Nintendo’s Arcade Archives: Donkey Kong Trilogy

To close out the Donkey Kong celebration I think it only makes sense to go back to the beginning, where it all started, and it’s with the original three arcade games themselves, but with a little bit of a twist – that is, Nintendo’s Arcade Archives versions for the Switch – which are quite faithful replicas of the original cabinets.

With Donkey Kong, well-like I said in previous posts-there’s not a lot about this classic that hasn’t already been said. But what I can say is that I’m glad that the original is finally available for play on the Switch. When Nintendo came up with their Virtual Console Arcade during the latter days of the Wii the Donkey Kong games were noticeably absent which was kind of strange. It wouldn’t be until some time later that I found out that there were some legal issues that had to be worked out, and I’m glad for it because now we all get a chance to experience the arcade as intended. However, it turns out that the Arcade game has not just one version, not even two versions, but three!

Three versions? Who knew?

It sounds crazy, but yes, it turns out that Donkey Kong had three different versions that had been released way back when. The “early” version is the initial Japanese release, while the “later” version is the same, but with the bugs fixed and of course, the international version which Arcaders outside of Japan all know.

The beauty of having played all three versions is that the way the stages are set up are different depending on which version you play, yet the gameplay stays completely intact. So I do recommend trying all three versions if you haven’t. Plus, if you like one version more than the others, great. If you want to shake things up a bit and play the game differently than before, great.

With Donkey Kong Jr. the gameplay is still the same as the cabinet itself, but with the option to play the Japanese version or American versions, and the same thing goes with Donkey Kong 3, which is an extremely underrated game. Granted, the gameplay in 3 is more of a shooter than a platformer, but the fun factor is still there and will get your attention albeit in a different way.

But along with the different versions, High Score Mode and Caravan mode are pretty awesome when you want to get more competitive. Plus, Caravan Mode can definitely come in handy if you’re pressed for time.

Japanese version allows you to experience all four levels in one go which is pretty cool.
Here it is Ray! In all it’s glory!

The fact that you can also tilt the Switch vertically – and give it more of that Arcade authenticity – only makes these titles worth the purchase, and if you yourself haven’t gotten these titles, you are missing out on not just a part of video game history but also pure fun, which is priceless.

These titles have definitely made their mark way back when, and now thanks to the Switch – and a legal victory or two in the case of the first one – Arcaders new and old can enjoy them once more, and without having to track down a semi-working Cabinet.

So while it has been said quite a bit already, I still think it bears repeating once more – Happy 40th Birthday Donkey Kong, and here’s to many more!


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