We’re back with another edition of Time Warp Thursday here at 3Gem Studios! Today we’re bringing you another great gem, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble, the final installment for the DK franchise for the old SNES. I don’t think I need to prove that this game is great – it just is. So this time around, I’ll give you a short read on why DKC3 is another Grade A title and why the Donkey Kong Country series is a trio of masterpieces.
The gameplay doesn’t change from the previous two games, but you can’t ask for anything better. The solid gameplay of the DK series returns, and this time they’ve added a fresh new face to the group: Kiddy Kong. Much like Donkey Kong, Kiddy is a very big and strong ape, but his bulk makes him much heavier and harder to maneuver. Pairing him up with Dixie, who has more elegance and less give, makes the pair much more balanced. Despite the duo being a good match, I always find myself picking Dixie over Kiddy, as Dixie’s maneuverability makes her much easier to control and her helicopter hair comes in handy more times than Kiddy’s strength does.
While bringing back its difficult gameplay that the series is known for, DKC3 lacks the intensity that its predecessors brought. Most of the levels are pretty straightforward, but they also bring many new things like chase races, mazes, and rope-filled levels, making it much more unique this time around. But again, the lack of difficulty makes these levels fall a little flat, as you can’t enjoy the chaos the game should be bringing. It seemed they went for innovation over difficulty, and it’s a shame that they chose this route instead of combining both to make it feel much more like Donkey Kong of old. Another major change for the game is the map and how you navigate through it. While retaining its original navigation through each world, you can openly explore the entire map (given the right boats) and choose what levels you want to beat. Also, even bonus stages are hidden in the world map for you to find, making the game much more vast and giving you so much to explore.
As always, the game looks fantastic. With its brightly coloured locales, many areas to explore, and giving you the ability to go where you please, you’ll find it easy to be in awe of this game. Even the music comes back as good as ever with a great musical score and awesome sound effects that capture the animation perfectly. While it managed to stay true to its roots on its looks and sounds, it also has a little refinement – things sound crisper, and they added more details around the edges, making things clearer. The Krew at Rare have earned a round of applause for their hard work in making DKC one of the best-sounding trio of games ever created. Even after such a long time, the music just sticks with you.
One thing that bothered me so much, even as a kid, was the setting behind the game. In DKC2, you had to fight your way through hoards of pirate crocodiles in the Kremlin’s home turf, Crocodile Isle, giving it such a darker and moodier atmosphere. Compare this to DKC3, where you venture to bear country in the Northern Kremisphere. The place is inhabited by a group of bears and even Banana Birds, making it feel more fit for a Banjo Kazooie game than a Donkey Kong one. I understand the idea of making something completely different like they did for DKC and DKC2, but it just doesn’t work as well this time around and never gives that extra “oomph” the games are known for. (Sorry, Banana birds.) Like all the other Donkey Kong games, the value is still there even after many years. You can always try to beat your personal scores and best times, or even test your skills by beating the game at 105% to prove your gaming worthiness. It’s always a treat to venture back and see how much you remember from the days of old, making it a blast from the past every time.
While Donkey Kong Country 3 maybe looks like the inferior game in the series, it still brought many pleasant surprises and innovation that we hadn’t seen from past games. Its different setting may have been a little too different, but it’s still a great adventure all around, closing the curtain on one of the most beloved and successful video game families to date. The whole trio of Donkey Kong Country games earn a spot as one of (if not the) greatest trilogies in gaming to date.
A big thank you for all who stopped by at 3GEM this month to see what we had to say about one of our favorite apes around. Be sure to come by again on Saturday, where I’ll talk about the newest installment in the franchise, Tropical Freeze.
This retro review is based on Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble which was originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on November 22nd, 1996.