Donkey Kong Country 3 (Game Boy Advance) Review

By John Boyle 16.11.2005

Review for Donkey Kong Country 3 on Game Boy Advance

Is the GBA dying? It's a question all GBA owners have considered at some point. The outstanding success of the DS coupled with the dwindling GBA support would seem so but at least Nintendo themselves are still publishing games for it. In this case it's the end of the Donkey Kong SNES games with Donkey Kong Country 3. Rare's Donkey Kong series on the Snes was put on a pedestal as the greatest platformers outside the Mario games. But that back in the 16/32-bit era when the only competition was a certain blue mascot that was certainly on the decline. Can this remake recapture the "good old days" for the simian series? Well let us see.

Donkey Kong Country 3 follows the path of Dixie and Kiddy Kong as they set out to find the missing Diddy and Donkey and in turn save the islands from the evil King K Rool. The usual plot and the usual gameplay to go with it, jump through the stage and collect the KONG letters as you go along. DK3 does have a bit more to get your teeth into, namely a few mini games and a trading sequence with bears. This sounds great, but in practice the game isn't as perfect and idyllic as it sounds.

The controls let the "jump and collect" gameplay down enormously as they feel slippy, like walking on ice. Not ideal when precision jumps are required. The camera also leads to quite a few leaps of faith and quite a few hidden enemies and dangers. The hidden dangers often turns levels into trial and error episodes, with you stuttering through the stage dying at several points not due to your own fault but due to an enemy leaping in from stage right.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong Country 3 on Game Boy Advance

There is also the problem of situations where death is inevitable and you have to get past with the temporary invulnerability given when one of your duo dies. Needless to say frustration sets in rapidly. The level design is quite clever at points and was extremely clever back on it's original release, but now we've all seen it in countless GBA platformers. The originality is gone and has left us with a withered shell of gameplay that has been plundered and improved upon countless times. The boss fights are still top notch but sometimes lack direction for the gamer and after 15 repeated plays a pointer would be helpful. Alas we are left to struggle along.

The mini games also have their flaws. The "dojo" games with Cranky are amazingly easy, so much so you will not want to waster your bear coins on it. The boat mini games should be addictive. Racing around on a speedboat collecting mines and shooting enemies out the water should be a highlight of the game but the controls suck the joy out of it. The acceleration leaps from "stationary" to "fricking hell this is fast" thus creating a problem when taking corners.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong Country 3 on Game Boy Advance

The controls themselves are laughable, your boat will swing from one edge of the river to another smashing into the walls until your energy is depleted and you have to restart again and again. The other mini game is a pseudo 3d collect em up similar to the bonus stage in "Sonic The Hedgehog 2" in the "Sonic Mega Collection". This is the best of the mini games without a doubt, great graphics for the GBA and a palpable sense of speed and exhilaration.

The music has received an upgrade from the Snes version and this has the DK community split. Newcomers adore the new music and see it as a marvel that such music could come from the single speaker on the GBA. However those who loved the Snes game despise it and see it as the poorer cousin of the adored soundtrack of the original. It is evident that, regardless of the community view, a great deal of work went into the soundtrack. However it turns out to be a hit and miss affair. Some tracks simply exude the charm of the 16-bit era with toe tapping tunes that will never truly leave you. Other tracks last all of 30 seconds and loop constantly sending the aforementioned community into their gun stash looking to end it all.
Donkey Kong Country 3 creates a mighty conundrum for any game reviewer with regards to the graphics. Play on the GBAsp and the graphics bare almost no relation to the glorious SNES original. The graphics are so washed out that your character sinks into the background and enemies are indistinguishable from the redesigned backdrops. Seems like a routine average score for the graphics but put it into a DS and something wonderful happens.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong Country 3 on Game Boy Advance

Bright well-designed characters romp through a vivid world filled with life and joy. Yes the graphics come to life on the DS. The problem is that this game has been released for the GBAsp and the fact that the DS can play GBA games is incidental. The bottom line is that Rare were lazy when doing the graphics for this, Minish Cap dispelled the myth that all GBA games had to suffer from dull washed out graphics and it's those dull washed out graphics that really detracts from the limited enjoyment of Donkey Kong Country 3. It's hard enough when struggling with the controls, but when you are also struggling to see enemies and your own character.

Recently Rare asked their loyal fans what they would want to see in a DS game made by Rare. They were inundated by requests for a new Donkey Kong game, new Perfect Dark game etc etc. But if they treat those games like they treated this remake then we have to question whether we want their business at all. This is an extremely lazy port with annoying controls, poor graphics and a hit and miss soundtrack. The once unique gameplay has now been bettered by countless games and has left this once great game as a relic of an age now gone. If you have the Super NES version still tucked away somewhere, you'd be doing yourself a favour by dusting it down rather than buying this version.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong Country 3 on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


All in all an outstanding disappointment. Pathetic controls, lazy conversion to the GBAsp, sound woes and the ridiculous lifespan make an extremely poor game and a waste of money. If you want to play this as the gem it originally was, get the SNES version.






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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