Revisiting Retro Classics: Donkey Kong

Alongside Pac-Man, Donkey Kong belongs in the Retro Classics Hall of Fame. After a week of playing the NES version, I’m left hoping that Nintendo will allow Hamster to port the Arcade game to Switch. Until then, the NES port remains the most accessible version for gamers (at least legally), and is available to purchase via the Wii U and 3DS eShop.

A Little Bit of History

In the late 1970s, Nintendo made an attempt to break into American arcades with Radar Scope, but the game failed to sell, which left Nintendo with 2000 unsold cabinets. Thankfully, those cabinets wouldn’t be put to waste, for a young Shigeru Miyamoto was asked to design a game that would attract US audiences, and make use of the leftover cabinets.

This led to Mr. Miyamoto writing a story about a feud between a carpenter called Jumpman (aka Mario), and his pet gorilla Donkey Kong (DK), which results in our favourite ape abducting Pauline (Jumpman’s girlfriend).


Screenshot: Donkey Kong NES Stage 1 Screenshot
“I’m coming Pauline!”


Jumpman must ascend the heights of an industrial site in order to rescue his love from Donkey Kong’s clutches. He must climb ladders, jump to and from elevators, and avoid or smash obstacles such as barrels, fireballs, fruit pies, etc. Every level consists of 4 repeated one screen stages (sadly, the NES version only has three).

High scores are obtained by completing each stage ASAP and leaping over or smashing objects with a hammer. The final stage concludes with Jumpman rescuing Pauline (after removing each girder fastener), and Donkey Kong plummeting to the ground. After a cute reunion between Jumpman and Pauline, the game returns to the start, but this time with an incremental increase in difficulty. This cycle keeps repeating itself until Jumpman runs out of lives.

If you want to up the challenge from the get-go, players can select gamemode B from the start menu.  The game also supports a 2 player mode which allows alternate competitive play.

A game worth revisiting!

Donkey Kong is a classic title that’s still fun to play! Even though the NES title doesn’t reach the heights of the arcade original, it’s great to play in short bursts. I’m particularly fond of playing the game on the big screen because it’s easier to share the experience with others. The game is currently available for both Wii U and 3DS via the eShopShop for $4.99/£3.49.

News Just in!

According to news sources, Donkey Kong’s actions were the result of mistreatment at the hands of Mario. I am thrilled to say that both Mario and Donkey Kong are now on better terms, but they still regularly attempt to outdo each other, and feature in other Nintendo game franchises such as Mario vs Donkey Kong, Smash Bros, and Mario Kart.

And just in case you’re interested, Pauline is now Mayor of New Donk City.


  1. It’s a game with pretty limited content, but it is cool to play through the title that originated both Mario and DK. I am glad they are on better terms now!

    1. The game’s content is limited but I think that helps to make the game so addictive. You simply need to ascend from the bottom to the top without getting hit! The more progress you make, the more numermous and faster on-screen obstacles become. Such a simple concept but brilliantly executed. 🙂 It’s nice to see that a majority of indie games are reverting back to classic retro ideas. 🙂

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