Donkey Kong 3
  • Genre:
    • Shoot 'Em Up
  • Developers:
    • Nintendo (Arcade/NES)
    • Hudson (PC88/PC66/FM7/X1)
  • Publishers:
    • Nintendo (Arcade/NES)
    • Hudson (PC88/PC66/FM7/X1)
  • Released:
    Arcade
    • JP 10/31/1983
    • US 11/01/1983
    • UK 12/25/1983
    NES
    • JP 07/04/1984
    • US 06/23/1986
    • UK 09/15/1987
    PC88/PC66/FM7/X1
    • JP 1984
Score: 70%

This review was published on 01/06/2017.

Donkey Kong 3 is a video game developed and published by Nintendo for the arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, and other platforms. This is the sequel to the Donkey Kong Jr. arcade game from 1982, which itself is the sequel to the original Donkey Kong that revolutionized the arcades in 1981. The original arcade version of Donkey Kong 3 was released in Japan on October 31, 1983, North America on November 1, 1983, and Europe on December 25, 1983. It was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan on July 4, 1984, North America on June 23, 1986, and Europe on September 15, 1987. During 1984, Hudson Soft adapted the game to various computer platforms in Japan, such as the NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-6601, FM-7, and Sharp X1. Donkey Kong 3 didn't enjoy the same success as its predecessors, partially due to home consoles stealing the arcade industry's thunder at the time, but also because it was a vast departure from the previous two games. Despite that, it's still decent for an early 1980s arcade game.

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In the original Donkey Kong, you controlled a carpenter named Mario as he attempted to rescue his girlfriend, Pauline, from the titular gorilla known as Donkey Kong. The Donkey Kong Jr. game then completely changed the roles by making Mario the main villain and Donkey Kong the helpless captive, prompting his son to rescue him. In Donkey Kong 3, however, Mario is neither villain nor hero, as he's nowhere to be found in the game. Donkey Kong's son is also absent. Instead, the unlikely hero of Donkey Kong 3 is Stanley, a pest exterminator. There are no parables here; he just exterminates pests. Yet again, Donkey Kong returns to his roots by acting as the villain of this game. This time, Donkey Kong has broken into Stanley's greenhouse and is causing all sorts of trouble, presumably because he's a jerk. Armed only with bug spray, Stanley must defend his beautiful flowers from Donkey Kong's furious rampage. When you get right down to it, Stanley's a real sensitive guy.

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Instead of being a platformer like its predecessors, Donkey Kong 3 is an early shoot 'em up reminiscent of Space Invaders or Galaga. It incorporates some ideas from Space Firebird, a Nintendo developed arcade game released in 1980. Due to that, controlling Stanley is similar to controlling a space fighter ship. Stanley is able to walk left or right on the current platform, jump up or down platforms by pressing up or down, and spray projectiles of bug spray straight up into the air. While Stanley can move up a bit by getting onto the higher platforms, he's mostly restricted to the bottom of the screen. Also, remember that comment I made about the guy being sensitive? Well, I wasn't entirely joking, because he dies to anything remotely harmful in one hit. Each death results in the loss of a life, and as per usual, expending all lives will end the game. There's also a two player mode, but it's not any different from passing the controls back and forth. Speaking of, the controls are pretty precise, having a more polished feel than most arcade games of the time.

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At the top of the screen is the gorilla himself, Donkey Kong, who's holding two ropes, one in each hand. Donkey Kong will climb down these ropes, slowly inching downwards as time goes on. If he manages to climb to the bottom of the ropes, he'll drop off them and land at the bottom of the screen, scaring the daylights out of Stanley and costing him a life. I told you he's sensitive. Donkey Kong also sometimes throws coconuts at the poor Stanley. Stanley's goal is to repel Donkey Kong using his trusty bug spray. Each puff of bug spray will push Donkey Kong upwards slightly, and victory is yours once he gets pushed all the way to the top, letting you move on to the next stage. Whenever Stanley begins a life, there'll also be a power-up near one of the ropes. If Donkey Kong gets pushed near it, the power-up will drop down to the bottom of the screen, giving Stanley the opportunity to grab it. Once acquired, this item will temporarily upgrade Stanley's bug spray, increasing its range and power, allowing it to push Donkey Kong back much faster. The enhanced bug spray is also able to kill more types of enemies.

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On that note, the big bad himself, Donkey Kong, has additional baddies to accompany him. Throughout the game, Donkey Kong will disturb two beehives that'll send a swarm of dangerous bees Stanley's way. The bees come in different forms, some of which simply swoop down to attack you, but others will have trickier flight patterns and sometimes shoot their stingers at you. One particularly nasty bee will explode into smaller bees upon being killed, which is both weird and frightening. There are also other types of insects that'll cause trouble for Stanley, like creepy caterpillars that use their bodies to block your shots, beetles, moths, and more. Some flying insects will try to steal Stanley's flowers, but he can shoot them during the act to halt the theft. You won't lose if the flowers are stolen, but you do get bonus points for having more flowers by the end of a stage. Additionally, exterminating all the insects is an alternate method of beating a stage, but it usually takes longer than simply going after Donkey Kong.

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This game only has three stages, which is one down from the previous two titles. All the stages in this game follow the same basic structure, but some of them have different platform layouts at the bottom, in addition to other minor differences. In the first stage, which is the aforementioned greenhouse, you've got the most basic platform layout, unsurprisingly making it the easiest stage. However, the other stages have trickier platform layouts, giving Stanley less maneuverability. There's also one stage with a barrier of vines separating Stanley and Donkey Kong. Caterpillars will appear on those vines to block your shots, acting as moving shields for Donkey Kong. You can't kill these guys unless you have the super spray power-up, so they're quite annoying. Anyway, the game will continue looping the same three stages over and over, increasing the difficulty each time. Sadly, due to the small number of stages and how similar they all are, the game gets repetitive quite quickly.

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Compared to the last two games, Donkey Kong 3 is far more repetitive. Sure, all arcade games back then were repetitive, but the first Donkey Kong made great strides toward breaking that cycle, and Donkey Kong 3 is a step backwards. This game is also far less original than the previous two, being that it's basically a reskin of Galaga. It isn't a bad reskin, however. Donkey Kong 3 is fun to play for a while, but that while won't last as long as Donkey Kong or Donkey Kong Jr.

Word Count: 1,173

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