Donkey Kong 3 Review

I grew up playing Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but I didn’t even know of Donkey Kong 3’s existence until a few years back. I briefly played the game when I first discovered it, although I never really gave it that old college try until now. I’ve sat down and played a few robust rounds of the game since its debut on the Nintendo Switch Online service. Now I’m ready to share what I believe are the joys and cons of Donkey Kong 3.

Mediocre Gameplay Experience

Donkey Kong 3 is quite different from its predecessors in the gameplay department. It still features Donkey Kong, of course, and shares a similar arcade-like structure with a goal of playing for a high-score while rounds continuously loop. However, the big difference here is that the gameplay is more like a shoot ‘em up instead of like the platforming gameplay that came before it. The actual gameplay here offers a mostly mediocre experience. You play as Stanley, a gardener and bug exterminator extraordinaire that has been tasked with keeping Donkey Kong, and his band of misfit insects, from ruining his gardens. This is accomplished by spraying Donkey Kong with bug spray until he flees the area. Of course, you will also be using this bug spray to exterminate any insects that draw near. You score points by destroying those insects, but will also receive bonus points depending on the number of plants you save on each round.

Controlling Stanley is done by using the D-pad, while the bug spray is used by pressing either A or B. The movement in general is quite stiff with the decision to map jump to the D-pad being an odd one. You can’t move in the air while jumping either, so when coupled with pressing up on the D-pad, there will be times when you lose a life while trying to navigate around obstacles. The enemies tend to crowd the screen and also move in such a way that makes the game difficult at times. Maybe mapping his jump to a button and allowing for movement in the air would improve the game.

One thing that stood out as a positive note is the ability to nab a super bug spray that shoots faster and farther, making it possible to clear rounds with ease. The super spray is limited, but it’s possible to clear multiple rounds with it before it runs out. While that super spray can be fun to use, the stiff controls and general difficult gameplay make Donkey Kong 3 hard to recommend. If you manage to get into a groove when playing this game, you could probably still milk a little bit of fun from the game.

A Mediocre Presentation

There’s not a lot to say about Donkey Kong 3’s presentation other than it is also mediocre. It has those familiar Nintendo black box graphics that aren’t necessarily bad, but more a representation of its era. There are some decent enemy designs, but Stanley himself is rather bland. The last note to touch on here would be the music, if you can call it that. There are just small loops of annoying sounds that masquerade as music, so there will be no soundtrack awards given to this game. Well, there are jingles that play when you beat a stage or die and they are OK.


Donkey Kong 3 isn’t a must play NES title, but it might be worth checking out if you want to experience the entire Donkey Kong arcade trilogy. Those that really enjoy the game might want to check out the 2 player mode with a willing participant, or even the more difficult game B. Its mediocre gameplay and stiff controls really hold this title back, however, I can’t help but wonder what a modernized, fleshed out reboot might be like.

Final Score: 0

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