DONKEY KONG JR MATH
Joe tries his best in this episode to describe to me why I should at least care about Donkey Kong Jr Math, but frankly I never will. Ultimately, this game is just not fun and I'm not convinced it was supposed to be. It's probably for the better part of history that this game was a commercial failure. I can only imagine how much further Nintendo would have milked their characters if the education series had gone well. Make no mistake, they've continued to try throughout the years, but I'm not too convinced they have learned anything since DK JR. Math.
I believe Donkey Kong Junior Math was the first piece of shovelware on the NES console.
Sure, it can be argued that Stack Up is a worse game, but at least it had a tangible purpose. DKJM, on the other hand, just seems like a hacked cartridge of Donkey Kong Junior. Even the janky nature in which the game differentiates between one and two player sessions shows how it was amateurishly jerry-rigged, because they're the same mode! Decide to play alone, and the second player sprite will just sit there, comatose, while you run up the score.
Playing a two player session can be fun in the same way that consuming any other bad piece of pop-culture can be fun. You're both experiencing it, and it's bad. Your time, and your friend's time, could better spent watching Manos: Hands of Fate.
One disclaimer: I did not play mode C so I don’t have anything to say about that mode.
Donkey Kong Jr. Math definitely falls in the category of not having much to offer. Do not let the game fool you into believing that there is a functioning single player mode. It looks to me like mode A and B were built as two player modes and then nintendo said “oh you want to play single player? yeah you can do that… just don’t plug in a second controller”. It is the equivalent of playing Street Fighter on two player mode but not using the second controller. You may now proceed to mercilessly beat on your opponent until you win. One player mode in this game really just comes down to doing simple math, alone.
I had a different experience playing with 2 players. Going into this game with such low expectations I was surprised to find that I kinda enjoyed playing two player. First of all being competitive was what made the game function as a game. Sure you could still get to your goal using simple math but your opponent might catch on and find a way to take the numbers you need before you get to them. Sometimes it’s better to try to get to your number in a more complicated way so your opponent won’t catch on… instead of adding to get to your goal, overshoot it and then before your opponent realizes what you’re doing divide to it (works better in mode B). It’s probably not the kind of strategy the developers intended but it makes you try to find a route to your target number that your opponent won’t notice, which made it feel unique.
Look, it’s not great, I wouldn't go out of your way to play this, but I had expected very little from this game, and certainly didn’t expect to have any fun, but it surprised me in having what I considered to be a decent mode (unpopular opinion, I know). All this to say, one player mode sucks, two player mode isn't too bad.