Monday 23 November 2015

Donkey Kong (NES review)

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

Donkey Kong is a multi-screen platform game that was first released in the Arcades in 1981.

Playing as Mario your mission is to save Pauline who's been kidnapped by DK. There's three static screens, each with their own unique features. The first is Barrel Stage where you work your way upwards using ladders while jumping over DK's barrels. Along the way you'll come across a Hammer which gives you temporary invincibility; although you can't climb ladders while holding it you can whack enemies for points! Next is the Elevator Stage where you use moving platforms to reach the far right side before avoiding the bouncing spring as you climb the final ladder. Fireballs are introduced here and you must time your jumps to avoid them. The final screen is the Rivet Stage which sees you removing eight rivets while surrounded by fireballs. There's two hammers though and once completed Pauline is saved and DK falls head first in defeat! The game then loops back to Stage 1 with more enemies and speedier obstacles. Optional items dropped by Pauline can be picked up in each stage for bonus points; these include umbrellas and purses and they're usually located in risky areas to keep the risk-reward element high. Each stage is tons of fun and the varied gameplay stop things getting stale. Unfortunately the Conveyor Belt stage from the Arcades is absent which is disappointing. Although you can't adjust in mid-air the controls are responsive and unlike some other home ports there's no issues with lining yourself up with ladders. The collision detection is spot-on with a perfect difficulty curve. The port from an upright cabinet to a 4:3 display is well done and the music and SFX are top notch.

Donkey Kong is a superb port of the Arcade classic and it's the sort of game you can play for hours due to the solid core mechanics. It's possibly the best home version out there and just tops the excellent port on the Amstrad CPC (1986) which is also missing the Conveyor Belt stage.

Random trivia: Nintendo finally added the Conveyor Belt stage when they pre-installed the game on 25th anniversary Wii consoles in Europe in 2010.

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