Donkey Kong (Game Boy)

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US box art.

Donkey Kong is a platform action game developed by Nintendo and Pax Softnica and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy on 1994-06-14. In the first four levels, the game appears to be a simple port of the original arcade game, but, once you finish the fourth stage, you discover that the game has been expanded to 100 unique stages, each with new monsters, items, and techniques. Some of the game mechanics come from the original arcade game, others were borrowed from Donkey Kong Jr., Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic, and a whole host are brand new for the game.

Personal

I remember seeing this game on lists of the best Game Boy games, so, I started playing it, but it just looked like a simple port of the arcade game. Since video game rating web sites frequently rank ports high on their lists just because the original was well-received, I stopped playing after only the first stage. However, sometime later, I was looking for another Game Boy game to play and saw this ranked as the best game on the platform, so I decided to look into it a bit deeper. After beating the fourth stage, I saw that it was actually a totally new game that just started like the original. I began playing the game properly, initially enjoying it quite a bit, but, as the game began to drag on, one very simple level after another, I started getting bored and began playing it in short sessions. I finally finished it on 2021-03-15. After finishing it, I wondered how this could possibly receive the praise that it did since it's a fairly pedestrian platformer, but then I remember that it was for the Game Boy, which didn't have very many good platformers.

Status

I don't own this game, but I've beat it.

Review

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5 5 4 4 6

Best Version: Game Boy

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • There are a whole lot of new levels with new items, monsters, and objects to manipulate the environment. And, the levels aren't just typical avoidance or attack levels like the original game, many of them include puzzle solving.
  • The game rewards you for taking the more difficult path (and collecting Pauline's items) by giving you a minigame at the end of the stage to earn more lives.
  • The game not only saves your progress, but it keeps track of your best scores on every level, which is nice.
  • The combination of Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. levels added a nice amount of familiarity.
  • I like how the game reminds you of the special moves in the cut scenes. This was certainly a more entertaining way to learn them than having to read the manual, although the manual it well-made also.
  • The game has wonderful Super Game Boy support, which is always nice.

Bad

  • I found the boss stages to be strangely easier than most of the regular stages leading up to them, which was a bit of a let down.
  • The game gives you so many free lives, you'd have to be particularly awful to ever see a game over. In my very first play through, I maxed out the lives at 99. Part of the reason is that the most difficult stages give you a 1up early on, ensuring you can play the level forever until you beat it, but the real problem is with the minigames. The spinner is easy to match, and the slot machine is especially easy to game. You only get 1 life if you line up three rare hammers, but you also get 2 free lives simply by getting two very common Mario heads anywhere. So, even if your first slot is a hammer, you should still try for Mario heads rather than three hammers because you'll get more lives, and it's much easier to do.
  • Although every stage is different, most of them are just minor variations on a theme and don't require much skill, so, even with 100 levels, by the end of the game, I was pretty bored.
  • Though it's used well as a game mechanic, it doesn't make sense that you can't jump onto ladders, but you can jump onto vines.
  • In the later stages, where I did start to die more frequently, I was annoyed with the long delay between dying and starting over.
  • The final boss battle sees a huge ramp up in difficulty. While I don't mind it, it's a bit unfair to have such an easy game end with a vastly more difficult final boss.
  • I'm a bit confused as to why Nintendo didn't give the game a different title, or, at the very least, a subtitle to differentiate it from the original game. Anyone seeing just the cover would probably assume it was a clone of the arcade game.
  • Save the princess again? I get it, it was the plot of the original, but, with all they added to the game, something new could have been done with such a tired motif.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

All regions use the same fantastic cartoon art. Donkey Kong and DK Jr. both clearly enjoy aggravating Mario with the kidnapping of Pauline, and Mario is angry and violent as he bashes his way through the dangerous construction site. I like the reuse of the original arcade game's lettering.

Box Art

Documentation

Graphics

Videos

Commercial.
Longplay.

Credits

Roles Staff
Executive Producer Hiroshi Yamauchi
Producer Shigeru Miyamoto
Directors Masayuki Kameyama, Takao Shimizu
Main Programmers Masayuki Hirashima, Yoshiaki Hoshino
Co-Programmer Motoo Yasuma
C. G. Designers Takaya Imamura, Hideo Kon, Kenta Usui
Sound Composer Taisuke Araki
Course Designers Masayuki Kameyama, Hideo Kon, Katsutomo Maeiwa, Kuniko Sakurai, Takao Shimizu, Kenji Umeda, Kenta Usui
Special Thanks To Shigeki Yamashiro
Illustrator Yoichi Kotabe
Manual Editor Atsushi Tejima

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Donkey Kong
Japanese ドンキーコング Donki Kongu Donkey Kong

Links

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