Game Review EP 3 – Get It On Like Donkey Kong

Game Review EP 3 – Get It On Like Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong on the 8BitCADE XL

Donkey Kong – one of the most famous Nintendo games out there and a staple for platformer games. Kong is an Arduboy adaption coded by @filmote and pixelated by @vampirics – with special thanks to @uXe for the introduction music/sound effects and @Dreamer3 and @Pharap for some ‘crucial space savings’ a usual struggle for any 8Bit game dev. 

The original game, Donkey kong, was created by Nintendo in 1981. It was released in Japan in July and brought over to America later in the month. What’s interesting to know is that Nintendo of America was actually hesitant about Donkey kong’s success. This was a time where maze and shooter games were the craze of the arcade and therefore its different playstyle made them question it. However, after the release, Nintendo of America actually sold out its 2,000 units and begun putting Donkey Kong into Radar Scope cabinets! Crazy right? This was because the Japanese manufactures were taking too long to send over cabinets. Once the logistics were sorted, donkey kong became Nintendo’s top-selling cabinet for the following 3 years until Mario bros was released in 1983.

It also got the attention of Universal studios. As it starred a big hair gorilla, universal studios declared copyright infringement, and said that Nintendo had to stop Donkey Kong in the next 48 hours, and send Universal all the profits made from the game. Nintendo declined and universal took them to court, however, Nintendo came out on top saying the universal didn’t own the rights to King Kong and never did – suggesting that “Universal knew that it did not have trademark rights to King Kong, yet it proceeded to assert such rights anyway”. Read more about it here.

Radar scope Cabinet next to a converted Donkey Kong Cabinet.

Fun fact, the player’s character, originally known as jumper-man, was Mario’s first appearance. He was given the iconic overalls to make the character more visible and the devs grew him a moustache to make him more identifiable as arcade systems couldn’t really handle facial features yet! 

Not to mention how the famous jumper man was originally not going to be able to jump! As mentioned before, Nintendo had to reuse Radar Scope cabinets during Donkey Kong’s initial release in America. These cabinets had a joystick and button. After some rethinking, they decided to use the button to jump. Explaining how the original game was a maze escape game, and allowing players to “jump and avoid dangers would have spoiled the strategic element of the game”. However, they had a rethink and asked themselves ‘If you had a barrel rolling towards you, what would you do?’ and Marios signature move was born.

Now that we got the history of the Donkey Kong game, let’s take a look at the Kong version that you can play on your console. 

I think the first thing anyone will notice is the amazing graphics and sound effects. Upon loading the game the player is met with the large kong logo with rolling barrels that reveal the player’s instructions: press A to play on easy or press B to play on Hard. The main difference between these is the number of barrels thrown and the map, in hard mode it changes to include a crane that has a beam that blocks the player from jumping in certain sections. Overall, I feel the pixel art create by @vampirics really help the game come to life and give it that nostalgic feeling. 

On the coding side, the game is easy to pick up and play and has no foreseeable bugs. The gameplay is smooth and the controls are reactive. Once you get a hang of the jumping, where you have to be placed, you’ll be flying through the early levels – another great feature! The levels in kong get progressively harder making the game feel like an endless arcade game that you can play for hours.! Unlike castleboy, Kong feels a lot more reactive with on cue sound effects that add to the arcade feel. The devs didn’t stop there, they even added a cool highscore board that lets you track and store your points. Pop in your 3 letter tag and see where you end up on the leader board! A pretty cool feature.

This game definitely makes it into the Favourites category on the 8BitCADE XL.

But that’s just my view! Check out Kong on Github. I’ll be sharing a game review video in the following days so stay tuned for that to see some gameplay!

If you want to get the console that I used to play this brilliant game on, then you can get it here for only 49 pounds!

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