Donkey Kong

I think that says “Kong?” Only the N looks normal.

Review Date: January 29, 2021

Release Date: 1983 sometime (exact dates have been lost to time)

Platform: Atari 800

Developer: Nintendo

Genre: Linear Platformer

I won’t ask what the ladder next to Donkey Kong is for, nor will I ask why there’s a flaming barrel of oil hanging around. But why is Pauline twice as tall as Mario?

Anecdotes: We were extremely late to the Donkey Kong bandwagon. We didn’t really play it too much, but what we did play was on Nintendo’s release on their own system. How did that happen? Well, my parents wanted to take a family vacation to St. Louis, so we stayed in a hotel off Interstate 44. The hotel had an indoor pool and one arcade game. The game was Donkey Kong 3, a game completely dedicated to the popular concept of shooting bug spray up a gorilla’s ass. Naturally, that piqued curiosity to the point where my parents got us Donkey Kong for the NES. And so we played, somewhat, but the bug spray up the ass part wasn’t in the game, so we were disappointed. Even more astounding was the fact that we didn’t even realize we controlled Mario in this game until we were adults.

In 1983, Nintendo had been a company for 94 years. They sold playing cards up until the 1960s. At that point, Nintendo started to experiment with other businesses. Most of them didn’t do well, but they stuck with the toys. Two of those toys were first generation consoles. Meanwhile, arcades were blowing up and Nintendo wanted into that market. Shigeru Miyamoto tried to get the license to the Popeye characters, but didn’t get it, so he created Donkey Kong instead. The game was quite popular, and Nintendo was just getting started. Little did we know that Nintendo would dominate the industry for the next 15 years.

Donkey Kong is about to drop, but Nintendo was just starting to rise.

Description: You play as Mario in an effort to reach Pauline. A level is successfully completed when Mario gets to her. There are various enemies to avoid as well as barrels. After completing a level, Mario moves on to the next one. The game rotates between four levels, but on the lowest difficulty, the middle two are skipped. The game just goes in a loop until you reach the kill screen. The game is named after the gorilla, who is the villain of the game.

Positives: Is that background music I hear? Yes it is. Mario is a one hit wonder, but once he understands the enemy patterns, he can handle it easily. It helps that the game puts hammers in some levels, but to make sure players don’t just blast through with hammers, they disabled the jump ability.

Negatives: The game comes with five difficulty levels, which is fine, but they’re labeled on the option screen with symbols and the manual is no help. The game has to be started to figure out which level it’s on. It’s set to Springboard on startup, which is level 2.

There seems to be an issue with collision detection; several times I jumped and the game didn’t give me the hammer.

Too bad Mario didn’t learn how to jump yet. This obstacle course would be a breeze.

Grade: B

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