(Game Boy)

Game Review

Donkey Kong Land III Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Brody Olimar

Monkey business is serious business.

Back in the day, taking your console gaming experience with you on the go was a big deal. The prospect of getting your daily dose of video game wherever you may happen to be was definitely one of the many driving forces behind the Game Boy, and, with the popularity of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo, fans were no doubt pleased with the coming of the Donkey Kong Land series. Chime in Donkey Kong Land III, the third and final installment of the portable trio that gave Game Boy owners their prime cut of Donkey Kong at a moments notice. Cover up your bananas, because K. Rool is back in town.

Although the game bares a strong resemblance to its Super Nintendo counterpart, Donkey Kong Land III is actually an entirely different experience. You still play as both Dixie and Kiddy Kong on their quest to rescue incompetent fellow apes, DK and Diddy. However, this time your trip will be full of all new levels and challenges. Six worlds, each with six levels, make up a truly meaty game. Not to mention side games and challenges. The only real problem about it all is that in true Rareware form, Donkey Kong Land III is a bit of a treasure hunt. The optional stuff is fine, but unfortunately you cannot gain access to the final world without collecting every special coin hidden in each level. A real drag on an otherwise spot-free experience.

Other than collecting, you’ll be romping through each level simply to get from point A to point B. Some levels, like underwater portions of the game, are more maze-like and present a bit more exploration to the game. Outside of that it’s just a fight to stay alive. If you take one hit, you’re dead. Thankfully, if you’ve cracked open a DK barrel recently your fellow Kong will come to your aid and help you finish a level. There are also checkpoint barrels at the midpoint in each stage, which helps make the difficulty more palatable. But don’t expect this game to be a pushover, it’s quite a challenge.

The game controls fairly standard for a platformer. The A button controls your jump, and the B button controls your attack, as well as certain context sensitive functions such as lifting and throwing barrels. If you transform into an animal buddy via the crates scattered over certain stages, you’ll gain new powers as well. The interface is simple, possibly due in part to the low amount of buttons available on the handheld. But what it has works well, and ultimately that’s all that’s important.

Graphically the game is quite impressive for it’s platform. The developers did a nice job of translating the beautiful pre-rendered models from the original into black and white sprites and backgrounds. Despite the lack of color, the game still looks great thanks to excellent animation and expressions from the characters. The levels also feel diverse, thanks to truly altered design rather than pallet swaps. The music is also a good parallel to the original, with some tracks even surpassing their original content.


Donkey Kong Land III is the great example of classic portable gaming. The experience one would expect from the series on home consoles was almost perfectly emulated over to the Game Boy, with plenty of new content to appease the fans. It has its faults of course, and if you're not keen on collecting lots of different items in order to progress then may not have enough willpower to see the game to the very end, but those who stick with it will be rewarded with one of the most enjoyable platform adventures on the Game Boy.

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User Comments (21)



Corbs said:

This was a very solid GB game considering how ambitious it was to bring this series to the GB. Great review!



Bass_X0 said:

I never bothered with this. I had the SNES game so I figured I didn't need the handheld version. I did get the original Donkey Kong Land since I knew it was quite different to the SNES game but the two sequels just seemed like reduced clones of games I already owned.



warioswoods said:

I didn't play this one either, but I did play the first DKL and loved it. Why was the third chosen to review? Is it the best of the set?



Other_Dave said:

@warioswoods I don't know if that is the reason but it's my favourite of the DKL games and I prefer it to at least two of the DKC games. I like it so much I own both this version and the Game Boy Color release.

However as much as I love the game I agree with the collecting criticism: I hated when I blasted through the levels and then found I'd have to go back to collect all the coins to get to the final world - it was something I planned on doing but only after I'd cleared the game first.



ICEknight said:

I personally think this is by far the weakest of the three... And I can't believe the review says it's got great animation, cause it stinks compared to the others (sure Dixie's animations might look good, but they just reused her from DKL2).
I didn't like it a bit back when it was released, even if I did enjoy its prequel.



Mario_maniac said:

Oh, wow... I haven't played this in years. Adding this to my list of games to buy! = 3

I only ever had problems in the snow levels... I found it difficult to see, what with the black-and-white colours and lack of backlight. That problem should be rectified on my Game Boy Player. _



RaviC said:

This game is one of Rare's best handheld games. Also, does anyone know if the Gameboy Player plays with Super Game Boy Enhancements?



Jazzem said:

@RaviC No it doesn't I'm afraid :(

Nice to see the Donkey Kong Land games getting acknowledged on here, they were the next best thing for my SNES-wanting six year old self!

3 was the one my neighbour had as I remember, whilst I had 2 and another friend had 1. 2 was one of my favourite games growing up, and I enjoyed the others also, though like the SNES trilogy I think 3 is the weakest. Still fun all the same though!

Did anyone here play/own the Japan-only Game Boy Color version?



pixelman said:

The graphics look too messy for me. They should've gone for a more clean style.



Rawk_Hawk said:

I tried playing a DK country game on the Gameboy and it was too hard to tell what was going on.



Olimar_91 said:


It was chosen because it's the only one I've got. Not just in the series, but actually the only gameboy game I own. Pretty sad.
I'd love to track down some old games I used to play, or want to play. Sadly they're hard to come by these days.



Other_Dave said:

@Jazzem "Did anyone here play/own the Japan-only Game Boy Color version?"
Yep (see previous post). It's not the best conversion to colour as only one colour is used on each of the characters, enemies and objects. I think overall the game is enhanced by the colour but the GBC port of Donkey Kong Country looked a lot better as you'd get multiple colours on leaves and stuff where as for DKL3 leaves would just get one shade of green.




Hmmm, looks good. But I dont think its as good as DKC for GBC. One of my first games. Still love it today. It is amazing for an 8 bit game



Slapshot said:

Love all 3 of them. Though the 2nd DK Land is my fav.
@Other Dave.... dang u you just added a holy cow I didnt know about that game and now I have to have it, but that is a good thing cause I really love the 2D DKC and DKL games.



Ricardo91 said:

Are there any major differences between the DKLs and the DKCs? I don't plan to get any of them, since I'm not a big fan of DKC, but I'm just curious. It would seem these games would be pretty redundant now, what with there being pixel-perfect ports of the entire DKC trilogy on GBA.



CowLaunch said:

I don't really agree that it was an 'entirely different experience' to the SNES version, but it does vary more than the second one.

The graphics are well realised compared to DKL where they seemed to have tried to port the rendered graphics directly to the GB with messy results.

DKL2 is very good if you haven't played the SNES version, but it's unlikely that you'll find it easily whereas DKC2 is obviously on VC.



Adamant said:

@Ricardo91: "Are there any major differences between the DKLs and the DKCs?"

DKL and DKL3 are new games, DKL3 having some definite parallells to DKC3, but it's still unique. DKL2 is largely a downgrade of DKC2 with lots of changes to the levels, all of which are for the worse.

So yeah, DKL3 - can't stand it, sorry - it's by far the weakest of the DKC/DKL saga. The review praises the "diverse" levels, but fails to mention the extreme focus on "level themes" - basically, there are ten or so different themes a level can have, and the vast majority of levels within the same theme will feel extremely similiar. Besides the two toboggan levels and a select few others, like the rocket barrel waterfall, there's nothing unique to separate the different levels. The themes are unique enough, but once you enter a level and see which theme it offers (which can immediately be seen from the graphics, since each theme has a different set of level building blocks), 9 times out of ten it's going to be pretty much a harder version of the last level of the same theme you played. It's incredibly dull, and an insult to the DKC/DKL series, which has always had distinct and unique challenges offered by each and every level, making you constantly want to see what's coming next. In DKL3, this is deegated to "I wonder if the next level is going to be "Generic jungle level #3", "Generic Factory level #2" or "generic cave level #6"?" Blech.

Oh, and the secrets are notably much less cleverly hidden than they were before, too. You generally just stumble over them while trekking through the level and keeping your eyes open, which was most certainly not the case in the prequels.
4/10 from me. A massive disappointment.



HaNks said:

I had the first Donkey Kong Land, the one with the yellow cart, but didn't see any point playing the others, i as I had/played the SNES verions. amazing games! way ahead of the curve when they came out.



stromboli said:

Ohhhh, I'm playing this right now, and the game is long and hard. If I have to go back and collect coins where I missed, I'll never finish the game. How do I know where I missed coins?? Oooof.

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