Having stunned audiences with Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Rare had an awful lot to live up to on the final entry of the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! sees the titular hero take centre stage after being second to the delightful Diddy Kong in the previous game, and as unique as she is as a Kong, Dixie just doesn’t have the same level of personality as Diddy. Joining her is her cousin – and younger brother of Chunky Kong – Kiddy Kong, a toddler who plays and behaves almost identically to Donkey Kong in the first Donkey Kong Country.
Graphically the game is as good as its predecessors, but the environments the Kongs have to overcome aren’t quite as exciting as those that came before. This instalment does feature a free-roaming overworld, though, as opposed to the linear series of paths presented in the past two games — you do feel a greater sense of freedom. There are also secrets hidden in the overworld that weren’t a part of the previous games, so you can’t simply rely on the levels to unlock everything as you could in Donkey Kong Country 2, which adds a nice change of pace.
The bonuses that you have to find are much the same as they were in Donkey Kong Country 2, which isn’t really a point against the game, as the method of attaining said bonuses is so well done that there’s no obvious way it could have been improved. The Bonus Barrels are a little easier to find though, so it’s probably better for those less experienced in the platforming genre.
Speaking of difficulty, this is the easiest one of the bunch. Lives are plentiful and enemies and bottomless pits are few; the levels also don’t have quite the same variety as its immediate predecessor, in particular. Levels in a similar world will often have not only the same assets but feel overly familiar; that could be fine for any normal platformer, but when you’re the follow up to two excellent games — with the second arguably one of the finest games to grace the SNES — a little more effort would have been welcome.
One of the most impressive features of Donkey Kong Country 2 and the original was the amazing music that the developer managed to get running on a 16-bit system like the SNES. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Donkey Kong Country 3. The soundtrack is by no means bad, but most of the songs are largely forgettable with only a few gems hidden here and there, whilst the second outing’s offerings were so much more creative and memorable.
All of these points are not to suggest that Donkey Kong Country 3 is a bad game. On the contrary, it is still one of the best platformers on the SNES, with spot-on controls, beautiful visuals and a handful of interesting new mechanics brought into play. One of these can be discovered early on in the game in the form of doors that have to be housed open and passed under before slamming shut in your Kongs’ faces. It’s something that’s been around in gaming before, but it’s new to the series and adds an element of speed that was previously only really felt in the time-orientated bonus areas.
There’s not much to say about Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! that hasn’t already been said about its predecessors. It’s an immensely well-polished game with an excellent atmosphere and hugely enjoyable levels. It’s just that the game had so much to live up to it would have almost been impossible to succeed Donkey Kong Country 2, particularly. This game doesn’t bring an awful lot of new ideas to the table, but rather feels like an extension of what came before — that should, nevertheless, be reason enough to download it and complete your Donkey Kong Country Virtual Console collection. If you’ve not played the second entry in the series, play this one first so your experience ascends in the most pleasing manner possible.