Video Game Review: Donkey Kong 3 (NES)

This is a game that’s kind of forgotten even though the two games before it are absolute classics.

I think the problem with Donkey Kong 3 is that it is a very different game than its predecessors.

This gets rid of the simple platforming style of Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. and instead gives you more of a simplistic action game.

Basically, you use your smoke gun to ward off bees and to push Donkey Kong up into a beehive. Simple, effective but somewhat of a step down from the other, very creative games in the series.

I’m one of the few weirdos that enjoys this game for what it is. On its own, it’s fine. It’s also pretty f’n hard as you advance.

Strangely, this is the first game without Mario in it, as you play as a character named Stanley. I’m not sure why Nintendo went in that direction but maybe it didn’t make sense to have a plumber using beekeeper equipment? Then again, this plumber also dresses up like a frog and eats mushrooms and strange flowers.

Most people seem to hate Donkey Kong 3. I don’t. I think it’s a fun departure from the style of the first two games but on the other hand, I would’ve preferred something in the style of the first two games.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., as well as Mario’s Cement Factory and the original Mario Bros. before they went “Super“.

Video Game Review: Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)

I prefer Donkey Kong Jr. more than its predecessor Donkey Kong.

While both are simplistic platform games of the original Nintendo era, there’s just something I like more about this game. Maybe it’s because it’s four levels instead of three or because it’s slightly more complex and, overall, better designed.

I don’t know, it’s just a game from the classic arcade era that speaks to me and I still love playing it. So much so, actually, that I have to play through a few rounds of it a few times per week.

In fact, the rom for it is actually on my all my PCs’ desktops. I often times fire it up between big creative projects to reset my brain. I guess it’s my version of Microsoft’s Solitaire.

That being said, it’s kind of odd that I hadn’t reviewed this already. I guess it’s become such a regular part of my life over the decades since it came out that I don’t really think too much about it.

Anyway, the gameplay feels more fluid than its predecessor, the levels are much cooler to play through and I like the sound better. I also like playing as a vine swinging ape more than the human Mario.

Donkey Kong Jr. isn’t a perfect game, even if it is my perfect time killer and preferred avenue for quick mental escapism. Hell, it’s not even my favorite Nintendo game but it’s still in the upper echelon for sure.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong 3, as well as Mario’s Cement Factory and the original Mario Bros. before they went “Super“.

Video Game Review: Donkey Kong (NES)

It’s kind of hard to review a classic game of this stature that has left such a mark on everything else that’s come after it.

Donkey Kong put Nintendo on the map, introduced the world to Mario and helped solidify platform games as the biggest trend in the ’80s.

It’s elegant and perfect in its simplicity and that’s why Donkey Kong is still played, today. It’s also one of the games that people are still trying to get world records on and that’s not just because of the King of Kong documentary.

I like this game a lot and I play through a couple rounds of it at least every few months. Granted, I prefer Donkey Kong Jr. but I’ll review that one in the near future and break down why.

Donkey Kong isn’t my favorite old school platformer but it is definitely in the upper echelon. I now it’s really old and almost primitive but it was so colorful and well designed for its time. Additionally, I love the sounds in the game and that’s an area where Nintendo just seemed like they were a step ahead of everyone else, except maybe Namco, who had stupendous sound effects in their earliest games like Pac-Man.

This is just a fun and honestly, timeless game. It doesn’t take much to learn it and play it but it’s also really difficult, as you continue on in the game and play through more and more rounds. Because of that, even with its simplicity, it’s a hard game to master.

It’s hard to imagine a gaming world where Donkey Kong didn’t exist. It changed the landscape and deservedly so.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: its sequels Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3, as well as Mario’s Cement Factory and the original Mario Bros. before they went “Super“.

Documentary Review: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

Release Date: March 25th, 2007 (Dallas International Film Festival)
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Written by: Seth Gordon
Music by: Craig Richey
Cast: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Walter Day

Large Lab, Picturehouse, Dendy Cinemas, 79 Minutes

Review:

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. I play video games, which I think is a far superior addiction to any of those other ones.” – Adam Wood

Back when this came out in 2007, I was enthralled by it. In fact, I bought the DVD and watched it quite a bit, which is strange for me in that it’s a documentary.

However, this true story is just as good as a great work of fiction. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction or at least, more interesting than it.

In the case of Donkey Kong rivals Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, we were given something so human, endearing and intriguing that it rivaled the best films of its year of release. Strangely, it didn’t even get nominated by the Academy for Best Documentary.

I guess movies about middle-aged dudes playing retro video games isn’t as politically and socially starved for as movies about dolphins, rainforests and some old, hermit dude that spent his entire life crafting a violin out of garbage. No, this is actually more important than all of that as it shows the triumph of the human spirit and how even a regular Joe can overcome the odds and topple a giant and a system that’s working against him.

Steve Wiebe is a hero and you truly get a sense of that while watching this. On the flipside of that, Billy Mitchell is one hell of a villain and his personality and charisma rivals that of the greatest heel managers in professional wrestling history. At the same time, looking passed all of Mitchell’s shady shenanigans, you can’t not help but like the guy. He’s f’n charming and he’s doing his damnedest to protect his legacy, even if that means cheating and using his power and influence to great advantage.

This is just a fantastic story about a guy that is great at something, finally stepping up to get recognized for it, while the man who feels threatened by him, does everything he can to hold him down. Who will win? You have to watch this and find out.

The King of Kong is heartwarming and heartbreaking at different points. But most importantly, it is one of my favorite documentaries ever made.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: other video game/gaming documentaries like Chasing Ghosts and Special When Lit.