Donkey Kong Jr. is the sequel of the arcade game Donkey Kong. Set after the first game’s events, Mario (aka Jumpman) is the villain. Donkey Kong Junior is trying to save his father, Donkey Kong, kidnapped by Mario. Donkey Kong Jr. must go through four levels while Mario attempts to stop Donkey Kong Jr. with obstacles along the way.
Full thoughts and Review of Donkey Kong Jr.
As a sequel to Donkey Kong and coming out a little over a year later, Donkey Kong Jr. is a rather impressive follow-up to Donkey Kong. I played the Nintendo Switch Online NES version of the game. The game has many improvements. My first and favorite is that all levels are in the game. While Donkey Kong for the NES only had three stages with one arcade level missing. All levels are here in the game.
In contrast, the sound isn’t arcade-perfect but sounds excellent on the NES like Donkey Kong Before it. A strange choice is that you have a different level layout on the game’s NES version. While the NES has a 1-2-3-4 set, the arcade version does 1-4, then 1-2-3-4. It’s a minor odd omission from the arcade to NES. The arcade version also included some short cutscene’s left out of the NES due to limitations, I may assume.
The platforming is better, although the jumps and fall damage/death are still a bit unfair. There are more vines and chains that you have to climb. This platforming mechanic makes total sense playing as a gorilla. If you climb up one vine, you will rise slowly, but grab onto two parallel vines, are you’ll climb quickly. This technique comes in handy, especially on the final stage, as you have to push the keys up and unlock the case to save Donkey Kong. This gameplay is a natural progression for the sequel. When you played as Mario in Dokey Kong, the platforms and ladders you jump on made sense to a human’s ability. Donkey Kong Jr. uses platforms and vines to climb up to the top of the stage.
You face off against new enemies. Snapjaw’s are crocodile-like enemies that attack Donkey Kong Jr. There are two different varieties. Red Snapjaw’s stay in one area, while Blue will move until they reach a vine then move down until they fall off. Nitpicker’s are vulture-like birds that fly don’t and attempt to ram Donkey Kong Jr. Occasionally; some may try to drop eggs. Spark, balls of energy in the third level. Yellow Spark’s travel around a set platform, while blue sparks will move down the screen. Finally, Raven like birds on the final level that fly down attempting to ram Donkey Kong Jr in a zig-zag pattern. They are some strange enemies, but nothing that out of the ordinary from other enemies you fought in Donkey Kong, like fire snakes and oil drums.
Donkey Kong Jr. has two game modes, A and B. I don’t think I mentioned that in Donkey Kong, but A is a novice mode and B is an expert. I always thought B was closer to the arcade in difficulty. You get two lives in this game. You lose a life whenever you come into contact with an enemy or run out of bonus time. You can collect fruit in the game and drop them on your enemies for bonus points. The game has no end as it loops back to the first level after saving Donkey Kong from Mario. It’s short like most arcade games are, but fun and a time waster and distraction if you need a game to play for a short while.
The only odd issue I had with this game was the levels never matched up for me. Donkey Kong’s stages made sense as you climbed up a construction site. All the levels had construction themed elements, like garters, conveyor belts, ladders, and named after various heights that you climb. Donkey Kong Jr.’s levels seem not to have a logical order for them or theme. I guess maybe a circus theme, but the first level feels like a jungle level. I don’t know, that could be me. This gripe doesn’t make the game bad; it’s something I couldn’t figure out for years.
Summarized thoughts and review of Donkey Kong Jr.
Donkey Kong Jr. is an excellent follow up to the arcade game Donkey Kong. The controls are great, and the gameplay is better than its predecessor at times. New enemies and having all levels available makes the game feel closer to the arcade counterpart. Short like Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. is a simple game to pick up and play with a low learning curve and a quick replay whenever you’d like to go back and play
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