Donkey Kong
Nintendo Gameboy
There are many different accounts of how the classic arcade game Donkey Kong gained it's rather bizarre moniker. Many suggest that a simple translation error is to blame and this seems to be the most likely explanation. Whatever the story behind the name, Donkey Kong remains one of the most revered classics of yesteryear and gave birth to arguably the biggest star in videogaming - Mario. And now Nintendo have done what should have been done a looong time ago. They've taken the basic formula, revamped it, added loads of new levels and unleashed a brand new Donkey Kong on our favourite monochrome marvel - the Gameboy.

But just how much have Nintendo added to the original? In a word - loads. Although the first 3 levels are identical to the arcade original - jump the barrels, climb the ladders and so on la de da de da - progress beyond these 3 familiar levels and say hello to another Nintendo-gone-haywire platform frenzy. Donkey Kong '94 sees Mario chasing Kong across 10 worlds, each made up of 10 levels. Some of these levels are single-screen affairs and others scrollers. The aim in each is the same - reach a key and take it to the exit. Of course, this is made more difficult by the presence of the usual assorted nasties as well as some challenging puzzles. The play area is made up of an assortmant of ladders, conveyor belts, ropes, switches, springs - all of which must be put to good use in order to reach the required key and exit door before the timer runs out.

Mario himself has also undergone quite a change for this outing. In contrast to his previous repertoire of jump and run, Mario now has many athletic abilities including somersaulting and performing handstands. The prize for Mario - should he complete his quest - is once again, the beautiful Pauline. Quite how she manages to get kidnapped by the same gorilla so many times remains a mystery. Or maybe he is called Donkey Kong for another reason....

Somebody's showing off his new Christmas present

Some levels are reminiscent of Donkey Kong Jr

When I bought this game in 1994, I played it solidly for about a month. The gameplay is classic Nintendo - superb character control, flawlessly designed levels and a decent amount of variety. Although Donkey Kong is quite easy to complete due to the number of bonus lives available throughout, the huge size of the game will keep you addicted for a long while and will encourage you to return even when completed. The inclusion of the original arcade game as the first few levels is a brilliant touch and when played on a Super Gameboy, the screen surround shows a nicely drawn version of the original arcade cabinet! Graphics are nice and crisp and as most levels take place on a single screen, motion blur is not a problem. Once again, Nintendo prove they are worthy of the reputation they hold as one of the world's leading forces in game design.

Graphics: 81%

Sound: 72%

Gameplay: 93%

Overall: 93%
Nice, clear graphics coupled with some great animation and amusing interval screens. Annoyingly catchy music and above-average sound effects. As you would expect from Nintendo, the game design is almost flawless. After a few games, Mario's new abilities are pulled off instinctively and the levels are well graded - some of the later ones are pretty tough but not tough enough to discourage play. The only gripe I have is the number of bonus lives given out. This doesn't affect longevity too badly however, as the game is so large you'll have forgotten the first levels once you've reached the end! Donkey Kong's main attraction is the one thing missing from most games these days - fun. Donkey Kong is a brilliant update to an old classic and is one of the most playable Gameboy titles available.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Super Marioland • Warioland • Super Mario Bros • Kirby's Dream Land 2

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Donkey Kong (Arcade) • Solomon's Key (Arcade) • Super Marioworld (SNES) • Super Mario Bros (NES)

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