One cannot overestimate the impact Donkey Kong has had on games.
Here are some facts:
- Donkey Kong introduced Mario and Donkey Kong, two of the most iconic characters in all of gaming.
- Donkey Kong didn’t create the platformer, but it brought the genre to the spotlight. The original arcade game consisted of four entirely different levels, where you destroy enemies with a hammer, collect items like hats and umbrellas for points, and move from one end of the stage to the other.
- Donkey Kong was legendary developer Shigeru Miyamoto’s third game with Nintendo (the first two were Sheriff and Radar Scope) and it was hugely successful in Japan and America. The game made $280 million in two years… in early 1980’s money
- The success of Donkey Kong arguably paved the way for the release of the Famicom and the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Today, Donkey Kong suffers from an identity crisis, residing somewhere between a simple arcade game and a console platformer. Mario jumps and climbs through three very small levels (the NES release omitted the pie factory level from the arcade version) to reach lady love Pauline at the top. Once you beat these levels, you play them again and again, the momentum of the enemies increasing with each playthrough.
Repeating levels were part and parcel of early 80s arcade games, but Donkey Kong feels less like a 1981 arcade title than a too-short glimpse into gaming’s platforming future. In other words, it feels like there should be more levels, not the same handful on infinite repeat. This doesn’t detract from Donkey Kong‘s legacy, mind, but it does lessen the game’s contemporary appeal.
Impact: A+ / Actual game: B-
PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: Nintendo GENRE: Arcade
RELEASE DATE: 07/15/83 – (JP), 06/1986 – (US), 10/15/86 – (EU)
ALSO AVAILABLE ON: Atari (2600, 7800, 8-bit), Apple II, ARC, C64, Amstrad CPC, Colecovision, e-Reader, FDS, GBA, Intellivision, MSX, NS, PC, TI-99 / 4A, VIC-20, ZX Spectrum, VC (Wii, 3DS, Wii U), NS Online