AVAILABLE ON: 3DS Virtual Console, ARC, Atari, CVIS, INTV, NES, Wii Virtual Console
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo, Coleco (CVIS, INTV)
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo, Atari
Seriously, what better way to see Mario off this blog than Donkey Kong Jr.? Not only did this sequel to the 1981 arcade megahit - that started it all - give the carpenter formerly known as Jumpman the much more original name of Mario, but it is the only game to date to feature Mario as the main villain instead of the happy-go-lucky, charismatic hero every Nintendo fan so adores. Just like its predecessor, Donkey Kong Jr. has been named one of the best video games in history, and just like its predecessor, it's a classic, but to be completely honest - which a lot of people are apparently unable to do - most of its original charm has worn out. I've said it before: going all super-retro is amazing fun to be had, but vintage arcade gaming just isn't the same anymore, and some games were never fit for home consoles. Ten minutes, a few tears of joy, and casual players are done with Donkey Kong Jr..
Don't you worry 'bout a thing, pa'!
Mario has captured his once rampant pet Donkey Kong, but he has a slight problem: DK's son, Junior, who doesn't take kindly to his dad's incarceration. The player assumes control of the puny ape as he attempts to rescue his gigantic dad from Mario.
Home versions of classic retro arcade games have never been well-received by game enthusiasts, and there are good reasons for that. Classic arcade platformers were tense, because if you failed, you needed to pay more money to get another chance in besting that damn enemy or obstacle that gave you hell. You needed to fight for your high score. As soon as the first home consoles came along, it was clear that gamers wanted more than simple arcade-style games, where your primary goal was the highest possible score. You could play as long as you wanted, no casual gamer gave a shit of a high score - if you bought a game to your home, the only thing of interest at least should've been how long it took to finish the game. The longer and harder, the better - you paid for it, with expectations the game would pay itself back.
|Comin' to get ya, pa'.|
I've got to compliment the graphics, because all of the levels in the game are completely different by design and the game is very colourful and well animated for its time. The music is also surprisingly tolerable. There are two different versions of the theme song, and each of the four levels has a different background tune. All in all, the game is audiovisually pleasant, considering that the original version came out as early as '82.
Similarities between Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. are very obvious. There's character A - the hero. Character B - the villain, and character C - the damsel in distress, who in this case happens to be a giant, pissed off gorilla. B does everything in his power to keep A from reaching the top of the level. If A manages to reach the highest top, the level's over and we move on, right up until we clear the fourth level. The villain's subdued, and the damsel (...) rescued. Then, the game starts over, on a higher difficulty level. This cycle goes on and on until you lose all your lives. The game never ends, it's the high score that "matters".
|The final showdown. All you need to do is push |
those six keys into the six locks. It's easy. Really.
Each level has a different theme, but indeed, there are only four of them, and each one can be beaten by using one simple strategy or pattern, regardless of the "difficulty level". The game might seem hard at first since Junior's a bit stiff to move around, and it will probably take a moment to sink in the rules of the vine-to-vine transition, but two or three rounds of the game are perfectly possible to beat in less than ten minutes. Don't expect the game to change; it won't. That was it, that was the game. It's all about the high scores now. High scores you cannot save.
The slightest charm Donkey Kong Jr. has, might go to waste at home, but it's an endearing retro classic that demands a little more perspective than just a blunt review of how a home version of it is today. It's a good play - definitely an experience every retro fan should have, and certainly should have time for. The most important parts of the game are minutes well spent.
GRAPHICS : 7.0
SOUND : 7.3
PLAYABILITY : 7.8
LIFESPAN : 5.0
CONCLUSION : 7.0
a.k.a. Donkey Kong Junior
In Europe, the original arcade version of the game was known as Crazy Kong Jr..