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Monkey magic? Hands-on with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

We kick the (swinging) tyres of DK's upcoming 3DS port

If it ain't broke then, as convention dictates, it doesn't need fixing. This seems to be the mantra adopted for the 3DS version of Wii classic Donkey Kong Country Returns - if you play it in 'Classic Mode', at least.

2010's Wii original (developed by Retro Studios) was at times so difficult that one thing did become broken - the player. As result, port masters Monster Games will at least be 'fixing' their blown fuses by introducing a new mode to the game called, well, New Mode.

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New Mode helps out with a number of changes designed to make things a little easier. For starters, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong now have three life hearts instead of two, meaning it can take up to five hits to kill you rather than three.

New Mode also adds some special items which can be equipped when entering a level to protect the player from certain frustrating moments. If you ever lose Diddy Kong during a level for example, you can now use a portable DK barrel to instantly bring him back into the action.

It doesn't end there. If you fall down a hole you can trigger a green balloon to float back up to the nearest safe platform. And during the infamous minecart and rocket barrel sections you can now activate a crash guard which lets your vehicle take a few hits before you peg it.

We'd imagine this news has caused the more 'hardcore' of you to have already started writing an angry comment below, but stop: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D still has a Classic Mode which is identical to the Wii version in all its nail-gnawingly difficult goodness.

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For those not looking for things to be made any easier, then, you'll naturally find fewer differences in the 3DS game. The only big change is the addition of eight new, even harder stages that are made available when you've completed the main game.

Any other changes are present more as a consequence of the game being on 3DS, rather than active decisions by the development team. The obligatory 3D effect is impressive, and at times the game's multi-plane gameplay (Donkey Kong can occasionally be fired into the background) looks designed with 3DS in mind.

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The lack of motion control is also welcome. As fantastic as the Wii version of Donkey Kong Country Returns was, having to shake the Remote to perform ground pounds and rolls could be frustrating. Thankfully that's now been ditched, with the Y button taking over those duties, and feels much better to play as a result.

As it's essentially an enhanced port it's obvious that the gamers who'll get the most out of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D are those who never played the Wii game. While the easier New Mode may not necessarily appeal to older fans, the new levels will, and short of a major catastrophe DKR 3D will be just as entertaining as the original.

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