Donkey Kong Junior

[Level 1] [Level 1 Again] [Game Over]
"Coleco really managed to make a mockery of Donkey Kong on all systems other than its own, leading many to conclude that it was a shady marketing tactic used by Coleco to make its own system look better than that of the competitors, especially the Atari 5200 and Intellivision. Some of its later releases, while inferior to the respective titles on the Colecovision, weren't too bad. I figure Donkey Kong Junior is a later release simply due to its rarity, though I could be wrong. One thing is for sure -- Donkey Kong Junior is hardly an improvement over the original Donkey Kong.
"Donkey Kong, how did we hate thee? Let us count the ways. First of all, the graphics were laughable. All I know is that when I played this game for the first time, I noticed that there was no intro, and everything was pink: the girders; the ladders; the hammers; the oil tank; Donkey Kong's stash of barrels; and all of Pauline. When the game started, I noticed that the controls were not very responsive and there was no BGM, which made the game seem even more boring. Not only that, but the sound effects were all wrong! Mario (aka Jumpman) made a cool squeaking noise when he walked and an equally cool springy noise when he jumped. Now all I hear is an obscure four-note ditty while walking and some funky sound while jumping. There wasn't even a resemblance to the original arcade sound effects here. The barrels are low-res and poorly drawn, and the hammers were ugly too. Mario was colored in light blue and orange rather than the familiar red, tan, and blue, making him all the more unrecognizable. Pauline just stood like a zombie rather than move about and call for help, and there was no intermission between levels. Donkey Kong never grabbed Pauline, grunted, and climbed up to the next story. Instead, after a short tune (which kinda resembled something I heard in the arcade) I found myself magically on the next level. Again, now everything is blue instead of pink, and the moving obstacles looked no more like fireballs than giant balls of lint. I lost my last life the first time I played on the first story of the second building, so imagine my surprise when, after a couple games, I discovered that the two stories were all there was to this port. I could understand if there had been only three (leaving out the level with the conveyor belts and cement buckets), but there wasn't even the stage with the elevators and springs! I had anticipated the sight of the elevators stage just to see how ugly it would be and how silent the springs would be, but it wasn't even there!
"Now we have Coleco's second attempt at a port of an arcade game with the familiar Donkey Kong and Mario characters (or in this case, its second attempt at a shady marketing tactic). Only three of the five screenshots are uploaded here because the other two taken were so random that one turned out to be the Number of Players screen and the other was a screen of solid blue (taken just before the first level started). The graphics are just as ugly, the controls are just as unresponsive, and now Donkey Kong Junior flickers while he is holding onto two vines. It turns out that only two sprites were used to draw Donkey Kong Junior: one to draw the white of his body, and the other to draw the brown of his body. That brown sprite is multiplexed to draw both halves when he is holding onto two vines. Now that's ugly!
"There are two improvements in the second incarnation of Donkey Kong and Mario. This time there is BGM present during the title screen (no intro of course), during each level, and after each level. The music is also accurate and two channels were used instead of only one. The other improvement is that there are three out of the four stages instead of only two. The Jungle stage and the Keys stage are both here, as well as the Birds stage (the one with the spring at the beginning). On Skill Level 2 and above, the birds even drop eggs while swooping downward. I guess all this was Coleco's way of saying 'We managed to push the capabilities of the Intellivision just a little further since Donkey Kong, though it still can never compare to our Colecovision.'
"Despite these improvements, the graphics are still hideously ugly, many fine touches of the arcade game are altogether missing, and the play control are still not very responsive, making play sessions a little less enjoyable. The final verdict is this, 'If you hated Donkey Kong, you will hate Donkey Kong Junior as well. Forget the fact that it is less common -- it stinks.'" Rating: 1/5 -- Mike Hayes
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