After all these years, I finally got to play Country 3. While the DK series never got quite as popular as Mario or Kirby, it turned into a decently large series in its own right. The games are always fun and they are pretty consistent. This one may be the weakest in the trilogy, but it’s still a good game that has a solid amount of replay value and the campaign length is fair.
There’s no real plot to this game unless you read the booklet. You just start off on the adventure as Dixie Kong and her partner Kiddy Kong. The two of them blast away at bosses as they go through each world. Eventually, you defeat the last boss and find Diddy Kong and Donkey Kong. It turns out that they were kidnapped while they had been dreaming about bananas. It’s a pretty big twist since it turns out that they were also controlling one of the many murder bots that had been chasing the heroes for a while. I don’t think DK will be able to talk his way out of this one!
You can’t really call spoilers on this considering that there is virtually no plot. The gameplay is why you’re playing a DK game anyway. It has the standard jumping and avoiding obstacles as well as some extra features. Dixie Kong can glide which you can use to cheese quite a few levels. Kiddy Kong can perform a roll which knocks out most enemies. Various animal friends will also come out to play. You can transform into a bird which lets you fly or into an elephant which can be pretty neat. Unfortunately, the elephant is afraid of mice so prepare for a lot of stopping. It’s usually better not to use the elephant, but you aren’t always given a choice.
There is something about the gameplay that does make it less engaging that the average side scroller. Granted, Mario and Sonic set the bar rather high. I think it is due to the fact that the DK levels are typically a little more slow paced. You can blast through the ones that are horizontal, but the vertical levels must be taken at a slow pace or you will hit enemies before they even show up on the map. That definitely wouldn’t be any fun now would it? Unlike Mario where you just jump along and hope for the best, you must use some more strategy and carefully decide what to do. If you lose, prepare yourself for the long climb back up at times since there are periods where you must wait.
Still, it’s definitely fun and the game does have a good difficulty curve. It starts off rather easy and by the end it gets a little harder. It never gets too insane though and ends up having a nice balance of “fun” and “tough”. The bosses are usually tough until you figure out what you are supposed to be doing. Once you figure that part out, they get quite a bit easier to deal with. The final boss definitely took me a few tries as I would beat one phase, but then die on the next. I did this again and again until I finally conquered all 5 phases. It was a well made boss fight.
For replay value, there are a lot of coins to collect. You’ll want to focus on the DK coins and the Gold Coins since the silver ones appear to be unlimited. The DK coins are obtained by defeating the shield wearing Kremlins. You must throw a barrel behind them in order to defeat this minion. It usually involves a fun puzzle. The Gold Coins are obtained by completing the B Barrel challenges. They are fairly quick, but mess up and you’ll have to replay the level again to give it another whirl. One unfortunate part about collecting these things is that there is no way to check which levels you have already done. That means you have to manually check them out and complete the challenge again to see if the Gold Coin is still around. This can be a little tedious if you plan to grab them all so you should have a notepad on hand.
Also, beware of the boat guy. He builds you a new boat after every few worlds so that you can travel to new ones. On the final expedition, he’ll ask for 50 Gold Coins. It may seems like you need to get them to make it to the final world, but you can actually go up the waterfall with your other vehicle. I’m sure that it’s a fun post-game vehicle, but you should at least be aware of the fact that it is optional. That’s probably a good thing since grabbing 50 Gold Coins would take a very long time.
Graphically, the game holds up well. Kranky Kong taking out his sunglasses at the end was pretty intense and all of the level designs look decently good. I do wish that more of the levels took place outside though. The best looking ones were the early beach levels. I didn’t care for the factory ones quite as much since the dark backgrounds and colors made everything a little harder to see. The brighter levels had a tendency of looking a lot sharper. As for the soundtrack, it was all right. Unfortunately, I can’t say that any tunes were memorable, or even all that good to be honest. It is certainly not ready to go to Mario levels of awesome quite yet in this regard.
Overall, Donkey Kong Country 3 is a decent way to end the trilogy. It’s a fun game, but I don’t think that the gimmicks worked all that well. The fundamentals were sound though. I would have preferred to have DK be the main character and we could have just had Dixie replace Diddy. Based on the dialogue, Dixie may actually be a little more intense than Diddy Kong. She got some good burns in on King K Krool. (I don’t see why the guy is a fan favorite. I never cared for him all that much as a villain) Diddy Kong basically spent the game being starstruck so he didn’t do much. I didn’t like Kiddy Kong at all, hopefully he’ll be better once he grows up a bit. More of a plot would have been fun to flesh out the characters…or at least an opening cutscene to show DK being kidnapped. The bosses are nice and imaginative and the game has a good amount of replay value. If you don’t have this game yet then I definitely recommend it. You don’t need to compare it to the other side scrollers and you can just enjoy it for what it is. A fun little game that help beef up your Nintendo collection and DK knowledge. Now I’m one step closer to being caught up with the series.