Donkey Kong Land III Review
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.