Review by GScotty

Reviewed: 12/03/00 | Updated: 12/03/00

The fantastic beginning for the King Kong wannabe and the Italian plumber with the trendy hat...

Salutations, my name is Gyarados Scotty, and I am reviewing the Nintendo Entertainment System favourite, Donkey Kong. This game was made, or at least it says so on the title screen, in 1981 and in the country of Japan, like so many games are. Nearly everyone knows about this particular game, but it is quite surprising about how few have actually tried. I recently tried it at the house of a friend after rummaging through his collection of old Nintendo games.

After trying it for a couple of hours, I see why Donkey Kong and Super Mario have spawned so many impressive games. Because of the magnitude of greatness of this game, it boosted the already high standard for all video games that had been set by everyone's favourite classics. And as you may have heard, since I mentioned it before, this is where Super Mario, the mild-mannered Italian plumber, with the trademarked red cap and the lovable gorilla, Donkey Kong were born. This is a surprisingly fun game, and the concept is innovative, although all games were at the time, I guess, for there were so few of them.

-Basic Information-
Story-wise, this game is basically pretty simple. It is about the abnormally big gorilla, Donkey Kong, who kidnapped the homely girlfriend of Mario, the Italian plumber hero. Like any average mammal that has a name ending with ''Kong'', Donkey Kong started, like a fool, climbing every building he could find. By the way, he was holding Mario's girlfriend in his hand at the same time. Mario was quite annoyed at this and being the humble, yet admirable guy that he is, thought to himself that is was his job to save her. The story of this game is simple, like I said before, but it doesn't really need any more, because of the genre and all of the other gameplay related stuff.

What you have to do in the majority of all of the levels featured in this game is to scale a unique array of ladders, platforms and sometimes elevators. All of these different items are somehow connected so all that you will have to is find the correct way to move across them. Normally, the path to the devious ape is quite distinguishable, at least for me. I was able to chart out a course to the top in a matter of a few seconds in my head, and I bet you will be able to too. The minority of the levels, which are normally the last in a set of levels, require you to do something different. You must remove eight, yes, you heard me, eight joint-like things holding the main platform together. This is no easy task! You must use the available ladders to get to different platforms before the evil flame dudes get to you. If you complete it, Donkey will take a great fall.

The levels usually have lots of obstacles and baddies, including barrels that that crazy old gorilla throws down through the stage, which roll down slants, and sometimes will fall down ladders, so beware! He will also throw bouncing things, which I haven't determined what they really are because of their strange look, and a large host of others things. The baddies are plentiful as you progress through this game, and they sure make it pretty dang hard! Some levels continuously spawn new baddies, and in some cases they are invincible, so you have to work really quickly. The majority of the time however, the baddies are placed in the level and don't spawn minions. Some are invincible though, so beware!!

I've only been able to find one item in this long and challenging game, but anyone who has played Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64 will most likely be pleased. Yes indeed, it is the beloved hammer. The same rules apply to the hammer as before, you can't climb ladders, or jump very high and it runs out after about ten seconds, but it will destroy anything that it manages to touch.

-Visual Aspect-
I say that the graphics are superior to the humble standard that there seemed to be at the time, but that doesn't mean much. I must admit, I wasn't alive then, but I have played the best of the classics, and they didn't impress me much, graphic-wise, and quite frankly, I'm not completely satisfied with these graphics, to be honest.

The characters don't go into much detail with the visual, except for the main character, Mario. Donkey Kong only has a few frames for each of his only limited motion, flailing maniacally at the top of the stage. Those few frames are also blended terribly, creating quite a choppy look. He has a Super Mario Bros like blocky look, so at least it kept up with a game released later than it. Mario looks great though, unlike his nemesis. He looks like he was taken directly from Super Mario Bros. 1, although it was probably the opposite. All of his movements are clear and greatly detailed, like the way he sticks his hand up whenever he jumps. As for Mario's girlfriend, she doesn't look like she's worth saving. She's too damn ugly, in my opinion! She does the exact same thing as Donkey Kong: flail mindlessly at the top of the stage. The only attribute about her that will let you differentiate her from Donkey Kong is her ill-coloured dress.

The look of the stages are pretty bland. Whoever made this game, (I'm not really sure) took a big shortcut and made all of the backgrounds for the stages pitch black. Just plain pitch black. The platforms you jump on look fine, nothing more, as do the many ladders. All of the stage objects (i.e. the platforms, the elevators and the ladders) are filled in with a strange shade of pink, but the ladders also have turquoise to help you see the differences. Nothing that is built into the stages is anymore than mediocre.

All of the baddies are done much better than the other things. Since they are plentiful, they move really slowly, to make the levels somewhat easier, and this blends the frames well, making them the baddies look great. They all feature and excellent array of colours that have some really good work done with shading. The only downfall about the baddies is that none of them look, well, bad. They look somewhat neutral towards Mario and should probably be called ''Neutralies''. I believe that they could hold their own visually ten years after this game was released since they are so good.

-Audio Aspect-
Simple, catchy music. That is what this game has, and it sounds great. The music is the kind that will wedge into your head, and will not break free for hours, no matter how much you try. It never plays anymore than one note at a time, so those who can play an instrument will be able to figure it out. =) Another thing I like about the music is besides the fact that the hammer music from Super Smash Brothers was introduced in this classic game, the opening music brings much more meaning to the opening of Donkey Kong Country, for now I know where those groovy tracks came from.

The sound effects have a severely lower quality than the music, but they are sufficient for this game. Basically, all that they are composed of are random blooping sounds and the occasional beep. From the bounce of the mighty Mario, the catchy opening music to the impact of Donkey Kong, the King Kong wannabe's on the ground after his great fall, the audio aspect of this game will impress all skeptics.

The control isn't limited, but there definitely isn't much of it. The basic things that this game allows you to do are to climb ladders at a moderate pace, which is befitting to the chubby plumber, jump higher than the average Italian, (but still not very high) and run faster than Donovan Bailey (Canadian Runner).

Although the control is limited in the quantity aspect, the quality of it is surprisingly good. You also have to become quite handy with it, or you will be stuck on world one for a really long time. It also responds quite quickly, in my opinion, so you will never have to get used to an awkward delay after mashing the A button. Overall, the control contributes to this fabulously innovative game.

I would rank the challenge value as medium. I got this from averaging the two types of levels, which are either really easy or really hard. The two probably should have been made equal, but it was 1981 and video games were just starting to take off at that time. Some levels only took me a few seconds to beat while some, (the more difficult ones) would take as much as hours. I don't particularly like the varied challenge of this game, but it is satisfactory.

Low. Simply low. This is the kind of game that is a thrill to play the first time, but every time you beat it after the first, the overall amusement diminishes greatly. I don't really know why, maybe the music may start to really annoy you or maybe the entire game in the visual aspect makes you sick. I can't really tell, but I know that I didn't like playing after beating it. This is the kind of game that I believe you need to take yearly pauses on before playing again, in my opinion. My next one is due in 2002.

A good length for its time of creation. It can and probably will take about ten to fifteen hours to beat, at maximum. The levels aren't that long, but you repeat them with added difficulty, quite a few times, which can really burn some hours off your congested day. Not too long, not too short, a good length for a video game, in my opinion. If only they kept that in mind for the games of today.....

-The Numerical Stuff-

Visually Related Aspect - 8.6
Audio Related Aspect - 8.4
Control - 9.8
Challenge - 9.3
Replayability - 4.8
Length - 9.4

Overall Score = 8.4

-Good Points-
- Fairly Good Graphics
- Great Audio
- Good Length
- Introduction of Mario and Donkey Kong
- Great Innovation

-Bad Points-
- Terrible Replayability
- Puts King Kong to Shame =P

-Would Gyarados Scotty Buy, Burn, Rent or Rom this Game?-
If I could find it, I would buy it for sure. If I could rent it, I would and would pester the store frequently about buying it. Unfortunately, I can't to either of those two, since my friend won't part with his copy, and Blockbuster doesn't carry Nintendo Entertainment System games. My last resort to playing this game now is via a rom, which I am not happy with, but I can't do a thing about, so I will shut up about my problems. Anyway, any means of playing this game is fine, but the higher up my playing ladder (buying through roming) is always better.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage you to check your pawn shops and Funcolands, if you have them, to look for this classic that belongs in your gaming collection. I wouldn't quite say that this is reason enough to purchase a NES to play, but it comes close. I will give this marvel of video games a eight out of ten, rounded down from the mark of 8.4 out of 10, because of the lack of decimals allowed in the ratings. Thank you for listening to my rambling and happy gorilla hunting.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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