Donkey Kong Country Returns vs Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D; Analaysing the Differences

Here’s a very interesting video by Game Explain.  It compares the Wii and 3DS versions of Donkey Kong Country Returns so we can see the differences between them.  And surprisingly enough, there are quite a few subtle differences that can be seen.  Here’s the comparison video:

So what are the differences?  Well let me name some of the key ones I’ve noticed from their comparison video:

First of all, look at this frame where Donkey Kong is running across a bridge with a Tiki airship in the background.  In the Wii game (right), he’s looking towards the ship as if he noticed.  But in the 3DS game (left) he isn’t.  Could minor details like this be what Retro had to remove to get the game working on the 3DS?

DK Airship


Above: On Wii, DK notices the stolen bananas.  On 3DS, he just carries on by.

There also seems to be a perpetual lighting issue in this demo.  Take the sunset level, in the 3DS one, the colours seem to far starker than in the Wii original, with objects all being pitch black and the background looking kind of washed out.  Contrast this with the Wii game where the objects are a shade of brown and the background looks fairly clear and full of life. Could the 3DS have issues with the lighting effects found in Gamecube and Wii games?  Maybe.



And it seems the same issues with lighting carry on through the video.  Note how in the Wii version there’s almost a sun baked look to the trees and decoration while the graphics in the 3DS version look incredibly shiny. It’s not really an issue in my opinion, but it’s definitely noticeable:

Treetop Blast


Above: The middle tree looks incredibly jarring in the 3DS game, almost as if the sun is focused directly on it.  Is that deliberate?  Looks odd regardless…

Where it gets really noticeable though is in the Rambi level.  Remember the nice way the background was lit in the original?  Well it isn’t lit very well any more.  Seriously, the trees in the background look like someone’s poured a few hundred tons of bleach on them, they’re literally white as a sheet!  Have a look:

White Trees


Above: What in the world has happened to the jungle behind?  Looks like all the colour got washed out…

It also seems like the lava effects haven’t been applied in the 3DS title.  Note how in the original game DK and Diddy’s fur gets tinted red when in a hot place like world 8?  Here it doesn’t change colour at all and neither do the objects in the background.  Interesting minor technical change.

lava effects


Now don’t be fooled, none of this means the game looks bad.  No, in fact it looks absolutely amazing and almost like a perfect port.  We would have absolutely killed to have a game port this close to the original ten years ago…

But it does seem like some… graphical tricks have been taken out during the porting process.  Is the 3DS unable to handle the lighting effects used in the Wii version?  Is it just a really early build that’s going to look better when Retro Studios master the new hardware? It’s hard to say, but there are definitely some interesting differences between versions.

What do you think of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D compared to the Wii version? Does it look better or worse?



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