Donkey Kong.

When the Colecovision was released with Donkey Kong in 1982, their strategy for taking on Atari was clever: buy some cheaper second-tier arcade licences and give away one bigger licence as a pack-in with the machine. Donkey Kong was the perfect choice as the freebie, as there was no way the VCS could compete graphically with it, and the game’s popularity guaranteed it would make the console sell big. This was the bomb that destroyed Atari’s dominance- they were never quite the same again.

Looking back now, Donkey Kong wasn’t quite as arcade perfect as Coleco made out. The intermissions are gone, and one of the stages has

been dropped to fit it into 16K. Even so, this is an impressive port for the time with instantly recognisable graphics from the arcade. The Colecovision joysticks are not highly regarded, but they work fine here; there are no problems with ‘sticking’ when climbing ladders, and while some of the jumps on the final stage can be tricky, that is more down to the difficulty of anticipating the moving platforms than any controller gripes.

Playing Donkey Kong on my Coleco recently for the first time in years produced a feeling of ‘one-more-go’ immediately. It really does capture the playability of the original albeit with concessions here and there. I can only imagine the excitement kids felt at the time seeing the screenshots on the box and reading the hyperbole, but even now it can be enjoyed in spite of the superior Nintendo and C64 conversions that came later on. Coleco were there first, and you’ve got to give them credit for that. They raised the bar of the arcade conversion and made console gaming better as a whole. Yes, Donkey Kong on the CV might be a period piece, but that’s okay, because it’s still a very playable one.

  • 7/10
    Gameplay - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Graphics - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
7/10

Summary

Charming and fun, the addictiveness of the original is brought home impressively well for a 16K title.