News Article

Kensuke Tanabe Highlights Potential Return of 3D Donkey Kong Games

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Retro Studios used the Metroid Prime engine for Returns on Wii

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze arrives on 21st February, and combines the established skills of Retro Studios with many of the outstanding foundations laid down in Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii. It may not be the game or franchise that some of the most vocal of Nintendo fans wanted, but it has the potential to be a terrific 2D platformer on the system.

Returns certainly maintained the overall DK Country feel, yet was still a distinct evolution from the iconic Super NES titles. Speaking to GamesTM magazine, the President and CEO of Retro Studios Michael Kelbaugh explained that "the challenge is always how to keep the original style that the fans expect; yet introduce something new and exciting." In interesting follow-up comments when discussing the new 3D camera in Tropical Freeze and its ability to broaden the DK world, Kelbaugh explained how work on the Metroid Prime Trilogy influenced and was directly linked to the platformers.

With every game we make, we get better. In that sense, yes, the experience we gained working on the Metroid Prime franchise was invaluable.

Specifically answering your question about 3D to 2D, what you may not realise is that we constructed the levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in very much the same manner as we did the levels in Metroid Prime. However, levels in Returns and Tropical Freeze are much, much larger and more detailed. And I'll share this with you; we used the Metroid Prime engine and tools to develop Returns, so technically, the lessons learned on Metroid Prime were directly applied.

Kensuke Tanabe, the producer of Tropical Freeze that's worked extensively with Retro Studios, highlighted that the plucking and lifting ideas in the new title can be traced to his one and only directorial project, the original Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic — which would become Super Mario Bros. 2 outside of Japan — with some enemies that can be picked up and thrown. On the subject of the 3D aspect to Tropical Freeze, and Kelbaugh's explanation of the Metroid Prime engine and tools serving as a platform, Tanabe-san 'mused' on the future potential for Donkey Kong to return to the 3D adventure roots that Rare made possible on the Nintendo 64.

Maybe the Donkey Kong series over time will also feature both 2D and 3D like as in the Super Mario series!

The style of the next Donkey Kong Country title would also depend on the game design.

While the Metroid Prime series awaits its next entry from Retro Studios — if it actually arrives — it's intriguing to learn that the DK titles have been a process of evolution for the Texas-based studio, rather than an entirely different, fresh departure.

Are you looking forward to Tropical Freeze, and would you like to see the return of 3D DK adventures?

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User Comments (67)

VincentV

#1

VincentV said:

I never knew that. Interesting. I wonder if Nintendo will adopt a universal game engine for all their developers.

Spuratis

#3

Spuratis said:

Donkey Kong x Metroid. The most unlikely duo of Nintendo characters team up to save the universe in a glorious 2D/3D adventure...

Anyyyways, it'd be cool to see what Retro could do with a 3D Donkey Kong, but I'd much rather see DK get a rest for a while before they start that venture. That being said though, I really like the DK games, returns being my favorite. I have DK:TF pre-ordered and can't wait to play it. I'd just like to see Retro work on a different franchise, be it Metroid or not.

Yasume

#5

Yasume said:

I'll take anything Donkey Kong related. Would love to see a DK 64 reboot one day.

allav866

#6

allav866 said:

DK 64 holds the record for most collectibles in a video game. If a reboot were to happen, it should try to live up to that standard.

TreesenHauser

#7

TreesenHauser said:

I can't wait for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze! And yes, I would love to see a 3D Donkey Kong game.

FUN FACT: I was actually more enthusiastic for Tropical Freeze this past Holiday season than I was for Super Mario 3D World, until the former got delayed.

kenzo

#9

kenzo said:

Lets get straight to the point.

When is DK Tropical Freeze being ported to the 3DS. !!!!!!!

PrincessEevee9

#10

PrincessEevee9 said:

I rather have more Donkey Kong Country games than other Metroid game since the series hasn't had an entry since the 90's and then we got the amazing revival with Returns. While since then the Metroid series has had multiple entries.

Dpullam

#11

Dpullam said:

I would love to get the opportunity to play another 3D Donkey Kong game! Donkey Kong 64 is pretty incredible.

sketchturner

#12

sketchturner said:

I think it's awesome that my two favorite game series--DK & Metroid--just happen to be the only series that Retro Studios have worked on. They're an amazing company.

the_beaver

#13

the_beaver said:

Oh well, that would be amazing! A 3D DK is definitely what the series needs to evolve. They should try someday.
But with that said, I think the next couple of titles Retro must be thinking of doing should be a next entrance of the Metroid series (not Prime, that miniseries finished already, but as good as this was), and a brand new IP, created by Retro without being controlled too much. I think they deserve it after all they have done... Give them freedom so we can see what they are capable of doing.

LtAldoRaine

#14

LtAldoRaine said:

Oh,man,a new 3D DK game would be awesome. I love DK64. But,I don't think it necessarily has to be like 64. I just would like if the DK franchise wasn't ONLY a side scroller platformer,as much as I love DKC.

Goginho

#15

Goginho said:

I just read the title and immediately came here to comment on how thrilled I am to read such a title 8D hihi
Although, tbh the potential was always there imo, if they pulled off DK64 generations back, they could obviously pull off an immense (and immensly great :P) experience on the Wii U, and this is something that should always be normal to consider, not just some "potential return". Still, I'm excited nonetheless as to having read that title, seeing as how a 3D game has been kept in silence all this time, and this goes to show they truly haven't forgotten about it, so now it's time to read the article :P lol
Man, if they pull this off, and if they learn from their past mistakes and improve upon some of the tedious little annoyances that DK64 had ..then...then....Nintendo will have it all again (for me at least). This is all I need. The stuff I grew up with, the stuff that got me into gaming. The Marios, the Zeldas, Star Fox (c'mon make it happen), DK in 2D and soon in 3D again (hopefully), plus the occasional PC game from time to time (although less and less in recent times :/ meh). All others are irrelevant.

Captain_Toad

#16

Captain_Toad said:

Ya, 3d platformer would be nice! Mario has barely got any competition on the 3d front of platforming these days heh.

steamhare

#18

steamhare said:

This article is confirming 3D Donkey Kong and 2D metroid from Retro. If I lie to myself enough, anyway.

K-Gamer

#19

K-Gamer said:

DK 64 was an amazingly addictive game. Would love some sort of sequel to it in years to come. Plus DKC: TF has potential to be the GOTY for WII U.

bizcuthammer

#20

bizcuthammer said:

I've wanted another 3D Donkey Kon game for over a decade now. When Retro announced Donkey Kong Country Returns, i was a little disappointed it followed the SNES DKC games' style rather than DK64. Donkey Kong 64 is by far my favorite DK game. If Retro announced a 3D DK as their next game, i would love that even more than a new Metroid Prime.

3D Adventure/Platformers are my favorite genre of games, which sucks because it's a dying breed outside of Mario (and even then the plumber is trending toward a 2.5D hybrid). I miss the days of the N64/PSX when those games were all over the place. I also miss Rare, because they made the best ones in DK64, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie and Conker.

ueI

#22

ueI said:

Well we've only ever had 1 3D DK game. So yes, I'd like another.

DestinyMan

#25

DestinyMan said:

I would love a Donkey Kong 64-style game. I even literally dreamed of a 3D Donkey Kong for Wii U once, and it was a bit like Super Mario 3D World, but hopefully if this ever comes to fruition it would be free-roaming. This would also be the game in which the Kremlings would finally return and maybe even Kongs like Lanky and Chunky. Honestly, I would be more excited for that than any Metroid game.

For now, I'm excited for Tropical Freeze and I personally believe it'll be even better than Returns!

ULTRA-64

#27

ULTRA-64 said:

@bizcuthammer I am fully with you on this, as an n64 gen kid, I loved that style of game. It's such a shame they are dying out! Weirdly the one 3d platform game I never got around to was dk64 so I feel like I have one in the tank. I'm bored of 2d platform games by now after rayman/trine/nsmbu....I can't even bring myself to buy the Luigi expansion pack yet. And yeah , I'm going to just say it..... Mario 3d world is not the game I was hoping for....amazingly fun, but everything is so small and I want to explore a big world!!

LUIGITORNADO

#28

LUIGITORNADO said:

Didn't the first two primes run on a modified version of Unreal Engine 2? Not sure about the third one, but I would think it would be the same.

TruenoGT

#30

TruenoGT said:

All these retro-gameplay games are cool, but I was hoping we were done revisiting the past for a while, not just moving to a more recent past (from NES/SNES-style 2D platformers to N64/PSX-style 3D platformers)...

drumsandperc92

#31

drumsandperc92 said:

loved DK64, would rather see a new game like that for DK's next entry. But a new Metroid Prime style game is much more enticing in my book!
Still don't own a Wii U. SM3DW definitely had me thinking about it but other than that I'm still holding out! DKCTF is also something i'd pick up if i had a Wii U but is by no means a system seller for me.
I was glad during the Wii era to see Nintendo revisit 2D platforming, but now I'm left wanting more 3D platforming again.

FoghornLeghorn

#32

FoghornLeghorn said:

@bizcuthammer Totally agree.

Not sure why there is so much excitement for this new 2D DK.

It looks the same as the 3DS game, which was prettttty similar to the Wii game. That said, I thought the same about Mario 3D World vs. 3D Land and was pleasantly surprised. I guess time will tell.

DarkKirby

#33

DarkKirby said:

If you like them that's fine, but for me, I'm quite sick of Nintendo making one 2D platformer after another. I want actual 3D games with a free moving camera.

Prof_Elvin_Gadd

#34

Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

@DarkKirby (Perhaps you know this, but just a quick refresher) 2d Platformers went away for a while years back and fans started clamoring for new ones after what seemed like an extended hiatus. This is when Nintendo busted out the "New Super Mario Bros." series, and the rest, as they say, is history. The platformer genre holds some of my favorite games ever, but I tend to agree with you here. Too many of them gets tiring, and while I am looking forward to Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, my excitement isn't as high as it could be due to this.

If it would have been a new 3D DK? I'd be going bananas. ;)

rjejr

#35

rjejr said:

I'm not exactly a fan of 2D games - blame it on Spyro - so I'ld be pretty excited for a 3D DK as DKCR was pretty good - but hard. Open world games tend to be easier as you can usually just take your time and go around obstacles. Mario 3D games have always seemed much easier to me than the 2D versions.

I just started playing R&C:Into the Nexus last night, I can imagine a Retro DK game looking like that.

AJWolfTill

#37

AJWolfTill said:

Having been raised on N64 I would be very dissapointed if we didn't get Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Embracing your past is fine and featuring 2d perspective levels and sections is fine but I wish Nintendo wasn't so obsessed with it's 2d era past.

ricklongo

#40

ricklongo said:

The original Donkey Kong Country series on the SNES is one of my all-time favorites, and as such I'm immensely excited about Tropical Freeze.

Usually I'd much rather have a 2D entry in this particular series than a 3D one (unlike in other franchises like Super Mario). That said, after Tropical Freeze I'd definitely want a new 3D collect-a-thon Donkey Kong game. Some variety never hurt anyone. :)

FoghornLeghorn

#41

FoghornLeghorn said:

@datamonkey I was being sarcastic with the "prettttty similar" comment :)

The point is that this Wii U version looks like more of the exact same with a couple new playable characters. Not worth getting overly excited about in my eyes. Maybe all that shows is that I simply didn't love the game in the first place.

Daisaku36

#42

Daisaku36 said:

A 3D DK from Retro Studios would be pretty cool, we probably won't see it happen, though.

erv

#45

erv said:

3d donkey kong, with the mountain scaling and climbing and stuff, was brilliant. I sincerely hope that the dk64 and beyond route will take hold in the future.

Frapp

#48

Frapp said:

Wasn't a fan of any of the Rare Donkey Kong games. Collectathons in 3D are even worse than in 2D.
I'd love Nintendo to revisit their earliest success and see Mario take on Donkey Kong again: a full-blown, crazy, platforming-centric 2D Wii U game that has some DK '94 and Mario vs DK elements; some scrolling levels, some static; mix in some Donkey Konga and Crash Course levels, plus new uses of the GamePad. Put EAD Tokyo in charge and it could be the best platformer ever.
No more collectathons, please.

T7L3R

#49

T7L3R said:

I like the DK games much more than 2D Mario games (I just can't get used to 2D mario physics). So a 3D DK game would definitely be something I would watch...it'd be tough to beat the galaxy games tho...those are masterpieces. I'd love to see a new Metroid soon too, 2D or 3D wouldn't matter to me as long as they kept the story a la Other M out of it...

2Sang

#50

2Sang said:

I wouldn't have minded if DKTF was a 3d dk game, but since it's essentially a 2d rehash of a game 3 years back makes it trash.

Nintendo6400

#51

Nintendo6400 said:

If they make a donkey Kong game like the one on N64, I would be OK if they did not come out with a new metroid.

midnafanboy

#52

midnafanboy said:

i would love to see a new dk 64 style game for the wiiu or make a remake but dk 64 hd or dk 64 U or whatever they want. still im excited for this game

Extremist

#53

Extremist said:

Would LOVE a new3D DK title! A DK64 HD remake for WiiU or a port for 3DS would also be great! Even a VC release would be most welcome! I just can't get enough Kong! :D

JaxonH

#54

JaxonH said:

And so, the third and final entry in this new Donkey Kong Country trilogy will be titled Donkey Kong Country 3-D... It will complete the DKC trilogy and finish out the series with a 3D entry. Or so I can dream...

Back to the real world. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is nearly upon us, and soon we will rejoice in the goodness of the monkey madness. Bramble Scramble awaits!

Chillama

#55

Chillama said:

I just want Metroid U!!!! (sad face) (not thrilled on retro studios decision)

brandonbwii

#56

brandonbwii said:

It's like everyone expects Retro Studios to be more like Rare, where they work on more than one project at a time. I don't think that would ever be the case.

Actually, I don't want another Metroid Prime, nor do I want another Other M. Those are yesterday's news. I would just like yet another Metroid that mixes things up again while maintaining the quality of the Prime series.

maximo_jd

#57

maximo_jd said:

I've been saying for years i'd like to see Metroid take a Dead Space/Resident Evil 4 camera approach. Almost like a Survival-Horror Action Platformer Shooter lol. I really got that vibe in Other M when the camera pulls over Samus's shoulder.

Ichiban

#58

Ichiban said:

Am i the only one who wants a Metriod game using the same controls and 3rd person view from Nintendoland? Or even a Megaman game in that style! Potential is there waiting to be had!
As for a 3D DK adventure, hell yeah! I miss the big epic platformers of the n64/gcn era sooooo badly!

DarkCoolEdge

#59

DarkCoolEdge said:

Yeah, Tropical Freeze is "the" game I've been waiting. Of course I want X, Zelda, Smash et al but Donkey is the one that has me more excited.

I'll wait for it playing 3D World, New Mario and New Luigi.

It's curious that they used MP's engine on DKR. I don't care what their next game is as long as they make the one they want.

DarkNinja9

#60

DarkNinja9 said:

so this is there defense to those who commented on retro not bring us metriod and such a while back? :P

@Ichiban i would like that too in fact i thought at least they would have already a game in development with those ideas but i guess not

Guovssohas

#61

Guovssohas said:

Yes please! A DK64 style dk game would be awesome, with tons of stuff to collect and secrets. I really miss those 3d collect a ton platformers.

Pod

#62

Pod said:

That DKC Returns used the Prime engine was known since the Iwata Asks, so what I'm more curious about is whether their new game is made on an entirely new engine, or a fleshed out Prime engine utilizing the two extra CPU cores and the new GPU.

herooftime

#63

herooftime said:

Depending on the day, DK64 is my favourite N64 game and I've been dying for a new 3D Donkey Kong or a new Diddy Kong Racing since the days of 64. Although, I loved Returns so I can't wait for Tropical Freeze (but would love the kremlings to come back)

turbo409uk

#64

turbo409uk said:

@kenzo
They claim that it would be very difficult to port it to 3DS
http://www.gengame.net/2013/12/donkey-kong-country-tropical-freeze-qa/

Would you consider porting this title to the 3DS? Would that be a hard process?

Kensuke Tanabe: Minneapolis-based developer Monster Games ported the Wii version of Donkey Kong Country Returns to Nintendo 3DS with Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Even Retro praised Monster Games for successfully porting the game without compromising its quality. In fact, Monster Games was involved in some of the level design, art, and engineering of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze; they did a phenomenal job. However, if we were to port Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze to Nintendo 3DS, it would be extremely difficult to not lose quality, even for Monster Games, because of the huge differences in the 3DS and Wii U technical specifications – more so than Wii.

kenzo

#66

kenzo said:

@turbo409uk

Thanks for that link.
http://www.gengame.net/2013/12/donkey-kong-country-tropical-freeze-qa/

The previous Donkey Kong Country Returns is a very faithful port from the Wii to the 3DS. It was a really unexpected development, and lost next to nothing in visuals and gained in game play aspects.

Maybe in a year or two - depending on the maturity of the 3DS and WiiU, we may see a developer port Donkey Kong Country Freeze to 3DS.

Difficult but not impossible. Just the challenge for a new Nintendo developer to make a name for themselves. And, the commercial reality is that it must appear sooner or later on the more successful 3DS platform.

Monteisq

#67

Monteisq said:

The only reason I haven't bought a wii u is because there's no 3d donkey kong not one but there's plenty of Mario 3d doesn't make since I think the Mario is better 2d and donkey kong is better 3d

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