Not only is this the worst level in the game, it’s the worst level in the whole trilogy — & the bitterest sting is that this is the final level o’ the main game. While the original DKC gave you some o’ the trickiest platform jumps that game had to offer & DKC2 offered the ultimate challenge for Squawks, ¿what does this game offer? Water that reverses your controls when you’re in it. This is neither interesting, nor challenging, making this a breather level — & the last level is perhaps the worst level to have as a breather level. The hardest part o’ this gimmick is that jumping out o’ water is trickier ’cause you have to adjust what direction you’re holding right after leaving water.
& yes, just to make it e’en easier, they give you Enguarde, as they do for just ’bout every water level, for ⅓ the level if you find the 1st bonus or the Enguarde barrel just after the 1st bonus, allowing you to just plow thru nearly everything. ¿Why is a level with the slightest difference from a world-3 level @ the end o’ the game?
As for the level layout, it’s just a winding maze full o’ the same Kocos & Lurchins you dodged in every water level. The developers didn’t e’en try to add variety to their arrangements: get ready to weave thru Lurchins going up & down in alternating directions & dodge Kocos going right & left ’tween 2 Lurchins ’bove & below 4 or 5 times — but the last time they totally switch things up & add a 2nd Koco. Shit.
The bonus barrels aren’t e’en well-hidden: they’re both just @ the end o’ halls that telegraph you to make a turn & the “puzzle” is to ignore those signs & not turn yet. But if you’re looking for bonuses, obviously you’re going to search every path, ¿so why would you not explore the extent o’ every hall?
The challenges themselves are middleground: you just defeat all the enemies & collect all the ornaments. They’re far from new challenges @ this point o’ the game, but they do require a bit mo’ precision with the reversed controls than the main level.
As for the hero-coin-holding Koin, he’s just to the left o’ a fork just before the end & the way to defeat them is to just bounce the barrel off the wall right next to him.
The only positive things I can say ’bout this level is that it a’least tries to hide how linear it is by making it twist around space like a snake & that I like the color purple. Some people don’t like the gloomy visuals & music, but I don’t know why they single out DKC3 for this, when the original DKC had just-as-barren aesthetics, specially in its last world. I think it fits the mood o’ the end o’ the game fine as well as this game’s nature vs. technology theme; I just wish its gameplay fit as well.
After reversing controls underwater, making your character slow & have high jumps is the next lamest gimmick in this game, made e’en mo’ laughable by the way they just ditch the gimmick halfway thru the level so you can have yet ’nother Quawks section where you dodge moving Zinger formations. & slowly grab barrels & try hitting Zingers with them, which is just a worse version o’ being able to just spit nuts @ them with the superior Squawks — not the least o’ which since the Kongs can already throw barrels themselves, making Quawks feel e’en mo’ redundant. You know “Poisonous Pipeline” & Quawks suck when they make me hate purple things. The slightest difference they give to this o’erused mechnaic is that you move mo’ slowly, which is s’posed to be harder, but just feels less fun. You should ne’er create difficulty by handicapping the player; it’s cheap & not fun.
Some parts o’ this level are cheap, too. The vertical sections oft lead to blind hits if you’re playing as Kiddy or not using Dixie’s helicopter twirl ’cause the camera was clearly not programmed with downward movement in mind, oft leaving you @ the bottom o’ the screen with li’l space to see Zingers coming as you slowly drift down vertical shafts.
& getting past the 2 red Zingers after the midway point is ridiculous: the space is so small that your character’s graphics absolutely cannot fit ’tween it; you have to rely on you & the Zingers’ generous hit boxes to just squeeze thru — which means you have to know Squawks & the Zingers’ inner hit box, despite not being able to see them ( ’cause they don’t line up with their graphics ). It’s good game design to make your character & enemies’s hurt hit boxes smaller than their graphics to leave leeway for the player; but that’s s’posed to be leeway; it is a sin — a no-Reeces-ghost ( since Twinkies are gross ) offense — to make players play based on this invisible hit box. The player should always be able to squeeze their whole graphic thru a danger, not just the smaller invisible hit box.
In this level’s defense, it does try to implement meaningful branching in the latter half o’ the level. The bonus positions are somewhat clever, too: 1 challenges you to go back after getting Squawks to go up the suspicious banana trail ’bove the line o’ Zingers, which you couldn’t reach before, while the other is in a fork hidden under a Zinger, rather than just out in the open like in “Poisonous Pipeline”.
Tho the bonus challenges themselves are lame: yet ’nother bonus wherein you destroy a bunch o’ Zingers with Squawks & a bonus where you have to collect ornaments without any impediments — it’s just a rectangular room full o’ ornaments. Yeah, you move mo’ slowly, but you still have plenty o’ time to spare. This is halfway thru the game & yet this feels like the easiest bonus in the game.
On the other hand, there’s a few alcoves that serve li’l purpose, such as an alcove with bananas that are not worth dodging the Zingers to get or the invincibility barrel on the far top-left. You might think the latter sounds useful, but you have to do some rather precise maneuvers — either getting the steel keg o’er the gap with the 2 moving Zingers to throw it @ the line o’ Zingers in your way to the left, & still probably have to jump o’er the last 1, since your character accelerates so slowly that the barrel will despawn before you get to that last Zingers, or just jump o’er the 3 Zingers. & ’cause you move so slowly, the invincibility will run off before you get to the actually challenging part @ the end with the red Zingers clumped together. You’d be better off not bothering.