As it was ported down from stronger hardware, there were some reduction in quality. The game runs at 30 fps instead of 60 fps and the graphics were downgraded significantly to fit the 3DS resolution. Since the 3DS would be awkward to shake, the motion controls have been designated to the X/Y buttons. In addition, new items were added to make the game easier including a crash guard to take an extra hit on mine-cart and rocket barrel levels and a green balloon to save you from falling. These gameplay changes were continued in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
The game rewards completion of the game with an additional world of 9 levels with the 9th being the original's bonus level. There is co-op multiplayer but it requires two copies of the game.
It received several positive reviews from critics with Metacritic giving it a 83 and GameRankings giving it a 83.51%.
By March 31, 2014, the game sold 1.52 million worldwide. 331,437 units came from Japanese retail.