Backlog Review: Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

By Jake Rushing

Developer: RARE
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 1st, 1996
Platform: Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Wii U
Rated: E for Everyone

After Nintendo 64 was released to the store shelves, Rare had already finished the third installment of the Donkey Kong Country series, and the game got released over 4 months afterwards. The kids who were unable to get a N64 at that time (like me) were treated to Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. The game got released to good critical acclaim, but a lot of players didn’t really seem to care for the third installment of the Donkey Kong Country series. I haven’t gotten an understanding on why some people hate the game. It didn’t seem like a bad game to me as I was growing up, as I used to enjoy it before I got my N64. Looking back on the experiences that I had, I remembered that I would have agreed that it wasn’t as great as DKC2, but I didn’t remember it being terrible. As part of my goal for completing my Super Nintendo backlog, I figured that I’ll delve back into my childhood and play the game with a fairer mindset, just to see for myself on how justified the hatred for the game truly is.

King K. Rool has once again returned to Donkey Kong Country! This time, he managed to capture both Donkey and Diddy Kong and hold them as prisoners. Once Dixie Kong notices their disappearance, she decides to go on a quest to rescue them both from K Rool’s clutches. When she stumbles onto Funky Kong’s shop, Kiddy Kong decides to tags along with Dixie, which the young duo endures the trials to foil King K Rool’s plans once more and free Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong.

What can possibly go wrong?

What can possibly go wrong?

In Donkey Kong Country 3, Dixie manages to keep all of her abilities that she had in the previous installment. She can use her ponytail like a helicopter to slow her fall, while she can’t take on the bigger baddies. Thankfully, Kiddy Kong with his bulkier build can demolish the bigger enemies that Dixie can’t, which revists the duo dynamic that Donkey and Diddy Kong had in Donkey Kong Country. Kiddy Kong can also roll, which can be fun when using that to skip across the water.

The levels in this game are the most unique and well thought out that I have seen from DKC trilogy. Sure, the first Donkey Kong Country had some unique levels, and Donkey Kong Country 2 had more to offer. Despite the fact that the level environments weren’t as variable as they were in the previous games, the design put into each level makes up for it to where every single level turns out to be unique in their own way. What can help set the levels apart in the flavor of Donkey Kong Country without the help of animal critters? While some familiar faces return (like Enguarde and Squawks), some new critters arrive to help out the Kongs, like Elle the Elephant, or Quacks the Parrot. Unfortunately though, Rambi the Rhino fails to make an appearance in the game, which can be disappointing. Despite the choices for critter companions, the levels in Donkey Kong Country 3 had plenty to offer in terms of being unique as well as number of these unique levels (maybe even more than Donkey Kong Country 2), which helps the player to retain their interest throughout the game.

Like the levels in the game, the boss fights are nearly as unique in a way that requires more thinking from the player on how to best them. Even though you have to wait for an opening and take advantage of that opening, finding the weak spot in that opening is part of the fun. The weak points weren’t as obvious, which makes the players stand on their toes more than before. These boss fights are among the most unique, not to mention that they are the most memorable of the series due to the fact that the bosses themselves are well thought out and more creative than the boss fights in the previous entries.

At the very least, the game manages to maintain the difficulty and challenge that was present in all Donkey Kong Country games thus far. Not only were the levels and boss fights unique, but the challenge that is created through the designer’s creative efforts helped set this game apart from the trilogy. This part alone is what sets the bar in terms of creating difficulty through creative design. Even though that this is the most challenging entry of the trilogy, the challenge in this game is kept to reasonable levels without pushing the players to the brink of insanity.

One of the hardest levels around!

One of the hardest levels around!

The music in this game is composed by David Wise and Eveline Fischer, but this time, Fischer did most of the work composing the music. The music manages to set the environment that the players play in with a tone of serenity. However, in terms of ambiance, the soundtrack in its entirety doesn’t appear to hold up as well in comparison to the soundtracks of other Donkey Kong Country series, thanks to the serenity tone that is set in the game. However, there are some tracks that are rather memorable to say the least, where the tone can work well in certain environments. Like water levels for example!

What would the levels be like without the enemies to help combat the Kongs? There were plenty of enemies this time in Donkey Kong Country 3 to challenge the Kongs. There were some that were unique to certain levels, while there are others that are found more commonly in other levels. However, when it comes to King K Rool’s minions that you’d come across often, there isn’t a single enemy that you have encountered in the previous entries. That aspect alone is pretty refreshing at first. However, these “new” common enemies that you’d come across are usually the re-skinned enemies  that you have encountered from the two DKC games. If you have played the previous DKC games (the odds are that you probably have), then defeating the enemies is more straightforward, which is rather unfortunate as it makes this game a little dull.

What do these flying insects remind you of? Hmm maybe a certain bee in the previous games?

What do these flying insects remind you of? Hmm maybe a certain bee in the previous games?

Most of the game play overall was great with the levels and bosses. Along with that, there are some side quests that the player can do that aren’t mandatory, but required to get the final ending and get over 100%. If you’re a player that will aim to obtain everything, then you will find getting over 100% slightly cumbersome at times. Like in the previous games Donkey Kong Country games, when it comes to coin/barrel placement, some coins and barrels are more cleverly placed than others, which makes seeking them just as fun as it usually was in the previous Donkey Kong Country games. However, when it comes to getting a DKC coin, you are required to defeat a certain Kremling to obtain that coin. He’s usually pretty easy; however, some levels require a little more thinking. When it comes to obtaining other collectibles in order to unlock the final ending, it can be cumbersome when you try and rescue the Banana Birds. In order to rescue them, you have to play a game of Simon Says of inputting A,B,X, or Y in a sequential order, which gets progressively harder within each Banana Bird that you rescue. When you get around to rescue the last 3 Banana Birds, it feels that the mini game becomes less of a skill based game for the non-hardcore Simon Says players.

Does Donkey Kong Country 3 lives up to the expectation that Donkey Kong Country 2 has set for the third installment? My simple answer is no. Does it deserve the hate that the players give the game? Absolutely not. While Donkey Kong Country 3 is a decent game overall, it doesn’t quite meet the bar that the more infamous Donkey Kong Country 2 has set. However, some of the bad points in this particular game often get overshadowed by the overall challenge that this game has set from its levels and bosses, which accounts for the majority of the game. If you’re looking for a decent retro game to add to your collection, or if you want a good challenge that a Donkey Kong Country game can deliver, than this game is a good game to pick up. Or if you’re looking for the more portable version instead, they have a GBA version where you could pick it up. Or if you have a Wii or Wii U and you’d rather prefer the more recent consoles, this game is available via Nintendo eShop. If the public can overlook Kiddy Kong’s crying for this game to get released to multiple platform, maybe this game isn’t so shabby after all!

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