This is another “HOLY COW!” homebrew release. This game is so very awesome. This is what we should have gotten back in the day for our beloved INTV systems. The Donkey Kong cart released by Coleco was just a travesty.
I played this “through” (you can’t really play it through to an ending, but I played it so that I got a good deal into the succession of levels) on my arcade box recently. It should be noted that the ROM I have on this machine is one that the authors released in 2011 – I think it is more or less identical to what was on the original cartridge release but not what they are currently selling as “D1K” which had some clean up applied to it. I’m pretty sure they’re no longer making the ROM image available anymore. I may have more to write about that in a blog post to come later.
At any rate, the game plays like a dream. It really feels like I’m playing an arcade game – some kind of alternate universe version of the real Donkey Kong where the graphics are less arcade-y and more Intellivision-y. The controls are responsive, making complex maneuvers possible. I found myself doing backwards jumps and quick, repeated jumps at times without thinking twice about it. Donkey Kong Arcade definitely gets an arcadeability rating of 5.
As you can see, all four boards from the original Donkey Kong are reproduced in this game. That’s something that even the highly lauded Donkey Kong on Colecovision can’t match! I think this game plays better than the Colecovision version as well. It may have to do with the awkwardness of the Colecovision controller…
There’s a good deal of replay value in this game as well. I’m not the first to write a review of this game (by far) so it is well understood that the cart gives you a choice of playing as one of three different characters: Mario, Bruno, and Toni. Each has different abilities. Mario is the basic, middle of the road character in terms of ability, and you get the most authentic arcade experience playing as Mario. Toni runs faster than Mario and can jump while using the hammer. Bruno is a bit slower than Mario, but can take a longer fall and can climb ladders while using the hammer. Obviously, this can allow for different playing strategies on a repeated playing of the game.
How does it compare to the original arcade game?
This game feels just like the original arcade game. Playing it on an arcade cab is a great experience. As I mentioned in my Space Patrol review, it’s a toss-up in my mind as to which of these two titles can claim the title of best arcade port on the Intellivision. They are both so spot-on and amazing in their own right.