Donkey Kong

reviewed by Steve Gould


Issue 6

Nov/Dec 83

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Arcade fanatics will be quite familiar with this one and have been waiting some time for it to appear. For the uninitiated, the game consists of 4 screens of entirely different action, the object being to reach the top of a network of ladders, ramps, elevators, conveyor belts, etc., in order to reach a platform where 'Kong' is holding your girl-friend hostage. You play the part of Mario the Carpenter - complete with bib and brace overalls, cap and moustache - and to be re-united with your lost girl-friend, you must negotiate all the levels of action which start with the ramps on level 1. Kong is on the right hand side of the screen and is rolling or throwing barrels down at you. Don't worry, provided that you are alert, you can jump barrels coming down the ramp by pressing the trigger which causes Mario to leap into the air and, hopefully, avoid the obstacle. When you reach the top of the ramps and ladders, Kong steals your prize from under your nose and runs off to the top of the next screen while you have to start over at the bottom. So the chase goes on.

Having seen and played the original arcade game, I was most eager to see how the Atari ROM version compared. Atari bought the rights from Nintendo and I was hoping therefore that their version would be identical but sadly I was disappointed. There is no opening sequence where Kong climbs up the ladders and jumps to the left of the screen thus destroying the orderly nature of the ramps. The music and sound effects are entirely different and also the order of the screens is different. For the seasoned player, the order is: 1 Ramps, 2 Rivets, 3 Ramps, 4 Elevators, 5 Rivets, 6 Ramps, 7 Pies, 8 Elevators. As you can see, there is quite an array to get through before you can rescue your betrothed.

Although the game is disappointing when compared with the original, the graphics and sound are very good indeed and after seeing versions of Kong on other machines, the Atari version is the best (if you disregard the price), and that includes the well-publicised Coleco version!

Ever wondered why this has such a crazy title? Well, the game originated in Japan and DON-KAI in Japanese means 'Crazy'. Does it make more sense now?