A beautiful game with great level ideas that ultimately falls short

User Rating: 7 | Donkey Kong Country SNES

I have wanted to play Donkey Kong Country for years. Being a general fan of Nintendo platformers and seeing its generation ahead graphics, I was very excited to see this finally come out on New 3DS so I could finally get my hands on it. It delivers in spades in terms of graphics, music and general presentation but ultimately the gameplay falls well short of the mark.
Over the course of the game, it commits just about every sin in platformer design. There's blind jumps. There's enemies who don't stick out against the background. There's poor collision detection w/ enemies. Enemies off-screen which you only encounter mid-air. Hard to judge edges on platforms. The controls feel somewhat lose and occasionally unresponsive. There's frustratingly difficult sections that don't use the core gameplay mechanics. At the end of the day, it just feels sloppy and, at times, cheap.

This isn't to say it's a bad game, not at all. In fact, I'd say it's rather impressive that this manages to be pretty good despite all its flaws. The level design is sometimes brilliant, such as one level w/ a moving platform you have to constantly refueled. Most sections are satisfyingly tough but it seems almost every level has some annoyingly difficult section which is caused by having to time a jump based on something you can't see, which necessitates some degree of level memorization to get through anything. I like challenging platformers but I think a hallmark of good design is if you are skilled enough, there should be at least a chance you can get through any level on your first play through and I don't think Donkey Kong Country is at that level of design.

What keeps you coming back though is that great presentation. The pseudo-2.5D graphics were ahead of their time and combined w/ the art-style makes for a game that's as bright and pretty as any game ever made. The music and cartoonish sense of humor have a way of alleviating the frustration of the toughest parts. Overall, if you can't get enough old school platforming, this is a treat for the ears and eyes and so is definitely worth playing. However, most folks will be better off revisiting a Mario game or a host of other platformers before you get to this.