Mario Monday - Donkey Kong Jr.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Last week we took a trip down memory lane to Mario's debut in Donkey Kong. Today we look at the famed sequel, Donkey Kong Jr. I first played this game on the Donkey Kong Classics cartridge for the NES, which had both Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. on it. It was also the only game, that I am aware of, that casted Mario as the villain. Say what? It's true!

The premise of the arcade classic was that Mario had captured Donkey Kong and now it was up to his heir, Donkey Kong Jr., to avoid the mechanical crocodile traps, hazardous birds and electrical shocks in order to rescue his father. I believe that this game is harder than the original, but why don't you decide for yourself? You can play the original arcade version of the game by clicking here.

As was the case with many arcade games of the time, they did not exactly port very well to the home consoles. Due to the technology levels of the early home consoles, Donkey Kong Jr. came across pretty choppy. Take this video of the Intellivision port for example...

It is better than the Donkey Kong port, but still leaves a lot to be desired. I will not even subject you to the Atari 2600 version, but you can click here for a game review video of the port if you feel so daring. Obviously Donkey Kong Jr. looked best on the NES, as was the case with many games in the mid-eighties.

You may not know this but the Donkey Kong character you see today in games such as Super Smash Brothers Brawl is actually supposed to be the same character from Donkey Kong Jr. The original Donkey Kong, who is the big bad guy in the original arcade game, has also grown up and become the character often referred to as "Cranky" Kong.

The character of Donkey Kong Jr. has essentially lived the big life because of his old Kong, going off to star in his own series of games in the Donkey Kong Country series on the Super Nintendo, and later Donkey Kong 64 on the Nintendo 64. Of course he also appears in the Smash Brothers series, but he also makes appearances in Super Mario Kart, Super Mario Baseball, the Mario Party series and so on. No wonder Cranky always seems jealous of the younger Kong.

Did you know that Donkey Kong Jr. also was the star of an educational game? Donkey Kong Jr. Math mixed the DKJ game play with math equations with competitive game play. It sounds about as fun as Carmen Sandiego minus the geography and history added in with math. Wait a second...

Both games, in addition to Donkey Kong, are available for download on the Wii's virtual console, although I am unsure why Nintendo offered the math game. Feel free to share your Donkey Kong Jr. thoughts in the comments section!

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