Tuesday 24 November 2015

Donkey Kong Jr. (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D#1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1986

Donkey Kong Jr. is a multi-screen platform game that was first released in the Arcades in 1982.

You play as DK Jr. and you must rescue Donkey Kong who's been kidnapped by Mario. Unlike the NES original (which had three stages) this sequel has four and places more importance on climbing and manoeuvring on vines. These vines provide layers of strategy as trying to climb one is slow; however, grab onto two vines at the same time and you can advance much quicker. Likewise, the reverse mechanic is used for descending. While doing this you have to avoid birds and snapjaws, as well as hitting bonus fruits at the right time so they fall on enemies. The first screen is the Vine Stage where you cross vines before reaching the top ledges and jumping over birds. Next up is Springboard Stage which introduces springs you can bounce off, as well as moving platforms and chains to grab onto. The third screen is Mario's Hideout and you need to progress side-to-side while avoiding sparks that travel across platforms. The final screen is Chain's Stage where you climb each vine and push keys upwards to unlock DK from his cage; the screen is littered with enemies but you can push multiple keys up at the same time by grabbing onto two vines. Each stage is simple but incredibly well designed and there's even risky shortcuts you can take if you're brave! This sequel is tougher but the fruit weapons and vines mean more strategy and multi-tasking is involved rather than straightforward platforming. Having one extra stage makes a big difference too and keeps things feeling fresh for longer. The animation is also better and I love when DK Jr. is hit and his eyeballs pop out of his head!

Donkey Kong Jr. is an outstanding follow-up and it takes the series in new directions instead of resting on its laurels. The platforming, stage design and controls are as good as ever and it's an absolute joy to play while providing a serious challenge for high score chasers.

Random trivia: This is the only Nintendo game where Mario appears as a bad guy!

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