Donkey Kong Jr.

donkey kong jr box art nes game
8.0 Overall Score
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 6/10
Controls: 8/10

Better controls than Donkey Kong, graphic improvement

Not as original or iconic as Donkey Kong

Game Info

Game Name: Donkey Kong Jr.

Developer(s): Nintendo R&D1

Publisher(s): Nintendo

Platform(s): Arcade/Retro

Genre(s): Retro/Platformer

Release Date(s):  August 1982 (Japan)/1982 (US)

ESRB Rating: Not Rated

donkey kong jr level one screenshot gameplay screenshots

I’m coming for you, Dad!

Mario has captured Donkey Kong and is holding him prisoner. It is up to Donkey Kong Jr. to rescue his father from Mario’s clutches. Junior must climb fast, battle “snapjaws”, avoid “nitpickers”, and “sparks” sent by Mario to stop him. Jumping, swinging, and climbing is getting faster, and Mario is getting more and more angry…only DK Jr. can save his father!

Produced by Nintendo, Donkey Kong Jr. is an arcade platformer. A sequel to Donkey Kong from 1981, the game received critical acclaim and has been released on multiple platforms.

When I was young, I coveted my neighbor’s Atari…the first video game system I played. Video games often would have TV commercials, and I can remember Donkey Kong Jr.’s commercial vividly. That Christmas, we got an Intellivision, and Donkey Kong Jr. was one of the “Christmas Day” titles…and I played it into the ground.

donkey kong jr electric level gameplay screenshots

I didn’t know this level existed for years…

I think Donkey Kong Jr. is much more accessible than Donkey Kong even on the arcade level. The jumping was a little less stodgy and it was easier to jump from platform to platform. Climbing and switching ropes and chains was relatively smooth and only the sometimes glitchy spring jump would cause a sticking point. Growing up with the console and less popular in arcades than his father, it was a few years before I saw the spark level of Donkey Kong Jr…but even that was fun and easily learned.

The graphics for the game are probably a step up from the original Donkey Kong, but the original Donkey Kong is more endearing in that sense. The level set-ups and visuals are very similar between the two games, but the character’s movement through the levels is better and easier.  DK Jr. has more mobility and is easier to control (aka he does not get stuck on ladders like Mario in Donkey Kong).

donkey kong jr bird locks gameplay screenshots

Mario…you’re just a malicious jerk

While Donkey Kong Jr. was visually superior, I don’t think the sound and effects of the game were as good. I always liked the little level finish song, but not many of the other sounds of Donkey Kong Jr. stand out…probably due to the fact that it wasn’t as common in the arcades and the effects were not blaring everywhere.

Donkey Kong Jr. holds a special place for me in that it was the first game with Mario that I “owned” and one of the first games I felt I mastered as a kid (probably that, Burgertime, and Frogger). I like that Mario played the heavy in Donkey Kong Jr., and it would be kind of fun to have him return to that role.  Technically DK Jr. only showed up a few more times in games like Super Mario Kart and manuals indicate the the Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong Country is DK Jr. (while others dispute it).  Donkey Kong Jr. was followed by the much less successful Donkey Kong 3 in 1983.

Related Links:

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong 3

Donkey Kong Country Returns

Super Mario Kart

Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 8

Super Smash Bros Brawl

Super Smash Bros Wii U

Mario Tennis Open

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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