Donkey Kong 64: DK Arcade Strategy Guide Version 1.2 written by David Wonn December 20, 2000 Table of contents: I. About this guide II. General strategies A. Barrels B. Fireballs C. Ladders D. Pies E. Springboards F. The Hammer - to use or not to use, that is the question G. Bonus items III. Timer bonus IV. Stage 1 V. Stage 2 VI. Stage 3 VII. Stage 4 VIII. Advanced tips and lesser known secrets A. Rebound jump B. Score two jumps over the same barrel at once C. Jump over and smash the same barrel D. Easy points from fireballs E. Trap a fireball in midair F. Bring a hammer to another floor! G. Stage 3 shortcut (difficulty levels 4 and lower) IX. Disclaimer and how to link to this guide ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I. About this guide This guide is designed to help players improve their DK arcade scores in Donkey Kong 64. Although many of the tactics can also be applied for the actual arcade version, this guide emphasizes on the Nintendo 64 version. FYI, my personal highest score as of February 1, 2000 is 276,600 points. I lost my last life in level 8, stage 3, and then I snapped a photo and sent it to Nintendo Power's Arena contest. I plan to eventually break 300,000 points and see how far I can go. In this guide, you will find a mixture of tactics ranging from the basics to the more sophisticated and lesser known strategies. As with most classic games, you won't become a pro overnight, but you will gradually get better scores with these techniques. You might even impress some friends with a few tricks in this guide. :-) Read on to learn how to do so and more.... II. General strategies Before I get into the more sophisticated strategies and level breakdowns, let's look at some strategies that apply to all difficulty levels: A. Barrels The barrels are among the easiest of all the enemies in Donkey Kong, as they have (somewhat) predictable behaviors. Donkey Kong throws two basic types. The most common ones (more common in the earlier difficulties) are the ones that travel down each floor one by one. It's often difficult to tell which ladders and gaps that they will "choose" to go down. As a general rule, don't second guess their patterns! Always assume that a barrel on a floor above you just might attempt to fall down the ladder nearest you. It's better to be safe than sorry. The other barrels are the ones that skip floors and head straight for the bottom floor. These are even more difficult to negotiate, so it's best to stay as far as possible from these menaces. Keep in mind that they will become more common in the higher difficulties. The scoring for barrels is fairly straight forward. Jumping over 1 barrel gives 100 points. Jumping over 2 in a single leap yields 300 points, and 3 will give you 500 points. It's always nice to find barrels that group together extremely close, but always be on the lookout for ones that are grouped further apart. Smashing a barrel with a hammer is always 300 points. B. Fireballs The fireballs are one of the most difficult enemies due to their very unpredictable behavior. It is best just to avoid them altogether if at all possible. You can jump over them but their point value is low, and they can change directions on a dime. Consider using ladders to get around them rather than jumping over them unless you are surrounded or if you are about to clear the last rivet in stage 4. Jumping over 1 fireball is only 100 points, while jumping over 2 or 3 is 300 or 500 points respectively. Smashing a fireball with a hammer can yield 300, 500, or 800 points. C. Ladders Ladders come in 3 varieties: regular (all stages), broken (stage 1), and stretching (stage 2). With the regular ladders, you should always keep an eye on any nearby barrels on floors that are one or two stories above you. Why two floors, you ask? Well, it doesn't take long at all for a barrel to suddenly go down a ladder, and before you know it, you have a danger directly above you. Also keep an eye on fireballs both above and below you. Just remember, when in doubt, don't climb it! Also, if you encounter a group of two or more barrels that are too far apart to jump in a single bound and too close to jump in multiples, get away from them as soon as possible! Don't be afraid to go down one floor when playing stage 1 on higher difficulties. Sometimes the barrels will take separate paths as they go downward, making them more negotiable. It might cost you a little time, but it's worth it when no other path is safe. The broken ladders are more of a nuisance since the barrels and fireballs can use them completely while Mario cannot. Because of this, players often tend to neglect the idea of ever climbing them. Oddly enough they can also be a life saver in some situations. If you see a group of barrels coming your way, and there doesn't seem to be any regular ladder nearby, try using a broken ladder! You can climb up far enough to stay above any barrels that might otherwise sweep Mario off his feet. Just don't get too comfortable since you are not immune to attacks by other barrels from above. Only use them as a last resort. The stretching ladders behave like a cross between regular and broken ladders. Fireballs can always use them even when they are contracted, so keep that in mind. Try not to leave Mario on a contracted ladder too long if fireballs are nearby. D. Pies The pies in stage 2 have the most predictable paths, but offer no point value if you jump over them. Only jump over a pie if you are running against the direction of the conveyer belt. Just keep in mind that the belt reverses direction every few seconds if you plan on jumping over one. Smashing one with a hammer is always worth 300 points. E. Springboards The springboards in stage 3 can be the most annoying and most frustrating hazards in the game, especially on levels 5 and upward. If you take a close look at the springboards, you may notice that each one varies from the previous one just by a slight amount. By this, I mean that they do not land in the exact same spots. It might seem random at first, but it actually follows a pattern. Time your jumps across the lower platforms with extreme caution. On the top floor, position Mario in between the spots where the springboard bounces. It is best not to climb the top ladder until Mario is just barely to the right of the ladder and right after a springboard bounces in front of him. In higher difficulty levels, you will see a few springboards on the screen at any given time, and they are likely to hit you as you are climbing the top ladder unless you climb it immediately after one bounces over your head. Timing is tough to master in the higher levels, so it will just take a lot practice. F. The Hammer - to use or not to use, that is the question Many old school arcade players would debate on whether or not to use hammers, so I'll give you the answer: IT DEPENDS! It all has to do with how many points you think you can gain in 500 timer units. If you think you will get more than 500 points, then by all means, use it! Otherwise, don't waste your time. I'll mention more on which ones to get and which ones to avoid in section IV. G. Bonus items Bonus items can also be collected or avoided, and you should consider collecting if they are worth the time spent. All bonuses in level 1 are 300 points. In level 2, they are 500 points each. In all the higher difficulty levels they are worth 800 points. III. Timer bonus In difficulty level 1, you will have 5000 timer units at the beginning of each stage. On level 2, you get 6000; on 3 you get 7000; on 4 you get 8000; and on levels 5 and upwards, it is always 9000. Just don't let it go down to zero, or else you will lose one life. IV. Stage 1 ALWAYS collect both hammers here. Consider waiting near the first hammer until a barrel is within reach. Even on difficulty level 1, I jump over the first barrel for 100 points since it takes a while for the next barrel to come within striking distance of the hammer. On level 2, you can actually run under the first barrel if you so choose. By the time you reach level 4 and upwards, Donkey Kong will throw the barrels that skip floors more and more often. They also tend to move very erratic, so keep your distance from them if at all possible. You can also score points for jumping over these barrels in the same manner as the regular barrels. A good player should be able to smash 6 barrels per hammer. Seven or more is always a nice bonus. I've even had ten at one time. On the higher difficulty levels, the barrels move faster and tend to use ladders more often. When they are moving at high speeds, you may consider jumping over them in the same direction as their movement. This is handy when there are several coming your way. Don't forget to go down a floor or two if you see more barrels than you can handle! There is almost always an escape route, but it's just a matter of finding it. V. Stage 2 Many players say that the pie factory is their favorite stage and the easiest stage as well. It may seem easy until you get to level 7, then it becomes quite a formidable challenge. You should collect the first bonus item in the first 6 difficulty levels, but it will be quite a gamble in levels 7 and higher since the fireballs can reach you before you even get to the first hammer! On level 1, if you don't see any pies by the time you climb the first ladder, don't bother getting the hammer. Otherwise, you will just waste time and not hit anything. If even one pie comes out, it's generally a good idea to get the first hammer, as you will make up for your time if you hit just two pies. Only collect one of the other two bonus items, and don't even bother with the second hammer. On difficulty level 2, you should consider getting the first bonus item and first hammer. Collecting both of the other bonus items might be worth it but oftentimes it isn't. Also skip the second hammer. On level 3 and beyond you should always get the first hammer. Hopefully you should destroy at least one of the fireballs as well. The number of fireballs that appear is equal to the level of difficulty you are playing, but on levels 6 and beyond, it maxes out at 5 fireballs. For levels 3 and higher, the bonus items are worth 800 points, so it would be a good idea to collect them all if possible. If there are two or more fireballs guarding a bonus item, then you might want to consider skipping it, as it might take more than 800 timer units just to dodge them and collect the item. Also consider collecting the second hammer if the fireballs are threatening your chances of making it to the top. VI. Stage 3 Stage 3 is possibly the toughest stage out of all four. This is mainly because of the hazardous springboards and because of the second fireball. In the first 4 difficulty levels, you can actually breeze through the stage with a nifty shortcut. See the "Advanced tips and lesser known secrets" section below for details on how this is done. It's very easy to do in levels 1 and 2, but you will need good timing to pull it off in levels 3 and 4. Don't even bother on levels 5 and higher. As for the first bonus item, you might want to skip it on stages 1 and 2 if the first fireball goes downward at the very beginning of the stage. On stages 3 and higher, you will generally profit from collecting the bonus item, since you will typically get past the first fireball in under 800 timer units. Don't even bother collecting the last bonus item. It's not worth the time on level 1, and it's a big risk to even mess with on the higher difficulty levels. You might collect it on level 2 or 3, but just remember not to spend too much time. Whenever you are forced to take the long trail, always keep an eye on the springboards. If you watch closely, you'll notice a pattern in the way they fall. Each one drops in a slightly different location than the previous one. On levels 5 and higher, it is best to wait until you see one falling furthest to the right before attempting to advance. This way, the next springboard will fall more to the left, leaving you more margin of error for making it across the first time. Then you will have to cross this perilous path once again. Usually there will be a fireball blocking your chances of getting across. You may just have to be patient and wait for it to get away from the ladder before moving on. It will be especially annoying on levels 5 and higher. Once you have crossed this path once again, you're on your way to the top. Make sure that you are acquainted with the timing of each springboard. You will need to carefully step in places where they just bounce safely over your head. Gradually work your way to the final ladder, and don't climb until you see a springboard bounce near the ladder. If you are just barely to the right of the springboard, make a mad dash for the ladder! With good timing, you should make it up without getting hit. VII. Stage 4 Stage 4 is Mario's final test against Donkey Kong. On all difficulty levels, it is best to collect all bonus items and both hammers in order to maximize your scoring opportunities. I prefer to clear the rivets from top to bottom, collecting all the items on my way. Once you make it to level 5, the fireballs will move at the same speed as Mario! As they get faster, you will have to do a lot of improvising in your attempts to clear the stage. Just don't get too greedy in attempting to score points on the higher difficulty levels, or else you may end up being surrounded by more fireballs than you can handle! Fortunately you'll never see more than 5 at any given time. While you are using the hammers, you can more or less determine where the fireballs will re-spawn. As a general rule, if you are on the left half of the screen, they will appear on the right, and vice-versa. Use this knowledge to your advantage for gaining points and maximizing your chances of clearing the stage. VIII. Advanced tips and lesser known secrets A. Rebound jump On any stage, try jumping off the side of the screen. As long as you aren't on the top floor of stage 4, you'll end up rebounding off the side of the screen and back to where you were! Doing this allows you to temporarily escape danger, and sometimes it will be a lifesaver. Try this with the second hammer on stage 1 and watch the results. With clever use of this jump, you can do some more useful tricks as in the following below.... B. Score two jumps over the same barrel at once Do the rebound jump off of any ledge in stage 1 when a barrel is directly behind you. With good timing, you'll score 100 points on your way to the edge of the screen and another 100 points on your way back! C. Jump over and smash the same barrel Here's a trick I like to use as often as possible in the first stage. Wait by a hammer until a barrel gets relatively close, then jump over it. With good timing, you can score 100 points for jumping over the barrel, and then as you collect the hammer in midair, you can turn around and bash that same barrel for another 300 points! D. Easy points from fireballs On stage 3, whenever you are forced to take the long trail, you can actually score some extra points if the second fireball blocks your path. Whenever that fireball stays on the lowest platform, and Mario is on the platform to the right of it, you can take advantage of this trick. Stand on the left edge of the platform to the right of the fireball, but don't go too far. As the fireball comes nearby, jump straight up. Even though you are on another platform, the game thinks that you are legitimately jumping over that fireball! With each jump you'll gain an easy 100 points. Take advantage of this if the fireball prohibits you from advancing further. E. Trap a fireball in midair In stage 4, try jumping over a fireball and a rivet at the same time. If you time it well, you can trap that fireball in midair! Just beware that the fireball might not stay there forever. F. Bring a hammer to another floor! In stage 4, climb up to the floor just below Donkey Kong, and stand on top of the leftmost ladder. Try doing a rebound jump off to the left. Mario will come back, but this time you will be facing the right. Now do another rebound jump, but make sure Mario still faces the right as he falls. If you do everything correctly, Mario will grab the hammer from the floor below and bring it back up with him!! G. Stage 3 shortcut (difficulty levels 4 and lower) If you have ever wanted to clear stage 3 quickly and efficiently, this trick is for you! Take the first elevator up and jump to the platform on your right, making sure that the fireball isn't nearby. Now position Mario just above the second ladder and slightly to the left. Wait for the second elevator to appear just above Mario's head, and jump for it. Run across quickly and jump again to your right. With good timing, you'll make it to that higher platform! It is best to practice this on difficulty level 1 until you are comfortable with it. Then try it on level 2. In order to make this work on levels 3 and 4, you will need to make sure that Mario jumps UP to the elevator without having any descent to his jump. If you are quick enough you should just barely make it to the other platform. This shortcut not only saves you precious time, but it also saves you the hassle of jumping across the lower platforms and dodging the springboards and the fireball. If you can master this shortcut on level 4, you will be on your way to getting higher scores! IX. Disclaimer and how to link to this guide Mario, Donkey Kong, and Nintendo are trademarks of Nintendo. This guide is brought to you by David Wonn and is in no way affiliated with Nintendo. The strategies within this guide may not be copied in any shape or form and are intended for the purpose of gaining higher scores in Donkey Kong. This guide is only permitted to be reproduced at the following sites: - David Wonn's Unique Video Game Glitches - http://www.geocities.com/davidwonn - GameFAQs - http://www.gamefaqs.com If you wish to link to this guide, please use the following HTML code: <A HREF="http://www.geocities.com/davidwonn/dkarcade.txt" target="_top"> David Wonn's Donkey Kong arcade strategy guide</A> If you are interested in glitches for Donkey Kong 64, or for any other video game for that matter, feel free to visit http://www.geocities.com/davidwonn for some of the most unique and unusual video game glitches. This guide is Copyright © 2000 David Wonn.