When the original Donkey Kong proved immensely popular, Nintendo decided to ride off its success and create a sequel changing the roles, making Mario the villain and Donkey Kong Jr. the hero. What is surprisingly not well known, however, is that there was a third game after that. While the next logical next might have been to allow you to play as DK himself, what actually happened is a bit strange.
While the first two games were straight up platformers, Donkey Kong 3 is more of an action game. There's also no Mario (or DK Jr.) to be seen anywhere — instead, you play as a completely new character called Stanley. DK has invaded your greenhouse, and you have to fight him and his army of bugs with your trusty insect repellent.
In each level, DK will be clinging on to two vines at the top of the screen with bee hives on either side, which he will punch to release insects that will come down, attempting to steal the flowers at the bottom of the screen. Stanley of course won't stand for this, so he can move around below, and spray clouds of insect repellent directly upwards. You can kill all insects on a particular level to advance to the next one, but a generally faster way to progress is to just shoot DK — forcing him off the top of the level will get you to the next one as well.
At first, you'll go practically uncontested doing this, and each level will be a piece of cake, but like any good arcade game, on subsequent loops the game will get harder and harder. More insects (and insect types) will start appearing, they'll move faster and, eventually, DK will start throwing coconuts at you. Once you get far enough, it'll become incredibly hectic, with insects and coconuts flying everywhere trying to kill you and steal your flowers — once the last flower leaves the screen you die, so be careful not to let that happen!
As you might expect from a NES port of an arcade game, the graphics and music are fairly unimpressive, as was the case with the previous two games. They get the job done, but they're not groundbreaking.
Sadly, despite the retro charm, Donkey Kong 3 tends to get old pretty fast. There's almost no middle ground in the game — it starts off too easy and then very quickly becomes too hard. The levels are over in a flash, and since there's only three of them, you'll be running around the same locations a lot.
Donkey Kong 3 is a strange departure from the gameplay of its predecessors, but unfortunately it just didn't turn out very well; Stanley's insect spraying never quite gets as entertaining as Mario's barrel jumping and DK Jr.'s vine climbing. Perhaps it's not that many people don't know the game, but rather that they choose to forget it ever happened?