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Donkey Kong (eShop)

For: 3DS
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Old skool guerilla antics

Product: Donkey Kong (eShop) | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: 3DS | Genre: Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Donkey Kong (eShop) 3DS, thumbnail 1
Lest we forget how Mario first rose to fame, Donkey Kong always makes sure to establish his presence wherever a Nintendo console is lurking.

This classic Game Boy title, known to many as Donkey Kong '94, and not to be confused with the original 1981 release, saw Mario chasing down the hairy beast, solving puzzles, collecting keys, and getting oh-so-close to the screeching beauty only to see her lugged away by DK over and over again.

Donkey Kong is a true Nintendo classic, and one that deserves to be played. It would have been nice if the eShop had been supplied with the Game Boy Colour edition, as the monochrome visuals look a little dated, but it's still a great gaming experience.

King of the Kongs

The game begins with the original Donkey Kong levels, but rather quickly takes a turn, as DK grabs the girl and lunges off into the big, wide world.

As Mario, you're tasked with hunting down Kong by collecting a key on each level, and using it to unlock a door. To begin with this is pretty simple, as both the lock and key are in easy to reach places.

However, as you move forward the positioning of both becomes more and more awkward, and you'll need to dodge enemies (and sometimes even use them to your advantage), build bridges and ladders, throw switches, and launch items across chasms to proceed.

While Donkey Kong is, in essence, a platformer, it's mostly a puzzle game, as you're constantly asked to figure out how exactly you're going to get that key and take it all the way over to that door.


Mario has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, with a number of special moves he can pull off, such as backflips and walking on his hands.

There are also a variety of items he can make use of, such as the famous hammer, and blocks that build extra parts of the level for him.

As each new concept is introduced, you'll be treated to a cut-scene which depicts Mario using the new idea against DK. It's a clever and entertaining way to teach you what you're meant to be doing.

In fact, much of Donkey Kong is lovingly crafted in such a way that you never feel frustrated, and the level design and puzzle ideas are always brilliantly fiendish, especially later on.

Extra little things here and there make the experience complete, such as boss battles every four levels against Donkey Kong, and items in each level that can be collected for extra lives.

What a donkey

But certain elements haven't carried over so well from the 1990s.

The display is in black and white. This doesn't sound like a huge deal, but the colours of the Game Boy Color version would have made it look more vibrant.

The concept of lives is a little odd, too. You're given a set number, and for most of the game you end up hoarding them as you rarely die. Having 99 lives in the corner is pretty funny, but also a display of why lives are now a bit silly.

The flipside, however, is later in the game when the going gets pretty tough. You may reach a section where all your lives suddenly vanish, and when this happens you're sent back to the start of the current block of levels, which can be a little annoying.

These are slight nuisances in a wonderful experience, however. If you haven't tried Donkey Kong before, make sure you pick it up from the eShop. While it has undoubtedly aged, it still contains the elusive Nintendo magic.
Donkey Kong (eShop)
Reviewer photo
Mike Rose | 23 June 2011
Donkey Kong serves up some classic Nintendo puzzling on the 3DS eShop, and should tide you over until the next big eShop release rolls around
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