Video Game Review: Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)

I prefer Donkey Kong Jr. more than its predecessor Donkey Kong.

While both are simplistic platform games of the original Nintendo era, there’s just something I like more about this game. Maybe it’s because it’s four levels instead of three or because it’s slightly more complex and, overall, better designed.

I don’t know, it’s just a game from the classic arcade era that speaks to me and I still love playing it. So much so, actually, that I have to play through a few rounds of it a few times per week.

In fact, the rom for it is actually on my all my PCs’ desktops. I often times fire it up between big creative projects to reset my brain. I guess it’s my version of Microsoft’s Solitaire.

That being said, it’s kind of odd that I hadn’t reviewed this already. I guess it’s become such a regular part of my life over the decades since it came out that I don’t really think too much about it.

Anyway, the gameplay feels more fluid than its predecessor, the levels are much cooler to play through and I like the sound better. I also like playing as a vine swinging ape more than the human Mario.

Donkey Kong Jr. isn’t a perfect game, even if it is my perfect time killer and preferred avenue for quick mental escapism. Hell, it’s not even my favorite Nintendo game but it’s still in the upper echelon for sure.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong 3, as well as Mario’s Cement Factory and the original Mario Bros. before they went “Super“.

Video Game Review: Donkey Kong (NES)

It’s kind of hard to review a classic game of this stature that has left such a mark on everything else that’s come after it.

Donkey Kong put Nintendo on the map, introduced the world to Mario and helped solidify platform games as the biggest trend in the ’80s.

It’s elegant and perfect in its simplicity and that’s why Donkey Kong is still played, today. It’s also one of the games that people are still trying to get world records on and that’s not just because of the King of Kong documentary.

I like this game a lot and I play through a couple rounds of it at least every few months. Granted, I prefer Donkey Kong Jr. but I’ll review that one in the near future and break down why.

Donkey Kong isn’t my favorite old school platformer but it is definitely in the upper echelon. I now it’s really old and almost primitive but it was so colorful and well designed for its time. Additionally, I love the sounds in the game and that’s an area where Nintendo just seemed like they were a step ahead of everyone else, except maybe Namco, who had stupendous sound effects in their earliest games like Pac-Man.

This is just a fun and honestly, timeless game. It doesn’t take much to learn it and play it but it’s also really difficult, as you continue on in the game and play through more and more rounds. Because of that, even with its simplicity, it’s a hard game to master.

It’s hard to imagine a gaming world where Donkey Kong didn’t exist. It changed the landscape and deservedly so.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: its sequels Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3, as well as Mario’s Cement Factory and the original Mario Bros. before they went “Super“.

Vids I Dig 447: Whang!: Was ‘Yoshi’s Island’ Supposed to be a ‘Donkey Kong’ Game? – Gaming Mysteries

Taken from Justin Whang’s YouTube description: One of the biggest revelations of the recent Nintendo Gigaleaks was a prototype found in the Yoshi’s Island directory called “Super Donkey.” Could this point to Yoshi’s Island beginning development as a Donkey Kong game?

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. 2 – The Japanese Version (NES)

This is the original version of Super Mario Bros. 2, that unfortunately only got released in Japan, as it was deemed “too hard for Americans.”

Well, I take offense to that, as I played this fucker and kicked its ass!

Okay, it kicked my ass a whole lot but I beat this game and proved that full grown American men with thirty-plus years of Mario experience can hang with some Japanese kids in the ’80s!

While I would’ve really loved playing this game in my youth, as frustrating as it is, I understand why Nintendo of America thought that it wouldn’t work in the States. And fortunately, for us, we got our own version of Super Mario Bros. 2, which was simply a game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. While not an actual Mario game in Japan, it had its playable character sprites redesigned to look like Mario characters. And frankly, even if I’m in the minority, it was my favorite Super Mario game of the original NES trilogy in the U.S.

This game did get released later with enhanced 16-bit graphics as part of the Super Nintendo game, Super Mario All-Stars. On that game, this was re-titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.

I really like this game though. While it uses all the sprites and design style of the original game, it is too difficult to not feel fresh and like a real challenge. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve mastered the original game, you will find this one to be tougher than boiled show leather.

And while you’ll spend a lot of time getting pretty frustrated, the game is still a lot of fun and beating it does give you a sense of accomplishment much greater than its predecessor.

However, I think it is a step down from the original, as some of the level design is tough just to be tough and isn’t really an improvement. In fact, I think this is a bit less imaginative, as there are some maps you can get stuck on if you miss a vine or some other route change that you can’t backtrack from.

Also, due to the game’s complexity, the timer is much more of a bitch in this installment, especially in the fortresses.

All that being said, this is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the original game.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Here we are, looking at the very first Mario game! Well, not the first, as there was Mario Bros. before Super Mario Bros. but this was the first of the Super series and the game that laid the groundwork of what this long-running franchise should be.

Out of the original trilogy of games for the original Nintendo in the United States, this is my least favorite installment. Still, it is a bonafide classic deserving of its admiration and praise. However, Super Mario 2 and 3, both took this formula and found ways to expand on it, greatly.

On a side note: yes, I know that Super Mario 2 in the U.S. isn’t the real version of Super Mario 2 but I discuss that in my review of it. Also, I am going to review the actual real Super Mario 2 in the very near future, as I finally played it in its original 8-bit form and not the U.S. version where it was released as a 16-bit remaster as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels on the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario All-Stars, seven years after it’s Japanese release.

This game is still a lot of fun and it’s aged remarkably well, as despite how many times I’ve played through it and have the levels memorized, it still provides a good challenge.

But I feel like there isn’t much I can say about the game that everyone doesn’t already know. I’m assuming that just about everyone and their mothers have played the first Super Mario Bros. It’s the sixth best-selling video game of all-time with over 48 million sold and the only game from its era that surpassed it was Tetris.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 3 is considered the perfect Mario game by some of the old school Nintendo Entertainment System purists. They’re wrong though, as I’m that asshole that prefer Mario 2 but yes, this is still a damn fine game that is one of the best of its era.

What makes this entry into the series special is that it evolves the mechanics greatly.

Now you don’t just have a flaming power flower to make you a badass, you can now turn into a flying raccoon thing, a frog, a friggin’ boot and a bunch of other shit!

Additionally, this has some of the best level design out of all the Mario games in history.

Playing through it this time, I didn’t warp, instead, I went through every single level in order to relish in the game’s design and to properly review it.

As much as I love Super Mario 2, I have to say, that this game has better level design, overall. Granted, a few of them were kind of infuriating and took me some time to figure out. But I still had a blast replaying this.

But yes, even though it’s been a long time since I fired this up, I still prefer the second game. But I can appreciate both, as well as the original too.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

Most people think that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the best game of the original Nintendo Super Mario trilogy. They’re wrong. This is the best game, period.

Now I know that my opinion is a controversial one and I also know that this wasn’t originally a Super Mario game and that it was retrofitted to include Mario because the original Japanese sequel was deemed too hard for American players. I don’t care though, as this is the game that I played the most out of the three American games and I thought it was the most imaginative and cool.

Because this wasn’t a “real” Mario game it is vastly different than the other two in the series. It has a completely different looking world, different types of enemies and the gameplay style is pretty unique, even if it is a simple side scroller like the other games in the series.

This was the first game that allowed you to pick up objects and use them as weapons. This mechanic would then become a regular feature of all the major Super Mario games after this one.

Overall, I think that the visual style of the game appeals to me. It takes place in a dream world and the game successfully captures a dreamlike aesthetic.

I think the thing I like most about the game is its mechanics though. The controls are superb, the movement and motion of the sprites is perfection for the 8-bit era and it just feels like a game that exists on another level for the time of its existence.

Yes, the other Super Mario games for the NES are also classics. But this is the one that speaks to me the loudest and that I find myself revisiting the most.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: pretty much all Super Mario Bros. games.

Video Game Review: Super Mario Land (Gameboy)

Super Mario Land was released in 1989 as one of the launch titles for Nintendo’s first hand held console, the original Gameboy. I think it was the first game I actually played on the platform.

It’s pretty much a standard side scrolling Super Mario Bros. game. It’s similar to the original Nintendo trilogy of games, being closest to the first one in the series.

What I like about it is that it’s really unique in that you don’t fight Bowser but instead, fight a alien dude in a spaceship. You also fight giant flame breathing sphinxes and a lot of other new types of enemies. Plus, everything either has an ancient Egypt or a UFO theme.

While this also has some of the old baddies in it, the koopas in this game are more like a cross between koopas and bob-ombs. Instead of their shells bouncing around as weapons, they now fall and explode.

Ultimately, this was a pretty imaginative Mario game with a lot of cool things that set it apart from the others before it without diverting away from the gameplay style that made the games popular.

It’s a smooth running, energetic game with cool levels, neat monsters and a final boss that was unlike anything else in a Mario game before this.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Super Mario games for Gameboy and the original Nintendo.