the NES version of miyamoto’s first hit, donkey kong, was the last in a series of promotions on wii u’s virtual console celebrating the 30th anniversary of famicom (i.e. the japanese NES). the game was one of the ones i’d owned growing up, in the form of donkey kong classics which paired that title with its sequel, donkey kong jr.
i hadn’t really played the game for years, so it was nice to revisit this, the debut of mario, aka “jumpman”, and donkey kong (and pauline). the game was groundbreaking for its time and although simplistic by modern standards is quite enjoyable. i was able to breeze through all three stages pretty easily, but i’d forgotten that the game gets harder the more times you cycle through the stages. the wii u’s restore points helped me get back up to speed with minimal frustration (at the cost of only a small amount of guilt), and the first stage is particularly memorable, with its combination of jumping and climbing and tense split-second decisions.
after playing through the wii u version of the game several times i still felt up for more, so i went ahead and also checked out the 3DS version subtitled “original edition” which was available a while back as as a limited edition promotion. this version of the game restores the missing “factory” level, which i’d only played via donkey kong on game boy. the level felt noticeably more difficult than the other levels due to the conveyor belts, somewhat unfairly so, which made me wonder if it was left out of the NES releases on purpose, rather than due to memory limits as seems to be the conventional wisdom. regardless, the 3DS’s version’s restore points also expedited mastering this stage and made the experience less frustrating, although i found myself preferring the original NES version (although of course this could just be due to being much less familiar with that stage).
anyway, it was nice to revisit this classic and find that for the most part it’s still engaging, particularly the first and third of the three stages. this is where mario’s reign began, and so it’s nice to see that the game, particularly its first level, continues to stay in the public eye thanks to numerous tributes.
some virtual and “original” donkey kong links:
– apparently the NES donkey kong‘s kill screen takes much more effort to get to, something on the order of 5 hours and 44 minutes (that video also includes tips on beating all the stages)
– a design for donkey kong shelves
– if you haven’t seen it already, 2007’s the king of kong was an entertaining look at the world of high-score competition, specifically for donkey kong
– a huge pixel-perfect stop-motion version of the game
– a mechanized version of the first stage