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Donkey Kong Junior (Colecovision) artwork

Donkey Kong Junior (Colecovision) review


"While the perennial favourite, Donkey Kong, had a little red-capped, thick-mustached plumber leaping barrels sent careening his way by the big guy himself, Donkey Kong Jr changes things up completely. Now Mario is exacting some measure of revenge, somehow managing to capture the big ape and chain him up (any self-respecting PETA member's alarm bells would go off if they saw young Jimmy having a go at this). "



While the perennial favourite, Donkey Kong, had a little red-capped, thick-mustached plumber leaping barrels sent careening his way by the big guy himself, Donkey Kong Jr changes things up completely. Now Mario is exacting some measure of revenge, somehow managing to capture the big ape and chain him up (any self-respecting PETA member's alarm bells would go off if they saw young Jimmy having a go at this).

My, how Mr. Kong has grown; he takes up much of the top of the screen in the stage where he is shackled and on perverse display. It certainly would have been interesting to see just how Mario was able to catch him, let alone chain him up.

In any case, playing as Junior, you must penetrate a forest level teeming with birds and piranhas, and then unlock father dearest in a second level featuring the same enemies. From there, it's onward to the third stage, which is sort of like the first, only on steroids. It has you performing harder jumps, and includes a moving platform (innovation alert!). If you're successful at these three missions, it's back to the first stage, to be greeted with increased difficulty. Hopefully you've gathered then, that there are just the three levels.

Junior's tasks in a nutshell, go like this. He will amble along, and with the tap of a button, jump onto a vine. The piranhas, or snappers as I like to call them, will patrol the vertically hanging vines, making life difficult for him just as the birds do on the horizontal plane. But Junior is nothing if not resourceful, and he can reach out to an adjacent vine, thus having one hand (or paw? Maybe it's paw...) on each of the two vines. To complete the move requires one more tap on the controller, and Junior smartly lets go of the original vine. This, I call Vine Navigation.

Intelligent use of the Vine Navigation technique will have Junior leaping from moving platforms to vines, traversing the playfield horizontally, avoiding snappers on his route, collecting fruit for points and to drop on the birds and snappers alike as they pass below him. Touching say, a cherry, will induce the two-fold result of receiving a bonus, and making the food fall on whatever enemy is directly beneath our amicable primate.

The rescue stage is unique in that it's the only one of the three that doesn't take place in the forest, and it's the one where daddy is strung up, and out. There are keys on the bottom of the vines, and you've got to push them up the vines into corresponding locks at the top of the screen where poppa is caged. It sounds easy, but when things speed up and birds and snappers are everywhere, it isn't. The double-handed technique previously touched on (placing Junior between two vines, one hand on each), will be indispensable here in expediting the pushing of the keys.

The music in Donkey Kong Jr is the usual Colecovision fare: pleasant sounding beeps and bops. It's an education to listen to it with a critical ear, as the tunes sound just about ready to explode into the complexity we would soon know on the NES, with its glut of platformers.

From a visual standpoint, Donkey Kong Jr stands out as being very well drawn and coloured in the context of its contemporaries. But with the lack of levels, one might think, 'well I should hope so!'

The game provides a decent distraction, but does not engage the player anywhere near the degree that a Venture or Turbo, or even Mousetrap might for the same system.

To be plain, Donkey Kong Jr looks nice, sounds decent, and plays well enough to be an excellent time-waster. What's present is good - if only there was more of it.

Rating: 5/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 13, 2003)

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