Donkey Kong Jr.
Release Date: June 1986
We’re continuing on the summer of Kong with Donkey Kong Jr. Donkey Kong Jr. was the sequel to Donkey Kong with the roles switched around. Instead of Donkey Kong being the antagonist, he is the damsel in distress. Mario takes the spot of top bad guy and the hero is Donkey Kong’s titular son, Donkey Kong Jr. He needs to get to the top of the stage to grab a key to unlock his father’s cage.
The overall feel of the game is very reminiscent of Donkey Kong. You start on the bottom left of the stage and need to get to the top to move to the next round. Instead of only having three rounds per loop, as in Donkey Kong, there are four rounds before freeing Junior’s papa. DKJ can jump, climbing vines, ropes, and chains, and drop fruit on enemies.
Round one has a series of vines that Junior needs to get across. There are static red Snapjaws at specific areas around the stage. Mario is at the top guarding Donkey Kong and constantly releases blue Snapjaws that run to a vine and climb down, seeking to kill Donkey Kong Jr. as they go. Junior needs to be careful, because if he falls too far, he will die, just like Mario in the original.
Round two is an exercise in platforming, just like in the original. Junior jumps on a spring to move to the other side of the stage, then grabs some vines, and uses a floating platform to move to the top half of the stage. The top half has Junior grabbing vines while dodging Nitpickers and the eggs they drop. Getting to the top requires plenty of dodging skills. There’s a shortcut with the spring, if you hit the A button at the right time, you can jump higher and get right to the floating platform.
Round three emphasizes jumping. This time there are platforms that sparks circle around. Mario is also at the top of the stage making little blue sparks that move through the stage. Jumping the sparks nets 100 points and keeps them from putting an end to DKJ.
The final round has a series of chains with key icons. The goal of the stage is to push the keys up the chains into the keyholes, ultimately freeing Donkey Kong. The danger comes from Snapjaws that move down the chains and continuously spawning Nitpickers that fly back and forth several times before leaving the stage. Once you save Junior’s papa, it’s back to round one with the enemies being more plentiful and quicker.
The graphics are not any different in quality than the other games in the Kong series. I don’t think they are very good.
The sound hasn’t advanced any, either. It’s the same jump noises and everything else from before. The music is slightly better, but not enough for a point bump.
The arcade gameplay is average. There’s a clear set of goals and through trial and error, you learn what is allowed and what isn’t.
I’d put the level of difficulty equivalent to Donkey Kong. The game is similar in design and everything.
Fun Factor: 1.5
I liked this game more as an arcade game when I was a kid. I remember playing it at the roller rink, instead of skating.
Overall Grade: 1.7
Donkey Kong Jr. scores a C-. It’s another straight port of an old arcade game. There’s plenty of room for NES games to grow past arcade ports, though it’s going to take some time to get there.