[DKC 3 Title Screen]

[The Opening Stage]

System: Super NES
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Designer: Rare
Release Date: December 1996
Genre: Action/Platformer
Players: 1 or 2
Save Feature? Yes

In my opinion, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble was the last truly great game to come out for the SNES. The intuitive stage design and smooth gameplay complemented the outstanding graphics and atmospheric music in this third DKC go-round. With its Bonus Coins, DK Coins, and Banana Birds, DKC 3 might hold the crown for the most bonus content as well! Although it didn’t quite reach the lofty heights of the legendary second DKC game, DKC 3 is still immensely enjoyable and was a fitting end to the glorious 16-bit era.

Overview: The third and final game in the original SNES Donkey Kong Country trilogy is a bit of an enigma. The game itself is wonderful and is yet another treasured video game experience to be sure. However, I have noticed over the years that there are an alarming number of gamers who do not even know about a third DKC game being made! Ask anyone who grew up during the SNES era and most of them will reminisce about the groundbreaking original DKC game or its outstanding sequel. You tend to get blank stares when bringing up DKC 3 though.

The main reason for this phenomenon is probably that, at the time of DKC 3’s release, the brand new, state-of-the-art Nintendo 64 console was the hottest ticket around (it was released three months before DKC3) which naturally caused the Super Nintendo's popularity to wane...a lot. Despite the remarkable popularity of the DKC series, the timing of DKC 3’s release could not have been worse (despite it coming out right before Christmas...ordinarily the perfect time to release a new video game). After all, between a brand new Nintendo console (in a bundle with the ultra-popular Super Mario 64 game no less) and a new Super Nintendo game, which option do you think most kids selected back in 1996?

Regarding the actual game itself, DKC 3 looks and plays a lot like the previous two DKC hits but still contains enough intuitive gameplay elements to keep things fresh and interesting. For example, unlike in the first two DKC games, you can actually move freely in the overworld map and explore/interact with your surroundings in DKC 3! This is a lot of fun too as there are a plethora of secret caves and passageways (not to mention the Lost World!) that can only be found through meticulous exploration. The area you can explore gradually grows larger as you are able to upgrade Funky Kong's boat with items such as wrenches and skis too. It gives DKC 3 a slightly RPG-esque feel at least in regards to the main overworld.

As far as bonus items go, DKC 3 is an absolute feast for completionists because there is a lot of meat to be had here. DKC 3 is similar to the second DKC game...with a twist. While the Bonus Coins can be found in bonus stages like before, the DK Coins can no longer be obtained by simply searching for and touching them. In DKC 3, there is a Kremling hidden somewhere in every single stage of the game who actually guards the DK Coin. This Kremling is cunning enough to wear armor and he cannot be touched by regular attacks. Only by throwing steel barrels and hitting him while he is distracted (i.e. holding his shield upwards at you while the steel barrel hits him in the side) can you obtain said DK Coin. This might sound easy enough but some of the DK Coins require pinpoint precision and a little out-of-the-box thinking to snag. This strategic element is a nice complement to the massive exploration that was required to find the DK Hero Coins in DKC 2.

In addition to bonus coins, there are also mysterious beings called Banana Birds that are locked away (quite literally!) in the vast world of DKC 3. These elusive Banana Birds can only be found by locating hidden caves and secret passageways in the main overworld or by speaking with the Bear Brothers and trading rare items you find in exchange for the precious birds. However, in most cases, unlocking the location of a Banana Bird isn't quite enough because once found, you will have to copy crystalline movements in the correct order (reminiscent of the old "Simon Says" four-colored gamepad) to completely free the Banana Bird from its stone prison. This "crystal" mini-game is very easy early on but becomes more intricate and tricky the further into the game you get so be prepared to do some serious memorization!

I touched on it above but the Bear Brothers are also a fun new addition in DKC 3. All you need to know about the Bear Brothers is that they can be found throughout the overworld and that they each have different personalities and are drawn to various things (such as rare flowers or shells). Some of them subtly give you important hints too (Blunder Bear anyone?) so speak with them often! They certainly add a unique element to this particular DKC installment and some of them can be quite funny too!

[One of the awesome racing stages!]
[The overworld map]
[Cascading waterfalls]

Graphics: No matter how many times I play the classic DKC trilogy, the computer-rendered graphics never get old. The bold colors, the intricate attention to detail, and the unique atmosphere/personality that the graphics gave each DKC game was quite impressive and the third game is no exception. What impresses me most about DKC 3 is that Rare was still able to come up with some way cool original elements and create all-new stages despite seemingly exhausting their resources in the first two games. Everything in this game just feels fresh and the scenery is truly breathtaking at times. I still remember playing this game for the first time and being “Wowed” with the waterfall and snow stages in particular (the K3 "snow" world is a personal favorite of mine). Everything from the scenic underwater stages to the rustic factory levels looks gorgeous and the visuals are truly better in this game (and series!) than anything that the N64 or PSOne had to offer. I believed this back during the SNES era and I still believe it today.

As always, the animated graphics were fantastic in DKC 3. This is particularly the case with some of the stage hazards like the one where a saw literally chases you up a tree. The "race" stages that involve you riding a vehicle of some sort feel very fluid and give you a real sense of speed as well. You have to think that some of the old Battletoads crew was involved in this area of DKC 3. And like usual, the characters and enemies exude personality (although in Kiddy Kong's case, I got tired of his crying sound real quick). The various barrel-shaped enemies that chase you on ropes and those really buff Kremlings (the ones that taunt you if you try to stomp them with Dixie Kong and go flying when Kiddy Kong hits them!) are particularly hilarious! And the final scene of the game (if you can manage to get 103%) is incredibly funny! Also worth mentioning is the simply astounding background animation in DKC 3. Cascading waterfalls, lightning flashes, and even the underwater animation just sparkles on the screen. Rare did themselves proud all the way to the end in the visual department...that's for sure!

Music: Like the graphics, the music in the SNES DKC trilogy truly gives each game a completely different feel. Perhaps it was because different composers were involved (David Wise, who put together the masterful DKC 2 soundtrack, was only a secondary composer in DKC 3.) The original DKC game was very atmospheric and its music fit the game like a glove while in DKC 2, there seemed to be more of an emphasis on melody and sheer "epicness." In DKC 3, the music gravitates more towards the first game yet has its own unique vibe. It is easy-going and ethereal for the most part although some of the music (e.g. the Riverside Race stage) truly gets the adrenaline pumping. For some reason, several tracks or parts of various tunes remind me of Battletoads for the NES. And while none of the music really stands out as all-time great music (like Aquatic Ambiance or Bramble Blast from previous DKC games), everything is still very pleasant and fits this particular game extremely well. Like its predecessors, DKC 3 has a great atmosphere and, while it feels much more "chill" and easy-going than the more epic DKC 2, it still works here. And although I will attempt to explain the game's music, this is truly a soundtrack that you have to experience firsthand to really appreciate.

In any case, the first stage of the game set the tone nicely with its laid back tune while the second stage has a simple-yet-catchy underground vibe. Skidda's Row (the initial snow stage) has a mysterious feel while the waterfall stages feature very relaxing, beautiful music. Conversely, Riverside Race (along with the other "race" levels) features a fast-paced, upbeat tune that is easily one of my personal favorites in the game. Even the cave stages feature pretty enjoyable (and catchy!) music.

The overworld themes are also excellent tracks that just set the right mood for the game in general. They are so calm and, as my brother would say, "Chill-axed." The underwater music, while not in the same class as Aquatic Ambiance, is still very good while the Mekanos factory-themed tracks are fierce and gritty and sound quite impressive. And the boss music, including the final boss battle, all have pretty solid tunes. DKC 3 is just very unique in terms of its music. While it isn’t all that memorable outside of the actual gameplay experience, it fits this game like a glove.

Play Control: Once again, the third DKC game delivers smooth, easy-to-learn controls. Dixie Kong returns from her DKC 2 romp so jumping and using her hair to fight enemies and helicopter through the air feels exactly as it did in DKC 2. Kiddy Kong is also pretty easy to control and feels like a lesser version of Donkey Kong. The ability to team up and throw a character returns from DKC 2 and the animal friends in this game have very simple controls as well. Honestly, there just isn’t much to report here which is fine by me!

[Yikes! This tree is being sliced apart!]
[Fish Food Frenzy!]

Challenge: Once again, if you have any previous DKC experience, you should have a pretty good idea of what you can expect in DKC 3. The main game itself is probably a little easier than DKC 2 but finding all of the secrets and attaining that elusive 103% is probably on the same level as DKC 2. Some of the later stages (Lightning Look Out definitely comes to mind!) are truly challenging and there are some pretty clever secrets in the Lost World in particular. Even veteran gamers will have a tough time with the Tyrant Twin Tussle and Swoopy Salvo levels...let me tell you! The newfound ability to interact with your surroundings in the overworld adds a new element and finding everything is a bit more difficult than one would suspect. Naturally, a game with a whopping 85 Bonus Coins, 41 DK Coins, 15 Banana Birds, and a full-fledged second final boss battle is going to give the game an impressive amount of replay value as well! DKC 3 is probably right up with DKC 2 in terms of the number of secret items within the game. Heck, this game might even have the most secrets in the series!

Storyline: Well...every game has to have a weakness, right? While the first two DKC games were at least passable in regards to the background story, DKC 3 just struck me as odd in this area. If you recall the DKC 2 story, Donkey Kong was kidnapped by King K. Rool which left Diddy Kong as the only one who could truly fit the hero role. This concept was actually quite original and I could appreciate the irony of the hero getting kidnapped instead of the typical princess/damsel in distress. In DKC 3, however, Rare decided to take it a step further by having BOTH Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong getting strung up! This truly irked me (How could both of them get kidnapped...at the same time?!) and naturally raised the question of who you would play as in DKC 3.

Well, Rare partially got it right but only partially. The only logical choice was to allow Dixie Kong to be the main hero (or is it heroine?) since she supported Diddy Kong in DKC 2. And she does in fact star in this game which turns out okay. Despite the ludicrous notion of Donkey and Diddy Kong being lazy enough to get kidnapped, Dixie was a fine choice and is probably one of the best female heroes out there. I mean, who else can use their hair to attack enemies or dares to trash-talk their enemies (you get to witness this towards the end of the game)?

The real question was who would support Dixie Kong as backup. Since Donkey and Diddy Kong were out of the picture, you would think that Funky Kong would be the right choice. Everyone loved Funky Kong and he was oh-so-cool to boot. Heck, even Cranky Kong would be an amusing option! He would have to finally back up all of his trash-talking about "beating the game in an hour and finding everything" and he and Dixie could have a fun chemistry between them. Either of these two options would probably work in DKC 3. So what was Rare's final decision?

Enter Kiddy Kong. Sigh...Kiddy freaking Kong. Instead of Dixie Kong having a really cool secondary character that could enhance the overall game, we get...a baby/toddler. I honestly have NO idea what Rare was thinking here but this ended up being their one and only blunder in the otherwise near-perfect SNES trilogy. At least Funky and Cranky Kong are in the game (Funky Kong plays a pretty key role too) but still...I just hated that we got such a forgettable secondary character in this game.

[Some of the goofy Kremlings in DKC 3]
[Gotta climb fast!]
[Ellie's weakness...]

Funfactor: Despite my Kiddy Kong rant, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble is still a rich, rewarding 2-D platforming video game experience. It took positive elements from the first two games and added a few things here and there to keep the gameplay fresh and original. The racing stages and unique challenges like having to feed a fish to avoid getting attacked or swimming with reversed controls show how intuitive the developers at Rare were back then. Granted, DKC 3 probably isn’t the best game in the series, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that this is still a great video game. It suffers a little bit from “Mega Man 4 Syndrome” (i.e. a great game that had the misfortune of having to follow two legendary games in Mega Man 2 and 3) but still holds its own nicely.

With that being said, however, the fact that this game has such a weak secondary character actually prevents this game from feeling as epic as the first two DKC hits. It is just so hard to take any game seriously when you have a toddler on your team. Dixie Kong rocks and she holds her own nicely but this game could have really used a more hip/cool secondary hero.

In any case, definitely play this game if you haven’t experienced it already. It is a must play and, despite the game's one flaw, what truly makes the Donkey Kong Country series tick in its wonderful gameplay. From the Jungle Hijinx stage in the original game all the way through the final flight of the Banana Birds at the end of DKC 3, this series is so much fun and is truly “more fun than a barrel of monkeys.”

Negatives: Kiddy Kong!!! Not to beat a dead horse but WHAT WAS RARE THINKING?! Everything that they did up to the third DKC game was sheer genius and I had no problems whatsoever with the characters until Kiddy Kong's inclusion in DKC 3. A baby monkey as a main/secondary character is simply a lousy choice for any hardcore platforming game and, while he functions within the game just fine, Rare could have done so much more in this regard. I love the DKC series through and through and I still absolutely love playing DKC 3, but this game could have been even greater with a better secondary character.

On a different note, while DKC 3 is still a worthy addition to the DKC library, it seems to lack the epic feel of previous games...mainly DKC 2. The music, while wonderful within the world of DKC 3, isn’t quite as impressive as the masterful DKC 2 soundtrack. And the story is just plain goofy really. It was okay having Donkey Kong get kidnapped in DKC 2 but having him and Diddy Kong get swiped in DKC 3 is just absurd. Other than a few gripes, DKC 3 rocks because the gameplay itself is truly outstanding.

[Dixie and Kiddy trying to get the DK Coin!]

Ratings: Graphics: 5.0* Music: 4.5 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.6 Storyline: 3.4 Funfactor: 4.7 Overall Score: 26.7 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!


Last Updated: February 14, 2015
WebMaster: Matt Hull tigmo55@yahoo.com
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