Skip to main content

Donkey Kong 3: Stanley the Exterminator


Donkey Kong 3 may be the video-game equivalent of The Godfather, Part III. After two Donkey Kong Classics, Nintendo put out something of a dud. It didn't help that DK 3 hit arcades in 1983, the year when the bottom fell out of both the arcade and home-console markets. This bad timing may have doomed an otherwise decent game.

DK 3 changes out Mario for an exterminator named Stanley (from the Game & Watch game Greenhouse). The game is unique in that it combines platforming with vertical shooting. Stanley can jump up and down between three platforms. His weapon is a can of bug spray with which to shoot various bees and other critters, but he can only shoot two sprays at a time, and it has limited range.

A screen can be cleared either by destroying all insects or by forcing a dangling DK to the top of the screen by spraying him repeatedly. Even if you focus on the bugs, you need to spray DK occasionally or he will fall on you. Bonus points are obtained by preventing the bees from stealing five vegetables at the bottom of the screen.

Once per life (not stage), DK knocks down a Super Spray Can, which temporarily makes Stanley's attack full range, rapid, and powerful. This recurring power-up makes the game considerably easier than the first two of the series. If you can make it to the twelfth screen (ninth in the NES version), a tricky new enemy appears (the Buzzbee), which charges horizontally at Stanley.

The game only has three different levels. The "boss stage" is the most interesting because DK throws coconuts at you! It's especially in this stage you have to avoid shooting little worms called Creepies. They can't be destroyed (except by the Super Spray), but instead freeze temporarily when shot. When in front of DK, they act like a shield, so you have to shoot around them. When you finally get DK to the top, his head gets stuck in a beehive. In the arcade version, he then falls and Stanley does a dance. Sadly, these little animations were lost in the conversion to NES. Other than that, though, it's a very serviceable port (even if it can't quite measure up graphically).

Left: arcade; right: NES
There's not much here, but it's a fun game all the same. DK 3 may be the black sheep of the series, but it's not actually bad. Nintendo deserves credit for trying something different with the third outing, even if the end result was ultimately less enjoyable than a straight-up shooter like Galaga.

Grade: B

Gameplay: Fun, but perhaps not for everyone (16/20)
Theme: Interesting concept and characters, if a bit generic (16/20)
Controls: Controls are smooth and let you do what you want (15/15)
Difficulty: Too easy, little challenge (12/15)
Graphics: Good-looking, if a bit lackluster (12/15)
Sound: Several solid musical pieces (12/15)

Linked Reviews
"It's not a timeless classic like the original Donkey Kong, but the great ape's third outing still has plenty to recommend for retro fans. It's very simple fun, with a unique shooter/platformer gameplay mix."
— Morgan Sleeper, NintendoLife, 6/10

"Donkey Kong 3 is a strange departure from the gameplay of its predecessors, but unfortunately it just didn't turn out very well"
— Marcel van Duyn, NintendoLife, 4/10

"I understand taking creative risks, but this game was so far removed from the others that I still scratch my head today when I think about it."
— Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library, 2/5

"It's a fast-paced and frantic game, and as a sequel to Space Firebird it's pretty impressive. As a sequel to Donkey Kong, though, it feels a little misaimed."
— Jeremy Parish, NES Works

Stats
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Shooter
Arcade release date: September 1983
NES release date: June 1986
Extend: 50,000
My high score: 161,400

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: 30th anniversary

Hard to believe it's been thirty years since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came out on the Super Nintendo, yet here we are! A Link to the Past is in contention for the title of Best Nintendo Game Ever . It perfectly reinvented, reimagined, and revolutionized everything great about the original Legend of Zelda . First off, the story is expanded, with five pages devoted to it in the manual, including background mythology not included in-game about the three gods that made the Triforce. The opening cinematic tells of a war centuries earlier, which resulted in seven wise men sealing the Triforce away in the "Golden World." When the game begins, the boy Link awakens on a dark and stormy night, hearing the voice of Princess Zelda in his head, asking him to rescue her from the dungeon of Hyrule Castle, where she's been imprisoned by the evil wizard Agahnim. Link finds his uncle, wounded, who gives him his sword. Link's first task is to rescue Zelda, then lead h

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja: A whimsical adventure in Japan

Growing up, I played The Legend of the Mystical Ninja at my best friend's house (though I was bad at it), and I had been looking forward to trying it again. It's an unusual, fun adventure game. I recently learned that in Japan Legend of the Mystical Ninja was preceded by three Famicom games and followed by three more Super Famicom games, none of which were localized for the West! The Japanese name of the series is Go for It, Goemon! It's based on a 1980 Japanese arcade game called Mr. Goemon. The emulation community put out fan translations of the Famicom games between 2009 and 2017. Surprisingly, no translations of the Super Famicom games existed until 2020, all three created by the same people . The series takes places in early-modern Japan. It has a light-hearted anime aesthetic. The titular character is a spiky-haired kid named Goemon. If a second player joins the simultaneous action (highly recommended), Goemon is assisted by an older, overweight ninja named Ebisumaru.

Street Fighter II: 30th anniversary

Thirty years ago today Street Fighter II made the transition from arcade to living room on the Super NES. Although quickly eclipsed by its two successors, for one year it was the hotness. It would be hard to overstate how popular Street Fighter II was in the early 90's. Its predecessor was downright bad, but Street Fighter II invented the PVP fighting genre as we know it. Its roster of eight characters was a huge step-up from Street Fighter's two (Ken and Ryu, who returned for the sequel). The next iteration of the arcade game, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, which hit arcades just as the SNES port arrived, let you play as the bosses as well, increasing the roster to twelve. A false rumor said a secret code would let you play them at home as well. While that wasn't true, there was a code (↓, R, ↑, L, Y, B) to let both players choose the same character for a mirror match. A prime strength of the game is how interesting each character is: the American airman Guile (think