Donkey Kong 3

Nintendo NES

Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 6

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Of the many incarnations of Donkey Kong and his little friend Mario, probably the least admired in the series is Donkey Kong 3, which was a short-lived arcade game prior to making and appearance on the Nintendo 8-bit system. There are reasons for its unpopularity, and they're pretty obvious.

For one thing, Mario is Missing (that quote later to be made into yet another game in the series). There's some new guy here, his name is Stanley. We don't know much about Stanley, he seems a bit out of place. He's obviously not a plumber, nor does he have any connection to the Mario family. If this were the Godfather series, the Stanley family is the family that gets a horse's head in its bed, courtesy of the Mario family. Stanley appears to have moved in on some of Mario's work, you see. His job is to blast Donkey Kong back into the forest (he's hanging on two vines a little reminiscent of Donkey Kong Jr.). Donkey Kong retaliates by rattling the nests of several unhappy insects. The insects think Stanley is responsible. I guess that's why he's Stanley.

Stanley isn't defenseless, however. He can jump like Mario, and he has a little spray gun that works pretty well on the pesky insects. Most of them die after one shot, some of them take two. There are also slow moving snakes that look more like worms, but I've never seen a worm climb down a tree so I have to believe they're snakes after all. Then again, I've never seen a snake climb down a tree either so maybe they're not snakes either. I HAVE seen squirrels climb down trees now and again, but I think I know the difference between a snake and a squirrel! Hmm, now what was I talking about? Oh yeah. The game.

There are three different rounds, although the first and second are nearly identical. You die if you are hit by any of these creatures, the shots they sometimes fire at you, allow Donkey Kong to reach the bottom of the vine, get hit with a coconut thrown by Donkey Kong (old trick), or allow the bees to make off with the flowers at the bottom of the screen (which they head for if they miss you). You have to guard those flowers, much like protecting the bases in Missile Command - but you can get much better scores if you let the bees take off with the flowers and then blast them when they think they're in the clear. It all sounds like a lot to do, but after playing a little while seems like much less than either of the two prior Donkey Kong game experiences.

On the positive side, the game looks great. It has the classic look of the Nintendo characters, lots of colors, and things moving in all directions at all times. There isn't a trace of flicker, and although I spent very minimal time with the arcade version, this translation seems pretty much all there. This is a product of 1986, a time when Nintendo was very much in command of quality. It shows. Unfortunately, the game is about as much fun as being beat over the head with a sack of onions. The jumping is awkward, and the goal sucks. Where's the beautiful girl? Where's the glory? Where the HELL is Mario?

I'm usually a big fan of games that were flops in the arcade and perfect translations for home consoles (see my many ColecoVision reviews of the past), but I can't get into DK3. Apparently I'm not alone, and even Nintendo knows that. Stanley, the bees, and the snake that could be a worm but is probably a squirrel haven't been seen since (I'm not counting DK Country where every possible creature in the jungle community is represented). Rest in peace, Stanley. Rest in peace.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:22 PM