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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Donkey Kong (1994)

Finding this title image was a pain!
So I was initially disappointed in the reveal of Club Nintendo's rewards a month back, and I decided to hop on some message boards to voice my opinion. However, I was met with numerous cries of, "what, have you never played DK94?", "DK94 is absolutely amazing, so glad it's free for now!", and even, "DK94 brought joy to my life in a time of great despair."

So I figured I'd drop the Club Nintendo coins and give it a spin.

PROS:

-Hefty amount of content

-Look at those sweet Mario moves

-Steady sense of progression and extremely enjoyable gameplay

CONS:

-Some puzzles are...

-Uh. Wait. Hold on.

THOUGHTS:

It's very rare that a Game Boy game manages to impress me as much as Donkey Kong does, so I'll start by saying this: WOOOOOOOW.

I'm sure I am one of the very few that missed out on this game, but for the sake of any readers, I'll put a disclaimer: if you think this game is a retread of the original Donkey Kong... well, I guess you'd be right. It does go through those first four levels. But what happens after that is an amazing evolution of the gameplay that set the foundations for what can be considered traditional Mario vs. Donkey Kong. This means the basic structure is: get a key, bring the key to the door, and collect some bonuses along the way. Then, stomp DK for all he's worth.

First off, Mario's moveset is absolutely insane in this game. He jumps, he handstands, he triple jumps, he ducks, he rolls, he climbs ropes, he flips switches, he hammers, he THROWS hammers, he shrinks, he dies in a ridiculous amount of ways... it's pretty awesome. Considering titles like Super Mario Land and its sequel have pretty limiting movesets for the character even with Six Golden Coins having a much larger sprite, this is pretty impressive. What's more, the obstacle courses and puzzles the game sets before you ensure you will be utilizing each part of Mario's moveset. The mechanics are simple, which is why it's so satisfying to tackle each level and see how things can be solved.

There's incredible variety in DK94, and though certain areas have more of a specific puzzle element than others, there's a mixture that gradually progresses to the point where the endgame portions really do feel like the absolute wackiest and quick-thinking puzzles. I remember having trudged halfheartedly through the first four levels of the game- the last world features extremely active stages with death traps galore and even does a twist on the original levels with more difficulty. Of course, by then, you're playing completely differently. You're playing like a badass.

In short, I don't think there's a reason someone shouldn't own this game. It is an amazingly satisfying experience with a lot of content, and even features score chasing for those who are really competitively oriented. While the final "world" is a bit lacking in difficulty, though it is satisfying because of the elements it brings from the very beginning. I am sad I will never have the chance to really play this game for the first time again.

Because it's just that damn good.

Final Verdict: Donkey Kong 1994 combines addictive gameplay at a satisfying pace to culminate in a game almost impossible to put down. Its level mechanics are well-crafted, its soundtrack is Game Boy goodness, and its sense of accomplishment is always satisfying. It's a game that hasn't aged in any way, which is really quite incredible.

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