Saturday, 21 April 2012

Donkey Kong (GB)

By request, I have (finally) gotten around to playing Donkey Kong for the Game Boy. I don't see any barrels or damsels in distress on this title screen, so maybe I'm actually playing as Donkey Kong himself this time.

Nope, I'm playing as Mario, who has apparently gone into stand up comedy now. Actually he's doing acrobatics to show off his freakish ability to jump several times his own height, and land without breaking his legs.

Hey, is that Luigi in the audience with a date? Good for him.

Oh no, this isn't a Donkey Kong game, this is THE Donkey Kong game.

Donkey Kong (Arcade)
They've had to cut part of the level to fit it onto the Game Boy's screen, and they've turned the background white, but this is arcade Donkey Kong alright. Hammers and barrels and girders and ladders and everything. Even the music and the squeeky footsteps are the same.

I've never liked Donkey Kong much. The game just has zero appeal to me. I especially hate the way it's seemingly random which way the barrels fall. I can be hiding on a ladder waiting for a barrel to roll under me, only to get caught out by another one turning to fall on my head. Weirdly, they actually added that 'feature' to the western release, it wasn't in the Japanese version.

Well there's one difference between this and the original Donkey Kong. In the arcade game I wasn't able to backflip all the way up the level in 3 seconds.

Surely there should be 10 Donkey Kongs here, at least, considering how big he is on the level. Actually, he's only just taller than the damsel in distress isn't he, so there should be like 25 of them all stacked up on each other's heads.

Hey this is different. Actually I've never gotten past the first level of arcade Donkey Kong so I wouldn't know what they've changed.

I have to admit, I jumped up into flames a few times here, until I realised I could just walk over the gaps without falling. Getting killed resets the level and puts me back at the start, but that also means that the 1up reappears.

Of course reappearing 1ups are only useful if I can reach them before I get Mario killed. It wasn't my fault though, he slipped onto the insta-kill spikes! Though actually everything's instant death in this game.

Fortunately I've got three lives left, and I'm not likely to misjudge that jump again.


Yeah, I need to work on my Mario control. I keep misjudging how he's going to move.

Hey wait, is that monkey giving me the finger? I ain't going to stand for that.

Okay I restarted and got up to the fourth level this time. It was trivially easy compared to the last few, which makes me think that something's up here. Still, what else can I do but climb up to the top level?

Oh come on Mario! I've seen you beat that ape unconscious with just your fists! I've seen you literally kick his ass so hard that he explodes. This is just embarrassing.

Donkey Kong (Arcade)
After finally getting past level one on the arcade game for the first time ever, I realised what I was doing wrong here on the Game Boy. The trick on this level is to dodge the flames and walk over every rivet holding the girders together.

Then when all the rivets are removed the girders collapse, Donkey Kong is knocked out, and Mario gets the girl. Happy ending!

Hey, wait! This isn't how it's supposed to work out! Come back you monkey bastard!

That damn ape took Mario's girlfriend into the city, then locked the door after him. Yes there's only one tiny door into the city, and it's got a lock. Fortunately he slammed the door so hard that he knocked a key out of the sky. The exact right key for this lock!

I get the feeling this was put in to teach me what to do about locked doors on the next set of levels.

Hey, I've got a level map now. Though it's basically just a new version of the tower of apes screen from the last area, I can't actually select what stage I want to play.

Oh look, the path leads right up the side of the tallest building. Giant apes are so predictable.

The gameplay's pretty similar, only without Donkey Kong throwing shit at me the whole way. I'm having a little trouble picking up this giant key though, as it would appear that I've done a handstand instead.

Well that's one way to teach me that I can step on these creatures... start me off standing on one of them. This is pretty early in Mario's timeline though, so he hasn't learned how to crush his enemies beneath his feet yet.

You know, it seems that every level has a hat, an umbrella, and a bag on it, and I'm not sure what they're for. I remember them turning up in the arcade version too now that I think about it.

Ah, I think if I get all three of them I get a spin on this fruit machine at the end of the level. Well, I got a 1up out of it at least.

Oh crap, I've caught up with Donkey Kong, and he's dropping all kinds of crap on me this time. I keep trying to do a handstand jump to reach the ledges above, but it's not working. Maybe I just have to wait it out?


Oh duh, this level actually scrolls, and the ladder up was hidden on the left.

Aw crap, he knocked me off the ladder with a stomp, then dropped a dumbbell on my head. Still, I know what I'm doing now. That primate's got no chance.


Son of a bitch! There's falling damage in this game? That just ain't right. The guy falls from flying castles and exploding airships every other week, and just walks it off.

Though to be fair, in the arcade version he couldn't even fall one meter without dying, so he's gotten better.

This is how I'm actually meant to get across the spikes. Collecting this powerup lets me put down a temporary girder to walk across. There's another one on the top left so I can take the key over to the door.

The next level introduces temporary ladders as well. Of course the first thing I do is put the ladder in the middle of the screen, without noticing there's no way out of the room above me. It's okay though, the ladder will reset... eventually.

I threw a couple of barrels right back at Donkey Kong's face on the final city stage, and then we both left for a sunny forest level. I think I'll quit while I'm ahead though. It's saved my game so I can always come back to it some other time.

I'm really not a fan of the original game, but this seems alright. It feels like a logical progression from the arcade game, with a couple of tweaks to the controls to make it less frustrating to play. Plus it makes an effort to introduce new features as you go to keep things interesting. So I suppose I'll have to give it a gold star for not being crap then.


  1. I never got a chance to play this back in the day, I hope by the time I get a 3DS they'll have it

  2. Wow, I did not expect you to do this after all. Thanks man, it was a great read!


Semi-Random Game Box