Blast from the Past: Donkey Kong (NES)

Platformer Retro Review


Originally released in 1981 on the arcade machine, Donkey Kong was so well received that it spawned numerous ports across multiple systems. The game introduced the protagonist Mario who was in fact at the time known as Mr Video and then Jumpman. Mario was tasked with saving a damsel in distress captured and held prisoner by the villainous ape known as Donkey Kong. The villain is now one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters and a bad guy turned good with offspring.

Upon beginning Donkey Kong I have to admit the nostalgia hit hard and long. So much so that it almost…yes almost…brought a tear to my eye. I honestly cannot say when was the last time I played this classic but the music, animations and difficulty was a treat indeed.

That cut-scene

The game starts off with the villain Kong kidnapping the damsel which after some research I was surprised to learn goes by the name Pauline. Yes the games in the early 1980s never really gave us dialogue. Although I have to say the earliest version I remember myself playing of this game was in the late 90s on the Golden China. After the cut-scene of Donkey Kong carrying the damsel in distress to the top of the screen (yes some of you might ask “what cut-scene” but back then any scene that wasn’t actually controlled by the player was considered a cut-scene) is completed the hero steps in. ENTER MARIO.

Mario (before he became a plumber) is put through his paces, having to not only travel along grid platforms, up ladders and hop across conveyor belts, but is also put through the hardships of jumping over barrels, dodging flames fueled by the oil and barrels colliding all while collecting Pauline’s dropped items along the way.

Getting used to those timings again

All in all this classic and most definitely my blast from the past is still tons of fun to play. I am man enough to admit that I struggled a little in the beginning to actually stay alive and get through to the final level but after about ten minutes in I became accustomed with the timing that has to be performed with the barrel roll…I mean barrel jumps and was then able to complete all three levels in less time than it took me to become accustomed to the controls. Of course in Donkey Kong once you complete the three levels set out and save Pauline, the game loops and starts you at the first level once again. However the difficulty is raised in each loop with a higher number of barrels, spring boards and enemies flying your way.



  • Nostalgic injection


  • I don't remember it being this short


Do you remember where Mario came from, before he became everyone's favourite plumber? It started here in Donkey Kong.


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