The Game: Mario has Donkey Kong in captivity, and it’s up to Donkey Kong Jr. to rescue his dad by scaling vines and chains, avoiding nasty-toothed traps and pesky birds, and reaching the key to free the great ape from Mario’s clutches. (Nintendo, 1985)
Memories: A fairly popular arcade game like Donkey Kong Junior was bound to be ported to home consoles, and the translations ran the gamut from not-good-at-all to good enough. Surely if anyone could really capture the essence of the coin-op, it’d be Nintendo itself.
The NES version is more than merely adequate – it’s even more accurate than the NES Donkey Kong cartridge, duplicating the look and sounds of the arcade game almost perfectly. Controls are smooth. Overall, it feels like you should leave a quarter somewhere just for playing it.
But players accustomed only to the American version of the arcade game were probably a little bit thrown by the order of the game’s levels. The American translation of the coin-op took players directly to the fourth and final screen after completion of the first level; the cartridge version takes players through the full Japanese level order. Basically, if you’re expecting to push keys up long chains anytime soon, you’ve got some work ahead of you.
It all adds up to a virtually flawless port (and clearly Nintendo recognized this a couple of years later when it stuffed both Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior onto a single cartridge, Donkey Kong Classics).