Donkey Kong 40th: Donkey Kong (Game Boy)

Since his Arcade debut, Donkey Kong has been nothing short of entertaining in the best ways. And even with some occasional twists to the games like in Donkey Kong Jr. (Mario being the antagonist) and Donkey Kong 3 (Stanley the Bugman) the gameplay style has remained pretty much intact. So then came the question, what else can be done with the character and his games?

Well, fear not Arcaders, because Shigeru Miyamoto and company came along and introduced us to something familiar yet different all at the same time.

With this game it starts out pretty much like the original: Donkey Kong kidnaps Pauline and Mario has to stop him to get her back. Same old, same old.

That shot of jumping the barrels and climbing the girders never gets old.

But hold it right there Arcaders, because that is only the beginning. After you go through the usual four levels DK gets up and manages to get away with Pauline and into a whole new locale than what had been done before. Undeterred, Mario presses forward, and talk about a whole new locale!

Definitely a whole new world.

Or should I say, locales! Because in each new place Mario has to navigate his way through stages by getting a key somewhere in that stage in order to unlock the door, while all the while trying to avoid various traps all throughout. And then there’s at least one “midpoint” where you face off against DK and only after you beat him can you then move forward.

Now if you think this sounds easy it’s not, because as you progress through each stage – and locale – the stages start to get more complicated, and you really have to use your head to be able to make your way forward. For example, there are some items that, when you touch them can allow you to create ladders or platforms depending on what they are. However, these items only stay active for a few seconds so you really have to time things right to where you can use them well. Fortunately if there’s multiple items then each time you touch one the timer for said platform(s)/ladder(s) resets itself, which can can come in handy.

Once you arrive at the final stage in the last locale – appropriately named “Tower” you face off against Donkey Kong yet again, but just when you think you’ve finished him off as the tower begins to collapse – why does that sound familiar? – Donkey Kong comes back, and is bigger and badder than ever courtesy of the mushrooms, so now Mario has to find a way to defeat him without getting squashed. No pressure, right?

Of course, when you defeat him you are treated to a cool end credits scene which fits.

In all, this game is a title that stays true to the roots of both characters and their respective games, while at the same token incorporates gameplay elements from just about all of them up to that point in a way that is interesting, from Mario’s triple jump and backflips, to climbing up vines the way Donkey Kong Jr. would, to picking up enemies by standing on them, as well as using the incredible hammer, but now with the ability to throw it into the air and using it someplace else if done right.

As of right now it is still available on the Nintendo 3DS’s eShop, so you can still get it that way, but I do hope that this game does come to the Nintendo Switch down the road, especially if certain rumors about the Game Boy/Game Boy Color library coming to the system do turn out to be true.

Advertisement for the game. I like how the Super Game Boy gave a border that looked like the Original Arcade art.

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