Top 100 SNES Review: #70 – Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (1996)

The Dumbing Down of America.

And the frail quilt of patched-together, leftover parts. 

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Dixie and Kiddy on a quest to destroy meritocracy.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #70/100
Developer: Rare
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

Cranky Kong is a prescient figure in the Donkey Kong Country series; complaining of video gamers today, he warns how things to use to be harder and how easy we have it today.

I never thought he would live to see the day where it happens to his own family. 

Donkey Kong Quest 3 (DKC3) was a very late installment on an old system — the N64 was released months prior when DKC3 was released for SNES. Because of this, it didn’t garner much attention as many people already moved to the new, shiny system. This is a good thing: DK3, while fun, is a step back from the other two installments on the SNES, mocking us with a false sense of achievement.

[story.] Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are missing! Dixie Kong (gf of Diddy) and Kiddy Kong (Dixie’s younger cousin) set out to find them. They eventually do: hidden in a robot  controlled by King K. Rool. After rescuing them, they release a bunch of banana birds that sing to release a big-mamma, banana bird that puts King K. Rool in a shell.

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Blue Kremlin with the physique goals.

[concept.] At its core, it is still a side-scroller with enemies to attack and tricky jumps to land. What is different is how many collectible things they are: there are bananas, lives, bear coins, bonus stage coins, DK Coins, banana birds, items, and gears. While DK2 upped the ante of things to collect, DK3 becomes your relative who is a hoarder (please don’t get mad Aunt Marjorie, but you can’t even open the front door all the way now).

Of course, there has to be a reason for you to have to collect these things, so the creators made a host of characters for you to show off your stuff to, like bears and birds. All this stuff seems out of place and was reminiscent of xbox achievements — a poorly devised incentive for replay value. It felt like we were seeing the left over parts that didn’t make the cut from previous games thrown together in one stew.

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Big Bird here doesn’t even get introduced until the very end.

[gameplay.] There has been some studies that show that half of all grades given out in college now are an A.  Pair this with the mentality of “everyone gets a trophy” and you can start to see the deterioration of incentivizing hard work. DK3 takes this idea to the extreme: not only are there more collectibles than they should, 90% of them are way too easy to find. The game’s subtitle should have been “You are tired of finding these things, and we are tired of hiding them.”

The fun is supposed to be in learning the logic of the game, how they go about building their puzzles, and progressing with those rules as it gets harder and harder. DK2 had it right: the puzzles in the back end were themes off the ones in the beginning, just with new twists to make them more difficult to find.

DK3, however, has nothing against putting barrels in plain sight. Often, I would make the “hidden” secrets MORE challenging by thinking it had to be something more complicated. I learned that sometimes a bonus barrel in the open is just that: a bonus barrel in the open. DK Coins are held by an enemy that you have to hit in the back with a barrel requiring some machinations. While this seemed promising in the beginning, it ended up being too easy: it always had to be on land meaning there were limited hiding spots (it could NEVER be in water or air).

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This bird was the only new addition worthy of praise: not only do you have to keep your self alive on the ground, but you most avoid baddies in the sky to get the prize the bird holds.

[conclusion.] Like the certificate I got for graduating middle school or the trophy for playing soccer when I was 7, you too will feel the cheap sense of satisfaction when you start to see your completion percentage sky rocket with each new item you find. If you want the bar to be set at “credit for showing up,” then DK3 is the perfect game to augment your value system. If, however, you want a real sense accomplishment born from the blood, sweat and tears of your labor, try DK2 .

Other people’s takes:

  • FTWRuubin: Compared to the other DK games in the series, DKC3 always seemed more lighthearted…”
  • My Endless Notebook: “So thanks to Rare for such an amazing game which I still play!!”
  • Rose Red Prince: “Another DKC adventure, another cracking platformer with oodles of challenge and personality and tons for the obsessive to achieve.”

 

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

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