Retro Weekends – Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

Here we are, the final game in the Donkey Kong Country trilogy for the SNES. If you missed out on reading about the other two games, go back and read them here and here. To summarize, both games somehow found ways to avoid me. DKC1 stopped working, and I never owned DKC2. But what of DKC3? Well, this is the only one in the trilogy that I still own on the SNES and still works. I haven’t played it for many years, but trust me when I say that I played it a lot since it was the only one in my possession and working. Join me as we explore one of the last games released on the SNES.

In The Shadow of a New Era, The Kongs Go North

Having been successful in saving Donkey Kong, Diddy, Dixie and DK decide to relax and go fishing. But suddenly Diddy and DK go missing. Dixie goes off to search for them in the Northern Kremisphere. Funky Kong introduces Dixie to her cousin, Kiddy Kong. Funky gives them a boat, and off they go. DKC3 was released late in the SNES’ lifecycle, right at the dawn of another release, the Nintendo 64. By this point, the novelty of 3D on the SNES sorta wore off as people were amazed at what the N64 was capable of producing. After a stellar performance of the first and second game (especially), DKC3 would have its work cutout for it. In the end, DKC3 did okay. Critics and fans liked the game, but felt that DKC1 and 2 edged it out. So DKC3, while fine, met this kind of reception due to 2 previous games being better, and the N64 wowing audiences.

First Contact

Like the first and second game, I found out about this one through a commercial. But this time it was the DKC3 commercial. I was like “oh snap, a 3rd game. Gotta have it!” So I asked my mom if I could have it for Christmas. I wasn’t sure if it was me or my mom that ponied up the money for the game. But come Christmas time in 1996, I got not only Donkey Kong Country 3, but Super Mario Kart as well (we’ll talk about that one next week). The big draw here was that it was a new, in the box copy. It was awesome as all the games I got beforehand were either used or passed down to me, and it was all just the cartridges. Here, I was finally holding a real SNES game box, complete with manual, game, and a bunch of papers convincing kids to ask their parents for a subscription to Nintendo Power. When school resumed in January, I brought the game box to school (You think I’m dumb enough to bring the actual game and get it stolen?). All the kids were amazed that I got DKC and SMK for Christmas. They asked me how the game was and I told them it was cool. It was like being the popular kid. I then I had to hide it before I the teacher realized I was cooler than her.

Memorable Moments

Normally many gamers would remember entire events or groups of similar stages. But here, one stage comes to mind: Ripsaw Rage. I was aware of this stage from the attract mode that showed the stage in action. I was like, “ooooooh crap.” When I approched the stage on the map and saw the words “Ripsaw Rage” on the bottom of the screen, I knew exactly what this was. I started the stage, and the nightmare fuel began immediately. The pivoting back and forth of the saw, the sound of the saw teeth cutting away at the wood, the enemies that were devoured by the saw without hesitation. This stage was like Castle Crush, except this was auto-scrolling and touching the saw meant losing a Kong. Not only that, the passages in the trees were narrow, and you had, in some cases, very little time to get from one tree to the next since the “doorway” to the trees were small.

Next up was Lightning Lookout. I remember first seeing this stage in the commercial (you can see it up there). I was wondering when this stage would show up. Turns out it was in the last area of the game. You had to move your ass from the start as standing still meant getting bolted in the ass. You were given a warning where the next strike would hit, but you only had one second to react. You could defend yourself with a barrel or stand under an enemy. Like a dumbass, I thought hiding in the water would keep me safe from a lightning strike. Unfortunately, Pokemon wasn’t released yet to teach kids that water conducted electricity, and I learned the hard way to stay out of the water in this stage.

Lastly, getting the Banana Birds. In all honesty, I ignored them in my initial run as I thought they didn’t count toward anything. That and I didn’t know how to get more of them nor how the button puzzles worked. After some messing round in one of the secret caves, I figured out it was pretty much a game of Simon after I looked closer and saw A, B, X, and Y in the colored leaves. So I followed the pattern and saved a Banana Bird. As I found more, the button strings got longer. I said screw this and got me paper and a pencil and wrote the letters down.  After getting the sweet gyrocopter from Funky (after getting all the DK coins), I went to the clouds to the upper left of the map and OWAH GIANT BANANA BIRD! Basically, this Mother Banana Bird wanted her children back and to kick K. Roolenstein’s ass. So, I got the rest, and it was time to trap him in an egg.

Memorable Music

So, we’re back here again. Last time I talked about Donkey Kong Country 3 music, I said that it was only really good if it was combined with its GBA counterpart. Well for now I’m here only to praise and not condemn. While there are songs that really don’t stand out, others have gained notoriety in their own right. This time around, Eveline Fischer was the primary composer for DKC3 while David Wise stood back, contributing some songs to the mix. Here’s some that I still remember to this day.

Rockface Rumble
Composer: Eveline Fischer

Considered by many to be DKC3‘s Stickerbrush Symphony due to everyone remembering this game for one song (though some would beg to differ), this served as the climax of the game. Of all the level types presented to you in the game, the mountains were the last type. This is the first time the Kongs tackle mountain climbing in the whole series. While yes they have encountered mountains in the past, the actual climbing part of it was never really represented as a stage. The song itself has hard tribal-like drumbeats, with bits of synth coming in. Then… the chorus. Damn if only that part was longer! You know those songs where you listen to the song only to wait for the kick ass chorus to come in? This is one of them. This stands as one of the shortest-but-coolest guitar solos heard in videogame music.

Nuts and Bolts
Composer: Eveline Fischer

As I said in the Soapbox last time, this is a huge departure from Fear Factory. While fear Factory was a dance party, Nuts and Bolts was a heavy metal concert. The factory was a very intimidating place to be in. I mean, you have Kremlins with guns, one of them sniping you from god knows where for an entire stage, murderous bazooka crows, huge vats of lava… And the background for the stage was creepy. The factories of Kremcroc Industries looked like they were well lit and, if anything, look a bit more like a construction site. Here, everything is dark and brooding with light only being provided by the sparse lightbulbs and the vats of lava pouring around. I’ll admit, these were some pretty scary places to play in when I was little. At least the animal buddies were there to help me… before I messed up and they ran into a vat and burned to a crisp.

Special mention goes out to Wrinkly 64. When I first heard the song as a kid, I thought nothing of it. But when I went to my cousins house to play his new Nintendo 64 and  Super Mario 64, I heard Peach’s Castle theme. I spent nearly a year trying to figure out where I heard that song before. Then I smacked myself and figured it out.

And that’s it. That’s the entire DKC trilogy for the SNES. Today, I still hold the physical SNES copy of DKC3 with no plans of getting it on the Virtual Console. By default out of all the DKC entries, I still hold the most memories of this game. Since we’re in the Christmas spirit, next week we’ll talk about the other game that I had gotten in Christmas of 1996: Super Mario Kart.

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