While we're sure we weren't alone in hoping Donkey Kong's latest outing, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D would be an all new entry in the lovable ape's series (in fact, it's simply a version of the already released Wii game), it's at least nice to see Nintendo will be making a few tweaks to help make it more suited for the handheld format. While the main body of the game will be same enemy stomping, vine swinging, mine kart jumping platforming we've come to know and love (and you can check out our review of the Wii version for more of what to expect), a few subtle changes look set to make this the best - and most accessible - version yet.
One of the biggest problems we had with the original game was its rather unforgiving difficulty - especially when being played in co-op, as the game's lives were shared between both players, rather than each having their own individual stock. While co-op's going to be less of an issue for the 3DS one, as, while it supports local wireless play, we're assuming it's going to require two copies of the game (thereby making it impractical for the vast majority of people), one of the areas Nintendo have been making the most adjustments is the difficulty level, thanks to a new mode, for newer players.
Cunningly labelled "New Mode", the readjusted difficulty setting increases the number of hearts you have from two to three, letting you take more hits before you lose a life, while adding in a number of extra features designed make the game's trickier sections that bit less bum-clenchingly annoying. From the green balloon, that floats you back to safety should you miss a key jump (without costing you a life), to the ingenious Crash Guard, that protects you for up to two crashes in a mine cart, or a rocket barrel (in other words, some of the game's most difficult sections), New Mode looks set to be a beginner's paradise - and a mode we can see being quite popular.
Of course, those who preferred how things were handled on the Wii won't be left out here either, as Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D will also include the standard Wii difficulty mode, while an unlockable set of eight new levels, which only become available once you've finished the main game, promise to offer something truly fresh for the 3DS.
Due to hit shelves on the 24th May, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D looks set to be a tweaked, polished and perfected version of what was already an accomplished platformer. While it's yet to be confirmed whether the game will feature download play, to let those who don't already own a copy of the game play along in co-op (after all, the also excellent Luigi's Mansion 2 managed it), we'll be keeping our fingers crossed. In the mean time, why not get a taste for the portable simian platforming action in the trailer below: