Video Games

Donkey Kong


In this game, the pet gorilla of a carpenter, Jumpman (later known as Mario) named Donkey Kong, breaks free and kidnaps Jumpman’s girlfriend Lady (also known as Pauline). You take the role of Jumpman as you must save Lady from Donkey Kong. You climb a three-level construction site, avoid barrels, jump from platform to platform, and other series of obstacles to save Pauline.

My summarized review of Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong was one of the first arcade games that Nintendo released and also a launch title on the NES It’s a game that I tend to play once and a while whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, or I visit an arcade plaza that still has this game. It’s short compared to most games, as you can beat this game in less than five minutes. Donkey Kong is still a classic. While the NES port was missing a level from the arcade counterpart, the game is always good and a fun distraction and provides a fair challenge.

Full Thoughts and Reactions after playing Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is a game, that more or less, is a legendary arcade classic. I don’t think there isn’t anything else I can add on how great of a game Donkey Kong is. I didn’t realize how many different tropes that Donkey Kong started and worked with for its limitations back in the early 1980s. Donkey Kong was a video game with a story that happens on the screen as you play. I learned this was the first occurrence of “damsel in distress” and video games and provided a similar formula for many other games to come.  

The starting level of Donkey Kong 25m.

Donkey Kong for the NES has three levels. A departure from the arcade game version that had four levels. The stage left out was called 50m. This level had a series of conveyor belts on three floors with cement tubs going back and forth on the conveyor belts. This level also had Donkey kong move per se, as he would be on the conveyor belt. I understood due to the limitations of the NES that prevented the level from being added. However, at the same time, I don’t know why this had to happen? Nintendo had other arcade games they made like Mario Bros.Donkey Kong Jr., and Donkey Kong 3 that while the sounds on the NES ports aren’t the same as on the arcade, the graphics, gameplay are near the same. I’ll leave it at the decision was due to cartridge memory limitation for the time.

Instead of 50m, the NES version goes straight to the 75m stage.

The first level 25m has you climbing ladders while trying to reach the top where Donkey Kong and Pauline are. While climbing to the top, Donkey Kong will throw barrels at you can jump over. Occasionally Donkey Kong will throw blue barrels that will create a fire enemy that will chase Mario once the barrel hits the oil drum on the bottom level. You also have a hammer in the game that you can use to smash the barrels and get points. Once you get to the top of the level, the game goes to the next level. Donkey Kong would grab Pauline and move to the next level. An excellent level design for anyone to pick up and play to get used to the controls and get a feel of the game.

Along the way, you can stop and pick up Lady’s (Pauline) items. I fire enemies is blocking her purse.

The next stage is 75m. This level has elevators that you either ascending or descending while avoiding fire enemies in the level. You need to time your jumps as you move from Platform to Platform. 75m is the first level you can collect any of Pauline’s many items that have fallen in the stage, such as her parasol and purse, which are worth 800 points. Once you reach the top, you have to avoid springs bouncing in from Donkey Kong’s positions from left to right. While fun, this level does seem to increase the difficulty of the game up significantly. There were jumps were I felt that any small jump leap I made from one platform to another, I had lost a life unfairly. Yet, jumps that I have made that were more significant drop, I lived through. It’s a gripe I have, but it didn’t detract from the game.

The final Stage 100m. In the arcade version, there is a glitch where you can stand and jump next to Donkey Kong and earn 100 points each time. I can’t seem to do this on the NES, or you are unable to on the NES version.

100m is the last level. You have to remove eight rivets for platforms supporting Donkey Kong while avoiding flame enemies. After removing the rivets, it causes Donkey Kong to fall and Jumpman to reunite with Pauline. Then the game repeats itself infinitely, and the game difficultly increases progressively. I can usually complete four or five levels in the game before I get a game over. I did hear that there is a kill screen in the game on level 22 that near instantly kills Mario before you get to Donkey Kong. I’m not sure if it’s the same for the NES version of the game.

The controls are right and adequately responsive. It’s not as intuitive or responsive as Super Mario Bros., but are right for the arcade game. You can run, climb ladders, and jump. There is a hammer you can get on some stages to smash barrels and enemies. There isn’t much to mention in enemies, barrels, living fire, and a bouncing spring that try to stop you on each stage. I feel these enemies original and generic at the same time whenever I see them on screen. Maybe because of the game’s time, this is the only item the developers had to work with, so I’m ok with this. 

The version that I played is from the Nintendo Online Service or the NES version of the game. It’s a game that is as old as I am, which is pretty crazy to think that this game is near forty years old. The game still has a lasting appeal to me. It can be picked up and played by anyone. All you have to do is move Mario around with the joystick or control pad and jump to avoid obstacles. The game is simple, but it does have a challenge to it that can be difficult if you are trying to progress or achieve any high score or see how far you can proceed in the game. Besides trying to beat the game and watch the ending, you can try to get the highest score possible. I’d recommend trying this game out if you come across it. I’d also recommend playing the arcade version for an authentic game experience.

If you want to play the original Donkey Kong, but can’t find an Arcade Cabinet, You can download the Arcade Archive on the Nintendo Switch shop for $7.99. It even includes the lost 50m stage.

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