What can I say about this game, everybody who’s gamer knows about this infamous classic of a video game, it was the game that put Nintendo on the map, it made Mario a gaming star and it’s level design and objective is memorable, it’s the one and only Donkey Kong.
Nintendo was trying to appeal to the American Market with new games. The late Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s president at the time hired acclaimed games designer Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo’s chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi to design a game inspired by the likes of Beauty and the Beast, mostly King Kong and Popeye, a Popeye game was going to be made but the license fell through, but Popeye was eventually made after Donkey Kong. After much work, in July 9, 1981, Donkey Kong was released to arcades and this is where the story begins. Many people were entranced at the new things, like using cut scenes as means to move the simple plot on and having different stages but the game play was vastly similar. Donkey Kong was an incredible success, making a whole lot of cash from the arcades, and then eventually coming to home consoles and computers, the character Donkey Kong was so famous he ended up on boxes of cereal, TV and other merchandise.
However it wasn’t always smooth sailing as Universal City Studios sued Nintendo for infringing the movie King Kong, a 30’s movie which they thought they owned, but thanks to Nintendo’s lawyer John Kirby, he told the judges that Universal never really owned the movie as it was in fact Public Domain, so Universal lost and had to pay a lot to Nintendo for the case and the lawsuit made Donkey Kong even more successful. Nintendo’s lawyer John Kirby thanked him, they gave him some money, a boat with Donkey Kong on it and years later his surname might have been used as a name for our pink fluffy cushioned hero Kirby. The game got two sequels, Donkey Kong Jr, and Donkey Kong 3, I’ll review those soon, but Donkey Kong became absent for many years due to the success of Mario, but eventually Rare Ware (Rare but not the scumbag Rare we know today) came to the rescue and made Donkey Kong Country which put Donkey Kong back into the limelight once again, but I’ll review that soon.
So let me review this masterpiece. So the story is that Jumpman (not Mario yet, was going to be called Mr Video, but according to Shigeru Miyamoto, if that name was chosen, he would have been wiped out the face of the earth), he’s a carpenter (not a plumber yet) and has a girlfriend called Pauline, but suddenly she’s kidnapped by Donkey Kong and jumps on top of scaffoldings and Jumpman decides it’s time for action and instead of calling the Police, climbs up to rescue her.
There are four levels (three if you’re playing it on the NES), the levels are played in one screen, you play as Jumpman who moves left and right, mostly jumps over barrels and climbs up ladders to get to the next floor, you can get a hammer and smash the barrels getting in your way.
The objective of the levels are to get to the top of the level and Pauline is the goal, unfortunately whenever you get to her, Donkey Kong grabs her and climbs upstairs to the next scaffolding. Complete the four (or three) levels and…you go back to the beginning of the levels, starting the game all over again, however, the difficulty gets harder every time you complete the game without running out of all your lives.
What else do I have to say about this game, it’s a classic, whenever I feel like it, I’ll whip out my Game Boy Advance and start playing it, and I’m the person who’ll play the game until my lives run out, even if I beat the game again and again.
I know the controls can be a little stiff and the fact that there are real physics to Jumpman, he actually dies when he drops off a certain height, but these are just nit-picks, this is an arcade game from 1981 and still holds up today from story, graphics to its infamous 8-bit level design, it’s simple game play will appeal to everyone, I recommend you play a bit of video game history that created a success story for Nintendo and made Donkey Kong and Mario video game legends and still are today.
You can play it on the Arcade if you can find a machine, but as for consoles and computers you can get it on the Intellivision, Game & Watch, ColecoVision, Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit Computers, TI-99/4a, IBM PC Booter, Commodore 64 & VIC-20, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari 7800, Famicom, Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom Disk System, Game Boy Advance (e-Reader), Game Boy Advance (NES Classics), Virtual Console for the Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Nintendo Wii (bundled with a limited edition red Wii), e-Shop for Nintendo 3DS and TRS-80 CoCo. Wow, now that’s a lot of consoles and computers.