Review by Charizard06

Reviewed: 06/28/05

Inferior to the arcade version, but still worth a shot

Donkey Kong was originally an arcade game that was a huge hit, and made Nintendo famous. It featured Donkey Kong, the bad guy, Pauline, a girl captured by Donkey Kong, and Mario (who was originally Pauline), who must save Pauline. This game has been ported to the NES, but is unfortunately slightly inferior to the arcade version. And sadly, many future versions, such as the e-Reader, Animal Crossing, and Classic NES Series, are based on this NES version.

Story: 10/10
Just as before, Donkey Kong kidnaps Mario's girlfriend Pauline and holds her hostage at the top of a construction site. Mario tries to rescue Donkey Kong, but he has a lot of obstacles, like fireballs and barrels. It was a good plot back in the day, and it still is to this day.

Gameplay: 7/10
Just like in the arcade version, you must get past four... I mean three levels with numerous obstacles like barrels, springs, and fireballs, jumping over these obstacles, climbing ladders, using a hammer to get a lot of points. And it takes a lot of practice to beat these levels. However, what really kills this game is that there are only three levels in the NES as opposed to four in the arcade. And that missing level happens to be the pie factory level with folding ladders and conveyor belts. Needless to say, that was my favorite level because it was so creative. Apparently the reason why it was removed because of less memory available on the NES cartridge. But that doesn't make any sense at all... don't games usually have more memory as time goes on? Anyway, as I mentioned before, many future versions of Donkey Kong are based on the NES version, which means they are missing this level. To compensate for the loss, Nintendo made the elevator level, which was the hardest level, easier by making the elevators go much more slowly, giving you more time to jump off of it onto the high platform to the right of that, allowing you to skip past half the level. Also, another interesting change is that some items were moved to different places, such as the first hammer in the girder level, or the purse in the rivet level. Finally, this game, like a few other NES games, has a Game A option and a Game B option (as well as a 1 or 2-player option, just like the arcade), and Game B is slightly harder. Overall, though, the arcade version was better. Good thing Donkey Kong 64 had the arcade version of Donkey Kong and not the NES version.

Graphics: 6/10
The graphics are similar to the original, with all the metal girders with holes in the middle, but this version has less animation. For example, the scene where Donkey Kong would grab Pauline, climb up the ladder, and cause the red platforms to warp is removed completely, as well as the "How High Can You Get?" screen. Also, when you beat a level, the scene where a heart would appear followed by Donkey Kong grabbing Pauline is also removed. Also, some parts of levels look slightly different. The top of the elevator level is smaller, and Pauline is standing on a tiny, levitating platform in the last level. Also, hammers look bulkier in this version, and there are no blue barrels. And the status bar on the top looks slightly different as well.

Sound: 6/10
This version also has inferior sound, for the most part. Mario's shoes are louder and squeakier than ever, and many of the sound effects are slightly downgraded, though they are still somewhat similar to the arcade version. Also, since you can pause in this game, this game also has the predicable beeping noise that alternates from high to low pitches quickly, which is heard in at least 8 other NES games. And the ending music is completely different from the original, and unfortunately doesn't sound as pleasing. As for the animations were removed from this version (such as Donkey Kong kidnapping Pauline), you still hear music for each scene, so at least that was still intact. Also, one interesting thing to note is that there is decent music on the title screen: this was not so in the arcade version at all, which is one bright point for the NES version. For those curious, this music is also heard in Donkey Kong Country as well.

Control: 8/10
The controls are rather simple. Control Pad to walk or climb, A to jump, Start to pause, and Select to choose the options on the title screen (although the Control Pad does that as well). That's about as simple as it gets. The physics are just like in the arcade version (except Mario inexplicably goes a bit slower climbing up ladders in this version). One minor thing to note is, just like the arcade version, as well as many other NES games of the day, when you jump, you can't control your jump in mid-air, so this will take some time getting used to if you haven't played either version of Donkey Kong before. This issue isn't as annoying as it is in Mario Bros. though.

Replay Value: 7/10
This game is still good when practicing levels and getting high scores, especially since you can choose between two different difficulty settings. Too bad doesn't have as much replay value as the arcade though with that one level missing.

Buy or Rent?
You can't rent NES games these days, and this game isn't worth buying too much when you look at the arcade version. I personally prefer getting either the original arcade version or Donkey Kong 64, which is based off of the arcade version and not the NES version. Donkey Kong 64 is more preferable, since it is easier to find and is a great adventure game on its own. The only two drawbacks of Donkey Kong 64 is that it's slightly easier than the arcade (although still harder than the NES) and there's no 2-player option (which doesn't hurt it too much, considering you could just alternate after one player's done). But if you have Animal Crossing, which has the NES version, Donkey Kong is still worth playing, just not as much as the arcade.

Final rating (not an average): 7/10

Rating: 7

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