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Donkey Kong Jr. - The Atari Times

Donkey Kong Jr.

All the levels are here!
by Ethan C. Nobles

December 22, 2005
Poor, poor Atari. Back in 1988, the world was bonkers over platform games such as Super Mario Bros. and its progeny for the Nintendo Entertainment System, while Atari was cranking out titles like Donkey Kong Jr. for the 7800. Hey, Donkey Kong Jr. is a great game, but it was big a full five years before it was ported to the 7800. The classic arcade title was old news when the 7800 port of Donkey Kong Jr. arrived, thus making the NES and all its "current" games seem very appealing. To make matters worse, Nintendo (owner of the Donkey Kong character, of course) put out its Donkey Kong Classics cartridge, which included darn good ports of both Donkey Kong - and its follow-up on one cartridge.

Regardless, Donkey Kong Jr. for the 7800 is a very good translation and preferable to Donkey Kong available for the system. Why is it preferable? All four screens were included in the title, whereas one was left out of Donkey Kong. This game, after all, is a port of an arcade game, and incomplete versions of well-known hits are usually at least a bit disappointing for gamers.

In Donkey Kong Jr. the player goes through a bit of a role reversal. In Donkey Kong, of course, the hero is Mario and he's out to save his girlfriend from a crazed gorilla. In Donkey Kong Jr. the hero is the son of the aforementioned crazed ape, and his goal is to save his father from Mario. Yes, Mario has caged Donkey Kong, and such a travesty ought not be allowed!

So, there's the premise. The gameplay is challenging, to say the least. The player will have to climb chains, vines and etc. in order to collect keys and such in order to save Donkey Kong. Ah, but Junior has quite a task in front of him. He must dodge all manner of Mario's minions, including living steel traps (Snapjaws), birds which try to drop poop on him (disgusting!) and the like. The biggest enemy in the game, however, is gravity itself - should Junior leap at, say, a vine and miss or fall off a platform, he's history. Frankly, this game is tougher than Donkey Kong for the 7800, and not just because all four levels are included.

One of the things that makes this game so challenging is that jumping feels slow and awkward. At times, some precision jumps are necessary, but it takes the player a bit of time to get the necessary "feel" for the controls which will allow him to achieve the more difficult leaps. Some tighter controls would have been very appreciated in this game.

Some better sound - or no sound at all - would have also been appreciated in the game. While I suppose it's nice that the folks at Atari included a lot of the music from the arcade game, I wish the folks would have done a better job. The music just sounds off-key for the most part, and the sound effects are tinny and irritating. Thank goodness it's not crucial to hear the sounds in the game - I prefer to turn the television down and listen to a decent compact disc when playing this.

Fortunately, the graphics are pretty good. While not arcade-perfect, they look crisp enough to get the job done. Junior even has on his diaper, and his eyes bug out when he's whopped in the head by poop (or whatever) and loses a life. Sure the graphics aren't quite as good as what they were in the arcade and I can't help but think a 7800 game ought to look better than this. However, this game looks close enough to what arcade fans of Donkey Kong Jr. expect to be passable.

All in all, this game is enjoyable in spite of the rotten sound and awkward controls. Give it a shot. Heck, it won't cost you much as this is a very common cartridge.

Well, the graphics are prettier than the 8-bit version.
Boy this spring is hard to jump on!
DK2: Electric Boogaloo.
These screens still aren't in the right order.
Donkey Kong Jr.
System: 7800
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 50%
Gameplay Score: 80%
Control Score: 75%

Final Score: 79%

Reader Comments for Donkey Kong Jr.

I like this game! by Harry Crumb on 2008-12-07 22:48:22
This is a very good game! A must own for the 7800. I got a high score once of 93,800. Is that good?
Better than Donkey Kong by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-24 18:57:37
This version of Donkey Kong Junior was based on the NES version. While this version of DKJ wasn't as good as the NES DKJ, I liked it better than the Atari 8 bit computer version of Junior.
When Atari made DKJ for their 8 bit computers, they made it harder than their Atari 7800 version. Unlike the original 7800 Donkey Kong, the NES and 7800 Donkey Kong Junior games have all 4 of the arcade screens. This game is a must have for everybody who has an Atari 7800.
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