Review: Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! (SNES/GBA/Wii VC)

At last, the Rareware Kong Train has rolled into Lake Orangatanga Station for Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. This final entry in Rare’s DKC trilogy hit the shelves the year after Diddy’s Kong-Quest. It boasted an open overworld, a handful of side quests, and even better graphics than DKC2. Although not as popular as its predecessor, DKC3 was a fine addition to the series as the SNES era came to an end.

This time around Donkey Kong and Diddy have gone missing. Suspecting that the Kremlings are at work here, Dixie makes her way to the Northern Kremisphere where the original duo were last seen going. While there, she visits Funky Kong who suggests that she take along her cousin Kiddy, a huge baby in pajamas. The mechanic then lends her a boat to get started on her search, not seeming to care about the repercussions of leaving an infant in the care of Donkey and Diddy’s only hope. As the Kongs travel through the tropical paradise and industrial sites of the region they learn that the Kremlings are indeed involved in whatever is going on, and they are being led by someone known as KAOS.

A bit of a rehashed plot, but the old Donkey Kong Country series wasn’t known for the story. As with the other two games, the formula of completing several levels in order before facing off against the boss of the area is left intact. However, this time you are given some freedom on where to go between each level. The world of Donkey Kong Country 3 is much more open than in past games, allowing you to visit the local bear brothers or find caverns that contained trapped banana birds. The bears sell and trade items or information to the Kongs, usually resulting in another banana bird for Wrinkly Kong’s Save Cave. She’s an old, retired school teacher and deserves a companion or ten while her husband is out spending his pension on Swanky’s bonus games.

And then she died and haunted DK Island

There are eight worlds – nine in the GBA version – each containing five levels, a boss, a bear brother, and at least one banana bird. They start out pretty natural and scenic before unfolding into factories and sewage lines. Their purpose is unknown, but KAOS is surely behind them. Past that are the mountains, seemingly safe from industrialization but just as dangerous to travel around. While the locations may not be as out-of-the-ordinary or strange as on Crocodile Isle, like with Krazy Kremland and the Zinger nest, some places come pretty close. Then again, DKC3 has its own style, contrasting the dark and serious tones found in Diddy’s Kong-Quest with a bright, colorful overworld and cartoon-ish sprites. More so in the GBA version.

Example A: Big-eyed Klap-Trap thing.

Anyhow, one thing you’ll quickly notice is that the levels here seem to take longer to get through than in previous installments. Instead of being able to clamber up ropes, swing from vines, and scamper through every one, you will have to sometimes stop and do something, or simply wait for dangers to pass, to carry on. Like in the second level, Doorstop Dash, you need to hang off levers from the ceiling to open doors temporarily. Then there are other levels that push you to go as fast as you can like Ripsaw Rage or Riverside Race. Every level offers something new, even if there’s a palette swap of the setting.

Returning from DKC2 are the bonus barrels, DK Coins, animal buddies, transformation barrels, and the fabled Lost World. The bonus barrels lead to small mini-games that earn bonus coins, which have the same function as last time: opening up levels in the Lost World. The DK Coins unlock a little something special once they have all been collected, and the animal buddy crates are seldom seen, being replaced by transformation barrels to become them.

The controls are easy to pick up, as would be expected in a Rare game. Dixie brings back her hair spin to glide through the air and Kiddy Kong plays like Donkey Kong except that he can hop on water after rolling off the edge of a platform. He can also break cracked planks if Dixie throws him. Unfortunately, Kiddy is one the reasons DKC3 gets so much flak from haters. They don’t like the fact that Donkey could easily replace the kid, not to mention that not many people enjoy the prospect of dragging along an infant on any adventure. The rest of the reasons that crop up range from the repetitive plot to the lack of quality found in the soundtrack to the few appearances that the animal buddies make. The arguments in short: Rare changed it, now it sucks. While it is a matter of preference, I have to disagree. Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is an excellent game and although it may not be on par with Diddy’s Kong-Quest, it’s still a great game in its own right. The graphic style may not be as “real” as in previous entries, but it’s definitely eye-catching. There are two different soundtracks, one for the SNES and one for the GBA port, something that may anger fans who liked the original version more. Both have their good tracks so it’s just a matter of partiality.

The thing about DKC3 is that it experiments a little. Rare tried out some new ideas to keep the game interesting and they succeeded to some extent. Getting everything is challenging, but like with any Rare game it’s worth coming back to at some point. The only problem is that the Nintendo 64 came out some months before and it overshadowed this game. Maybe if Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble had come out before the N64 it could have had more recognition. As it stands, DKC3 was left to accompany the SNES into its final days as technology marched on. Thankfully, it’s available on the Virtual Console now so gamers can grab it up at their convenience.

As for the GBA port, it’s a controversial landmine. More challenges were added as was another world, but a lot was changed. Getting banana birds by going through Sonic 2-like tunnels with slippery controls wasn’t exactly a good idea. Sound effects were changed or added for almost everything, a ten second track played for failing a bonus stage (the SNES one is only a couple seconds), and Wrinkly decided to drop everything and live in a temple. She wasn’t really needed since saving could be done from the pause menu although she still had something to do with the banana birds. On the upside, Cranky got a dojo and the overworld was more detailed. It’s a mixed bag but if you’ve never played Donkey Kong Country 3 before, I highly suggest picking up the SNES version.

About SmashQueen

Staff writer for ACGV.