Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D review for evaluation

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deactivated-5e0e425ee91d8

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#1 deactivated-5e0e425ee91d8
Member since 2007 • 22399 Posts

Donkey Kong has to be getting on in years at this point. His first appearances being in the arcade and the precursor to the Gameboy, the Game and Watch. Later in his career he would grace the Super Nintendo with some of the best platformers ever created in the Donkey Kong Country series, and seemed to fade into a well earned retirement after a single N64 outing. Like any retiree, he would mostly come out for little else than some go karting, or a few holes of golf with the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom. 2010 saw the simian segue himself onto the Wii with the well received "Donkey Kong Country Returns", and the 3DS port hopes to get you to barrel through Kong Island once more. Has the trip to the handheld been kind to the well-dressed ape, or is it one banana short of a bunch?


In typical Nintendo fare, there isn't a lot to the mostly incidental story. Some bad tiki things have hypnotized the inhabitants of Kong island into stealing Donkey Kong's Bananas for some purpose and Donkey Kong wants them back. The bare minimum setup required as an excuse to monkey around 8 varied worlds, smashing some tiki along the way. The worlds themselves are the highlight here, with the typical jungle, beach, ruins, factory, volcano...that old chestnut.


New gameplay mechanics are introduced in a controlled way before throwing DK into real danger, and each world brings a unique atmosphere to the game that means the game rarely gets visually boring, which is awesome if you intend to go back for missed collectables. Controls take a little getting used to with the dedicated grab button, but become second nature as you move further into the island and the slider helps position the Kong's heavy platforming. Like the original game it plays with the background a little bit, however the poorly done 3D effects are highly prone to ghosting, pretty much ruining what should be the coolest visual update in this port depending on your tolerance for it. Turning the 3D off still leaves the vibrant colours of DK's world pleasing to the eye, if a little more jagged than the Wii ever was.
The soundtrack is the same as the Wii version, reworking some classics from the Super Nintendo days and throwing in new ditties that capture the tone perfectly, whether that's a relaxing whale ride or dodging flaming meteors. Ambient sounds and tiny jingles mesh perfectly and give that extra boost of satisfaction when you discover a secret room or nail that barrel cannon shot. The game can be a little quiet like most 3DS software, but this is most defiantly a headphones on game.


Some visual ticks and a learning curve on the controls aside, the same game that was great on the Wii is great here. If you missed it the first time, than this is the version to play. If you're interested in a second trip around the island than you might be better served just revisiting the Wii version.


Score: 7.0/10

Interested in content criticism and any minor proofreading I missed. 

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zyxe

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#2 zyxe  Moderator
Member since 2005 • 5340 Posts

Honestlly, I really enjoyed reading this review! I appreciate the way you structured it, with the set up of the series first, then a brief introduction of the plot and the spoiler-free description of the game and mechanics. I really liked the brevity of the piece, and I didn't feel there was anything seriously lacking. Seeing the comparison to the Wii version and giving your ideas on which version to get under what circumstances was an excellent and thoughtful touch.

Minor change: change the "than" to "then" in your last paragraph. Very nicely done overall, in my opinion.

Donkey Kong has to be getting on in years at this point. His first appearances being in the arcade and the precursor to the Gameboy, the Game and Watch. Later in his career he would grace the Super Nintendo with some of the best platformers ever created in the Donkey Kong Country series, and seemed to fade into a well earned retirement after a single N64 outing. Like any retiree, he would mostly come out for little else than some go karting, or a few holes of golf with the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom. 2010 saw the simian segue himself onto the Wii with the well received "Donkey Kong Country Returns", and the 3DS port hopes to get you to barrel through Kong Island once more. Has the trip to the handheld been kind to the well-dressed ape, or is it one banana short of a bunch?


In typical Nintendo fare, there isn't a lot to the mostly incidental story. Some bad tiki things have hypnotized the inhabitants of Kong island into stealing Donkey Kong's Bananas for some purpose and Donkey Kong wants them back. The bare minimum setup required as an excuse to monkey around 8 varied worlds, smashing some tiki along the way. The worlds themselves are the highlight here, with the typical jungle, beach, ruins, factory, volcano...that old chestnut.


New gameplay mechanics are introduced in a controlled way before throwing DK into real danger, and each world brings a unique atmosphere to the game that means the game rarely gets visually boring, which is awesome if you intend to go back for missed collectables. Controls take a little getting used to with the dedicated grab button, but become second nature as you move further into the island and the slider helps position the Kong's heavy platforming. Like the original game it plays with the background a little bit, however the poorly done 3D effects are highly prone to ghosting, pretty much ruining what should be the coolest visual update in this port depending on your tolerance for it. Turning the 3D off still leaves the vibrant colours of DK's world pleasing to the eye, if a little more jagged than the Wii ever was.
The soundtrack is the same as the Wii version, reworking some classics from the Super Nintendo days and throwing in new ditties that capture the tone perfectly, whether that's a relaxing whale ride or dodging flaming meteors. Ambient sounds and tiny jingles mesh perfectly and give that extra boost of satisfaction when you discover a secret room or nail that barrel cannon shot. The game can be a little quiet like most 3DS software, but this is most defiantly a headphones on game.


Some visual ticks and a learning curve on the controls aside, the same game that was great on the Wii is great here. If you missed it the first time, than this is the version to play. If you're interested in a second trip around the island than you might be better served just revisiting the Wii version.


Score: 7.0/10darkspineslayer

Interested in content criticism and any minor proofreading I missed. 

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c_rakestraw

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#3 c_rakestraw  Moderator
Member since 2007 • 14627 Posts

The opening paragraph is dull. Historical intros are always the least interesting direction to start with. I understand the benefits, but rarely do they manage to suck the reader in. It's a proven fact that most articles which begin with that old cliche fail to engage most readers. Very few people want a history lesson right off the bat. It's always better to dole that info out as necessary in the body of the review rather than front-load it. Makes for a more compelling structure.

Also, that last sentence in your opening paragraph? Don't resort to using such cheap tactics in your work. Those only really work as a means of drawing people in via the review deck, anyway, and even then, it's best used very sparingly.

The brevity of the piece is nice, but the gameplay section could be a bit more fleshed out. I'm left with no understanding of how the controls take getting used to, what this slider thing is, or how the game plays with the background. I never played the original Donkey Kong Country games (I know, I know), and there are plenty more who haven't, either. Gotta remember that not everyone is going to instantly know what you're talking about. Best to assume the reader wants background on such things, especially if they're functions aren't being made obvious through your writing.

Short reviews aren't easy to write, but you've definitely done better than most. I'd recommend trying to stray from the usual review formula if you're going to continue with this. The structure doesn't lend itself well to shorter works.

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zyxe

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#4 zyxe  Moderator
Member since 2005 • 5340 Posts

To each his own, I hadn't played any of the games but I felt like I understood what he was getting at and personally don't need the functional details. It has been such a while since I've read a shorter review that I felt gave me the information I actually needed to make a decision as to whether or not this game is something I'd like to try out that I found the structure and lack of description you seek refreshing because he gave me the overview of how it would affect me rather than what would affect me.

The opening paragraph is dull. Historical intros are always the least interesting direction to start with. I understand the benefits, but rarely do they manage to suck the reader in. It's a proven fact that most articles which begin with that old cliche fail to engage most readers. Very few people want a history lesson right off the bat. It's always better to dole that info out as necessary in the body of the review rather than front-load it. Makes for a more compelling structure.

Also, that last sentence in your opening paragraph? Don't resort to using such cheap tactics in your work. Those only really work as a means of drawing people in via the review deck, anyway, and even then, it's best used very sparingly.

The brevity of the piece is nice, but the gameplay section could be a bit more fleshed out. I'm left with no understanding of how the controls take getting used to, what this slider thing is, or how the game plays with the background. I never played the original Donkey Kong Country games (I know, I know), and there are plenty more who haven't, either. Gotta remember that not everyone is going to instantly know what you're talking about. Best to assume the reader wants background on such things, especially if they're functions aren't being made obvious through your writing.

Short reviews aren't easy to write, but you've definitely done better than most. I'd recommend trying to stray from the usual review formula if you're going to continue with this. The structure doesn't lend itself well to shorter works.

c_rake
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#5 c_rakestraw  Moderator
Member since 2007 • 14627 Posts

To each his own, I hadn't played any of the games but I felt like I understood what he was getting at and personally don't need the functional details. It has been such a while since I've read a shorter review that I felt gave me the information I actually needed to make a decision as to whether or not this game is something I'd like to try out that I found the structure and lack of description you seek refreshing because he gave me the overview of how it would affect me rather than what would affect me.zyxe

I'm of the opinion that, if you're going to mention something, follow-up on it. It was noteworthy enough to be brought up in the review, so clearly it must be important. Control issues are especially imperative in such cases. That's exactly the sort of thing you can't just toss out there without elaboration. It'd be like saying "there's a few game-breaking glitches" without saying what those glitches are. It's bad form.

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#6 -Saigo-
Member since 2006 • 301 Posts
I'd have to agree with rake on this one. If you're going to mention it, you have to elaborate at least enough to justify bringing it up. It's like sharing an opinion without providing an argument: You might get away with it...but fundamentally it's still bad form.
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-Saigo-

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#7 -Saigo-
Member since 2006 • 301 Posts
But I also agree with zyxe in the sense that it doesn't have to be an exposition either. A great writer includes detail without sacrificing flow.
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#8 BLaverock
Member since 2013 • 71 Posts

Decent review :) It was short, concise, and I was pleased to see no extraneous adverbs. All in all, just a few tweaks...

1. I would write Game and Watch as Game & Watch, which is how I've seen it written in the past. It's not a huge deal, but formality does call for certain names/titles to keep the '&' instead of 'and,' such as in "Black & White Publishing," or "Burke & Brown," etc.

2. "The bare minimum setup required as an excuse to monkey around 8 varied worlds, smashing some tiki along the way" is a sentence fragment, which means it's not a complete sentence. Grammatically, it can't function on its own because the idea is incomplete. You must either change the structure, or link it to another sentence via a colon, semi-colon, or dash. To do that, you'd probably have to adjust the surrounding sentence structures, too. 

3. Heaphones on should be headphones-on.

As I said, only a few minor tweaks :D