Fuss from the bus, pain from the train… Public transport? It’s a load of monkey business

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (1996)

Life without a car suits a recluse like me down to the ground, you know, but it is quickly getting impractical. I never much liked driving anyway – even though the car I was driving was worth precisely nothing, naught, nada, I still felt I was only ever seconds or metres away from a cash that would have bankrupted me, or at least made the insurers laugh at me down the phone like when Patrick Bateman tries to book Dorsia.

Actually, it wasn’t just the money, or even the aggravation associated with trying to swap insurance details with a not-particularly-law-abiding chap twice my size. No, if I’d gotten into a wreck with that car, it would have opened up like a tin of beans. From that day forward, I would become half-metal, half-man, or more accurately I’d need a coffin shaped like a swastika to be able to fit inside.

But look, I’m just being green, amn’t I? The cleanest journey for the environment is one not taken, and all that. But actually no, the only reason I dispensed with my car was because I didn’t need one to get to work anymore – the joys of public transport could take care of that – and the insurance costs were getting ridiculous. €1,600 a year to cover a tin of beans? I suppose that’s why they calculate risk, and it’s done by beancounters with more numerical acumen than me, but leave it out.

I was Captain Cautious out there on the roads, and I couldn’t even indulge in a spot of speeding because the car didn’t know how to, it was simply too slow. A no-claims bonus is worth nowt either these days, you know. But anyways, after I got rid of my vehicle, with somebody towing it away (and in true old banger fashion, yes, I actually had to pay them to remove it) I received a Certificate of Destruction in return.

I was more proud of that Certificate than I was of my degree, which is in Latin and incomprehensible anyway. I reckon I’ll frame that cert one day, and use it to springboard myself into a much more rewarding career of swinging wrecking balls and tearing down old buildings with explosives. Anyway, I parted company with driving a few years ago and haven’t much needed a car since – until recently when I needed to get somewhere and I popped the location into Google Maps for some directions.

God, can you imagine the old days when I would have needed to take out paper maps and start working it out with a pencil? I might have even needed a compass, whatever that is. But anyway, I thought it’d be a nice old jaunt down the road in a bus to get to where I needed to. That’s what you’d expect from a small, interconnected country, right? But no, Google, almost with a robotic smile, told me I’d need to walk, then get a bus, then get a train, then drive the rest of the way (my own car or a taxi, your choice really) and the whole caper would take me about 3 hours all told.

Is that all? I imagine there was a ski-lift and a hovercraft stint in there as well, but Google hasn’t made the icons yet. Now what the hell? See, this is why you cannot go green – it’s well and good to cry about emissions and how we need to get away from using cars and all that. But if somewhere I absolutely need to get to requires me to run the gamut of four different modes of transportation, and pay through the nose for them, then what do I get out of it?

If you can put buses and trains everywhere in the country, running every 10 minutes with no delays, and make it all free except for a teeny cost of petrol and a non-exorbitant cost to cover insurance, then I’ll be interested. Do that and I might just vote for you, but until then, don’t bother telling me to plant seeds on my window-sill or use horse manure as shampoo.

You’ll get through every possible mode of transport if you want to get anywhere in Ireland, and you’ll frequently be let down by them just when you need them most – nothing beats getting peed on by God as you’re waiting in vain for a bus that never comes. It’s little wonder why I’m late to everything, but it’s not my fault – it’s because the public sector has taught me that this is OK.

Anyway, this kind of skulduggery with local travel is something that would have made me determined not to like Donkey Kong Country 3 for the Super Nintendo, right from the start, but I must say that, actually, this is a game I really like. Not everyone does, and it certainly seems to be regarded as the weakest of the SNES DKC trilogy which is probably fair enough.

But I’ve seen some people give this game some proper hate. I’m really not sure why, maybe the computer graphics of SNES Donkey Kong had become a bit oversaturated, but I say nothing beats a good trilogy. If you weren’t fussed with picking up any of the new consoles at the time, then this was a nice game to tide you over for Christmas ’96 – it even had references to Mario 64 in there.

The character line up is a bit strange: Dixie Kong is front and centre, playing essentially the same as her DKC2 incarnation, but she’s joined by a new kid on the block, a literal Kiddy, who definitely gets some hate which probably is warranted on this occasion – it’s a bit like the Sugababes line-up, from Donkey and Diddy through to Dixie and Kiddy, none of it stayed consistent.

Oh well, whatever about that, what you have here is a Donkey Kong Country game with the biggest scope of the lot. A fully explorable overworld, with all sorts of rubbish to collect. Forget about Donkey Kong 64 for a minute, this was probably where the Donkey Kong series really became all about collecting. I do often see the music for this game getting flack, but again, I can’t see it. Maybe the first two games had some more iconic tunes, but DKC3 has some great work in there as well.

Once again, and not to simp or anything, but this is another great example of female game composers being individually brilliant, in some cases better than the big names. Don’t forget that this game’s main composer, Eveline Fischer, did several of the great tunes from the first game as well. Of course, the graphics are at their best here, properly refined – the mountain levels are incredible to see on what is essentially 1989/1990 hardware.

And just like DKC2 there’s a secret world that’ll require you to find absolutely everything if you want to get to the end. The difficulty level is a bit more accessible as well. What I love most about this game is the overworld, and how you acquire better vehicles as you go, which’ll help you reach new locations and areas. Reminds me an awful lot of trying to get down the road in Ireland (okay, it was a pretty long road).

Say what you like about this game, but I have always rated it very highly. Not as good as the other two in the trilogy, fine, but still in the top echelon of SNES platformers. Give it another go, and see how you get on. Better yet, get some portable device, load it up with ROMs if you wish (we’ll keep that our little secret) and play it on the go. After all, you’ll need something to keep you awake on those long, loooong public transport jaunts.

23 August 2022

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