect for the 3DS. Even better yet, this refresh of a classic Wii game also gets a few new features.
For starters, the designers have added a new mode with the rather blunt moniker "new mode". This mode more or less translates into an easy mode for the game, giving the player an extra point of damage they can take as well as adding some new items to Cranky Kong's shop that make the game far easier - like a barrel that allows you to respawn Diddy Kong at any time. The 3DS version of the game also tacks 8 new levels on to the end of the game, although these levels barely warrant a mention due to the fact that they are pretty generic and offer no new challenge or anything meaningfully different from the rest of the game's levels.
The port also brings some new problems to the table though. The controls, especially when it comes to charging feel a bit weird. While the shaking of the Wii remote felt pretty spot on in the original version, the remapping of that movement to a single button hold has made it awkward. Even worse yet, the down scaling from the Wii, while mostly successful has left a few residual performance issues in its wake.
If you played the original version of the game for the Wii, you will immediately notice that the 3DS version runs at a frame rate of only 30 fps instead of the original's 60 fps - but even more importantly, there are many times throughout the game where the frame rate will drop precipitously without any warning, ruining countless jumps and tricky platforming bits. It is far too clear that this was once a Wii game that was downgraded to work on the 3DS instead.
All of that said, Donkey Kong Country Returns remains an excellent platformer in its new portable form. Sure, the Wii version might remain the better version, and there is absolutely no reason to pick this up if you already played it on the Wii, but for people new to the game or to the series, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is a great place to start, and remains one of the best 2D platformers to be released in recent memory.