Thursday, May 20, 2010

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (SNES) Retro Review

My brother and I played through the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, and boy are our arms tired! Did that joke even make sense? Well, what does make sense is that it's time for a retro review. Our game this time is Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble. Long name, good game.

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Trouble.

The year was 1996. The Super Nintendo held a long reign of dominance, but it was dying out to the brand-new visual prowess of the Nintendo 64. Released right after the world was blown away by Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble was the final installment in the incredible Donkey Kong Country trilogy. Did Dixie and Kiddy Kong give the trilogy its proper send-off?

With King/Kaptain K. Rool defeated and nowhere in sight, a new leader has risen to take charge of the Kremling army. Its name is Kaos, a robotic menace bent on defeating the Kongs once and for all. Dixie Kong arrives at her usual vacation spot to learn that the Kremlings have taken over. The hairspinning Kong isn't along in her adventure as this time newcomer Kiddy is along for the ride. It's up to the two of them to take down Kaos, drive out the Kremlings, and save the area for Kong-kind. Again, the story is just a small piece to the overall game. It's merely an excuse to run through the various level and stages the game throws at the player.

A wet start to a wild vacation!

Donkey Kong Country 3 has more to do than anything other Donkey Kong Country game before it. Yes, there are more than forty levels to explore and conquer, but there are now secret caverns hidden on the world map. These contain Simon Says-esque puzzles in order to obtain banana birds-- crucial to getting 103% completion in Donkey Kong Country 3. There's also a family of friendly bears who Dixie and Kiddy will initiate trades with either for new items or banana birds. As new items are obtained, Funky Kong can fix Dixie and Kiddy up with new vehicles to reach new, otherwise unreachable areas of the world map.

The 40+ levels in DKC 3 are quite varied. The duo of Kongs will visit mills, traverse the treetops either in or around a gigantic tree, race along the riverside, enter stone cold factories, go bobsledding inside a large tube, scamper up waterfalls, and even swim underwater inside lakes. Each area of the game of which there are eight houses various levels to explore as well Kongs to help you along your way. Wrinkly Kong returns as the means of saving your game while Swanky Kong pits you in heated competition against Cranky Kong to see who can hit the most targets within the time limit. Each area concludes with a boss battle. These are all very diverse compared to previous Donkey Kong Country games. You'll be tossing insects into the mouth of a belching barrel to send him careening over the edge before he has the chance to knock you off your side, chucking snowballs at a very unfriendly snowman, and poking fun at a giant barbed crustacean.

Some Prevacid would help this boss out.

More specifically, the levels are consistently sending new gimmicks your way. One level you'll be racing up a tree while a giant ripsaw is on your trail, another you're dodging the fireballs and bazooka fire of various enemies as you climb ropes, while another you're inside a rocket-propelled barrel that's set to self-destruct unless it gets the fuel it requires. Much like the second game in the series, the difficulty level here is a gradual one. Might I say though that this installment is most definitely the toughest yet!

If you've played a previous Donkey Kong Country game before, you know how it works. You have two Kongs, Dixie, who can hover over large chasms with her ponytail, and Kiddy who acts like a much heavier Donkey Kong. One Kong is quick while the other moves slowly. The two can work in conjunction with one another to throw each other at enemies, reach higher platforms, or break through cracked floors. If a Kong takes damage, the other Kong steps in. If that Kong takes damage, you lose a life. DK barrels, placed throughout the given levels, bring back a missing Kong. Thankfully, there's midway point continue barrels, so there's no need to redo the entire level if you mess up near the end.

DK Coins are obtained in a different way in DKC 3.

The Kongs get by with a little help from their friends, and in this case we're talking about animal buddies. Three animals return from previous games including Squawks, a parrot that carries the Kongs and can shoot out nuts at foes, Enguarde, a swordfish used for underwater levels, and Squitter, a spider that can shoot webs at enemies as well as create platforms out of the webs it spins. New animals include Ellie the Elephant who can carry barrels with her trunk, suck up water with her snout, and shoot them at baddies big and small. Then there's Parry the Parallel Bird who hovers directly above a given Kong. If a Kong jumps, so does Parry. If a Kong falls, so does Parry. The bird stays perfectly parallel with the Kongs. Sometimes, the Kongs will find barrels that turn them into one of these creatures for some accelerated animal antics.

In DKC 3, players can just run through the game if they want, but they'll be missing out on the loads of optional content. Hidden treasures like DK Coins and bonus barrels await persistent explorers. This time around, DK Coins are uncovered by snatching them from a creature named Koin. You can only defeat him by attacking him from behind, usually by tossing a barrel over his head, having it bounce off the wall, and back into his backside. Bonus coins are grabbed by winning bonus barrel games. These games are all timed and require great skill to win. Some include collecting all of the stars in a room, grabbing 15 green bananas, defeating all of the enemies, or just making it to the goal. In addition to the seven normal areas, there's an optional Lost World full of exceedingly difficult levels, but it's the only way to unlock the true ending of the game.

This Lost World finale is one challenging level!

Donkey Kong Country 3 is a much more colorful game than the oftentimes drab DKC 2. The pre-rendered character models still look competent if not a bit dated. The backgrounds have a lot going on in them from water effects to bugs buzzing in the background. The game usually runs at a steady clip with little in the way of slowdown except for particularly busy areas of the game. The soundtrack is without question the weakest the trilogy has to offer. There's plenty of catchy tracks, but overall it's worse than what the original DKC and Diddy's Kong Quest provide.

All-in-all, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble is a very worthwhile addition and conclusion to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy. It's full of challenge, great graphics, and plenty of content to play through. Being able to play cooperatively where one player plays as Dixie while the other plays as Kiddy only sweetens the deal. Most players will spend five or more hours trying to complete everything. The lack of the original two Donkey Kong Country stars, DK and Diddy and a less-than-perfect soundtrack are tough pills to swallow, but other than those caveats, if you're looking for a great way to cap off the DKC trilogy, look no further than the Super Nintendo original version of Donkey Kong Country 3.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]


CM30 said...

Donkey Kong Country 3 is a great game, but it never quite lived up to the second one, and seemed like it was experimenting with a whole lot of new ideas, some of which weren't quite as well thought out as others (see, Rockt Rush or whatever). But I'd agree with your review in general, it's a good game, the graphics are great and the bosses are far more interesting than in the other games in the series (yay, no palette swaps!)

Pity the music never was quite as good as the second game. Like the boss music, I swear it was a bit too calm and didn't quite have the catchiness of Boss Bossonova in the previous game.

Unknown said...

All very good points!
Thanks for the comment!