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Donkey Kong Jr. - The Atari Times

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey WHAT?
by Darryl Brundage

October 13, 2003
After giving several very good to glowing reviews, it's about time I actually slammed a game here. And no, it's not because of a law of averages thing, I just didn't like Donkey Kong Jr. At ALL.

It's been a long-time rumor that Coleco purposely made their arcade adaptions for other gaming systems (the 2600, Intellivision, etc.) bad so they could make their own console, the Colecovision, look good. Personally I think that's a ridiculous thing to do, since it only makes Coleco look stupid as well as practicing bad business, plus their Colecovision was a wonderful system anyway, even though I found a lot of their arcade adaptions to be slower and easier than the originals (especially Looping, which I couldn't make heads, tails, or loops on the too fast arcade version, but I could play the Colecovision port with ease). What the heck? Bad Coleco! Bad, bad Coleco (not to mention dumb, if this rumor is true)!

Anyhow, as far as the arcade version went, you, as Donkey Kong Jr. (hey, how come we never got to meet Mrs. Kong?), must save your pop from Mario, who turned evil or something from going mad from jumping over lots of barrels from the first game and is holding your dad hostage in this sequel. You must climb vines, chains, use springboards, etc., in order to reach and free your dad (and then demand a big raise in your allowance, probably) while avoiding a bunch of weird critters, sparks and all (and destroying them, if you can, by dropping fruit on them...uh, yeah, THAT makes sense. Why not use vegetables instead? Vegetables are icky).

One thing I find amusing is that Coleco left off the words "plays like the real arcade game" from the Kong Jr. box as they used to do with their other 2600 games. I guess they got too many complaints about false advertising, since most of their ports (Venture, the original Donkey Kong) didn't play much like their arcade counterparts at all. I also heard on the original box, or maybe it was in the instructions, that it mentioned the fruit, but there's no fruit at all in the game (note: I bought this used with a friend's 7800, without a box or instructions, and I looked up the box scan and found those hilariously misleading words missing from the box for once, and I didn't find any mention of fruit in the instructions, but I just skimmed over them and might've missed it).

This was a SEVERE no-no. No FRUIT? That's like declawing a cat, that's just wrong. All you can do is climb and jump; that's like playing Defender without having anything to do with humanoids, you're missing a crucial part of the gameplay. What is this, Adventures of Tron, where you just run from everything? Good grief.

The graphics aren't much better than the original 2600 Kong, as there's no detail at all to the poles or whatever you have to climb up on. Control's also a damn mess; I found it very difficult to get down from a pole onto a platform. 

About the only redeeming feature -- but not really, which I'll explain -- is that I was surprised this was an 8K cart, and that's probably due to, lo and behold, being very astonished to find out one day there's actually THREE screens here, as they included Mario's Hideout too. Of the four arcade screens in the original 2600 Donkey Kong Coleco only made two, then they repeated indefinitely ad nauseam. It was almost like Coleco tried to redeem itself from their first 2600 Kong game by including this third screen or something.

Well, like I said...ALMOST: I found it almost impossible to not only get Junior to dismount from the pole (or whatever) onto the first platform on this screen, but as the sparks or whatever (you know, I don't even care to look up the names of anything in order to be accurate with this review, as this game doesn't deserve it) are coming down, I found it to be totally impossible to get Junior to let go of one of the chains on the right side of the screen so the...uh, spark thing (or whatever) could pass me by. 

You see, if there's two poles within arms' reach, you can either climb one pole, or reach out and scale both poles with both arms at once. My enemy (whatever it is on this third screen) would come down the first pole on the left, but I could NOT for the life (or death, in this case) of me get Junior to grab onto the right pole ONLY, avoiding deadly contact with my nemesis. I saved the game on the emulator I don't know HOW many times, but I still could not make it to the top. Feh; ROM deleted. The only reason I downloaded the ROM was to check a couple of things anyway, since I don't have the cartridge anymore...

Oh yeah, and speaking of which: I thought I would never get rid of that game unless I PAID someone to take it off my hands. Lo and behold, though, when some online friends were talking about this wretched port on an internet forum, someone mentioned a glitch on one of the screens, and said he couldn't remember exactly how to do some kind of trick with it (whatever it was; can you tell I don't really care?), but he lost his copy of the game; would someone like to donate me a copy? I don't have any money...I said hell yeah, you can have mine!! He replied in a Private Message with just one word: "Cool!", plus his address. Good riddance, and you helped ME out more than yourself, I think. (And even though I had to spend a few bucks on a mailer and postage, I probably still came out ahead on that deal, or I actually might still owe that guy an additional favor as well...)

The graphics aren't that great, the gameplay's annoying (again, no fruit? How could they?), the sound's fairly sucky, the controls near terrible...anything else? Yeah, and on a positive note: hopefully the guy who either purposely made this port this bad or a manager at Coleco who forced him to make it this bad got hit by a car. 

What the hey, I'm a positive person.

Donkey Kong Jr.

(c) Coleco

Don't expect a title screen here...
Hey lookit! No fruit! Nor is the path to papa the same as the arcade.
Only THREE keys? What a RIP!
Anyone with the patience to beat the first two levels will be surprised to see this one included.
Donkey Kong Jr.
System: 2600
Publisher: Coleco
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 50%
Sound & Music Score: 35%
Gameplay Score: 35%
Control Score: 35%

Final Score: 35%

Reader Comments for Donkey Kong Jr.

What this game is good fo by Atarifever on 2006-11-23 09:52:50
I use it in tandem with DK Jr. 7800 to show friends who don't know any better that, no, my 7800 is not just a different model of the 2600. It makes the point very well.
This game sucks by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-22 21:14:33
In December of 1983, Mom loaned me $30.00 to buy this game. I was excited at first but when I played it, I felt sick. This game sucks. The only good thing about it is that it has three screens.
What sucks about this version of DKJ is that you receive no points for jumping over enemies and there's no fruit to kill enemies.
Unlike the other versions of DKJ that Coleco made, the Atari 2600 version is the only version that has the 'Mario Hideout' screen. But instead of using electric sparks on this screen like the arcade version, Coleco used Snapjaws.
Even though Coleco's Donkey Kong for the Atari 2600 only has two screens, it was better than this game. On the 2600 Donkey Kong, you receive points for jumping over objects and you have a sledgehammer to destroy barrels and fireballs.
I also own the Coleco Donkey Kong Junior for the Intellivision and it's better than the 2600 version. On the Intellivision version of DKJ, you get points for jumping over enemies and you have fruit to kill enemies.
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