Video Review: Donkey Kong (GB, 1994)

Author, Layout and Production Credit: Mat Tschirgi
Special Thanks: Shigeru Miyamoto-san for developing the original Donkey Kong game, which this title is a remake of. Without him, the platform side-scroller genre would not be what it is today.

Do a “Save Target As…” or similar to download the .WMV video file to your local system

Do a “Save Target As…” or similar to download the .WMV video file above to your local system
File size: 2.10MB
Running Time: 1:24 minutes

Text Review

Remakes of retro games are nothing new, but it is fairly rare when a remake truly brings something new to the table. Nintendo's remake of Donkey Kong for the GameBoy doesn't just rehash the 4 levels of the original arcade game-- it adds 96 new ones, as well as introduces a wealth of deeper gameplay options. The new levels are brief enough to not wear out their welcome, but long enough to keep your attention.

Taking its share of gameplay mechanics from Super Mario Bros. 2 while tightening up the rather loose controls from the arcade original, it still keeps the basic focus of the original: the player controls Mario as their avatar, who has to save Daisy. Every four levels there is a boss fight that is a more action-oriented puzzle than most other segments in the game. Though the game can get frustrating at times, there are so many ample opportunities to get extra lives that getting stuck in the game really isn't a big issue.

After letting players get through the first four levels, which are nearly identical to the original arcade game (despite the improved graphics and controls), the scope of the game expands to different Worlds, all of which have 4-16 different levels. The visual look of the different levels is enough to be pleasing to the eye, but often has little effect on gameplay itself. Cute little cut-scenes play after boss fights to introduce gameplay tips to the player, which is a pretty clever way to introduce more complicated concepts.

The weakest part of the game by far is the last world, Donkey Kong's Tower. All the rather sedate puzzle action of the game goes out the window as fast-paced arcade sequences take over. This does make the end of the game more tense than the rest of the game, but also loses some points for design inconsistency. Mario's final standoff against Donkey Kong is indeed challenging, if not a bit too long. The ending itself is rather weak, but considering this is a remake of a legendary arcade game, plot complexity isn't really what they were going for here.

It's definitely a game worth checking out, especially if you enjoyed the original.