One of Gaming's Earliest Rivalries Revisited
Donkey Kong is synonymous with gaming, although a little than the popular plumber Mario is. Before the world moved on to Rareware's Donkey Kong Country in 1994, a title bearing the original Donkey Kong's namesake and gameplay was being released in the summer before DKC came out. It was Donkey Kong for the Game Boy (sometimes referred to as Donkey Kong '94 for simplicity's sake). More than just a port of the arcade juggernaut, Donkey Kong on the Game Boy was a massive improvement on the classic formula, and one many players positively went ape for.
A misconception with the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong might be that like the arcade, NES, and other versions of the game on previous systems, the Game Boy iteration is just another port. That could not be any further from the truth. It certainly can seem like it is as the first four levels are plucked straight out of the arcade game. However, after those initial four have been completed, the game opens up considerably to completely new, uncharted territory with loads of new levels, mechanics, and objectives.
After the original four levels are finished, you enter a new form of level for the Donkey Kong series. These have you needing to open a locked door with a key. While the standard Donkey Kong levels have you utilizing your platforming prowess only, these lock-and-key levels emphasize precision jumping as well as mental gymnastics. The whole line of thinking of how you will carry a key from its resting place to the locked door is an interesting dynamic and adds a puzzle element not seen before in a Donkey Kong game (and it most certainly won't be the last time we'd see this either). The key can be thrown to platforms above you, across chasms, and can even defeat certain enemies.
|In Donkey Kong, gameplay is literally "key."|
|Mario with a hammer is a mad man.|
|Use the backs of these frogs to reach new heights.|
|Go ape on this ape in these battle levels.|
The Game Boy version of Donkey Kong showcases plenty of catchy 8-bit tunes. It is nothing that will make you heavily desire to listen to the tracks outside of the game, really, but what is presented is serviceable and pleasing. The sound effects can range anywhere from good to grating. The visuals look decent considering the weak hardware the game is being presented on. Characters, enemies, and environments are very much distinguishable from one another, so you never have a problem with seeing where to go. Each level's background has a couple of characteristics which set them apart from others such as skyscraper backdrops and bushes. Overall, Donkey Kong on Game Boy is a pleasant looking and sounding title.
Donkey Kong is an excellent puzzle/platformer worthy of your hard-earned dollars. Whether you get a physical copy (to play on the Super Game Boy, perhaps? Hint, hint) or digitally download the 3DS Virtual Console version for a few dollars or so, the game will prove to you why many consider it to be in top echelon of Game Boy titles and a classic. The game's ten worlds will take you on a journey through forests, pyramids, and glaciers on you and Mario's quest to retrieve Pauline from the guerrilla gorilla's clutches. The game won't last too long-- maybe 4-5 hours for one play-through, but it's one that you will want to return to over and over again as the challenge both mentally and on your fingers is a fair and fun one. Go bananas with this perplexing and puzzling platformer.
[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]