The sequel to the all-time classic, a great game in its own right
The original Donkey Kong was a hallmark in the platforming genre when Nintendo released it in 1981. It doesn’t hurt that it also made some mad money in the arcades. Thus designer Shigeru Miyamoto got to (perhaps was put to) work on the sequel, Donkey Kong Jr. Premiering in 1982, Donkey Kong Jr. stars the game’s namesake as he goes through four levels of platforming to rescue his father, the original Donkey Kong, who was captured by Mario at the end of the previous game. This time Mario is your enemy (!!) and will try to stop you with creatures and traps. This remains the only game where Mario played the role of bad guy.
Vine climbing is the central new mechanic in Donkey Kong Jr. Vines, chains, ropes, etc hang throughout each stage and you can climb them individually or have DK Jr grab two close lines and shimmy between them. There are no hammers with which to smite your foes like before, but DK Jr can wait until an enemy moves below him before touching certain objects on vines to have them fall on the enemy’s head. Donkey Kong Jr also features a bit more level variety than the construction site of the previous game. They range from jungles to a power plant, all rendered in the same appealing colorful and cartoony art style as before.
If you loved the original Donkey Kong then you’ll definitely want to play this follow-up. It’s also another excellent entry in platforming from the golden age of arcade gaming so it’s also worth playing for people interested in that historical context. Donkey Kong Jr. is another popular classic for high score wars, as fought between the likes of Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe, and random folks worldwide. If you’re an enthusiast in that aspect of the arcade you’re probably already playing or have played this game, but if not it is highly recommended.