Following a trend is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you can provide your own take on it. Nintendo is no stranger to this either, bringing out unique adaptions on popular genres such as the sim title Animal Crossing and the fighting franchise Super Smash Bros. In fact, this can be traced back to their days in the arcade. Donkey Kong 3 came out in a time when space shooters were all the rage, and thus tried to combine this with platforming. A fascinating mix for sure that unfortunately came out when the video game crash was about to take full effect. Sometimes the universe is simply unfair, and I will already say that this classic black sheep did not deserve such mistreatment.
Donkey Kong has somehow entered Stanley’s greenhouse and it is up to this Bugman to take down the giant gorilla before he stirs up the insects and destroys his flowers. It makes me happy that a simple story is still a continued tradition in this trilogy, letting the gameplay be at the forefront. The little protagonist is able to leap straight up, hop down tiles, move left and right, and fire his bug spray upwards. Despite that there are a couple of floors to fight on, they are only utilised for dodging and aiming at obstacles. The goal in each round is to shoot at the descending ape, which forces him to climb upwards with each hit until he disappears or gets his head stuck in a bee nest.
Even if the three stages are similar to each other because of this setup, they have enough variety to be intriguing. The second one has a gap in the middle of the platforms, while the third includes worms that cross on horizontal vines to hinder you from attacking Donkey Kong and merely two borders to walk on. It might not sound like much, but these are still solid additions when there are a ton of critters that will fly around on the screen and make the fights quite tense! Flies buzzing around, some tossing stings at you, big ones that explode into pieces upon two hits, and even the main villain will throw coconuts at you, demanding you to be on your toes at all times.
In addition to this, you lose a life if you get touched by anything dangerous, the giant gorilla climbs all the way down or all of your five flowers at the bottom of the screen get taken away by the insects. Also increasing the difficulty, is that there is solely one power-up in the entire game. This one enhances your projectiles to make them stronger, wider, and travel further, being able to kill even worms that you originally could just stun. It can only be acquired when the big ape climbs to a certain height to knock it down to you and it will not respawn again until after your next death. This is somewhat fascinating, as it is quite valuable, yet only appears after a retry and not by playing well. I do wish it was integrated better to not merely give you a helping hand upon defeat, but I digress.
Overall, I find this to be a refreshing combination that has sufficient content to make it into an enjoyable and captivating project. Having credits solely giving you the ability to play through again with three lives in each run with a reset score, helps to make the highest ones actually based on skills. It does lack diverse levels, but with tons of enemies to be aware of, neat ways to dodge them through jumping around, and trying your best to go for as many rounds as possible, this entry is definitely going to hook you.
Gameplay Score: 8/10
I suppose making the backgrounds colourful would have obscured the foreground, so I am not too bothered with the dark setup in this instalment. Making lines to indicate that you are in a house of glass is a stylistic detail that I can compliment as well, as it is easy to argue that this game could take place in the middle of the night. This arcade title is further commendable, with plenty of different opponents that can even be small pixels and how they all gruesomely devour Stanley upon death! I also adore how some of the creatures have facial animations, like the angry worms or Donkey Kong being clearly uncomfortable getting his butt attacked. The stages are too similar in layouts to be above adequate, but provide unique colours to be pleasing to the eyes.
As a first for this series, there is constant music throughout! It is just a tragedy that not all of it is solid. The track used for two of the levels rather indicates stress, which is certainly fitting, but far from memorable due to repetitive notes. Luckily, the themes used for the last area and getting a power-up fare much better by being uplifting with more variation to their structures, while still being fast enough to let you know that you have to stay focused. The jingle for succeeding in taking out the big gorilla enhances the sweet triumphs too. Although the sound effects are the star, with your jumps, the bugs flying around, your spray shots and so on, being all hypnotic. It is to the point that I wish I could turn off the melodies in certain parts, as they do not compare to the rest of the audio.
Presentation Score: 6/10
This is definitely the black sheep of the trilogy, but that is far from a bad thing. In fact, I put this one alongside Donkey Kong Junior for being such a quality product that I believe still holds up today. Combining the shooter genre with platforming, made for an interesting take that has depth and tension to it. Despite that I am mixed about the soundtrack and the lack of diverse stages, there is enough going on to keep your attention. A neat arcade game that anyone can have a good time with.