sunnuntai 21. elokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Donkey Kong 3 (1983)

GENRE(S): Action / Shooter
AVAILABLE ON: ARC, NES, PC, Wii Virtual Console
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo, Hudson Soft (PC)
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo, Hudson Soft (PC)

In 1983, the Mario franchise was born with the unveiling of Mario Bros.. Even though Mario moved on and eventually conquered, Nintendo couldn't just leave their previous golden goose be. Donkey Kong 3 was brought to the arcades just a while after Mario Bros.. Since Shigeru Miyamoto was deeply involved with the artificial development of his beloved Mario character, director Hiroshi Yamauchi - an important player in the development and release of the first game - was pretty much alone with the third and final game in the classic Donkey Kong franchise. This installment hit homes first out of the three games; it was released on the Famicom in the summer of 1984, and simultaneously with the previous titles for the North American NES in the summer of 1986. Donkey Kong 3 was a huge departure from the whole franchise. First of all, it was a shooter instead of a platformer. Secondly, it always sucked.

Repellent for shoddy sequels on aisle 4

Donkey Kong has escaped and taken refuge at a greenhouse owned by a young man named Stanley. With his effective bug spray in tow, Stanley must repel the swarms of insects Donkey Kong unleashes on his beloved plants, and finally the ape himself.

It looks like Donkey Kong had a little accident...
and Stanley's about to have a worse one.
You've never heard of a Donkey Kong 3? Don't sweat it, it's not that known. It's hardly ever mentioned, even in official publications. To many people, the vintage Donkey Kong franchise of the 80's came to a head with the release of Donkey Kong Jr.... which is perfectly true, because Donkey Kong 3 has virtually nothing to do with the other games. By a quick glance, it looks the same. The HUD is exactly the same. However, the game does not have Mario in it - although Stanley wears clothes identical to his in the promotional art. DK looks different. Finally, and most importantly, the game is in a whole different genre. And, it's bad.

The graphics aren't much to look at, and the game is far from original or innovative, unlike its two predecessors, as far as both the audiovisuals and gameplay are concerned. What's original and innovative is the mere stupid idea of the game's release. The few tunes, which are more like cues since there's no real background music, sound horrid.

You assume control of Stanley in a fashion you would assume control of a space ship in Space Invaders or Galaxian - with the difference being that you can jump (and will jump, whether you want to or not) to a higher ground - and your goal is to either keep Donkey Kong at bay and get rid of all the swarming insects on the screen going for your flowers, or aim your repellent directly at DK and push him off the screen. You can power up your repellent with some kind of a hyperspray, that kills all smaller enemies immediately, and pushes DK at a faster rate. If you can somehow get Stanley to bend to your will - which is hard - you'll make it to a more difficult level. After the third level, guess what? You're done. Of course, the game then begins anew, on a higher difficulty. That's the one similarity between the gameplay of Donkey Kong 3 and the preceding games.

Those worms can be really annoying. If you've
got the interest to try the game, you'll know why.
Let's scramble the pieces: bad controls. I mean, "AAARGH!" Stanley seems to jump by himself, which is sometimes very dangerous, since the insects move in such a non-symmetric fashion, and of course, just touching one means loss of life. Also, invisible walls may appear out of nowhere at any time. There are only three levels. In this game, though, the higher difficulty levels feature new sorts of annoying enemies, which, I guess, are supposed to make the levels feel like whole different ones. Well, they don't - Donkey Kong 3 is one repetitive game. The first two games had four wholly different levels each. This one has three, which look different, but play out near-identically. The total lack of excitement is the cap on Donkey Kong 3's inferiority. No wonder even the arcade version remains a curiosity for the most devoted retro fanatics.

I don't use these two words together too often when it comes to such artificially respectable retro, but this time I must: Donkey Kong 3 is a miserable failure. It doesn't belong on a home console, and it doesn't even hold up to arcade standards partly set by the previous games. These days, it might pass for some mild mobile entertainment... if it was free of charge. It feels like the game was released only to exclamate the importance and influence of its predecessors... and of course, to cash in on a popular brand name.

SOUND : 3.5


Personal trivia: the Famicom version was released on the day I was born - July 4th, 1984.

A direct Game & Watch version of the game was released, but there's also another Game & Watch title called Greenhouse, which has identical gameplay.

Since Donkey Kong 3, the character of Stanley has only appeared in one episode of the animated series Saturday Supercade, and as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melée.

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