Donkey Kong Country 3 Has The Best Aesthetics
Give thanks to the CGI "Silicon Graphics" art of Mark Stevenson.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! is one of my favorite video games.
Judging video games is different from say, judging board games, because in a video game, art direction and virtual reality have much to do with the game itself. Jesper Juul called this the “half-real” phenomenon. That is, video games are “half real.” Half game, half virtual reality. The third installment of Donkey Kong Country took me into a world of nostalgic-inducing, fever-dream aesthetics akin to the CGI art found on the original Netrunner trading card game, to the bizarre Short Circutz computer animated videos, and graced with the playfulness of the 90’s oddity of Reboot. I have to thank Mark Stevenson the lead art director for this project, for creating the animations and as well advocating what character should exist in this child-like spin-off. Rare is my favorite video game company of all time, and they never disappoint. I even proclaimed in my article, “Filmationcore,” that there should be an art movement around Rareware aesthetics and the cliches they produce.
Always in the back of my mind, I am thinking about the goofy and kiddie CGI art of Donkey Kong Country 3.
Look at where this universe takes place, the “Northern Kremisphere.”
And this is just the hub world. Each little area divides into a bigger map. See for yourself:
When I was a kid in the 1990s, I just wanted to escape from this natural Seattle-to-Vancouver-esque reality. I know it’s an English game, and much of it comes from the tradition of Filmationcore games like Knight Lore, Sabre Wulf, and Head Over Heels.
An ever greater video game is Banjo-Kazooie, which in some way is the spiritual successor to Donkey Kong Country 3. In Banjo Kazooie hides the secret ice key trapped in Wozza's Cave. Can you get the ice key? No. Unless you have a secret code to enter the door.
In Donkey Kong Country 3 lies the secret banana birds that unlock the truth about the universe. You can find these banana birds throughout secret caves around the Northern Kremisphere.
It’s like all the good secrets in games live in dark, dank, secret caves.
Having secrets makes the aesthetics better.
I grew up in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. And in the little town of King of Prussia lives dark secrets. I would walk around the abandoned swim clubs out in the forest, along the train tracks to nowhere, the factory of Barbadoes Island, and as well rumors about the secret, Bam Margera hideout, “The Dust Bowl.” It’s a place for skaters to skateboard, hang out, do drugs, and do sex stuff. That mystery alone makes King of Prussia a much more interesting place than it is. And I see a bunch of mini "Dust Bowl” caves throughout the games Rare makes.
Many fans thought there was a hidden secret found within a pillar in Donkey Kong 64. Does this look like a secret pillar to you?:
Rare claims the pillar is just a lost asset that means nothing. But fans are willing to dig for those secrets and see where this is going. Fans dug through Donkey Kong 64’s code and found that the ice key, or ice banana, was supposed to be used somewhere in the game! A German version of the strategy guide accidentally published the details of such a secret!:
Secrets like these make Donkey Kong Country 3 more fascinating than on the surface level. It’s what makes the game intellectually engaging.
Even the music for Donkey Kong Country 3 is fantastic. The Synth-driving arpeggiators and the smacking 8-bit Roland R-8 drum hits are so good!
I love Rockface Rumble every time I hear it.
Also, look at these beautiful mountain views!:
Every time I play Donkey Kong Country 3, I want to escape into a Canadian world full of Dust Bowls, goofy CGI baddies, and esoteric secrets.
Another cool thing was the Brother Bears. Each Brother Bear had their shop and pretty much acted upon anarcho-capitalist values. Just look how Funko Pop collectible they are:
My favorite bear is Barnacle Bear, otherwise known as “Sartre Bear”:
The art is so golden.
And the best part is, you can enter in each Bear’s cabin, and they are always asking for stupid shit. Always I wanted to open up my retail shop and make it look like this. It’s like Robot Speak out of San Francisco:
The CGI art, the synthpop music, and the deep secrets make Donkey Kong Country 3 an avant-garde classic. It has an art direction of its own, and with further clever observations, deserves its art movement, either as Filmationcore or a sub-genre of Filmationcore called “Kremisphere.”
The only rules I know for the Kremisphere genre are that music should be made only with a Roland D-50 synth and a Roland R-8 drum machine, composed in Fast Tracker 2 and that all the art should mimic what Mark Stevenson was doing on this project. Literature-wise, it should be like Labyrinthcore, and written like a game book.
If you haven’t played Donkey Kong Country 3, play it now. I bought the game in its original box for Christmas a few years back and played it on an original Super Nintendo.
This game alone has amazing aesthetics, and it could potentially start an art movement.