Ah the remake; the essence of human creativity going down the drain. I jest of course, but really when you think about it; how many great remakes are there? There are the good ones; Twilight Princess HD, Wind Waker HD, the Mario Advance series to name a few, but when I think of the word “remake” I automatically think negatively. Enter Donkey Kong ’94, probably one of the best remakes every made. Now I know what you’re thinking;”This isn’t a remake at all!” and you would be right and wrong. This isn’t a remake, but this is what a remake SHOULD be. Read along and you’ll see what I mean.
Donkey Kong ’94 is a platformer developed and published by Nintendo in (obviously) 1994. It was released on the Gameboy and on 3DS Virtual Console. This game was the first game made with special features when played on the Super Gameboy. It’s not much; some colors, a rad border, and Pauline screams of terror sound a bit more like a human. Well, you know how the old story goes right? Donkey Kong kidnaps Pea- I mean Pauline and Mario needs to go save her. So you go up to the top and get her right? Wrong; my good friends. After the first world “Stage 0”; which is construction site from the original DonkeyKong; the game changes completely. Instead of getting to the top now; you need to find a key, then open the locked door (Really quick side note; it tells you this and many more moves via short cutscenes between worlds. This is a brilliant example of showing; not telling). You beat about four key grabbing stages, then you get to fight the simian himself; which is just a normal “Get to the top” level like in the original Donkey Kong. After that is four more levels of key grabbing, then a fight; rinse and repeat until you beat that world. Simple and well executed.
So, what makes this game rad? Well for one, Mario has a boatload of moves in this one. Handstands, triple-jumping, picking up enemies like in Super Mario Bros 2, backflips, tightrope spinning; oh my! (Donkey Kong ’94 is responsible for a lot of firsts in the Mario series.) You use these moves to help you reach all sorts of places, like getting the key or collecting Paulines hat, purse, and parasol to get a bonus game. How are these moves incorporated into the classic gameplay of Donkey Kong? I would say absolutely flawlessly. Even though I beat 25m in literally three seconds, the game remains challenging through out the 9 worlds and the 101 levels even with all of these moves. Airplane, Iceberg and Rocky Valley are all really tough, but like a lot of Mario games; you’ll get more lives than you’ll probably need. Using some of the enemies by picking them up, throwing them, standing on them to get a lift is quite fun, spinning on a tightrope and getting massive air off of it is immensely satisfying; what I’m trying to say is this game is fun. Really, really fun.
The game looks great on a Gameboy; with big sprites to differentiate characters, a variety of worlds, so it doesn’t get too “same-y”, and on the Super Gameboy; it has bits of color! One of the best looking Gameboy games in my opinion. So what about the music? It’s okay I guess. I enjoy the Big City theme for some reason, but other than that I can’t really remember many other songs. It’s not a bad soundtrack, but it’s just not that rememberable.
Overall; Donkey Kong ’94 is one of the best Gameboy games out there and you should buy it. Immediately. Also, isn’t that The End screen nice? They finally made amends with each other. Too bad that went all out the window when the sequel came.