Release at the end of the Super Nintendo’s life cycle, well after the Nintendo 64 debut in North American, Donkey Kong Country 3 brings a new Kong adventure onto the system. Using more of the familiar Pre-Rendered graphics that now were starting to loose it’s appeal thanks to the Nintendo 64’s beautifully structured polygons, Donkey Kong Country 3’s reception was (from what I remember) not so great.
Going through Donkey Kong Country 3, which has the much worse subtitle than 2; Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble, it ended up being a fairly middling and safe game. With Dixie taking main spotlight and the introduction of… ugh… Kiddie Kong, the game got a much younger tone to it that didn’t appeal to me as going into my teenage years. I felt like the game was geared to a much younger demographic. Even the game over screen makes me wince as a baby Kiddie Kong and even Dixie are confined to a baby’s crib with Game Over spelled out with child’s letter blocks.
The whole game is much easier and every time Kiddie Kong get’s hit as the only surviving Kong in a level. He falls to the ground and starts crying and throwing a tantrum. I couldn’t stand it as a kid, and even now as an adult, I have to eye roll at how childish it all feels. Later on in the game the levels get harder but the majority of the game is a breeze. Even some of the mini games and bonus sections feel toned way down on the difficulty curve, especially in comparison to Donkey Kong Country 2’s later levels.
I found myself still enjoying the easier levels, and even the basic minigames, like a small game of “Simon” following the pattern of memoizing the pressing of a few buttons in a sequence. The overal story of Dixie and Kiddy Kong hanging around a new overworld that have a very “Summer Vacation at a lake” feeling is actually pretty welcomed. I really enjoyed the more warmer relaxed vibe. The wooded levels reminding me of hikes in the forests of Yosemite and things of that nature always have stuck with me.
One thing I noticed while streaming the game was how the levels felt very disconnected from each other, and felt like a missed opportunity to have a connecting story of some sort. The game jumps from level to level with disregard. No rhyme or reason for being in certain levels. I lamented as to why they didn’t make more of a story connecting everything. Take stroll through the forest as the first level, the second level features going around the inside of a tree, the third level is an auto scrolling level where the tree is being cut down by a saw, which leads into the fourth level in the saw mill, and finally a Barrel Boss battle. It practically writes itself, but these levels aren’t connected in that way. It felt like a missed opportunity more than anything else.
I did find myself getting fairly frustrated at some of the more lame boss levels. Some felt like a very forced gimmick, such as the Elephant that has to hit the eyes of a waterfall (?). Why? Nothing about it makes much sense, and it actually looks very ugly. It’s just a bad boss fight, and I struggled with some of the more obtuse controls in that boss fight in particular.
Out of all three games in the series, Donkey Kong Country 3 is easily on the bottom of the list, but thanks to the charming setting and interesting overworld, and interesting writing (for a Donkey Kong game anyways; Rare were always masters at comedy game writing), it is still a decent game, if not a much easier game than the others in the series. The final levels were tough but fair, and the level that will stick out to me more than anything else is one of the last ones, where I had to run through a forest in a lighting storm, trying not to get hit by the lighting over and over again. It was only thanks to chat pointing out that the lighting gives away it’s hit with a smaller bolt before it stikes a moment later.
I’m glad to be done with the game, since it was the least amount of fun out of the three, but it still has charm to it. Now on to the long… LONG awaited return of the series!