#322 Donkey Kong Country 3

Posted: 10th September 2019 by Jeroen in Games
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813th played so far

Genre: Platform
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1996
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo

It feels like Donkey Kong always took some weird turns in his gaming appearances. Originally, the ape was Mario’s big enemy, and vice versa. Skipping ahead a couple of years (and, conveniently, this game) he appeared in the Mario Kart series as a racer, the Donkey Konga bongo group of games, the still upcoming Mario vs. Donkey Kong games and a bunch of other appearances.

One of the changes in how Donkey Kong appeared came from the Donkey Kong Country series. Him – and his family members – became the stars of a bunch of platformers by Rare, who were a Nintendo-affiliated studio at the time. The third is the only entry of the series on the list, picked because it’s the biggest and most featureful one – the pinnacle of the series even as the SNES had been replaced by the Nintendo 64.

Our Thoughts

Like the contemporary Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country 3 uses prerendered 3D graphics, sprites created from existing 3D models. It’s a cartoony look that would have looked incredibly advanced at the time and aside from looking a bit pixelly now, it allows for some nice animations that traditionally animated sprites would have struggled with.

That cartoony feel belies the difficulty of the game – at least when I tried to play it. I feel I got some decent distance in when I played, nicely finding some shortcuts and secrets and dealing with a rather incongruous set of levels – a snow level next to some tropical seeming areas seemed a bit weird.  There wasn’t much thematic consistency in it, unlike other bigger platformers, which I guess gives it some nice consistency here. It’s what it is, but with the size of the game it doesn’t matter too much. It certainly gives a bunch of different things to play with early on.

There are several secret caves with bonuses as well, and the world feels incredibly large as you explore. They are still linear, but there aren’t many games of the era that gives you that sense of size. I guess it’s the scale of the game, both in the size of the world and what happens in all the levels, that really stands out.

Final Thoughts

The difficulty of Donkey Kong Country 3 – the mill level got to me – was a bit of a roadblock, but I’m glad to have played and seen what I have. There’s quite a bit of variation and the whole game makes it feel like there’s so much to do. Every level felt different, with three games worth of options going into it, and I hope I’d continue to see more of that.