All posts by Pokemonsilph

I like to play games of all types (maybe except MMO's and a lot of RPG's, just not my thing), and I am an aspiring reviewer too! I make mainly reviews throughout the year, but I occasionally make Top Lists when I feel like it. Nintendo Network: 3Drawer3 3DS FC: 3351-4054-7612 (Message me if you want me to add you!) PSN: Pokemonsilph Steam: Pokemonsilph Youtube: www.youtube.com/pokemonsilph

Plan for 2017 for This Blog

It’s hard to believe that April is almost around the corner, and I still haven’t posted a new mini-review or the review for DKC Returns! As per usual, things have come up in the past few months that have completely stalled my progress on working on either of those reviews. I will say that I’m not planning on doing a mini-review before the DKC Returns review anymore, since I lost interest in the game which I was planning on reviewing (Overwatch). To be honest I haven’t even finished playing through DKC Returns yet (and I’m planning on playing it through on both the Wii version and the 3DS remake if time allows for that), and this is thanks to a certain game that has been very popular recently (of course, it’s Zelda Breath of the Wild). I’ve also had to scrap certain post ideas as they eventually weren’t relevant after many months of sitting unfinishing (I was planning on doing a “Top 10 Pokémon Games” list back when it was still the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, but that list started sometime around March last year and never got finished). 

Also, I haven’t given up on the Minecraft adventure map, but I haven’t had any time to work on it since 2017 began. On an interesting note, it’s been more than two years now since the original (quite meh) Version 1.0 of Golden Continent released. I had thoughts of maybe working on the adventure map quite a bit to get some sort of update out by that time, but that didn’t really work out. I obviously can’t even remotely give any sort of release date for Version 1.1 (and I’m not going to bother with calling it “alpha V1.1” or whatever, it’s currently a massive update to the map regardless, so the update after that will just be called Version 1.2, if I ever even get there). However, I can say that when the map update does eventually get released, it will be good (unlike V1.0, in my opinion). My most recent roadblock with the map has been dungeon design, but a few reviews of some Zelda games by a YouTuber named “KingK” have given me a new perspective on dungeon design. I’m currently figuring out designs for individual rooms and puzzles to place in them, but the overall dungeon structure has been greatly aided by KingK’s 3D Zelda reviews.

As of right now, I have a feeling April will be completely bare when it comes to blog posts, but I should have something coming out at least by late May. Thanks for sticking with this seemingly deserted blog for quite some time (if you did).

[June Update: I haven’t gotten much further in playing DKC Returns, but the Minecraft map has gotten a lot of attention from me lately. To be frank, I haven’t had a lot of time to play games, which are pretty much the backbone of this review blog. Normally the summer is a time that I can finally spend a lot of time on games or reviews, but I’m going to be a lot busier this summer than normal. I will try to get something out eventually (very reassuring, I know), but I can’t make any guesses as to when that will be, as I didn’t even make my last guess. I might make a Saturday Gaming Stuff after E3, just to share my thoughts, but I can’t make any promises as to when I’ll post that (it may be the Saturday after E3 or a few Saturdays after, depending on how much time I have to work on it). Thanks for reading this (if anyone has), and I hope to return with improvements to my review style.]

Holiday 2016 Giveaway (PS3, Wii U, 3DS, and Steam games)

The giveaway has ended! Thanks to those who participated (and sorry for such a late update to this post here, I’ve been kind of busy lately).

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Welcome to this post-Christmas giveaway that I’ve been accumulating games for quite awhile for! Most of the codes are from Humble Bundles, and this giveaway will include games for the PS3, Wii U, and 3DS, and a couple $10 Steam games will be given out too. I originally hosted a giveaway last year on another site, and that didn’t get any activity on it, which is why this giveaway is being hosted here (so I can actually give something away this time). Here’s a list of the available games:
**—Games—**

*PS3:*
Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3
Super *Puzzle* Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Final Fight Double Impact
LOST PLANET 3
Super *Street* Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
Remember Me

*Wii U:*
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Swords & Soldiers II

*3DS:*
Flipnote Studio 3D 
Retro City Rampage: DX and its 3DS theme
Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure
Nano Assault EX
**(Please check to make sure a game is on your preferred system)**

*Steam:*
Two $10 (or less) Steam games of two commenter’s choosing (state the name of the game in your comment; including games on sale, if you’re wondering). You can list two (or more) games if they both (or all) together fit within the $10 range. 

If you want to know some of my recommendations, I think Terraria, Garry’s Mod, Guacamelee STCE, Shovel Knight, Portal (and its sequel), and a few guilty pleasures of mine, Gunpoint and Spore, are all great games. As for other highly acclaimed games (that I haven’t had the chance to get), Stardew Valley, Ori and the Blind Forest, Elder Scrolls IV (GOTY edition), Fallout New Vegas, Cities Skylines, Battleblock Theater, Crypt of the Necrodancer, XCOM Enemy Unknown, and Psychonauts. This isn’t every great game under $10 on Steam at the moment, but it’s just some ideas in case you don’t know what you might want.

**—Rules and Requirements—**

As for the rules, only one game per person (aside from the exception for Steam games up above). To enter the giveaway, comment a game and your most beloved gaming-related memory. This giveaway will run from now (December 26 at 12 PM EST) to December 30th at 5 PM EST. Comments will be picked randomly through [this site](http://andrew.hedges.name/experiments/random/pickone.html). Winners will be PMed a game’s code (or in the case of Steam, I will give more detailed instructions through a PM as well) at the latest by December 31st at 5 PM EST.

Thanks for participating (if you do), and have a wonderful day!

(Also, I am somewhat prone to making small mistakes in things like this. If you spot an error or if something is unclear, please tell me.)

Saturday Gaming Stuff #3 (My extremely belated thoughts on the Nintendo Switch and more!)

Hey look at that, it’s that Saturday Gaming Stuff thing I used to do a while back. Well, guess what! It’s back for another round now that I felt like working on another one. This time around, I will be giving my very, very late thoughts on the Nintendo Switch and the rumors that surrounded it before its announcement, my first impressions of Pokemon Sun and Moon, and a brief look into an upcoming holiday giveaway!

Also before I get started, make sure to check out my review of Donkey Kong JungleBeat that I did a while back!

———–

My opinions on the Nintendo Switch and the multitude of rumors:

I’m going to be honest that I was probably one of the few people who thought the Nintendo Switch was not going to be a hybrid. I refused to give into any rumors at the time in hope that I wouldn’t get overly excited about any rumors that would never come true, but I’ve kind of given in a bit now considering how most rumors regarding the Nintendo Switch came true. 

Now, before I get into my main thoughts, I want to talk about a very minor detail that I seem to remember from the time when the first “NX will use cartridges” rumors came out. I mostly remember hearing a lot of talk beforehand of the nostalgia that would be brought with cartridges “returning”, and I honestly never understood the whole nostalgia part for the cartridges when those same rumors were claiming it was a hybrid. I always expected any sort of cartridge for this hybrid to be like how the 3DS handles its cartridges, which is exactly the case, which I’m not sure why that would invoke nostalgia unless the last Nintendo handheld you owned was a GameBoy Color, back when Nintendo had cartridges on the N64. It’s obvious that many were thinking of cartridges on the “NX” as being akin to cartridges on the N64 and before, as in cartridges on a home console, but it’s obviously not going to be that big of a deal. All I’ll say is that I’m glad the Switch uses cartridges, as carrying around a handheld with a normal-sized disc in it really wouldn’t be great for portability.

Anyway, talking about the Switch itself, I really love the concept, and it’s something I’ve wanted for all of my life. I’ve always wanted to be able to play handheld games on the big screen, and the same goes for home console games on the go as well. One of my main concerns with the concept of a console/handheld hybrid was seamless transition from the home version to the handheld version, which seems to be taken care of if the Nintendo Switch first look video is anything to go by. My reasoning behind that concern was that it would be very tedious to have to completely stop a game and boot it up again when switching (heh) from the home version to the portable version, which I wasn’t sure if Nintendo would come up with the right idea (gladly, they did).

Truth be told, my other main concerns with the Switch now have to do entirely with how Nintendo will handle the system. I couldn’t have imagined saying this when I was younger, but I don’t have a whole lot of faith in Nintendo’s actions now. When it has come down to game releases and decision making, Nintendo has been making many more mistakes than usual after Super Mario Maker was released in September 2015. With Nintendo’s 2015 holiday lineup being mostly atrocious (aside from Xenoblade X), Star Fox Zero’s generally poor reception, the lack of communication between the company and its fans, the YouTube content ID debacles for the past few years, the now atrocious Nintendo 2016 holiday lineup (except for Pokemon Sun and Moon), and I can’t forget MyNintendo. Since the Switch is in the hands of a company that has been making poor decisions constantly, I don’t think that it’s unreasonable for me to think this way. Unless Nintendo has been funneling all of its good decisions into the Switch, I’m going to remain skeptical until January 12’s Switch presentation.

Overall, I really like how the Switch looks, and it’s an idea I’ve wanted for a long time. However, my dislike of Nintendo’s recent decisions have made me very skeptical of the console and its success.

Pokemon Sun and Moon First Impressions:


I can’t believe another brand new generation of Pokemon is already upon us! I seem to remember so clearly the time leading up to the release of Pokemon X and Y, only to be disappointed upon finally playing the game. This time, I kept a much further distance from the constant leaks and news releases of Sun and Moon (*cough* CoroCoro *cough*), but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t excited when the release date became nearer and nearer. I try to deny being a big fan of Pokemon sometimes (my username doesn’t help, however), but whenever a new Pokemon game is finally out, I start to get hooked for a few weeks. The truth is that I do in fact really like to play these games, and I might just have been given a sour taste from X and Y. 

Anyway, getting into what this section is actually supposed to be about, I have very positive first impressions about Pokemon Sun and Moon. Now before I say anything else, I got Pokemon Moon (that legendary Pokemon just looked better to me), and I noticed something pretty wrong right off the bat: in Pokemon Moon, night and day are swapped. During normal day hours, the in-game world is set 12 hours ahead to night, which means that normal daytime players (like myself) will need to set the 3DS clock ahead by 12 hours if you wish to play during the day and see much of the game’s beautiful scenery and day-only Pokemon. Besides that small gripe I have right from the start, the game seems to largely be a tutorial during the first of the game’s four islands, but even then, I’ve had a blast playing through this first island. Game Freak has seemed to have reinforced all of the weak points of Pokemon X and Y and then some, and that includes writing, character development, creativity, trainer AI, and even Pokemon Amie from X and Y has been rebuilt into the new Pokemon Refresh menu option. 

Pokemon Refresh is a big highlight to me for making a very strong reason to care for a digital creatures for minutes on end. With Pokemon Refresh, you are able to pet your Pokemon all over (to find their sweet spot), feed your Pokemon a different assortment of colored Pokemon Beans, and even cure status ailments and other small annoyances after battle. By building a strong a relationship with a Pokemon using Pokemon Refresh, your Pokemon will begin to get bigger EXP gains from battling, and your Pokemon will occasionally land critical hits more, hold on with 1 HP after a big blow, and even cure itself out of sheer will during battle. It’s safe to say that the benefit for using Pokemon Refresh is very huge in this game, and I absolutely love it.

There are a lot of other smaller nuances I’ve noticed that have really been great too. You’re now able to catch a Pokemon in the wild and always have the option to add it to your party and to send another Pokemon to a PC box, which is a really nice addition, and it cuts down on awkward moments of having to travel back to a Pokemon Center just to use the Pokemon you just got. Another nice addition is that Pokemon Centers are now a lot more compact, and yet it has another new shop that basically sells drinks (that only the player, not their Pokemon, can drink) and gives out sometimes obvious hints or little references to other Pokemon games. This new shop is also how you get Pokemon Beans for Pokemon Refresh, but I’ve not entirely figured out the requirements for the shop owner to give you them. I thought perhaps you’d receive Pokemon Beans once a day, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Also, you can catch a Pichu in this game very early on, and you’d better bet that I took advantage of that opportunity (considering my profile’s picture).

Honestly, I’ve never felt attached to my Pokemon in any Pokemon game, but this time… Perhaps it’s just the couple hours I’ve spent using Pokemon Refresh to improve my team’s performance, but I feel just a little bit attached now to the team I have in Pokemon Moon. I’m sure others may have experienced this kind of feeling in a Pokemon game before, but this is a new experience for me. I guess the Pichu has probably helped too.

Overall however, I’ve really enjoyed the first island of Pokemon Moon so far, and my only issue has been such a minor annoyance (the whole night is day thing in Moon). I’d definitely recommend this game from what I’ve played so far. If you’ve felt burned out on the Pokemon series at all, this game was most likely made with you in mind (unlike Pokemon X and Y).

Upcoming Holiday 2016 Giveaway:

Yes, I’m trying to do a giveaway once again this year! This year, however, I feel the need to expand the reach of the giveaway by hosting it somewhere else where it would get more attention. I’ve chosen to host the giveaway on Reddit on the RandomActsOfGaming subreddit on the site. There is a 30 day account age policy on the subreddit, which means that you might be excluded from the giveaway if you haven’t created a Reddit account as of yet. I’m planning on running the giveaway there for three days (much shorter than last year as you can see), and I’ll be giving away a plethora of games from the Wii U and Steam (with a few 3DS games as well). I’m still working out the details of the giveaway in terms of the dates it will run from, but I’ll make sure to give some notice when the giveaway is finally live.

———–

I’ll be honest in saying that this Saturday Gaming Stuff was a bit out of nowhere in terms of me wanting to do it, but I’ve had some fun writing my thoughts on current gaming news and such. I’ll try to get out a mini review sometime before my review of Donkey Kong Country Returns, and I’m going to be experimenting with both review types’ styles once again (the JungleBeat review didn’t showcase many changes as I was in the middle of doing the review when I began to feel the need to change some things).

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

Donkey Kong JungleBeat (Wii) Review (Donkey Kong-a-thon Part 4)

—This beginning paragraph is more of an update to future reviews rather than an addition to this review. Skip the first paragraph if you’re just coming here for the JungleBeat review—

Originally, I wanted this review to come out fairly soon after my review of Donkey Kong Country 3, but as you can see, that is not the case. Due to school starting back up and due to other commitments, I haven’t had a whole lot of time that I have felt like dedicating to this review blog, and I’ve thought a few times about stopping doing these written reviews. However, I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon, but don’t expect reviews to come out on an even remotely timely schedule (though, that’s never been the case on this review blog). Reviews from now on (or rather, after I re-review DKC Tropical Freeze) will focus on sometimes smaller games, rather than the deeper, lengthier titles that I’ve been reviewing in this marathon (I still will occasionally review larger games, however). Despite having had fun reviewing these DK games, I’m inclined to think that maybe I wasn’t ready to take on a marathon of reviews yet, and I apologize to those who aren’t interested in DK games. I’ll try to do a mini-review (most likely of a certain PC game) between this review and the review of Donkey Kong Country Returns. It’s safe to say I won’t be creating another marathon after the Donkey Kong-a-thon, but maybe if I become more efficient in creating reviews, I might reconsider. As for those Banjo Kazooie reviews I talked about a long while ago… I’m not sure if I can still promise that I’ll do those reviews, as it’s just been too long since I’ve played either Banjo Kazooie or Tooie.

—Review begins here—

Today, I have a 2D platforming Donkey Kong game, which isn’t a Donkey Kong Country game, as the word “Country” is not found anywhere in the title, and as we’ll see, it has little in common with the original DKC games. Donkey Kong JungleBeat was originally released on the GameCube back in 2004, but the version of the game that I’m reviewing here today is the updated Wii version of the game, released in 2008, to utilize the Wii’s motion controls. 

That’s really all I should need to say for this “pre-introduction”, to be honest, but I’ve been rethinking my whole “Let’s get started!” thing before I transition to the review’s intro just because it’s a bit lackluster I think. You know what? I’m gonna try to change it right now, yeah! It’ll be amazing! … Er—

Hmm… Maybe? It’s better than nothing, I guess, right? Uh…

Let’s begin this review?

(Dangit, I’m terrible with coming up with stuff like this.)

————

Intro:

Back around Christmas-time in 2009, my nine year-old self was greeted with a pleasant surprise under his Christmas tree. This surprise, as you probably can guess, was this game: Donkey Kong JungleBeat (for the Wii). At this point in my life, I had never really gotten into the DKC series, aside from occasionally playing DKC2 or 3 on GBA, and this type of challenging platformer wasn’t really something I could quite appreciate yet, as I was quite horrible at video games (not saying I’ve gotten much better, however). Back then, it took me ages to try to beat this game, and after checking my old save file, apparently I managed to beat this game (with barely unlocking anything optional) back in 2012.

Nowadays, four years after first beating it, I’m returning to Donkey Kong JungleBeat, but I’m not doing this review just for the Donkey Kong-a-thon; I’m reviewing this game because it’s a fascinating game in general to me (and I honestly felt like playing this game, unlike DKC3). This game uses none of the original DKC characters, story, set pieces, or content in general, and the only returning character is DK himself. I feel as if that helps this game in feeling distant from the DKC series, and it’s partially why I’m reviewing this game instead of, say, DK64 (which takes a lot of things from the DKC games, and it’s good to have some variance every once in awhile).

This game was also developed by the same team that eventually went on to make Mario Galaxy, which is already a good track record, right? Let’s find out, but first: we need to talk about the “story”, if you can call it that.

Story:

Where do I start here? This game’s very complex storytelling and plot makes it difficult to pick a starting point…

Actually, I’m just joking. This game easily has one of the most non-existent plots of… any game in general actually. In fact, there’s so little plot in this game that most NES games have more interesting and unique plots than this. I’m not even exaggerating in saying that.

The minimal plot is that sixteen different fruit-themed kingdoms have been taken over by evil creatures, and Donkey Kong must save them to become the king of the jungle.

That is the entire plot, and as you might be able to see, it’s even less amazing than any of the stories from the original DKC trilogy. Anyway, the plot barely exists, and it’s almost better off that way. The game itself doesn’t even really give you that much story either. That tiny amount of story comes probably from the manual (or in this case MarioWiki). In response to questions regarding the simplicity of the story, the game’s director Yoshiaki Koizumi said: “The only thing Donkey Kong needs is to be the best, and to become the king of the jungle.” That sums it up pretty well.

Environment:

This game is going to be a bit tough to judge in this category, mainly because there’s little cohesion between levels in this game. Therefore, all I have to work with is the character designs and overall style. The game knows that it’s not trying to be realistic, and the new more cartoonish characters help bring that style to life. You’ll be encountering smaller helper monkeys who give you little tutorials, who give you support during a level by throwing you in a certain direction, and who exist solely for the purpose of decoration (usually this last one is accompanied by them playing various instruments), and these little monkeys really are a standout icon of the game by the end, since you see them all around during the game. There are even a few monkeys that are enemies in the game, usually during later levels, but I don’t want to only focus on these helper monkeys.

There are a whole bunch of neat little touches throughout this game. A lot of the enemies are quite expressive, actually, and they manage to fit along with each other quite nicely. The bosses in particular are a memorable part of the game, just because of their expressions and design (though mainly just the “Kong” bosses, who I’ll get to later in this review). I think that these characters give the game a bit of a “wacky” feel in a way, since nothing is taken too seriously, and things can get a bit crazy with them… But I won’t spoil any of this weirdness, since it’s best experienced first hand.

How about the actual environments in the levels themselves? Well, most of the time you’ll be going through completely unique level themes, but unlike the original DKC trilogy, level types are typically only used once or twice and feel a bit similar among the different themes. For this game in particular, however, since it’s a shorter game, this works out fairly well, as there are only 32 levels, and none of them seem to overstay their welcome. A lot of the themes are your standard fare for platformer level themes, such as a jungle, a cave full of lava, an ocean, space, and snow-covered hills. However, quite a few of the themes are actually pretty unique, especially for a Donkey Kong game, including themes like a Japanese-themed fort on a hill, a sky level filled with floating water (an odd one), and a swamp filled with ghostly enemies. None of the themes are really groundbreaking, but they still are a part of the game that I enjoy (although, lava-filled cave levels are a bit too common).

Overall, I think this game does very well in being different from previous DK games, especially in its almost wacky tone and somewhat unique level themes and characters.

Gameplay:

Like I’ve said before, this game manages to be very different from Donkey Kong Country, and its differences shine the most in the gameplay. However, a lot of things are similar, and I’d like to start with those first.

Like the DKC series, it’s a 2D sprint to the end of levels with enemies scattered throughout. Unlike the Donkey Kong Country games, there are no major collectibles or bonus rooms, but in this case, bananas (or beats in the original GameCube version apparently) are the main collectible now. There are also bosses in the game as well, much like the DKC series, but they are one of the not so interesting parts of the game, as boss types are reused quite a few times. Overall the game has many similarities with the original, but it does do certain things differently.

Now for the differences: first off, there is no longer a map layout for a level select; instead, you just have a normal level select menu, with pairs of two levels and a boss grouped together into one fruit-named “kingdom.” These kingdoms are grouped into four per barrel, but (in the Wii version) one of the kingdoms in each barrel is optional and made up of harder levels. The optional kingdoms are unlocked by collecting all of the “crests” in the other three kingdoms of their respective barrels, but I’ll get more into crests later in this review.

One major difference is the whole gameplay style. The gameplay style is actually something that almost sounds like the gameplay style of Mighty No. 9. I’ll give you hope, however, since this game uses its new style better than Mighty No. 9 does. One thing I can name right off the bat is that this game, much like Mighty No. 9, focuses on a combo system to earn more bananas, which add up to a total at a boss to become your health bar for that boss and give you crests (this game’s “collectible”) at the end of a boss, depending on how many bananas you got. Because of this gameplay style, most of the time spent in levels is finding out how to use the environment to increase your combo so that you can get enough bananas to beat a tough boss or to get crests. I’ll be honest in saying that levels in this game can last from five minutes to around thirty minutes, depending on how long the stage is, how hard it is, and how many poor level design choices were put into a stage (which certain levels in this game have a lot of).

How about the combos, though? Well, your combos have a multiplier which is increased by DK’s movement in the air, on the ground, on walls, in the water, on enemies, or on “animal buddies”. For example, wall-jumping, swinging off of a vine, or ground-pounding would give you a “combo point.” Touching the ground causes your combo points to reset to zero. It’s harder to explain the way the combo multiplier works with words; so, I’ll let this gameplay video perhaps explain it a bit better than I can:

(Video does contain minor later level spoilers, but it’s the best video of the Wii version’s gameplay I could find. Also, credit to MProductions Gaming on YouTube for the video.)

As you can see, movement is quite a bit more “flowy” in this game, and you have a lot of control over your movement on the ground and in the air. But for the basic gameplay style, I think that’s all I need to talk about.

The level designs in the game are rather hit-or-miss when talking about certain levels in the game. You’ll have a mostly enjoyable time with the majority of the levels, but around a fourth of the levels in the game decide to suddenly increase the difficulty level by means of bad, unfair, or annoying game design; however, I’m suspicious that this particular fault may be from the Wii version, as it rearranged the levels from the GameCube version. The optional, unlockable kingdoms in each barrel are the real culprit here, as they take levels from the original game’s fourth barrel. A few bad levels are ones like “Lava Cavern” with its out-of-nowhere traps and enemies, both “Asteroid Belt” and “Clock Tower” with their long and tedious level structure (Asteroid Belt also feels like it was just thrown together with not that much thought), and “Cloudy Heights” with its bottomless pits and tight spaces (touching walls in those tight spaces with a particular animal buddy can mean instant death by bottomless pit or can cause you to lose an important combo). These levels overall, while admittedly some are unique, just have very poor design choices compared to the rest of the game. Overall, however, you can just skip these levels to beat the game in the Wii version… But in order to face the true final boss, which isn’t even worth it, you need to beat these levels and collect all of the crests in them, which is when these bad game design moments begin to become aggravating. Most poor design choices include out-of-nowhere obstacles that can be very annoying in certain levels, levels that are plain tedious due to a culmination of small but still bad designs, and above all, any “racing” levels where you need to beat other characters to the finish, since these levels are completely trial and error and range from completely easy with no challenge at all to aggravating if you want to get first place to get important bananas for your score.

As for actually good levels and level designs, there’s a good fourth of the levels in the game that are quite worthwhile and unique and contain some great atmosphere and level design, such as “Battle for Storm Hill” with a very epic tone set by the music, weather, and dark lighting; “Aerie Fortress” housing some neat branching paths, while having an awesome tune to go along with it; “Pristine Sea” with its open level structure and optional secrets throughout; and “Monkey Fest” with the first occurrence of being able to keep a combo from the start of a level to the end (and for being a generally fun level). These levels and a few more are generally really a blast to play, and they all feel unique from each other. As for good design choices in these levels, they’re full of them, and nothing feels unfair or forced either (though, the beginning of Aerie Fortress can be a bit annoying to nail down for a higher banana score). A lot of the good design choices include being able to play certain stages very smoothly with the game’s combo system allowing for some very satisfying gameplay, generally containing new uses for old enemies, and having certain levels contain many well-rewarding secrets, encouraging exploration.

The rest of the levels in the game widely vary in quality from one side of the spectrum to the other, but nothing is close to being as bad as most of the levels in the optional barrels. I’d say these “middle ground” levels are mostly good all things considered, and they make up for the levels I don’t like. But, I will say that I definitely don’t remember every level clearly from my playthrough for this review; so, I may be missing one or two great or bad levels.

Next, we’ve come to the topic of animal buddies, one of the few mechanics that actually returns from the DKC games— but they’re entirely situational and you can only use them in specific spots in levels, or when a level is based around them. For recurring animal buddies, you have “Flurl the Squirrel,” who is able to basically give you a short parachute power-up that ends when you get hit or touch the ground (which acts as a little minigame); Helibirds, who allow you fly somewhat slowly and require a lot of button mashing to successfully use, especially on the occasion of a race (which is why some races can be completely aggravating); and “Hoofer the Wildebeest”, who has a level or two based entirely around his high-speed charges toward the finish and occasionally appears at the end of a level in a type of bonus game where you can time jumps right between platforms while getting faster each time that you land a jump in order to earn more bananas. Considering that these animal buddies are entirely set into only planned small sections of levels, it means that they’re really not that memorable or highly useful, except for the occasional Helibird or Hoofer level. Helibird levels are only memorable, however, because they are tedious beyond belief due to flight being powered by rapid A presses and because the Helibirds have a weird leaning movement where they go diagonally up and left or right, which makes them awkward to control; as a contrast in DKC2, Squawks had enough lift per button press that it didn’t become tiring on your hands (for the most part anyway). Overall, this is an aspect of the game that could have been much better, but I’m not too upset that animal buddies are very toned down and only have specific uses in this game, as this game was obviously trying to be different from the DKC games.

As for miscellaneous parts of the game that are worth mentioning, DK’s main attack, the sound wave, usually stuns enemies with the first hit and kills them on the second or third hits, but certain enemies require you to grab them and beat them to death by shaking the controller, which carries over to bosses as well. For the Wii version, using the motion controls to attack works fine for what it is, but it really could be mapped to a button if the game was on a different system (in fact, the original GameCube version, though advertised for use with the DK Bongo controller, could be played normally with a GameCube controller as well, meaning attacking using a button was fully possible to implement as a control option on the Wii version). I’d say that this game is not hurt as much by motion controls as Donkey Kong Country Returns is in my opinion, but we’ll get into that in that game’s review later.

At the end of every normal DK stage, you’ll come across a fruit on a tree. Waggling the WiiMote while next to the fruit will begin a bonus game where you need to waggle as much as you can to get a large amount of bananas added to your total count. Personally, I think these bonus stages are here mostly just to give the player the opportunity to maybe get some extra bananas if they feel up to shaking the controller until their hands fall off, but the placement of these bonus games at the end of both levels in a kingdom could also be placed here to give a big finish to the first level and then to get you physically pumped up for the upcoming boss fight. This is a nice little addition to the game, but I never really thought of the possible secondary purpose of “pumping you up” until writing this review… I’m most likely looking too deeply into a simple bonus game, but hey, speculation is fun every now and then.

I also should mention that this game seems to be where Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze gets its inspiration for the underwater controls, as you have free directional movement while underwater; although, there’s no an air meter in JungleBeat’s water segments (but Tropical Freeze’s actual underwater controls are superior I’d say). Generally, underwater sections are enjoyable to control and easy to play, which is a solid plus for levels that mostly take place underwater, like Pristine Sea.

A small gripe I have with the game is that, throughout the levels, there are those floating helper monkeys who will throw you in a direction when you shake the controller while you’re near them, but they often can get in the way while trying to kill enemies, since both grabbing the monkey and attacking are mapped to shaking the controller. There are only a few occasions where this is an issue, but it can be very annoying when it causes me to die or to lose an ongoing combo.

Now, we have arrived at the final sub-section for the gameplay section of this review: the bosses. At the end of a Kingdom, after you’ve beaten two levels, you come across a boss encounter, where your banana count from the stages is your health bar. In this game, there are four types of normal bosses: Roc bosses, which consist of a flying bird that attacks you with feathers and other projectiles, while carrying a strange orb, which is also the only place where it can be attacked; Hog bosses, which consist of a fast, deadly, bipedal hog that jumps around the arena while throwing watermelon projectiles and that can only be defeated by the power of hitting those projectiles that it throws back into it; Tusk bosses, which consist of one or two large stationary robotic elephants that fire cannonballs or a flamethrower through its trunk; and Kong bosses, which are the main bosses in the game and involve being in a 1v1 duel with the opposing Kong, while throwing punches and dodging occasionally (somewhat akin to Punch-Out, but not as good). While all the bosses are generally enjoyable and all the main types are completely different, the bosses definitely can’t be praised for overall uniqueness, as bosses within a main type are usually the same boss strategy but with only one added move or an altered arena. Only the Kong bosses really change things up between fights, but those bosses have other problems that I’ll get into in a bit. Out of the other three types of bosses, the Tusk bosses probably vary the most, but they also are the most tedious, especially Torch Tusk, which can go on for way too long than necessary, due to the frequency of his flamethrower attack, causing you to have to hide until it is finished. The least changing type is definitely the Hog bosses, but they are also potentially the most fun to play. Right in the middle are the Roc bosses, which don’t have much going for them; they’re fine but nothing special, and they’re my least favorite boss type in the game. In addition to normal bosses, certain mini-bosses are also in some stages, but like the normal bosses, they are often recycled and not the most engaging. Now, onto the Kong bosses: these fights can be either be stupidly simple (Dread Kong), too unpredictable often times for trying to get down a strategy (Ninja Kong), or a complete and utter “waggle fest” (Sumo Kong, and really the rest of them as well). The only Kong boss that I find completely fair and to be designed well-enough is Karate Kong, but he suffers from being a bit too predictable at times, depending on what his AI decides to do. The Kong bosses overall are interesting but can be a physical chore due to the motion controls present in the game. Just to highlight the absolute worst Kong boss, Sumo Kong consists of shaking the WiiMote intensely for five or so seconds, then dodging (when the game literally tells you to), then waggling, then repeat. What genius came up with that boss strategy? However, they’re still interesting and have their merits, but they just aren’t my favorite in the slightest.

Overall, the bosses are one of my least favorite parts about this game. If bosses weren’t completely recycled for a lot of the boss levels, I might be sharing a different sentiment. The Tusk bosses can be tedious and often boring, the Hog bosses are fast-paced but change much too little between fights, the Roc bosses are just average, and the Kong bosses are at least unique, but they suffer from other problems that hurt the fights a bit for me.

As for the gameplay as a whole, this game has its ups and downs. However, I think this gameplay manages to have more good going for it than bad. Even though a fourth of the levels in the game aren’t all that great and the bosses are nothing special, I still had a lot of fun playing this game, and this game has a small but fitting amount of content going for it, depending on how many of the optional, not so great levels you choose to play.

Graphics and Performance:


This game, for a 2004 GameCube game, looks quite fantastic, if I can be completely honest. As far as I know, the Wii version of the game has slight graphical improvements over the original, which is nice, and the game doesn’t look dated in many regards (a few things like the helper monkeys and certain enemies do look a bit wonky by today’s standards, however). When compared to the original DKC trilogy on SNES, I’d say this game isn’t quite as timeless in terms of graphics, but it still looks appealing nowadays to me at least.

Most levels have a very unique look to them, and stage environments are almost all well-detailed. In addition to detail, the color in this game is nicely done as well, as each different environment gives off a distinct feel due to a varied color pallete.

When talking about performance, I can’t speak on behalf of the GameCube original, but the Wii version seems to not have any issues that I can recall about frame rate dropping or slowdown, which is more than what I can say for the original DKC trilogy’s occasional slowdown.

Overall, Donkey Kong JungleBeat is a very good looking game for 2004 GameCube standards, and its performance is practically flawless from what I can recall.

Music and Sound:

Unlike the original DKC games, which were composed by David Wise (DKC 1-3), Eveline Novakovic (DKC 1 and 3), and Robin Beanland (DKC 1), JungleBeat is composed solely by Mahito Yokota, who is now well-known for his compositions in many Mario and Zelda games (especially for composing a majority of the music in the Mario Galaxy games). Since the GameCube didn’t necessarily have the extra space for fully orchestrated soundtracks like Mario Galaxy had (and because orchestrated soundtracks weren’t prevalent yet), Mahito Yokota’s style is quite a lot different here than what you may be used to be hearing from him.

Obviously, the best way to discuss the music in this game is just to let you listen to it already. Here are six of my favorites:

The upbeat and catchy Sky Garden’s theme

The great, energetic boss theme for the Hog bosses.

The catchy boss theme for the Tusk bosses (which slowly crawled its way into my top three favorite music tracks from this game).

The famous and militaristic-sounding theme for Battle for Storm Hill. Its relative popularity is largely due to its inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

The intense theme for Aerie Fortress, which is easily my favorite music piece from this game, due to how seamless it transitions from an upbeat begginning to a calm middle (which is actually a remix of the original Zelda’s dungeon theme) to a final amazing section that loops around perfectly to the beginning.

And the wonderful Staff Roll, which starts out with probably my favorite voice clip of DK. Just the expressions in how he says “D! K? … D-K! DONKEY KONG!” really makes this credits theme for me.

I will be honest in saying that I’m kind of surprised at how uncommon videos of this game’s soundtrack are. You may notice how the videos switch between extended versions and non-extended versions, which is because the extended versions are the few videos I could find of the soundtrack without obnoxious sound effects throughout, except for Battle for Storm Hill, strangely, and a few other music tracks have yet to be extended to fit in.

As for the music soundtrack as a whole, Mahio Yokota did a great job overall. There are a few music tracks that can be just average, but at the very least, even these tracks still fit with their respective levels’ themes. I’d say around half the soundtrack is really great, a fourth is pretty good, and the other fourth is just fine. However, this is not what I would consider Mahito Yokota’s best work in my opinion, and if I ever review Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, then you’ll be able to see my thoughts on his compositions in those games. Anyway, back to JungleBeat: I’d give the whole soundtrack a listen here (especially tracks like Magma Coliseum and Deep Sea Sprint, which I couldn’t fit in above here). I also think music tracks like Ice Warren, Sweet Paradise, and Cloudy Heights deserve a mention.

This soundtrack may not be that much like the Donkey Kong Country soundtracks, but it still stands in its own right as a great listening experience, while managing to fit in with every level as well. Most of the music tracks are catchy and memorable, and even the tracks that aren’t necessarily easy to recall have their own merits. I’d personally place this soundtrack in between Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 in terms of my personal enjoyment of it.

Final Thoughts and Score:

This game was actually a lot different than what I originally remembered from my first playthrough of the game. I honestly remembered this game as being a dull and uninteresting take on the Donkey Kong Country series before this review (so much so that I was thinking of giving this game around a 6/10 beforehand), but I found a lot more positives with this game this time around. Truth be told, I’m not sure if I agree with the scores that I gave to DKC 1-3 (I would really put them around an 8/10 for DKC1, 9/10 for DKC2, and a 7.5/10 for DKC3), but I will say that this game actually gave me a bit more enjoyment than what I had with DKC3.

When it comes to the the score I’m giving this game… I’m giving Donkey Kong JungleBeat a solid 8/10: despite its flaws and low points, this game still manages to be very enjoyable and creative in so many aspects. The game looks and runs great, and the music is really a nice listen.

I had a bit of a tough time deciding what to rate this game, as it has enough problems for me to give it a 7 or 7.5/10, but it’s fun, creative, and addicting enough to make me want to give it an 8. I ended up going with the higher score when I began thinking about this game’s quality in regards to the other DKC games. I had more fun with this title than what I had with DKC3 and just a bit more than DKC1, which put it over the edge for me.

Now, I want to end off this review with how you’re able to pick this game up for yourself. If you’re sold on Donkey Kong JungleBeat from my review, the Wii version is available on the Wii U eShop for $20 in North America. I will say that $20 is a bit steep for me considering the length of the game, but you’d probably be able to find the game for cheaper online for the physical Wii or GameCube version. In fact, a quick look on Amazon brings up a slightly lower price for the used physical Wii version and an even lower price for the used GameCube version. However, the price is close enough that you may just prefer getting the game digitally on there eShop if you have the space for it.

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Wooh, I’ve finally gotten around to finishing this review! Honestly, I had the majority of this review done for the past two weeks now, but I just hadn’t gotten around to rewriting some parts and finalizing the review as a whole. Next time in the Donkey Kong-a-thon, I will be looking at Retro’s take on the DKC series with Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii (with brief mention to the 3DS enhanced version). I can’t say when that review will be done, obviously, because I tend to miss any deadline I set for myself on this blog. It will be done when it is done, and I won’t be giving any more updates between posts detailing why a review might be taking longer.

Also, I will admit here and now that I rushed my review of DKC3 to get it done before an imaginary deadline I had set for myself. As such, I can safely say that was not the case here, and I’ve polished this one twice over. I hope to do the same for future reviews and other posts as well, obviously.

Thanks for reading this review, and have a wonderful day!

Upcoming Posts Update

Hello! It’s been a few months since I last posted anything on this blog, but you can be certain that I didn’t spend the whole time being lazy. As school started back in mid-August for me, I haven’t had all the time in the world to work on reviews or the Minecraft adventure map, but I have still been working on both as much as possible. For the Donkey Kong JungleBeat review, it will be finished up fairly soon, as I only have to finish up the graphics/performance and music/sound sections as of now, as well as some finalizing the review as a whole (gameplay has always taken up the most time, which is thankfully out of the way).

However, I do want an opinion on one thing regarding my review structure: should I begin experimenting with my review structure as I used to do before I cemented in a style? I feel like a few things need to be moved around, and a couple new sections should be added I think. I personally am considering moving the “Environment” section to right after the “Gameplay” section, as I feel like my reviews may flow better if that was the case (perhaps discussing the tone before delving into the bulk of the game is better, however; this is why I would like to hear an opinion on this). Another thing is that I’m considering adding “Beginning” and “Spoilers/Ending” sections to the review and making those a substitute for the usual “Story” section. I feel like replacing the story section would help me to be able to talk more about the details of story through the “Spoilers/Ending” part. 

As for other posts, I’m planning on possibly starting back up Saturday Gaming Stuff, as I enjoy sharing my thoughts on current gaming events. I may start doing some mini-reviews again (with a new format) if there’s any demand, as certain games aren’t as deep as others, and that would be my chance to talk about them (for example, if I were to do games like the Mega Man series, the original Sonic Genesis/Mega Drive games, or some various indie games). I honestly want to see what you, the readers, might like to see. 

Why not change up my usual ending thanks and whatnot while I’m at it?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day or night!

(Edit of Two Months Later: It’s coming soon this time I promise.)

Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES/Wii U VC & GBA) Review (Donkey Kong-a-thon Part 3)

Welcome to the third part of the Donkey Kong-a-thon review series! With the first two games in this series out of the way, we’re now going to be delving into the third game in the original DKC series: Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. Before I get started with the review, you may want to check out my review of the first and second DKC games if you haven’t already.

As I’ve stated in the previous reviews, this review series was an afterthought after I finished playing DKC 1 and 2. If it weren’t for this review, I most likely wouldn’t have played this game as soon as I have after playing the first and second games, but I hope that I’m not going to be burning myself out on this series anytime soon, since I still have three more games after this to review in the DK series. 

Also, I apologize for the delay for this review, but I was procrastinating a bit on playing this game. Donkey Kong JungleBeat’s review should be out sooner than this review (or even the DKC2 review) took to come out, since it’s a shorter game.

And, I also apologize for any possible jumps in subject matter that may have occurred in the review, as I had to rewrite quite a few sections in order to fit everything in.

With that intro out of the way, let’s get started!

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Introduction:

When it comes to the Donkey Kong Country games, I have a memory of the games that is paralleled only by Pokemon or Zelda. However, these memories all started with one game: Donkey Kong Country 3 for the GameBoy Advance. You may remember about what I said in the last review about the small amount of time that I spent with the GBA version of DKC2, and if you don’t remember, I lost DKC2 on GBA when I was fairly young. Because of that, DKC3 on GBA took its place as the only DKC game that I played back then when I was only five or six years old. It also happened to be the first DKC game that I ever beat, but I’ll try to not let any of these things influence my opinions on this game.

With some nostalgic feelings that I have toward the game and with time away from playing the game since I was younger, I’ve been excited to see my updated opinions on the game since I last played it, because I really remember loving this game, and I might have even said that this game was my favorite DKC game back then. With this introduction out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the review.

Story:


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This story, much like the original DKC1 and 2, has a less up-front story, and in order to figure out the extent of what’s going on, you must read the game’s manual (or look it up online, like I did). Not even the GBA version has a story cutscene at the beginning. This story is basically taken right out of the game’s manual.

Following sometime after Donkey Kong Country 2, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong go vacationing in the Northern Kremisphere (Hmm, what an unsuspicious name…), and Dixie Kong is not invited for whatever reason. A large amount of time passes with no word back from Donkey Kong or Diddy, and Dixie is worried that something may have happened to them. Dixie traverses to a point in the Northern Kremisphere, and she stops by Wrinkly’s home to see if she knows anything about where the two other Kongs went. After leaving Wrinkly’s home with no help, Dixie comes to Funky’s boat shop, where Funky “gives” Dixie her nephew: Kiddy Kong. Dixie and Kiddy then go on a quest across all of the Northern Kremisphere in search of Diddy and Donkey Kong. The story continues on from there in the game.

This story kind of reuses the basic premise from DKC2 of one of the Kongs getting captured, but I still find it to be quite charming at the least. The story, despite not being very up-front, actually has more in-game exposition in the middle of the game, unlike DKC 1 and 2. The plot is only slightly more complex once you get further in, but it’s overall a decent plot for a non-story-based game.

Environment:


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While I feel that DKC1 had a decent amount of somewhat generic themes and that DKC2 really went wild with creativity pertaining to the level types, DKC3 is a bit different from the other two. DKC3 manages to mix the appeal found in the more natural DKC1 themes and DKC2’s interesting and diverse themes, and it actually works out really well in my opinion. Some themes are a tad generic as DKC1 had, such as a plain, old cave theme, but they still feel more characteristic and creative than DKC1’s themes, in my opinion.

There’s quite a bit of variety in the themes of this game, which include: mills, stilt boardwalks, the insides of trees, coral reefs, waterfalls, and more. Not all of these themes are quite as unique as, say, DKC2’s themes, but they all still feel more fresh than DKC1’s themes. Underwater levels have returned in the form of coral reef levels (which are exactly like the water levels from DKC1), but they don’t quite have the same environmental variations that DKC1 had. Water levels in DKC1 had two true variations (the normal and “Poison Pond” version), but the coral reef levels in DKC3 have two slight graphical change variations (one regular and one slightly darker used for one level). Of course, there’s much more variations in other themes, though I wouldn’t want to spoil many things (since one of the bigger variations is one of my favorite levels in the game).

Overall, I prefer DKC2’s theme variation and color, but DKC3 has so much atmosphere in its level themes (and music, but I’ll get to that later). DKC3 manages to still be better than DKC1’s somewhat bland themes at times, and it still has unique feeling level themes in this point in the series.

Gameplay:


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The game runs off of the same basic formula that DKC1 and 2 go off of, which is basically “make it to the end” while trying to find Bonus Rooms and DK coins if you want to do so. Once again, Dixie returns from DKC2 with her same features as in that game (she has a slow rolling move, but she also has the ability to glide downward with her banana-shaped ponytail) and is still as useful as ever, and the new character this time is the cousin of Dixie Kong, the often-hated Kiddy Kong (and his mouth is very creepy-looking in his official 3D model). Kiddy has a similar weight and feel to Donkey Kong from the first DKC game, and he has almost the same exact moveset (though he trades the near-useless hand-slap move for a more useful move that allows Kiddy to bounce on the water a few times in order to reach two or three Bonus Rooms in the game). Overall, the game still plays very similar to the previous ones in terms of the characters.

This game is quite different, however, when it comes to normal DKC level design, and it really shows in most levels in the game. The feel of certain levels in DKC1 and 2 have been mixed together to form a blend of both wonderful… And absolutely terrible level designs. In my opinion, the good levels outweigh the amount of bad levels, and I do prefer most of the good levels in DKC3 than the best of DKC1; however, the problem comes when the game tries to be harder by introducing bad or annoying mechanics.

I wish to end the gameplay section for this game more positive, as there are many more negatives to talk about here than previous games. Therefore, I will be talking about the negatives in the game first, and there are quite a few more in DKC3 than the previous DKC games.

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Where do I start… Okay, I’ve never cared for the new toboggan levels, which are the “minecart” levels in this game. Everything about these leave a bad taste in my mouth, including the near split-second reflexes needed for even the earlier stages, the far too fast speed that the toboggan goes, and the often annoying level design that is designed to be trial-and-error. These levels aren’t unbearable or anything, but they are a huge step down from the unique roller coaster levels in DKC2 and a small step down from DKC1’s minecart levels. Granted, DKC2’s roller coaster levels had potential visibility issues by going too fast, but you are able to (I didn’t even know this before I played DKC2 again for my previous review of it) control your speed by pressing left or right, which means that any speed issues can be blamed on trying to play the levels too fast (which I definitely did). I’m getting off-topic now, however. The toboggan levels in DKC3 are my first problem with the game.

My second problem with the game is that some other levels in the game can have gimmicks that feel like they weren’t thought out very well. For example, want to play an underwater level where the main obstacle is dodging annoying enemies while having the screen be darker until you poke a glowing fish? How about playing a vertical autoscroll level with bad enemy placement and a very small margin of error (on two occasions, both in different level types)? And it doesn’t stop there, because why wouldn’t you want to play an underwater level with wind physics (in the GBA version anyway)? Perhaps a level where you go “Sonic” speeds toward enemies that you can’t see until they’re right on top of you? Okay, okay, maybe I’m getting a bit too extreme here, but there really are a lot of levels in the game that have very poor mechanics.

But, that’s actually all of the major negatives that I wanted to go over. Now, we get into the positives here, and the game does truly shine in many aspects (some more so than previous DKC games). For example, though a select portion of stages have mechanics that honestly want to make me pull my hair out, some stages that have interesting mechanics actually shine brighter than some of the better stages in DKC1 and 2 (although not many do). For example, one stage puts you into a factory stage while you must dodge fireballs from someone (or something, since you never see what’s shooting you) while ducking for cover occasionally. Another interesting mechanic used well is in one of the later levels in the game where progression is made by jumping on top of barrels flying upward from a central point in the stage, and you must occasionally turn these barrels into explosive TNT barrels in order to kill a tough enemy blocking the way. These very diverse level mechanics with so much creativity put into them are one of the best things about this game. However, I want to save the rest of my thoughts on the levels themselves for a little bit later. Why? Because we have to get into the other things that have changed substantially.


Possibly one of the biggest immediate changes is the world map, which now allows you to swim to the different areas on the map, and the world map now contains several secrets too. What this means for this game is that you now occasionally have options on what you want to do next, and on one occasion, you get to choose which world that you get to go to next (this happens twice in the GBA version with a newly-included world). You will also be able to get a water vehicle right after you get Kiddy Kong, which allows you to get to the first world. This water vehicle can be upgraded after a few worlds, and aside from the final “completionist” upgrade for the vehicle which allows you to reach the true ending of the game, they really only serve a purpose for basic progression. After entering into the first world, you will be greeted with a familiar sub-map style to the previous DKC games, but you’re also able to swim around when there happens to be water, which allows you to find secrets inside the worlds too.


Let me get a little off-track here for a minute, however. In DKC1, you really didn’t have collectibles in the main stages that went toward some ultimate goal, but rather, the old collectibles gave you lives. In DKC2, you got three brand new collectibles in the form of Banana Coins (which are now called Bear Coins in DKC3), Kremcoins, and DK Coins, which allowed you to buy advice/save, access new levels, and have bragging rights, respectively. In DKC3, however, there are two new types of collectibles: Banana Birds and items traded by the player to new NPCs in the game, called the Brothers Bears. Banana Birds and the items traded with the Brothers Bears serve no purpose outside of reaching the true ending for the game, which means that you can play practically all of the game without having to bother with these new NPCs, if that’s not something you want to do. The trading quests themselves that the Brothers Bears give you aren’t very interesting or worthwhile in my opinion, but they’re a decent distraction from the main game. From certain trades, however, you can obtain certain Banana Birds, which help to give these trades purpose. The other Banana Bords, however, are found encased in crystals inside “hidden” caves in the world map and sub-maps, and you’ll need to complete a very simple and repetitive game of Simon in order to free them from their crystallized prison. These new collectibles are decent distractions from the main game and add a bit of atmosphere to the in-game world, but the reward for getting absolutely everything in the game isn’t stellar, if you want a true reason to go out of your way to get these collectibles.

If I can be honest, I have no idea if I forgot to talk about this mostly minor feature in the DKC2 review, but Swanky Kong, the Kong who typically runs mini-games in DKC2 and 3, now returns with a third-person shooting mini-game, which makes you fight against Cranky Kong (also used in a unique boss battle near the middle of the game). This mini-game is rather short and doesn’t have a lot going for it, but you do get paid out in Bear Coins and extra lives somewhat generously, even if you lose.

Now that I’m practically done with talking about the major changes to the overall game mechanics, let’s hop back into the game’s design and level features. In terms of the levels themselves, there’s not a lot more to talk about, actually. Therefore, I mine as well talk about some design changes that help DKC3 to continue to stand out amongst the other two highly acclaimed original DKC games. This time around with animal buddies, we have one true new addition in the form of Ellie the Elephant (who replaces Rambi the Rhino), though a new, stage-limited animal buddy, Parry the Parakeet, makes a few appearances. There really are only a few stages in this game, compared to DKC2, that heavily use or require animal buddies, and, like I said, I think it works for the better in letting DKC3 stand out from its predecessors. The stages that use the animal buddies this time around are almost all great (aside from one majorly flawed level later in the game), and I think that they manage to stay relevant compared to DKC2’s wild usage of animal buddies.


The basic structure of how Bonus Rooms present themselves have also seen a slight improvement in my eyes, as there are now always only two Bonus Rooms per stage (until the final, optional world). This makes it easier for people like me, who want to collect everything, to know when they can finally just relax and breeze through the rest of the stage. The challenges in the Bonus Rooms themselves, however, have seen quite a bit of a downgrade from DKC2, in my opinion, since around half of all of the Bonus Rooms contain brand new “Green Banana” challenges, which are often luck-based sprints through a room filled with instant death hazards. I must say that Bonus Rooms were handled much better in DKC2, aside from DKC3 making it more convenient to know exactly how many Bonus Rooms there are in each stage. If I can be honest, I don’t think that the Bonus Rooms are quite as well-hidden or as thought out in many cases as DKC2’s Bonus Rooms felt. As a side note, I feel that the sub-maps’ indication of levels that have no more collectibles to find is much more “sophisticated” in a way than DKC1 or 2’s method, since levels are visibly marked on the map by two flags (one for beating the stage and one for showing that you’ve collected everything in that stage). 


And now, we enter one of the bigger improvements in DKC3: the boss battles. In DKC1, boss battles weren’t very exciting, and they often boiled down to being repetitive, easy distractions that often got reused. In DKC2, we got bosses of a much higher quality and creativity than the first, though I feel that they were all mostly a bit too easy, aside from the final boss. In DKC3, we have boss battles with unique mechanics on almost all occasions. None of the bosses in the SNES version feel like an afterthought at all, while maybe one or two bosses in DKC2 could be a bit boring. This, in my opinion, isn’t a major improvement for the game though, since a lot of them, though very creative, are often a bit too easy, aside from one or two bosses.

Overall in terms of gameplay, I feel as if a lot of the levels were given much more thought than some of the most creative levels of DKC2, and some of them truly are really great in execution. The world in the game feels a lot more alive this time because of the newly added NPCs and the slightly more direct approach to the story this time around, and many things see minor improvements all throughout the game, including bosses. However, I’m not too fond of a few of the mechanics used in certain levels, and some levels feel a bit bare or boring at times. The Bonus Rooms leave quite a bit to be desired in how they’re hidden, and they often have more luck-based challenges this time. In my opinion, I still prefer the levels on DKC2 over this game’s levels, since DKC2’s levels have a much higher overall quality, but I still think that this game has quite a few good or great levels (and some that are better than some of the levels in DKC2). I will say though that I still prefer this game’s levels to DKC1’s levels.

Oh yeah, the GBA version also adds a new world and changes the mini-games that Swanky has into an entirely different one that now nets you a Banana Bird for completing rather than just extra lives and Bear Coins. (it also gives Funky a new, though mostly bad, set of mini-games, and Cranky gets his own mini-game, which is all right). Some other things are also changed as well, but most changes are respected in my eyes, since certain things in Bonus Rooms are fixed and an improved camera now makes some possible camera issues better.

Graphics and Performance:

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This is how the original SNES version looks.

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As you can see, the GBA version doesn’t look very far-off in terms of graphical fidelity (though, the camera is slightly more zoomed-out in the GBA version, leaving certain sprites less clear on occasion).

In terms of graphics, the SNES version looks absolutely fantastic, though the overall graphical quality can vary from one level type to the other. Environments look very atmospheric and often have a surprising amount of detail put into them for the SNES. I’ve somewhat neglected to mention this until now, but quite a few of the original 3D models for certain characters or enemies look absolutely terrifying sometimes:



However, you can never see these horrid occurences in-game (aside from in pixelated form), which means that your nightmares won’t include these from playing the game. Unless you get nightmares from seeing them here… Oops, sorry.

Er- let me get back on track… The GBA version of DKC3 looks stunning for the GBA, and it manages to pull off almost all of the neat graphical effects present in the SNES version. If I can be honest, however, I don’t recommend playing DKC3 on GBA through the GBA Player for GameCube, since it causes many of the colors to appear washed-out compared to the original version. As much as I may hate to say it, the best way to replay this game while preserving its graphical fidelity is by emulating it (if only Nintendo would put the GBA DKC remakes on the Wii U eShop, but I doubt that would happen at this point). Playing the game on an actual GBA SP like intended will most likely be fine as well, if you don’t mind playing on a very tiny screen.

As for performance, lag tends to be completely minimal in most cases, and the SNES version definitely outperforms DKC2’s rare occurrence of lag. The GBA version appears to be just as stable, which impresses me due to the system’s limitations.

Music and Sound:

All right, here’s my main reason for this review having to cover both the SNES original version of DKC3 and the GBA version. Why? Because, they both have completely different soundtracks from each other, and I think that both are great… but in very different ways. 

I wish to tell a small story here… Back in 1996 with the development of this game underway, Eveline Fischer was chosen to compose all of the level, boss, and map screen themes throughout the game, and David Wise was brought aboard to help out with a few other themes. Fast forward to 2005, David Wise is chosen to do the porting of the SNES version of DKC3’s soundtrack to the GBA, and David Wise explains that the GBA’s sound capabilities would never be able to faithfully recreate the SNES version’s spundtrack, due to it containing a substantial amount of bass. Seeing as it would be mostly useless to try to recreate the original’s music poorly, David Wise decided to compose an all-new soundtrack, and I’m personally glad for this decision, as it now gives us two amazing soundtracks, both with unique styles.

Many other people, now including me, have already said that DKC3 on SNES features a very atmospheric soundtrack compared to the GBA version, and I can’t help but agree completely. The SNES soundtrack is most definitely very atmospheric in its execution, but despite what some may say, I think that these tracks are all very well-made and have a very high depth to them that take quite a few listens to appreciate. I must say that the soundtrack definitely fits the theme of this game with its more direct approach to story and the more detailed stages with background set-pieces, and this soundtrack overall is very soft and bass-y (though some tracks are very snappy). Here are a few tracks from the SNES version that I love:

Here’s Sub-Map Shuffle.

Here’s Enchanted Riverbank.

Here’s Hot Pursuit.

Here’s Nuts And Bolts (no, not that Nuts ‘N’ Bolts!).

And here’s Rockface Rumble.

The GBA soundtrack, on the other hand, is much more snappy and up-front with its music and rhythm.

Here are a few tracks from the GBA version that I absolutely love:

Here’s Treetop Tumble.

Here’s Water World.

Here’s Waterfall (a.k.a. Cascade Capers).

Here’s Jangle Bells (though it’s actually Hot Pursuit).

And here’s the GBA version of Nuts and Bolts.

Overall, I find myself preferring the GBA soundtrack, since it has some of my favorite DKC music tracks (especially Waterfall/Cascade Capers). While I do also like or love a lot of the SNES soundtrack, I find myself only preferring one or two tracks from the SNES version (Frostly Frolics is one of them, especially since it’s one of my favorite music tracks from the SNES version, and it became mostly ambience in the GBA version). If I can be honest, I love both, and I wouldn’t be happy without either one.

Final Thoughts and Score:

With all of my previous thoughts out of the way, I must say that, while I do like this game more than DKC1, there are quite a few things that end up placing it below DKC2 for me. Though this game has a lot of great level mechanics, some of them fall flat on their face, and a few other design choices don’t help the problems in some of the levels.While I did enjoy this game quite a bit, I must say that I overall didn’t end up feeling completely satisfied afterward. 

To expand on what I mean (after this has been uploaded for awhile), I feel that the overall game design and presentation are things that I prefer to DKC1, as level designs have more interesting structure and set pieces than DKC1, much like DKC2 had really nice looking and feeling levels. However, I feel that the level design can be much less appealing at times in DKC3 than DKC1, and the overall quality of the game is lowered because of it. DKC1’s levels were laid out in a way that makes speed-running and playing the game for the first time quick and easy, while DKC2 and 3’s are laid out so that there’s a lot more stuff to do to make much more enjoyable and detailed, as well as making repeat playthroughs much more fun. 

(If you don’t get what I mean, I prefer the way that the levels and structure of DKC2 and 3 work, therefore I prefer to play those games, even though I consider DKC3 to be the lowest actual quality of the original trilogy.)

So in case you’re wondering, DKC3 is my least favorite DKC game (the “Country” part is important for later…), and of the original trilogy, DKC2 is the one that stands out the most to me. So for the the score:

I’ll give this game a 8 out of 10: even though I prefer playing this game to DKC1, it still feels like it ends up being of a lower overall quality than DKC1, which is why I’ve rated it lower than my original 9 out of 10 for DKC1.

(Small Update: I changed the score from an 8.5 to an 8, since I felt that an 8.5 was a bit too generous after re-reading the review a few more times. To be honest, it would probably be closer to a 7.7, but I don’t like to get that specific in how I rate most games, since it’s really just a number.)

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This has truly ended up being one of my longest, most in-depth reviews I’ve ever written. Once again, I apologize for the wait for this review, and I hope to be back sooner this time for the Donkey Kong JungleBeat review.

Also, progress on the Minecraft map slowed down a bit, since I wasn’t able to work on the map for two weeks. A developer diary will be out sometime in the coming weeks, going over the Forest Temple, Windswept Caverns, and Sky Temple. The Water Temple will be covered along with a finished Path to the River Source and also an altered Dark Dimension dungeon (as always I won’t be going too in-depth with the dungeons, however).

(Edit on September 16: Well, school has begun again, and I’ve been completely swamped in every way with homework and writing projects. Mostly because of those writing projects, I haven’t felt much like writing recently, and as a result of that, the Minecraft map is going to take most likely until November or December to get the alpha version of 1.1 out. I’ve honestly hit a bit of “designer’s block” (like writer’s block except for design), and that’s hindered my ideas for the dungeons, which are all that’s left to finish up now until I can release the alpha version. I truly apologize, once again, for these broken release date promises, as I usually set them with the mindset of me working on it continually, but I almost never have. As for the JungleBeat review, it’s getting there, but I still haven’t had much time to work on the review.)

This was easily one of the hardest reviews that I’ve had the privilege of writing, and I’m glad to be able to get back to some simpler reviews starting with DK JungleBeat.

(And yes, I have updated this review quite a bit, and I may change it more in the future.)

Thank you so much for reading, seeya!

Golden Continent: Rise of the Dark Forces (Minecraft Adventure Map) Version 1.1 Developer Diary #11

Welcome, finally, to the next developer diary for Golden Continent: Rise of the Dark Forces. I have some great and possibly disappointing news to tell in this one.

Wow, I’ve been working on this version of the map since February 2015. I remember my original goal of just adding in the new areas to 1.1 and only recreating the Water Temple dungeon… That sure changed! Since around August or so last year, I’ve been busy constantly coming up with ideas to make this map something special by practically remaking the entirety of the map to be something I would want to play. I’m not a fan of what I had made in Version 1.0, mainly because it feels very lazy to me now, but Version 1.1 (even the alpha version) will be the start of what I really want for the map.

Aside from that rambling, I’ve made a lot of progress inside of the map, fixing redstone structures to be more reliable (a lot of my older redstone usage was still in effect, and it often broke), adding a lot more depth to the different structures in the map, and, currently, making puzzles and challenges for the early dungeons in the map. I’ve already finished up completely the new revisions to the Stone Temple (aside from one room, which will be in the full 1.1 version), and I’m fairly satisfied with the new main puzzle in the dungeon that I’ve created (it’s not fantastic, but it’ll do).

Of course, it would seem like I would have made MUCH more progress by now, right? I mean, the release date is in less than a week, and I haven’t even mentioned progress on the Forest Temple, Sky Temple, or Water Temple? Well, I chose a bad time for a release date. I’ve only recently realized that May 31st was right before the end of school for me, and I’ve also had some personal stuff that’s halted my map’s progress on several occasions. I’m almost 100% certain that the map will be done within two or three months (hopefully just two months), and the reason why two or three months is necessary is because I felt like I was possibly rushing the map now. I want to really take my time with building the Forest and Sky Temples (the Water Temple is actually pretty close to being done), and I want to make revisions to the Dark Dimension dungeon in the middle of the map (not as drastic as the other dungeons, though). I’m also very close to finishing up the Path to the River Source area in the River Haverna area.

And… one thing that I wanted to get out of the way now, since some things weren’t looking well-made beforehand, is expanding the outside of Mt. Olrin to be more of a mountain range than just a single peaked mountain (I’ve also removed the unnecessary clouds around the original Mt. Olrin peak). The outside of the mountain will be used in the Mt. Olrin dungeon in Version 1.2 as well, which is why I wanted to go ahead and make it a lot bigger. Here is what I currently have:

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It took me roughly 3 days to build that, and it’s still going to be updated a bit later in the full Version 1.1 (as well as having the mountain range continue on around other areas of the map). I have big plans for the dungeon inside of Mt. Olrin for Version 1.2, but, for now, I have to focus on other areas of the map that haven’t even been really started yet. The next thing I will be working on is the Reversal Woods and the Forest Temple (and the Sky Temple area after that as well). As a note also, the alpha version of 1.1 won’t contain the Wilted Tree mini-dungeon, as I need to change some other things before then, but you will still be able to obtain a shield by travelling to the outside of the dungeon.

Hopefully this wasn’t too disappointing for those who were expecting the map in a few days; however it most likely was a bit disappointing, and I apologize if that’s the case.

Thanks for reading this eleventh installment of my developer diary for Golden Continent: Rise of the Dark Forces. (Next time, I will discuss the Forest Temple, Sky Temple, and Water Temple.)

(Edit on September 16: Well, school has begun again, and I’ve been completely swamped in every way with homework and writing projects. Mostly because of those writing projects, I haven’t felt much like writing recently, and as a result of that, the Minecraft map is going to take most likely until November or December to get the alpha version of 1.1 out. I’ve honestly hit a bit of “designer’s block” (like writer’s block except for design), and that’s hindered my ideas for the dungeons, which are all that’s left to finish up now until I can release the alpha version. I truly apologize, once again, for these broken release date promises, as I usually set them with the mindset of me working on it continually, but I almost never have. As for the JungleBeat review, it’s getting there, but I still haven’t had much time to work on the review.)

Also, as for other posts, school has halted those a bit. I’ll return with a DKC3 review in the summer.