You’re reading Warped Pipes, the series where I try to sort out the timeline of the long running Super Mario franchise. This time, I’m taking a look at...

Donkey Kong 3

Image: Super Mario Wiki

Released for both arcades and the NES, Donkey Kong 3 sees the character of Stanley the bugman taking on Donkey Kong Sr. in a bug-filled greenhouse.

First let’s address...

Different Versions

The arcade and NES versions have relatively minor differences and will be considered to be the same entry for our purposes. The Game & Watch game has somewhat different gameplay but appears to be the same scenario and still involves DK Sr. facing Stanley in a greenhouse. Because of this, it will simply be considered to be another perspective on the events of this game and rolled into this entry. The “modern” remake of the Game & Watch version found in Game & Watch Gallery 3 will be considered a separate entry and addressed at a later time.

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The Events of the Game

According to the manual:

Donkey Kong’s loose in the greenhouse and only Stanley the bugman can stop him. Armed with a can of bug repellant, Stanley must work furiously to keep Donkey Kong and all of the Buzz bees and Bee spies away from his flowers. Get the super spray and you can blast your way through three screens full of greenhouse excitement.

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In the game we see DK Sr. irritate the bee nests present in the greenhouse, causing bees to swarm and both attack Stanley and try to steal his flowers. Stanley uses his can of bug spray, and the super spray, to fend off the insects and push DK Sr. further up into the greenhouse. Eventually, DK Sr. is pushed to the very top and his head hits a beehive, causing him to fall to the ground defeated.

Not the most complex tale and it doesn’t really add much to the existing world building.

My Interpretation

Although never explicitly stated by Nintendo, it is pretty clear that Stanley the bugman is meant to be the same character as Stanley the Fumigator from Greenhouse. This likely means that both games take place in the same greenhouse that Stanley either owns or is charged with defending from insects and other threats.

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It’s unclear why DK Sr. is attacking Stanley and his greenhouse, besides the fact that he has already shown himself to be destructive and violent towards humans in Donkey Kong.

Placement in the Timeline

This is something of a tricky game to place. In terms of gameplay, Donkey Kong 3 acts as a sequel to both of the existing Donkey Kong games as well as Greenhouse. Based on this and the release order of the games, it seems logical to put Donkey Kong 3 after Donkey Kong Jr. in the timeline. However, story-wise, this makes less sense. Donkey Kong Jr. ends with the two Kongs being reunited and running off into the jungle. Here, DK Sr. is back in civilization without DK Jr. Furthermore, Mario is nowhere to be seen.

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I propose, tentatively, that Donkey Kong 3 actually takes place before Donkey Kong and just after the events of Greenhouse. Thus the order of events would be something like this:

  1. Stanley struggles to defend his greenhouse from a bad bug infestation.
  2. DK Sr. begins raging through the city and comes across the greenhouse.
  3. Perhaps because it reminds him of his jungle home, DK Sr. tries to take up residence in the greenhouse and attacks Stanley by stirring up the greenhouse pests.
  4. Stanley fends off DK Sr.
  5. DK Sr. continues raging through the city and ultimately kidnaps Pauline.

This series of events results in a slight reordering of the timeline, as shown below:

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This is all based on the knowledge from the games I have analyzed so far. Newer games may, and probably will, lead to a re-contextualization of these events and result in a reordering of the timeline. As I build this timeline I will continue to see it as fluid and imperfect until I have analyzed every game.

Next Up

In the next article, we will see Mario go to war in Mario’s Bombs Away.


Click here to view all entries in the Warped Pipes series.