The last outing for the Kong crew on the SNES was remembered as the weakest of the bunch. Diddy Kong, the star of the first two games, is nowhere to be found, neither is Donkey Kong. Their sudden disappearance has Dixie Kong and, new ‘kid’ on the block, Kiddy Kong set off on an adventure to find the duo.
As soon as the game boots up it’s obvious that the developers wanted to try something fresh. There’s still a classic map that has you moving from point A to B to tackle various levels, but this time it’s not as straightforward. Right from the outset, unlike the previous two games, you can see areas of a rather large map that you can’t acess. In fact, it’s rather quite confusing. You have access to Bazaar’s General Store, where you get to spend your coins on items to help you on your quest. You can also save right away by visiting Wrinkly’s Save Cave. Unlike the previous two games you can save as often as you please without having to use your precious coins you’ve collected to do so. The third option is to visit Funky’s Rentals. It’s here where the game finally reveals its new structure.
To get to the island in the distance you can rent a motor boat from Funky Kong, your local mechanic. When on the boat you press the D-Pad to direct Kiddy and Dixie to the island, though some areas are still blocked off by rocks. Later on you’ll get a Hover Craft to help you pass this section and other vehicles to get access to other areas. It took me about 10 minutes to get to my first stage, as it’s really not all that simple and there’s no tutorial to explain anything. Once in the game it feels all too familiar.
Nothing much has changed. As Dixie Kong you can still spin your pony tails to glide in mid-jump and Kiddy Kong can be used to smash certain objects. You see, Kiddy is not your typical baby. He’s quite big. As before, should you get touched by an enemy, one of the characters will disappear. It’s here, as you’ve done in the past, that you’ll keep your eyes open for a DK barrel to get either Dixie or Kiddy to double up your adventure. Graphically it does look better than Donkey Kong Country 2 and at times looks as good as early PS1 games. The stage design is still a super amount of fun, but the boss battles are terrible and there is serious difficulty spikes throughout your adventure. Thankfully the animals return to save the day.
Ellie the Elephant can suck barrels towards it and throw it at foes, as well as spit out water to dispose of enemies, though you’ll have to jump into water to fill up the water meter; Enguarde the Swordfish will dash you through water levels with ease; Squawks the Parrot can launch eggs and will fly you out of harms way; Squitter the Spider can use his web to create a new walkway for the heroes and Parry the Parallel Bird (that’s the name you get for running out of ideas) will fly above Dixie and Kiddy’s head to grab out of reach items. Miss any of these animals on a particular level and you’ll have a tough time raising the flag when reaching the end.
The K.O.N.G. letters return and will grant you an extra life for finding all four letters on a stage. The ‘extra life’ balloon is still hidden, but you can’t buy any extra lives any more, seeing as you can now save whenever you please. Bonus level barrels are still scattered around the world and 100 bananas will also give you an extra life. Everything just feels too easy. Life’s are plentiful.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble does not quite reach the heights of the first two games, but in a day and age where most of us have become so accustomed to ‘checkpoints’ the ‘save whenever you want’ feature is really welcome. If you’ve enjoyed the first two games there’s absolutely no reason for you to ignore this. You won’t go bananas for this, but it’s no monkey business either.