Thursday, 30 June 2016

Donkey Kong Junior (Atari 7800 review)

Developer: International Technology Development Corporation
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1988
 

Donkey Kong Junior 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. There's four 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 level design is more elaborate compared to the original and some stages feature shortcuts if you're brave enough to take them! There's also more claustrophobic sections (especially the vine swinging parts in the Springboard Stage and the multiple sparks you need to avoid in Mario's Hideout), and despite the game's short length there's a fair bit of variety. Judging when to drop fruit is a brilliant mechanic and adds an interesting element as you choose whether to rush to the top for a bonus or wait around to destroy enemies. The gameplay doesn't suffer from some of the control quirks that hampered the otherwise excellent Colecovision port (1983) and everything feels tight and responsive. However, despite how much fun I had with the game, it still offers nothing over the superior NES port that was released two years earlier (five if you count the Famicom!). While the music and SFX are poor (especially the machine grinding effect that plays when you lose a life!) due to the 7800 using the same sound chip as the Atari 2600, I do like the unique jingles that play after completing each level.

Donkey Kong Junior on the Atari 7800 is a high-quality version of Nintendo's classic Arcade game due to its tight controls and exceptional level design. There's not a lot to criticise but in my opinion the NES port is still the best and most playable version in terms of both gameplay and sound. 

 
 
Random trivia: The game was also released on the Atari 2600 by Coleco in 1983.

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