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Donkey Kong Jr. (NES) artwork

Donkey Kong Jr. (NES) review


"I don’t blame Mario for being pissed. I mean, if a giant ape came up, grabbed my girlfriend and ran away with her under his fat sweaty arm, I’d be pretty cheesed off too. Extracting revenge for this heinous act, Mario has kidnapped Donkey Kong and mysteriously managed to the lock the ape up. He’s also separated Donkey from his only son and when the brave little tyke sets out to rescue is father, Mario tries to kill him by throwing little crocodiles at him. Don’t you think that’s rather harsh?..."



I don’t blame Mario for being pissed. I mean, if a giant ape came up, grabbed my girlfriend and ran away with her under his fat sweaty arm, I’d be pretty cheesed off too. Extracting revenge for this heinous act, Mario has kidnapped Donkey Kong and mysteriously managed to the lock the ape up. He’s also separated Donkey from his only son and when the brave little tyke sets out to rescue is father, Mario tries to kill him by throwing little crocodiles at him. Don’t you think that’s rather harsh? I’m pretty sure that Donkey only wanted to fool around with Pauline, he wouldn’t have hurt her. But Mario, the evil little bastard, is setting out to kill a baby gorilla! The RSPCA would throw a wobbly if they found about that.

DKJR does offer some small improvements over the original NES Donkey Kong. It now has a total of FOUR (one step at a time) levels instead of three. After finishing these, you’ll be sent back to the beginning to play “Game B”, a harder version of the same game. It also brought a more interesting concept to the table that doesn’t involve jumping over barrels or hammering little fire monsters to death. Instead, you control Donkey Kong Junior and have to climb up a series of vines in order to reach your caged father and his chubby abductor. When you jump on these vines, DKJ will slowly climb up them. When I say slowly, I mean like a “snail on Nytol*” slow. Thankfully, DK can reach out and hold on to the closest vine to him and bridge the gap. Try climbing now and you’ll notice a substantial increase to the kid’s speed.

However, the little cretin, Mario will open his sack of horrors and occasionally throw out a few nasty critters to finish you off. The main ones are little crocodiles that will climb down the vines to come get you. Some slide down, reach the bottom and climb back up while others will fall off and plummet to their doom. Mario will also throw birds at you that circulate in patterns across the screen. Dodging these is a little less difficult because they stay in the same pattern. If you work it out, you’ll see just how easy it is to dodge them. If you’re quick at vine navigation, you can K.O those snappy little shits by knocking fruit on top of them. Fruit sticks on vines but you can knock them off by passing over them. Timing is everything so make sure that the little idiot isn’t one of the drop off kind. If it starts coming back up, you can squash him with a cherry by simply climbing past it.

DKJ has either got a severe weight problem or he’s wearing those concrete slippers that he borrowed from Mario at the end of the original Donkey Kong. He can’t jump for bananas, which is a painful handicap in a game that requires quite a lot of hopping from place to place. This mistake doesn’t really have any drastic effect in the first level, which focuses mainly on the use of vines. Unfortunately, Level 2 is all about jumping which, as you imagine, is unnecessarily difficult. You have to jump from platform to platform, then on to some moving platforms and the “super-fun” moving vine. Imagine trying to jump across a gap with concrete shoes on. Then imagine that the place you’re aiming for moves from left to right. This means that if you jump at the wrong time then you’ll drop a centimetre and die. Taking on the fact that, DKJ can’t fall far before having an epileptic fit and dying, it’s fairly obvious that these unpleasant elements merge to together to form a horribly inadequate experience.

You’ll find that the stages that require you to swing from various vines are a lot more entertaining that hopping around with your weighted boots on. The flexibility and the originality of swinging around is lot more appealing than crawling around worrying whether that foot high gap is going to swindle a life away from you. Ducking and dodging climbing foes is rather enjoyable and offers a few minor thrills, as does clobbering them with fruit. It’s a shame that everything else is rather bland; the “concrete shoes” the “four level loop” and the fact that falling down a tiny gap will kill you are enough to smack the game down a few notches. Yes, it’s a substantial improvement over the original NES version of Donkey Kong but it still brings over the same flaws. However, it places them in a more interesting and enjoyable environment, therefore cushioning the blow. It’s fun for a short period of time but the small number of unpleasant flaws drags the fun factor through the mud.

Rating: 6/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (October 04, 2005)

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