Of all the Donkey Kong Country games, I hate to say that I think I feel the most apathetic towards Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble. Not because it’s a bad game, but because I don’t really have much personal attachment or nostalgia for it. It was the only game in the original trilogy I did not buy when it was first released in 1996. At the time, I just couldn’t get too excited for it. There are a few reasons for that, not least of which was because the Nintendo 64 launched around that time and I was busy with that. I didn’t give DKC3 a shot until many years later in 2010 when I bought it on the Wii Virtual Console.
Admittedly, I do have mixed feelings for it. Playing through it again made me wonder whether I only imagined how good Diddy’s Kong Quest was, as Double Trouble feels a little clunkier and inexplicably brings back some of the problems I had with the original game. Hit detection seems iffy again, and I find the level gimmicks tend to be more irritating than interesting.
On the other hand, I have to give Rare credit for bending over backwards to try to keep the series fresh in its third installment. While the basic gameplay generally remains the same, there are a number of interesting things they’ve added to spice up the experience, including an overworld that’s freely explorable with hidden secrets, several NPCs to talk to, and a few item trading sequences. The game, once again, seems significantly longer than its predecessor, but that might be partially due to the gameplay feeling slower and more methodical than the brisk flow of Diddy’s Kong Quest. It all makes Double Trouble feel more like an adventure game than a straight-up platformer.
I have to say that I think the soundtrack is a major step down from the two previous games. Composed primarily by Eveline Fischer, the music is much more subdued. It’s not bad by any means, but it certainly doesn’t have the impact of David Wise’s compositions. In fact, I enjoyed the first two soundtracks so much that I bought the third without even having played the game. I was so let down by it that it was probably a factor in my skipping the game when it came out. (David Wise actually recomposed the entire soundtrack for the Game Boy Advance port of the game, but I’m not really familiar with it.)
Another might be the fact that, once again, Donkey Kong is not actually playable in a Donkey Kong Country game. (The title “Donkey Kong Country” is still omitted from the actual title screen.) This time, the spotlight is passed to the previous game’s sidekick, Dixie Kong. Now, I’ve actually grown to like Dixie quite a bit over the years, so I’ve got nothing against her, and it’s awesome she even has her own game. But I really wanted to play as DK again, and why he couldn’t at least fill the partner role in Double Trouble is beyond me. He certainly would’ve been a better choice than the forgettable Kiddy Kong. Maybe it’s a petty complaint, but it’s just another of those little niggles that adds up.
Or maybe I was just losing interest in the Donkey Kong Country franchise by this point. I didn’t bother with Donkey Kong 64 at all when it came out a few years later, and I’ve still never played it. Based on what I’ve heard of it, it wouldn’t be my cup of tea anyway. So, needless to say, I won’t be covering it in the Kong-a-thon.
So, for me, Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is a little bit of a mixed bag. It has its rough spots, but also some cool touches. (I always enjoyed the “merry” code that gives all bonus rounds a holiday theme.) Maybe it’s just a step too far removed from feeling like a Donkey Kong game, but considering it’s the third game in the series, it deserves credit for having its own unique identity.