Man, what a let down! I remember getting this game as a kid. I wanted Donkey Kong pretty badly (although Pacman was still my favorite). We grabbed this title up as soon as we saw it, and then I was pretty disappointed.
I knew my INTV was capable of more than this. You can read on various websites about conspiracy theories charging that Coleco purposefully did an awful job on this game so that their Colecovision version would look so much better. And frankly, I believe them! You see, Donkey Kong was the cartridge that was included with the Colecovision system. See below for a vision of what this game could have been.
The background material about Donkey Kong is worth a read on the Blue Sky Ranger’s website (linked to above). The programmers at Mattel were pretty insulted with this game.
The game only includes two of the arcade’s four levels. The “elevator” and “conveyor belt” levels are missing. With only two levels flipping back and forth, this game gets boring pretty quickly. Kong does move a bit on the first screen (you can see him rolling a barrel in the shot above), but he is a statue on the second screen.
I am giving it a generous Arcadeability rating of 3. Frankly, I want to give this game the lowest rating I can, but the game does play decently on an arcade machine. That said, the jumping action of Mario isn’t very crisp. It seems like it’s a bit delayed from the press of the button. You need to practice a bit to time your jumps correctly.
I couldn’t stand to put in more than 10-20 minutes of play to generate these screen shots and write up this review. But as far as I can tell, even though the game isn’t very fun or even good, it does fit and play “well” on an arcade cabinet. But a game this bad isn’t getting better than a 3.
What could have been
Click here for a review of an updated Donkey Kong cartridge that was released in late summer of 2011. It’s seriously awesome! All four board types, nearly arcade authentic sounds, etc., etc.
The controls mapping for this game is very simple. Just the normal 4-way cursor mapping to N, S, E, and W on the INTV controller and an arcade button mapped to one of the side action buttons. The arcade.kbd configuration is fine for this game.
How does it compare to the original arcade game?
This port is just awful. As if to taunt us, the “official” MAME screenshot of Donkey Kong is one of the conveyor belt board, one of the two boards that isn’t included in this port.
The arcade game has an addictive quality to it. Even if you don’t play very well at it, you want to give it another try. This port makes you want to stop playing it even if you are decent at it.
One of the worst arcade ports available for Intellivision.