Donkey Kong on the Game Boy surprised me a bit. I was expecting it to be a port of the arcade game and nothing more than that. However, it goes beyond the arcade and turns into a fun game that isn’t hampered by being the same as the arcade game.
Let me back up a bit. The Donkey Kong arcade game was Nintendo’s first big hit in the US. The game helped them gain a foothold in the North American market. They weren’t well known outside of Japan at the time.
The first Donkey Kong game spawned a short series of arcade games. It was followed by Donkey Kong Jr and Donkey Kong 3.
This version of Donkey Kong is its own game but still reaches back to the original arcade game. The first level is the arcade game but on super easy mode. It feels like a way for you to get a bunch of free lives before Nintendo tosses you into the main game.
Being released in 1994, I’m guessing that the developers knew they needed to do more than just a port of the arcade game. This delivered more than that.
TLDR: Donkey Kong on the Game Boy starts as the original arcade game before becoming its own thing.
The game was released in 1994 and was the first Game Boy game designed with the Super Game Boy in mind. This included enhanced sound and colors as the game took advantage of the SNES hardware.
For those that don’t know, the Super Game Boy was an addon for the SNES that allowed you to play Game Boy Games on your TV. It also worked with the Game Boy Camera. The 90s were a crazy time.
This version of Donkey Kong was re-released on the 3DS. The game was remade as Mario vs. Donkey Kong and had a sequel called Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis.
There isn’t anything groundbreaking here. They didn’t try to completely reimagine the game like Donkey Kong Country did. You’re doing similar things to the arcade games, except for Donkey Kong 3. I’m guessing Nintendo wants that game to go away and people like me to stop talking about it.
This is a shame because it’s my favorite of the Donkey Kong arcade games. I completely understand if you want to stop reading now.
So, what do you do in the game? Yes, you play Mario, yes, I know he was called Jump man initially, but I’m calling him Mario. He might want to forget his past abducting Donkey Kong and forcing Donkey Kong Jr to save him, but we won’t let him!
Your goal is to move from the bottom of the screen to the top. Along the way, you have a bunch of traps you need to avoid by jumping. As the game goes on, there are more complex things you need to do.
It turns from a simple single-screen game to one where you have to collect keys to advance. It seems like the game took some queues from games like Super Mario 2 and Super Mario 3. It makes this game more fun than just playing the arcade game with upgraded graphics.
For some reason, I found the jumping to be a bit off for some reason. I think it was something I was doing. I’m not very good at platformers, so take this with a grain of salt.
You can save your game in this, which surprised me at first. Because I thought it was just going to be the arcade game. After playing it, I got to see that there was a lot more than I first thought. Having a save option is pretty cool!
This game looks better than the NES port of the arcade games. This was released in 1994, and Nintendo knew how to get the most out of the Game Boy. I think the characters look good, the animations are nice, and when the game needs to scroll up, it’s smooth.
If you play this on the Super Game Boy, emulator, or a Retron 5, it will probably look better than the Game Boy Pocket I was playing. With the Super Game Boy, you can add some colors and change the borders.
I had fun with this game. It’s a simple game that takes Donkey Kong and expands on it. They added a few new things to it, so it wasn’t just a graphical upgrade of an arcade game.
Sometimes it can be fun to kick back with a game you already know and see how people took the original idea and expanded on it. This is a fun port that did an excellent job refreshing the idea of a single-screen arcade game.