And so we have come to the last of the Donkey Kong adventures to have joined the Virtual Console service in the past month. Donkey Kong Land III, as with its portable predecessors, once again provides an alternate take on home console counterpart, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble.
Playing as Dixie Kong and her cousin Kiddy Kong, you must travel the lands in your hunt for the Lost World – a competition that has already claimed many victims, including the fearless Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong.
The game controls pretty much as you expect from the Donkey Kong Land games by now. It’s a tight platformer where you are placed in control of one of the Kongs at any time. This means that many of the team-based mechanics that exist in the SNES version don’t exist in this game. Other than that, the controls are responsive and intuitive as usual, with the ability to switch between characters at will. Dixie is faster to move and has the ability to float, while Kiddy has got more weight to him.
Animal Buddies make a return with Ellie the Elephant leading the charge, although differs to the SNES game as she can’t pick up barrels and has unlimited water. Enguarde, Squawks and Squitter all also make an appearance, each lending a helping hand as before.
The stages in Donkey Kong Land III are different to those in the SNES version, each being truly different with entirely new names and designed completely differently. Unfortunately, these still aren’t as creative as on SNES which is a shame as they’re still enjoyable to romp through. As with Donkey Kong Land 2 you must keep an eye out for bonuses and collectables scattered throughout, as well as DK Coins either held by enemies or hidden somewhere. This encourages you to explore each stage in order to achieve full completion.
There are smaller amounts of supporting characters in this game too. Wrinkly Kong exists on the map offering you the chance to save your game, while you will also cross paths with Bear who will provide tips and challenge you with a memory mini-game with coin rewards. The game also doesn’t feature an interactive map in the same manner as that in the SNES version, but rather a generic one where you go from point A to point B with nothing to explore.
The graphics in Donkey Kong Land III are a decent monochromatic recreation of those in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. However, it falls back into the issue the original Donkey Kong Land had where there was too much going on in the background at times, risking the player losing track of their character and marauding enemies. It really made me wish this was the Super Game Boy version or, even better, the Game Boy Color port that was later released in Japan. Regardless, the sprites are still well-animated.
Audibly the riotous soundtrack is good, with faithful 8-Bit recreations of the classic SNES themes. Some are very memorable and some are less so, however they are all subtle and they all fit the locale they are used within. The sound effects also remain rather good, but they do sometimes feel a bit disjointed from the action in the game. It’s only really noticeable with explosions, however.
Donkey Kong Land III is a decent enough platformer, but it feels somewhat half-hearted. There’s less to do outside the stages and they aren’t quite as creative as you’d expect from the series. That’s not to say it is bad, as it does what it provides extremely well, rather that it falls short of expectation. There’s still fun to be had, and it’s definitely worth playing if you’re a fan of the series.