sunnuntai 21. elokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Donkey Kong Jr. Math (1983)

GENRE(S): Edutainment
RELEASED: December 1983
AVAILABLE ON: NES, Wii Virtual Console
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

Educational games for something other than home computers have always been some of my favourite targets when I've really wanted to lash out at something. They've usually had no value as games. To this day, games like Mario's Time Machine and Mario Is Missing! have been spit on and laughed at, even by me. Donkey Kong Jr. Math was a launch title for the North American NES - which makes it the first educational title ever released for a Nintendo system. Here's where things get interesting. Was Nintendo able to find balance between education and entertainment in 1983, or was Donkey Kong Jr. Math one of Nintendo's most embarrassing screw-ups in the early days of their firstborn? Take a wild guess.

+/- 0

Here we go again. I've professed my unconditional love, or lack thereof, for commercial edutainment numerous times in the past. I'm not saying there never was a good educational game. I'm saying I'd never pay the same price for one as I would for some real game. I understand how marketing works - I studied it. I understand that to thrive as a business, you can show no ruth. However, it is plain stupid to slap Donkey Kong Jr.'s face on an NES cartridge and sell it to kids mesmerized by Donkey Kong games as a new, exciting installment in the franchise, when it is actually the world's most generic math application; it has no value as a game, or an educational tool. Well, Nintendo was smart enough to realize this fuck-up bit them back, hard, and gave them nothing in return. The history of 8-bit educational games developed by Nintendo began and ended with Donkey Kong Jr. Math.

All of the sprites and background textures are ripped straight off the original Donkey Kong Jr., as well as the music. Player 2 uses an embarrassing pink version of Junior.

The pink one can't count.
Starting up this game is the hardest part, because you already know what it's going to be like. Me, I didn't know anything about the game, but I found it safe to expect that it would be one of the worst games I've played in a long while; after all, if people couldn't do proper educational games in 1994, how in the hell could a game from 1983 be even that decent? This game totally cashed in on my expectations - this is the first time I can cap that off with "that's what I was afraid of".

There are three game modes. In all of them, you control Junior. First, there's "Calculate A". Daddy gives you a number, let's say it's 35. What you need to do is climb vines hanging all across the screen, and gather the proper numbers and symbols needed to end up with the number 35. For example, you can do it the easy way, pick up a 7, then get on the ground and pick up the multiplication symbol, get back on the vine and pick up the number 5. 35! Or, you can play the genius, if you're really bored, and go through all kinds of complex formulas that'll take you an hour to reach 35. The game does not punish you for a wrong answer, it patiently waits until you're correct. You're wondering who that pink bastard in the other corner is? That's your opponent. You can go pat him on the head or hump him up the ass, he doesn't care. He just stands there, until you find someone retarded enough to pick up the second controller. There's no opposition from the CPU. After five correct answers, you win this mode. It's not the most graceful or proud victory, but...

"Calculate B" offers up some harder math problems, with a high negative number, such as -655. This works in the exact same way as the first mode, and there's still zero opposition from the pink buttmonkey - the least terrifying video game rival in history - so you can easily take your time and try everything until you get close to the target number, and finish the game with "style". If you thought this was the bottom end of the game's totally absent challenge, take a look at the last game mode.

"So, son! What's the solution to this tricky
problem?" "Daddy... I have no fucking clue.
But I'll find out soon, with this magic key of
The last game mode is an "exercise", which is a mix-up of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I work in a supermarket, and having a good head in math is very important to me. I actually thought this exercise would do me some good! Maybe Donkey Kong Jr. Math ain't as bad as I thought, and as it has been thus far! OK, so first we choose the type of the exercise. There are ten stages in each exercise. There's the formula, the solution is missing. This looks nice. 85 divided by 5? That's, uhh, 17. I try to push all sorts of buttons to enter the answer, nothing happens. Finally, I give up and push the key hanging from the chain to the lock above. The answer appears, I've won. I go to the next round still wondering what the fuck just happened. 14 multiplied by 45? I don't have time for this shit, so I'll just push the key into the lock. The answer is 630. I've won again. What kind of a damn "exercise" is this?! You don't even have to think, all you need to do is to push that damn key into the lock to get the game tell you the answer to each problem! Where's the slightest fucking value in this game?! 

Donkey Kong Jr. Math has got to be the worst educational game I've ever played. If you think it'll help your kids to truly pick up on a boring subject like mathematics, I'm sorry to say you're far off. It has absolutely no value as a game, and even less as an educational tool. It educates nothing! In the main modes, the game patiently waits for the player to hit the right answer, even if it's a stroke of pure luck, and in the "exercise", it bluntly blurts out the answers after minimal efforts by a very saddened player. I expected to get a good laugh out of this "game", not witness one of the worst, most useless applications ever disguised as a video game. I'll spare a few tenths out of my respect and temporary pity for the Donkey Kong franchise. 

SOUND : 6.5


a.k.a. Donkey Kong Jr. no Sansū Asobi (JAP)

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