Far be it from me to desecrate a classic, but Donkey Kong, one of the games in the Classic NES Series offerings, has more in common with the NES game than the original, classic arcade game. I'm not convinced I would classify the NES version as a classic.

Sure, this game is somewhat of a budget title but for twenty bucks I want everything that was in the arcade version. Excuse me if I can't get excited about playing a 20-year old game on a relatively new handheld system.

The version of Donkey Kong that we're expected to have a blast with was developed for an eight-bit system. While I'm disappointed that this is not a port of the arcade game, it's an almost perfect port of the NES version. If that's all you want then you should be satisfied. Some of the screen titles and the entire pie factory level from the arcade version are missing, so be warned.

Donkey Kong was the first pairing of the mighty beast and a rotund, heroic plumber named Mario. DK, as we'll call him, is evil in this version and has stolen Mario's girlfriend, as big apes are prone to do. Navigating his way through three levels, Mario has to see how high he can get while running, climbing and jumping his way to the top of a metal structure while dodging rolling barrels and jacks thrown by DK.

In the first stage, Mario makes his way up a series of inclined girders while DK rolls barrels down from the top. To avoid the rolling barrels, Mario can jump over them, climb ladders to avoid them or smash them with a hammer. It's part obstacle course, part maze.

The second level introduces elevators, conveyor belts and other such moving platforms. This time you'll have to avoid jacks that DK throws at you. The last and final level will find you removing bolts from the structure to topple it which will take the big ape down and leave you to rescue your gal. The moment is short lived because DK comes back and steals her again, forcing you to repeat the levels at a slightly higher difficulty setting. And so it goes, and goes and goes…

Everything about this game is old-school. It's not a very pretty looking game and the sound is equally low quality. At least the controls are responsive. Those used to games with moving backgrounds and 20-plus levels might find this game hard to look at after a few hours. In order to accommodate the GBA screen, the game has been compressed a little. There is a two-player mode that allows you to use the Link cable but it's not necessary since this game can only be played one person at a time. You can just use the same game and shoot for high score which can be saved for posterity if you desire.

For the same price as this game you could probably find a used NES and a handful of games. My only question is why would you want to?

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System: GBA
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: June 2004
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Fenix