Rare's series of Donkey Kong games mixed impressive visuals with some brilliant platforming action as you ran, jump, swung and swam through a variety of locations defeating those nasty Kremlings, collecting bananas and finding secrets. The Game Boy's three Donkey Kong Land games have previously been re-released via the 3DS Virtual Console, but for New Nintendo 3DS owners you can now visit the eShop and grab the original Donkey Kong Country.
Created using (in Cranky Kong's words) "the latest state-of-the-art 3D workthingys", the pre-rendered graphics used for the characters and locations made the game stand out from the crowd when in arrived on the SNES; rippling, lighting effects and changeable weather added to the visual splendour. Years later the visuals can look messy when displayed on a modern TV set, but shrunk down to the smaller screen of the New 3DS they impress once more. Incredibly detailed, there's a range of locations visited such as the jungle, temples, snowy landscapes and... is that the Ewok village? As always with these New 3DS re-releases there's the option to switch to the original resolution. This can make some elements appear a little pixely, but it makes details pop a bit more and overall is the better of the two display options.
Something that's always impressed with these games is the music and the fantastic collection of tracks are amongst the best the SNES offered. Funky jungle themes, the chilled underwater track and other adventurous and bouncy offerings make this another SNES title where you should take headphones when travelling to ensure your ears don't miss out on an aural treat.
The game is a lot of fun to play through using either Donkey or Diddy Kong to jump across platforms or climb or swing up vines. Other levels offer other ways to get through them, and you can find yourself firing your Kong out of a barrel, using an animal buddy to knock foes out of the way, bouncing of the bonces of enemies to clear a gap and - of course - there are the memorable mine cart stages.
There's the occasional spike in difficulty, but generally it's well-judged with a steadily increasing challenge as you progress. Later games in the series would give you more things to find in the game, but here it's a straightforward run to the end, which provides plenty of entertainment along the way. Once cleared there's added replayability in trying to find all the secret rooms to push up the percentage number on your save file. Candy Kong and her save point appear every few levels which isn't ideal when playing portable, but of course the usual Virtual Console suspension/restore point functions are present should you need to interrupt your gaming session.
The two-player modes are available with controller switching done using the usual Z and Y method. In "Contest" you simply take turns tackling the levels whilst "Team" offers co-operative gameplay; player one is Donkey, player two is Diddy. As you need to switch controllers (and pass your New 3DS to your friend) you have to make sure you tag them in where there is no danger of an enemy wandering into them. Should the Kong change from a hit rather than a tag, the incoming player remains frozen and invulnerable until a button is pressed; that's smart, as this prevents you both being taken out before the second player has had chance to do anything.
One of the best looking games on the SNES is now one of the best looking Virtual Console titles on New 3DS. Fantastic music adds to the appeal and the gameplay remains fun as you work your way through the variety of levels either just to see the ending or replaying in order to get 101* completion. Donkey Kong Country is another highly enjoyable download for the New 3DS.