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Game Boy Donkey Kong

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Released: 1994

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: Game Boy

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo

Submitted by: John Delaney

Back in 1994, to celebrate the release of the Super Game Boy, the Beano comic ran a contest – word search I think – to promote it. First prize was a SNES, a Game Boy, a Super Gameboy, Tetris 2 and this game. Awesome bundle. My brother and I didn't find out we'd won until the stuff arrived during a perfectly good game of Sonic & Knuckles. How might that game have gone? I'll never know.

Anyhow, this game has plenty of nostalgia attached for that reason. (Oddly, Tetris 2 doesn't. Okay, maybe that's not so odd). This update uses the original game's four levels merely as a launch pad for almost a hundred new levels that bear little resemblence to the classic gameplay. Whilst that might have ticked some players off, the new levels were what the game was really about. Mario is equipped with new moves, including a handstand, which makes him move more slowly but allows him to stop incoming barrels by balancing them on his feet, and the ability to let the freaking hammer go.

Playing like a cross between a platformer and a puzzler, Mario would have to navigate the level to find the key, then figure out how to haul that key back to the door DK had just squeezed himself through. Some of these levels were fiendish, incorporating spike beds, zip lines and conveyor belts that made getting that key to the door an absolute torment.

As for why the Beano was giving me this along with a SNES; this game was designed with the Super Game Boy in mind. The Super GB allowed you to play regular GB games through the SNES, but it could also upgrade them with better colour schemes than the traditional vomit/light vomit/dark vomit/really dark vomit. Specially designed games like GBDK could use more than four colours and usually included special game-specific borders to play the game through. Or you could draw your own. You could even draw on the screen, allowing you to give Donkey Kong a nice evil twisty moustache if you really, really had to.