Battle of the Ports – Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング) Show #194 – 60fps

February 28, 2020

Donkey Kong is an arcade game released by
Nintendo in 1981 and one of the earliest example of the platform game. The gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main
character across a series of platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles. In the game, Mario (originally named Mr. Video
and then Jumpman) must rescue a damsel in distress named Pauline (originally named Lady),
from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. The game is divided into four different single-screen
stages. Each represents 25 meters of the structure
Donkey Kong has climbed, each stage being 25 meters higher than the previous. The final stage occurs at 100 meters. As we know, the Intellivision version was
gimped by Coleco. Basically, Coleco wanted to sell Colecovision
consoles and what better way than to get the exclusive rights to Donkey Kong, the biggest
game of the time. They made sure the game was only available
as a pack in with the Colecovision console too. They made a fortune. But wait, Coleco then made really crappy versions
for their competitors to make the Colecovision port look amazing. Yep, this is why the Intellivision and the
following Atari 2600 ports look so bad. Missing 2 of the 4 stages from the arcade
original meant that this Atari 2600 port only had two screens and they didn’t look that
good. Thankfully the game plays well but boy, does
it sure like to ramp up the difficulty setting. I find the Colecovision port to be rather
fiddly in the control department. Getting up and down the ladders can be a right
pain in the back side due to the pixel perfect nature of the port. Still, for the hardware it does look and sound
fairly close to the arcade original. Sadly it only has three of the 4 stages. Looking even more advanced than the Colecovision
port, this Coleco Adam version also features all 4 stages found in the arcade game. Something not many ports can boast about. The Atari 8Bit line of computers saw a very
tough port of Donkey Kong. While it resembles the arcade game well enough
it plays a much faster game than we’d expect. In fact many of the movements of the obstacles
are completely bizarre. Being that the Famicom was Nintendo’s flagship
console it makes sense that it received a port of Donkey Kong that looked the part. What doesn’t make sense is that only three
of the arcade’s four stages are present! Why on earth didn’t Nintendo add all stages? There are two game modes to choose from being
Game A and B. Game A is an easier version while Game B is more difficult, one loop after
Game A also brings you to Game B. Even the Texas Instruments 99 / 4A computer
got a port of Donkey Kong with some really strange music from when you rescue Pauline
at the end of each stage. Not a bad port at all but does lack in animation
in parts. Apple ][ fans have a pretty horrible port
of Donkey Kong by Atari. The thing which makes this so bad are the
jump mechanics. You can tell just by looking at the game that
they’re not right. And whoever produced the jingles must have
been tone deaf. Straight away you can see that this Commodore
Vic 20 port runs way too fast making it quite a tough version. MS Dos owners got the same crappy Atari made
port that Apple ][ owners got. Nothing new to talk about really apart from
having an option to play in black & white or CGA or Full Colour as the game calls it. There are two official versions of Donkey
Kong for the Commodore 64. This one was developed by Arcana Software
and distributed by Ocean in the UK only. Graphically it follows the arcade pretty well. In fact it follows the arcade better than
most ports. Even right down to the name entry screen. Playability is also good and yes, it does
contain all 4 stages of the arcade version. This is the first official Commodore 64 port
that was actually developed by Atari and its pretty bad compared to the UK only release
by Arcana Software. While both ports look similar I’d say this
version is worse off in the presentation. The graphics are far wider making everything
look squashed. It’s also missing the “How high can you climb”
screen. Sound on the other hand is much closer to
the arcade game. This version is said to have all 4 arcade
screens but for some reason I only get two. That’s okay though since this port plays so
slow and unfair you won’t really want to play it much. The MSX port is horrible. It’s constantly slowing down then speeding
up which makes the already poor jump mechanics even harder to judge. Terrible port. I’m sorry but the ZX Spectrum port developed
by Sentient Software is total f*****g s**t. It looks crap, sounds crap and plays like
crap. Why the hell does Mario walk up the ladders
so slowly? How on earth could they have though this was
worth while? Arcana Software, the developers behind the
UK Commodore 64 version were also behind this excellent Amstrad CPC port. It looks good, plays good and sounds good. It also features all 4 stages. What more could you want. Now the Atari 7800’s rendition of the Donkey
Kong theme may sound like a field of farting cows but that’s okay. This port by Atari puts right all that was
wrong with the 2600 version. Featuring good graphics, excellent playability
and 3 of the 4 screens found in the arcade release. These 3 screens will repeat with added difficulty
until you run out of lives. In this version you will get an extra life
at 20,000 points. Hehe, okay, maybe not a port but I thought
I’d add it just for fun. Donkey Kong for Nintendo’s Game & Watch series. Arguably the most famous version of Donkey
Kong out there.

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