That banana is ripe for the taking!
Perhaps the trickiest and most enjoyable level (particularly when played on hard mode)
PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating
RELEASE DATE: June 1986
Like all good sequels, Donkey Kong Jr improved on the formula of the original. In a brilliant twist, Jumpman/Mario, the protagonist of the first game is now the evil zookeeper villain and you have to play as Donkey Kong’s son to release him. They don’t even make stories that interesting in the mainline Mario games anymore (with the exception of the Mario & Luigi series for DS). The level design is more varied, albeit still relatively simplistic. There’s just more going on in Donkey Kong Jr: more moving platforms, more enemies, and each stage demands that you move at a faster pace. Get to level 4 and tell me that stage, with the electric enemies that circle around the platforms, didn’t inspire future Mario Bros. platforming segments! The character Donkey Kong Jr has incredibly cute features. I love how his upper lip curls up over his mouth as he holds on to a single vine, or how he smiles, almost drunkenly, as he ascends two vines. When he dies, his eyes grow wide and he cries. He feels like a fully-formed character, simply through these detailed animations, and it’s easier to sympathize with him than Jumpman.
A couple niggling points remain, though. While it’s nice that this game is a direct port of the arcade, there are still only four levels to play. Granted, they repeat endlessly and you can play them on hard mode, but unless you adore these stages and want to have little Donkey Kong babies of your own, the game grows tiresome. Also, Donkey Kong Jr. shouldn’t die if he falls a mere two inches. It was ridiculous when I was a kid and it’s ludicrous now. Still, I wouldn’t want Miyamoto to pull a Lucas and re-vamp his old games. They stand as testaments to a simpler era and they should remain the way they were made, flaws and all. Donkey Kong Jr may not be as influential as the first entry, but it’s the better of the two.
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