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Donkey Kong (Game Boy) Review

Review for Donkey Kong on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Before Donkey Kong was known for his rhythm titles and platform antics, he was renowned for being an evil rogue who caused havoc for a guy called Jumpman (who eventually became Mario). After a long period of absence, on the tenth anniversary of the series Nintendo decided to revamp the original for the release of the Super Game Boy device that allowed GB playback through the SNES. Did the game manage to capture the classic's quality, though?

Donkey Kong was launched in 1994 with the Super Game Boy device in mind across Europe, therefore, whereas on the old Game Boy this was various shades of green, played on the SNES changed things dramatically. You see when inserted into the SGB a new palette of colours were opened up, so as well as the specially-themed Donkey Kong border that appeared around the game, everything else was given a new life. The great thing, though, was that as Nintendo had been experimenting with larger, clearer visuals as the years passed by, Donkey Kong was a triumph for the 8-bit platform. The characters had great emotions that were all easily visible, the playing fields were all well crafted and the speed was kept to a very pleasing level. As far as GB games go, this was indeed one of the most technically marvellous, and nothing has changed now it is back on the Nintendo 3DS eShop's Virtual Console, with the exception of the added colour, though.

The presentation side is not the only aspect that proves to be extremely pleasing in Donkey Kong for the Game Boy, as the audio side keeps the standards at a level that is most pleasing indeed. However, it is more about the timing and pace of the music, rather than the actual (admittedly 'nice') musical tracks. It is most noticeable when you are running out of time, so that with seconds ticking away on the clock the pace of the music will speed-up, making for a frantic race to the finish at times, proving to be quite exhilarating. Then there are classics like the sound effect for when using the special destruction hammer and the noises that accompany jumping.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The idea behind the classic game was that Mario had to save a damsel in distress from a big, scary ape that was holding her captive up at the top of a large, terror-filled stage. Now, whereas in the more recent (and extremely excellent) Mario vs. Donkey Kong titles on the GBA and DS, the gameplay found in Donkey Kong was more basic, yet still remains pretty darn addictive despite its age. There are none of the handstands, triple jumps and fancy flips here, but what there is proves to be pure gaming goodness.

The main aspect that makes everything stay so fresh is the clever mix of basic platform antics with dribs and drabs from the puzzle genre. Sometimes you will definitely be sat struggling to figure out just exactly how to reach the summit of a stage, overcome that brute Donkey Kong and move slightly closer to Pauline (possibly Peach's distant cousin?). There are so many tricky obstacles and hazards dotted around the levels that whilst trying to figure out the best path you can easily tumble and fall or touch something that costs Mario a precious life. Quick planning is essential.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

You can make the little plumber swing across treacherous gaps, climb up perilous ladders or dangle dangerously from poles waiting for the right time to dismount. Timing is crucial as one wrong move can lead to instant death. You must also be careful about what switches you press or levers you move as the consequences can be either extremely beneficial or so slight that you do not even realise anything has changed until it is too late, leading to you finding yourself stuck and having to track back to undo the mistake.

Once the key to the exit has been obtained so progress to the next stage can be made, usually using the trusty hammer as a device for blasting away enemies with the greatest of ease, then you will eventually meet Donkey Kong in a head-to-head battle. For every four levels completed you must throw stationary barrels at the big ape to knock him off his perch. Everything just flows so naturally, without becoming boring, which might seem quite surprising considering the limited nature of the game. However, Nintendo is the master at 'simple, but addictive' games.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As previously mentioned, the precision required throughout the game alone means that trying to fly through the game is not something that the average gamer is going to be able to do. The levels are filled with so many tricky tasks and obstacles that death will likely be a recurring annoyance, especially when all the time you are working to a stringent clock, which ticks down far faster than you would like. However, there is also the fact that when you think the game is actually over, a nice little surprise awaits you. For such a style of game the only possible extra thing you could want is multi-player, but otherwise all is in order for this classic romp that retains the same level of addictiveness as it did back in the 1990s and is well worth the £3.60 asking price on the 3DS eShop Virtual Console.

Screenshot for Donkey Kong on Game Boy- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The classic gameplay from the days of arcade machines is marvellously reproduced in 8-bit glory, complete with a few necessary tweaks to keep everything as fresh as it should be. A pleasure to play through time and time again!

Graphics

People do not expect much from old Game Boy games, but as Nintendo was using this to launch the Super Game Boy it went out on a limb to craft a gorgeous looking game that still looks lovely today. Unfortunately the added colour has not been brought to the Virtual Console version.

Sound

Rather than the praise coming for the catchy music, plaudits must be given for the timing of when certain aspects are introduced, such as speeding up the music to make things more tense as the clock ticks down.

Value

With some highly vexing levels to make your way through, amidst the other equally gruelling ones, gamers will find Donkey Kong a tough cookie to crack. Then the little surprise at the end will keep people happy as well.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Nintendo has a knack of taking old classics and revamping them for the new generation. Now, whilst other companies do exactly the same, they do not have the same consistently AAA results that Nintendo manages to achieve time and time again. With Donkey Kong, the old crusty arcade version was dragged from the archives, brushed down then given a brand new lick of paint that left it so shiny that it still dazzles even today on the Virtual Console.

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15.03.2006

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Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

The 10th Anniversary of DK was celebrated in spectacular fashion...Like the look of this? Then try and dig out Mario vs DK as well :-D

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I remember this! Played it on my GB: P! :-D

Nice review Raz!

C3 Moderator
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Thanks Jacob :Smilie I actually played it in my Super Game Boy through my SNES since I wasn't a big GB fan...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

£3.60 is well worth it for this fantastic game! No need to re-review this as I played it extensively on the Super Game Boy for this old review, so just read over and remember exactly why this game is so special Smilie

Anyone already picked this up for the Virtual Console? Between this, Super Mario Land and Link's Awakening DX, the VC on 3DS has definitely started strong!

Here's hoping MoleMania arrives as well at some point Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm completely disappointed they didn't include any of the improvements brought to this game by the Super Game Boy. They could have given it to us on Virtual Console with the colours and (few) SPC sound effects. Lazy effort on their part :/.

I'll stick to my cartridge + Super Game Boy + SNES Smilie.

EDIT : As far as obscure Game Boy games go, I hope to see Catrap (aka Pitman) come to the VC on it Smilie. I might fail to resist getting this one if they released it on the service.

( Edited 17.06.2011 15:04 by Kafei2006 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Actually, I should note that some of the scores have changed to reflect changes in the marketplace since DK's release. At the time there was just M vs DK on GBA, but now there have been some DS versions that make DK GB look even more dated...but it's still a great game, even without the colour scheme.

Rudy, I do agree, though, that it should have been included!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

OH GOD YES, this is the only GB game that I really wanted to see on VC!! Definitely will get this, and probably Link's Awakening too, thoug not sure about Zelda since it's a bit pricier...

3DS Friend Code: 4425-1453-7061
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm absolutely loving Zelda. Never played the DX version, so it's interesting seeing the extras included AND having to play properly since the screen jump trick has been fixed! Smilie

To torture people, here's the SGB version in action:


 

 

Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Zelda was a bargain but I'm finding it hard to spend £3.60 on a black and white game. Smilie

My first GameBoy was a Color. I like colour!!!!! Smilie

( Edited 17.06.2011 18:33 by Ifrit XXII )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Tell me about it...I never owned a Game Boy or Game Boy Colour! I played GB(C) stuff via the Super Game Boy Smilie

Never played Mario Land before, though, shockingly. Glad I bought it, however.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

jesusraz said:
To torture people, here's the SGB version in action:

Smilie

This video was recorded on an emulator which can't handle the SPC sound effects apparently. On SGB, Pauline screamed "HELP" in a voice clip...

...Not to mention the awesome SGB border reflecting the arcade cabinet of the original Donkey Kong Smilie

( Edited 17.06.2011 20:06 by Kafei2006 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

A bit OT but is Super Mario Land any good compared to the NES/SNES games?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

SML is quite similar in physics to SMB1 but a whole different world. There's a few sweet on-rails levels in a sub and a plane, all set in the awesome Sarasaland (that they haven't returned to this world and reused these enemies in later games is a tragedy).

It's almost one of a kind though, because SML2 onwards became totally different to the original. SML deserves to be played if you're a platformer/Mario fan.

Also, DK '94 is one of the best GB games. Hopefully they'll build up a collection of lots of quality GB games for 3DS.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Ifrit XXII said:
A bit OT but is Super Mario Land any good compared to the NES/SNES games?

Review coming this weekend - Cubed3's 1,000th review!

Azuardo said:
SML is quite similar in physics to SMB1 but a whole different world. There's a few sweet on-rails levels in a sub and a plane, all set in the awesome Sarasaland (that they haven't returned to this world and reused these enemies in later games is a tragedy).

I love the shooter sections. Makes me want Nintendo to let Shin'en do a proper Mario shmup! Smilie

It's almost one of a kind though, because SML2 onwards became totally different to the original. SML deserves to be played if you're a platformer/Mario fan.

SML2 is different from SML3: Wario Land as well. Seems they did a bit of playing around with the formula on GB!

Also, DK '94 is one of the best GB games. Hopefully they'll build up a collection of lots of quality GB games for 3DS.

I fully expect Metroid II at some point soon. Looking forward to giving that a proper try since I've only ever dabbled slightly in the past.

What's Nintendo going to do with Pokémon? When/If it arrives, all mayhem will let loose! I foresee an eShop crash Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

SML3: Wario Land is another great game. You know, Mario is probably the one series in all of gaming where his main games are all good. Can't think of a bad Mario platformer.

Oh yes Metroid II has to come. The good thing about that one is that it added a lot more colour when played on a GBC. So shouldn't be a dull black and white affair when released on 3DS. Very at roots with the original formula of not having any map or indication on where to go. Older Metroid fans will enjoy it; just know that it's no Super Metroid (that's where the series really kicked off).

Good shout on Pokemon too. For nostalgia sakes, thousands of people would download Red/Blue.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery

I wonder how they'd handle the trading aspect of the Gameboy Pokemon games. Would be weird to release red and blue but never be able to catch em all. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Between that and Tetris - good times ahead!

Hmm, this makes me think we should have a feature based on 'What GB(C) Games Should be on VC' Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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