Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Way Back WhensDay: Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong
Oh the memories
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Growing up, three video games stand out to me the most.  I've written about one of them already, Pac-Man.  The other I will tackle today, Donkey Kong.  I'll save number three for a future post.

I still remember playing the arcade version of Donkey Kong at our local skating rink like it was yesterday.  Quarter after quarter, I tried in vain to get Mario up the platforms to the top floor to save a female character named Lady from the clutches of the angry ape.  Back then, Mario was known as Jumpman and players had to maneuver him up ladders and dodge flaming barrels that Donkey Kong would toss.

I remember there being a sledge hammer involved in the higher levels and parts of the floor opening up during the rescue attempt too.   When Jumpman would finally defeat the evil ape and find his love, Donkey Kong ended up upside down on his head.  It was reminiscent of King Kong falling to his death from the Empire State Building.

Eventually, Donkey Kong was available on the Atari and like Pac-Man, I played it all the time.  After saving Lady, it was time to find new adventures in the arcade world.  That's when a spin off game was created, Donkey Kong, Junior.

Donkey Kong, Jr.
This time the tables are turned and Mario plays the bad guy.  The player of the game controls Junior through a series of levels in an attempt to rescue his father, Donkey Kong. Junior climbs different vines and feasts on fruits and vegetables to maintain his strength through the journey.  After a successful rescue, the primates punt Mario into oblivion.

Because they were popular, there was Donkey Kong cereal, a cartoon, and trading cards.  It seems like anything back then that had success had plenty of marketing opportunities tied to it.  Those were fun times indeed.

I'm not much on the gaming world, I just have fun playing these more simplistic games.  Today, I'd say Mario and Donkey Kong have made amends, as they appear in Mario Kart and other video games together.  But no matter how the technology evolves, I'll always have a place in my heart for that old school version of Donkey Kong and Mario.

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