Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Donkey Kong

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Donkey Kong is one of those games that everyone has played at some point. You play as Mario as you climb to the top of a structure, Donkey Kong gets mad, carries away your girlfriend, you chase him to the next structure, get to the top of it, and so on. It's fun for about five minutes, and then you start wondering what else you can play.

You may be excused if you think that the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong (often colloquially referred to as "Donkey Kong '94") is the same thing. After all, it starts out looking almost exactly like the original with some slightly fancier graphics. Is it just a cheap cash-in?

Oh, Lord no.
Finish the first four levels, and Donkey Kong '94 opens wide to show you what it's really all about. In each of the new levels, your goal is to pick up a key and get it to a door. It's a heck of a lot harder than it sounds, and you'll need your wits about you to pull off some of the more devious levels.

Donkey Kong '94 is very long, with almost 100 levels and hours worth of playtime. There are surprises and special moves galore. The difficulty curve ramps up nicely and extra lives are abundant. You'll need almost all of those extra lives in some of the later levels, I can tell you that.

The music is also some of the best of the Game Boy era. There are some really atmospheric tracks, and I won't spoil them in this review. Just suffice to say that in some levels, I found myself finding a safe place where I could just listen to the music for a bit. Here's a sample:

Donkey Kong '94 is one of the best values in the 3DS Virtual Console. It's one of the lost classics of the Game Boy era, a game that's really never gotten its due because of the system it was released on. Play it and see why it's so great. I'm sure you'll agree with me.

Final Rating: A+

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