Like all good sequels, Donkey Kong Jr. takes the plot of the original and turns it on its head. In a brilliant twist, Mario is now the villain and has captured Donkey Kong. To save him, you control Donkey Kong Jr. through four action-packed levels. There are more moving platforms, more enemies, and each stage demands you move at a faster pace.
Donkey Kong Jr. is a more expressive protagonist than Mario. Observe the way his upper lip curls over his mouth as he holds on to a single vine, or how he smiles, almost drunkenly, as he ascends two vines; he feels like a fully-formed character through these detailed animations.
While it’s nice that Donkey Kong Jr. is a direct port of the arcade, there are still only four stages to play. Surely Nintendo could have coughed up a couple more levels for the home port? Donkey Kong Jr.’s inability to fall more than two inches without dying is annoying as well, though to be fair, he is still a toddler.
Donkey Kong Jr. isn’t as influential as the first entry, but given the endearing, expressive protagonist and stronger stage design, it’s certainly the better of the two.
PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: Nintendo GENRE: Arcade
RELEASE DATE: 07/15/83 – (JP), 06/1986 – (US), 06/15/87 – (EU)
ALSO AVAILABLE ON: Atari (2600, 7800, 8-bit), ARC, BBC Micro, Colecovision, e-Reader, FDS, Intellivision, NS, VC (Wii, 3DS, Wii U), NS Online