Published on July 18th, 2013 | by octaneblue0
Review: Donkey Kong – Wii U Virtual Console
System(s): NES, GBA e-Reader, GBA, Virtual Console (Wii), Wii U Virtual Console
Release Date: June 1, 1986 (NES), November 11, 2002 (GBA e-Reader), June 7, 2004 (GBA), November 19, 2006 (Virtual Console), July 15, 2013 (Wii U Virtual Console)
Donkey Kong is easily one of Nintendo’s most important titles. The arcade release of the game was a huge success, quickly catapulting Nintendo, Mario, Donkey Kong, as well as game creator Shigeru Miyamoto, into the limelight. After its arcade release, Donkey Kong was released for the NES, and this version has been ported several times, most recently for the Wii U Virtual Console.
In Donkey Kong, the titular ape has captured Pauline. Her boyfriend, Mario, pursues Donkey Kong through various levels in order to save her. The gameplay mainly involves Mario dodging obstacles, enemies, and making jumps to the end goal where Pauline in standing. Along the way, Mario’s only help are hammers; using these are the only way to defeat enemies, since all Mario can do otherwise is jump over them. The final level involves running through rivets to remove them, demolishing the level, which defeats Donkey Kong.
And that’s pretty much it for the core gameplay. After clearing all three levels, the game loops through the levels again, but in a harder difficulty setting. Unlike the original arcade release, the NES version features only three levels, as opposed to four — the “pie factory” level is missing. This results in a shorter game. At least the NES version actually looks pretty good compared to the arcade version. It comes close to emulating the latter’s graphics.
Donkey Kong features four different modes, with Game A and Game B being available in one or two-player formats. Game A is the standard difficulty, which, upon completing, goes to the Game B setting of the harder difficulty. The two-player mode is just an alternating mode where players take turns.
Like other Wii U Virtual Console releases, Donkey Kong supports Off-TV Play, save states, and has its own dedicated Miiverse Community, where you can interact with other players through messages, screenshots, and drawings.
Overall, the NES version that the Wii U Virtual Console version is based on is inferior to the arcade version, which features an additional level, better graphics and sound, level transitions, and so on. Donkey Kong was also remade and expanded in 1994 for the Game Boy. The original four arcade levels serve as the game’s first world, but after clearing those, an additional nine worlds are available, each with several levels each. The game features lots of action and puzzle elements, and was re-released for the 3DS Virtual Console in 2011 for only $3.99. The regular price of the Virtual Console release of the NES version is $4.99.
Donkey Kong certainly isn’t a bad game at all, but it doesn’t offer too much replay value, other than for pursuit of high scores or for nostalgia factor. Unless you’re a really big fan of the NES version, hold out hope for a Virtual Console release of the arcade version, or check out the excellent remake/expansion on the Game Boy/3DS Virtual Console.
Donkey Kong is available as part of the Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign, where it’s available for just 30 cents from mid-July to mid-August 2013. At this price point, it’s recommended, but at it’s regular $4.99 price point, it’s not recommended.
+ Simple gameplay
+ Cute music and sound effects
+ Graphics close to arcade version
– Initial run through the game is short
– Inferior to the arcade version
– Regular price on Wii U VC is way too high
Final score: 2.75 out of 5