Many of you will know that Retro's Wii classic Donkey Kong Country Returns is being remade for 3DS by Monster Games, the studio behind the likes of Excite Truck and Pilotwings Resort. More accustomed to racing games (they have made three NASCAR games) than running apes, it was perhaps a surprise to see the company in charge of remaking one of Nintendo's greatest 2D platformers of recent years. However, as you're about to learn, it was actually Monster Games who were behind the project from the start.
The game is also being supervised by Hiro Yamada whose Nintendo career dates back to The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. He also has Donkey Kong credentials, having appeared in the credits for Donkey Kong Country 2 and Diddy Kong Racing.
More recently he has been Nintendo's supervisor, having worked with Monster Games on Pilotwings Resort and Excite Truck, plus Kuju on the Battalion Wars games. He spoke to us about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, revealing that Retro were impressed with the game. He even teased their next project!
Donkey Kong Country Returns focus on foreground/background interplay seems almost too perfect for 3DS did you secretly plan a 3DS port all along?
Hiro Yamada: Actually, we hadn't planned for this from the beginning. We felt that the DKCR graphics matched well with 3DS, but the hardware specs were very different. Because of this, we spoke with Retro who also said that it would be difficult to do a straight port. The truth is, it all started when Monster Games ran it as an experiment after DKCR was completed.
The game was originally designed for the big television screens, full of big, hectic action. Did you have to pare any of it back to avoid confusion on the smaller screen?
HY: The screen size was something of concern, but we decided that it wasn't such a big hindrance after actually playing it. Therefore, we haven't had to pare back any of the action.
Our only real problem with the original game was using the Wii Remote waggle to roll. For our tastes, it felt a little imprecise for the time trials. Do you think the game plays better with button-only controls?
HY: Personally speaking, I wasn't very good at the Wii Remote motion controls, so I think it has (improved). I'm sure other users who found the motion controls difficult will feel that the controls have improved.
The original game was brutally hard in places. Have you tweaked the difficulty at all for the 3DS version?
HY: Yes, we have prepared a new mode which adds one more heart and gives more help items so that users who could not complete the Wii version can get to the ending in this one. However, the landscape and enemy placement haven't been changed.