As the Nintendo 64 launch beckoned, there was one remaining Donkey Kong Country adventure to come out – the third and final in the trilogy until Donkey Kong Country Returns slammed onto Wii later in 2009. With the Nintendo 64 nearing, it was sadly overlooked by many on release although the Wii U’s Virtual Console provides a welcome opportunity to see what you may have missed out on.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is set not long after the second game, both Donkey and Diddy have disappeared – leaving Dixie and her cousin Kiddy to search the Northern Kremisphere in order to find their friends.
The gameplay runs the same as before, with Dixie being able to hover while Kiddy is more of a heavyweight character. As such, using the team attacks, you can use Kiddy to destroy heavy blocks or platforms in order to gain access. This also means that Dixie is slower when carrying Kiddy and while he is a bit of a bizarre choice of character, it allows for some new mechanics to be introduced. Controls remain incredibly tight and responsive, drawing on Rare’s development experience across the trilogy.
Animal Buddies also make a return, but with fewer newcomers. Instead of Rambi we now have Ellie the Elephant who can suck up water and spray it at enemies, but is fearful of mice. Parry the Parallel Bird is also introduced and will match your movements while flying over you in order to help collect items. While Squitter, Enguarde and Squawks all make a return with the same mechanics as before.
The key change in Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is the overworld. While in previous games you had to use Funky Kong in order to travel the world, this game gives you free and open access – with many secrets to find such as Banana Bird caves. More places open up as you defeat stages, and in turn get a new vehicle to traverse the world. This makes it seem far more vast and interactive, making the player want to explore to see what can be found. Dotted around the overworld, you will find various characters such as Swanky Kong and the Brothers Bear, who can help you if you achieve certain parameters or bring them certain items.
The stages themselves are once again well made, but at this point they start to feel like more of the same. There is still the feel of creativity, but it doesn’t quite seem as fresh as the predecessors. That’s not to say that they’re bad – incredibly far from it – but many of them go through the same sort of locales as that which came before. Despite having variety, there is still familiarity. They do mix it up with some stages requiring you to complete them within a specified time limit, doing so on occasion unlocking something in the overworld.
They continue to have collectibles scattered throughout, and, as with Diddy’s Kong Quest, if you recover them all you will gain access to a special Lost World. Exploration is required more than ever before, rather than seeing you traversing them from A to B as speedily as possible. Bosses continue to be clever instances, requiring a lot of lateral thinking in order to defeat them, and some even needing aid from Animal Buddies.
The save system has improved somewhat from Diddy’s Kong Quest, no longer requiring you to pay with Banana Coins after the first save. Now, all you need to do is go to Wrinkly Kong’s save cave and voila, it’s sorted.
Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble’s visuals have stepped it up a notch. While they are still somewhat blocky when displayed on a TV, and it is best played on the Wii U GamePad itself. The sprite work has had a decent amount of improvement, showing more detail in both the background and enemies, the majority of which are new to this game. They are clear and crisp, still holding up even 20 years after the game was originally released. That said, there are times when the game seems to struggle due to there being too much happening on the screen at once.
The jungle-thumping soundtrack is good, although not quite up there with previous iterations – you’ll still probably find yourself humming along to the catchy tracks once more. The sound effects are crisp and clear as with the previous games, and help match all the locations rather well. You get echoed explosions in factories, for example.