Tuesday 1 December 2015

Donkey Kong Junior (Colecovision review)

Developer: Coleco
Publisher: Coleco
Released: 1983

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

You play as DK Jr. and you must rescue Donkey Kong who's been kidnapped by Mario. There's three stages and this sequel 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 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 action isn't as smooth as the NES version (1986) and the controls are slightly stiff but I was impressed by how many sprites are visible on screen, especially in Chain's Stage with tons of birds and snapjaws littering the play area. The controls have a few quirks that make things a little more difficult (at least initially), especially if you're used to other versions; for example, in the Springboard Stage there's a section where you need to hold on to a moving chain and then grab onto a vine to cross the gap. However, you can't reach your arm out beforehand to extend yourself as you'll fall into a bottomless pit every time. Instead, you need to reach and then grab the vine in one fluid motion and it takes a while to readjust. You also can't jump straight up to cling onto vines which is extremely annoying in the heat of the moment as it can lead to lost lives. The third stage (Mario's Hideout) is missing which is a shame but at least, in my opinion, the best three levels were included. The collision detection is spot on though and the music and sound effects are all very faithful to the original Arcade version.

Donkey Kong Junior is a good port of the classic Arcade game and for its time it was probably the best available home version. However, future years produced much better ports and in my opinion you're better off sticking with the NES version as it has better controls and features all four levels.

Random trivia: This is the only videogame where Mario appears as a villain!

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