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DONKEY KONG JR.
Donkey Kong Jr. is a fun spin on predecessor, but ultimately falls short for me. The first level has this personality and charm to it, but the other three feel so generic. Climbing vines doesn't feel as good as jumping and I don't think the level design compliments that particular mechanic. All that said, I think Donkey Kong Jr. is on the right path for a sequel, changing enough about the gameplay to be something different, yet still resembling its familiar roots. As a side note, I do enjoy Donkey Kong Jr. as a character and mained him in Mario Tennis for N64
Donkey Kong Jr is a peculiar game. It has given Mario, their carefully groomed mascot, a face-heel turn just months after his breakout hit in Super Mario Bros. It has completely emasculated the original game's namesake, and placed him in a cage. Mario throws snakes at you. You're a baby gorilla.
Donkey Kong Jr showed us that Nintendo wanted to deliver new things with their sequels, and not just "more Donkey Kong". They remixed several mechanics and ideas that made Donkey Kong great and gave us something... perfectly okay. While these levels don't quite live up to the iconic originals, it's a valiant effort to keep the budding franchise fresh.
I was surprised at how different they made the actual gameplay from it’s predecessor. Personally I think it actually benefits from that. Maybe it’s because the original DK is tired for me but I actually prefer this sequel over the original. It also has a great variety in it’s level design, an asset that is completely undermined by the fact that the game only has four levels. Donkey Kong Jr. is similar to the original in that they are both short fun but nothing mind-blowing by todays standards.
I like that Nintendo took the game in a few different directions from the first one. Instead of having Donkey Kong come back to take more women, we're hit with a curveball: he has a son. Donkey Kong Jr. is alone in this world and needs to stop the evil Mario who locked away his father. I think the shift in perspective makes for some compelling storytelling that you wouldn't expect from an arcade game. Nintendo understands that the world isn't black and white. Donkey Kong is a devastating kidnapper but he's also a loving father. Mario is a hero who let power get the best of him, and now deploys "snapjaws" to try to kill Donkey Kong's son. DK Jr. is the bastard son of a criminal who understands that nudity is sin and that he must clothe himself to preserve what little purity he has left before he KILLS Mario by dooming him to fall in an ironic homage to the first game. Not really crazy about the gameplay though.