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CONSOLE: Game Boy Advance DEVELOPER: Rare PUBLISHER: Nintendo
RELEASE DATE (NA): November 7, 2005 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Dixie Kong has her hands full...with an unusual port.

Two times already had a Donkey Kong Country game from the SNES been remodeled for the portable Game Boy Advance, and both of those sold quite well, all things considered. So I suppose there is no reason why they would leave out the final iteration of the trilogy. Unfortunately, I wish they had, because this version is definitely less lovable than the others. Developer Rare decided to play around with far too many elements here. Donkey Kong Country 3 (sans subtitle) for the Game Boy Advance is not so much a port as it is a re-imagining of what could have been. I will shall begin by sparing you a lengthy summary of exactly how the game should function. That honour can be left in my review of the original version. I would just like to point out what exactly went awry in DKC3.

There have been numerous changes in this version, many of which aid in the general deterioration of the already limited amount of charm the original SNES game possessed. The graphics have been revamped quite a bit, both in the cases of the overworlds and in the locations of the Kongs and Brothers Bear. Heck, none of the Kong locations are the same at all! Thankfully, they kept the level layouts pretty much intact, although they might look a bit different on the small screen and with modified colour schemes. DKC3 also suffers from overly bright colours, compensating again due to the fact that the original Game Boy Advance design lacked a backlight. And for some reason, many of the graphics aren't as smoothly shaded as they used to be; the lake at the beginning of the game is a prime example, where the shading looks downright awful for a 32-bit system. C'mon, Rare -- you did it fairly well on the SNES, so do it again. Another aspect where they decided to mix things up is the soundtrack. Aside from a couple of bars in the occasional song, every tune has been replaced with something entirely new. It sounds like I'm listening to some electronic artist from the late 80s, which wouldn't be too bad, but the songs just aren't as catchy as the original (and they weren't particularly awesome either). Funny thing, though: both soundtracks were composed by the same person! Sound effects have also been cranked up a notch. The principal Kong duo have more to grunt about this time, which is decent enough to hear. Ellie the Eliphant jumping and sounding springy? Not so hot.

Some crazy nut also decided to sit down in a nice, relaxing chair, pick up a blank pad and a pen, and try his darndest to figure out how to completely screw around with the Kong family characters. The new character designs are acceptable, but they just don't have the flair of old times. Wrinkly Kong has been ripped out of her beloved Save Cave, and now she is in some temple trying to find inner peace (while standing -- I don't think it's done that way). Swanky Kong no longer runs a fun carnival booth; instead, he leads you to a weird and seemingly never-ending tunnel filled with stars to collect and spiky objects to avoid. Cranky Kong doesn't toss rocks anymore; now he works at a freakin' dojo for some reason. Even the Brothers Bear have been remodeled, and although they don't look any worse, there wasn't much wrong with them as they were. Stop playing around, Rare, and put the old primate back in her cave!

As with the other remakes, there is definitely some other new stuff to try out that has been included in this package. There is actually an entirely new world to explore called Pacifica, which features a few new levels to traverse. One of the bosses from another world was put in Pacifica, so there's also one new boss, based on a giant octopus, in its place. There are also several new mini-games put in place. Funky Kong has a boating challenge that is actually a blast from the past for Rare. It takes after an old NES game of theirs, Cobra Triangle; basically, you have to race against other boats and try to shoot them down. Fans of Cobra Triangle will certainly find enjoyment in this, as well as newcomers. The aforementioned Cranky Kong's dojo will have you training, Kong Fu style! You can win a Banana Bird in here, or just play for fun. (Yes, I know I didn't say anything about those damn birds in this review; check my review of the original for details on that.) The last mini-game available is Swanky's Dash, a sufficient replacement for his former endurance test from the SNES. Here, Dixie must run down an everlasting rotating tunnel and try to collect as many gold stars as she can while avoiding spiked orbs which cause her to lose all the stars she picked up. Someone must have been playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 when creating this one...

Donkey Kong Country 3 for the Game Boy Advance is a decent outing, but the thrills and pinache of the original have been pretty much cast aside. The game controls well as always, so we need not worry about that, and the majority of the original SNES game is intact. They've gone and buggered up a solid game with new graphics and sound bytes that nobody needed and even fewer people asked for. I suppose people would have complained if they had just ported the game directly without any changes, saying that Rare was lazy, and they would have a point. However, the way I see it, they could have ported it directly and added the mini-games WITHOUT messing up anything else. But hindsight is always 20/20, I guess. Overall, DKC3 for the Game Boy Advance is fine, but I'd much rather play the original.


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