FamiQuest #001 – Donkey Kong


Humble beginnings


PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating



GENRE: Arcade

RELEASE DATE: 07/15/83


The tale of an ape, a man, and the woman that came between them has all but defined console gaming for the last 35+ years. Donkey Kong‘s success made Nintendo what it is today. Without Donkey Kong, no Donkey Kong. Without Donkey Kong, no Mario. Without Donkey Kong, no… Famicom? I’m not read up enough on Nintendo’s history to make that claim. With the success of the Game & Watch line in the early 80s, a video game console was likely in Nintendo’s future at some point. But even if Donkey Kong didn’t push the Famicom out the door, his early presence on the system certainly bolstered initial sales.


Better go snag that purse, Mario. For points, of course.


If you’re reading this site, I presume you’re into old Nintendo games. And if you’re into old Nintendo games, you’ve probably played Donkey Kong. A lot. The game was released twice for the NES, once by itself and once bundled with Donkey Kong Jr. as Donkey Kong Classics. It was released as a stand-alone Game Boy Advance cart, and was hidden as an unlockable in Animal Crossing for the Gamecube. It’s also been released on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles because Nintendo makes a lot of money on misplaced nostalgia (see also: the continuous re-release of Urban Champion).


Finished already, huh?


We should all appreciate Donkey Kong for what it did for Nintendo and for the industry, but at this point, unless you’re making a syllabus for a History of Video Games 101 class, there’s no reason to indulge in the game. The three levels (minus the cement factory level from the arcade) are completed quickly, then repeated over and over again. Unlike other classic games like Pac-Man or Galaga, Donkey Kong’s environments are rudimentary platforming stages. Thus, repeat plays aren’t as enjoyable. I don’t want to play the same stages again, I want more stages. Thankfully, Donkey Kong ’94 for the Game Boy offers just that. If you want to play Donkey Kong in 2017, give that one a go. Otherwise, watch a two-minute Youtube playthrough and be satisfied.

1981-84: A

Today: B-

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  • Tony Wilkins

    Funny you have started this now. I have actually been looking in to buying a 72-60 pin adapter for my NES to play famicom games. Strangely, a lot of them are cheaper here than their NES counterparts.