Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recommended Play: JR To The Rescue

While I will give Nintendo credit for making many of their classic Game and Watches available on their modern handhelds, I always felt like they could do more. I've heard it said time and again from friends that in a day and age when simple fun games have become a huge draw on systems like the ipad why the hell doesn't Nintendo do some sort of spiffed up re-release of their classic Game and Watches? True on the Gallery games we got 'modern' modes. Yet, these often bastardized the originals by forcefully inserting characters such as Goombas and Bullet Bills in to replace the classic Snap Jaws and Nitpickers. The worst offense of all to me was Princess Toadstool always being used to replace Pauline. The bitch felt like she wanted to erase her from existence. :P Just kidding. Really though, It always felt so insulting to the classics. It's like Nintendo feels embarrassed of their original creations. Maybe it's due to some sort of internal rivalry that still exists in the mind of Myomoto regarding series creator Yokoi.

It's stuff like this, along with the fact that Nintendo has never made the arcade perfect versions of their biggest classics like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros and Popeye available to players that has always baffled me. I mean, we got emulation, but Nintendo stands to make a decent buck by offering these over the NES ports. Nintendo seems to have a lot of internal grudges if you ask me. XD Anyway after the DSI wares release of the same old Donkey Kong JR Game and Watch it looks like someone did take note that there is a missed opportunity here.

And so incomes Divernova Games with JR To The Rescue. A game that uses graphics inspired by the Mario Vs Donkey Kong series and any number of ipad games to create a very fun new take on an almost 30 year old classic. The graphics are sharp, with all the characters looking a bit like puppets. The little music score included is pretty brilliant for the modern mode and the game even features an extended ending animation. There are options to fiddle with the sound effects and even play the game in a black and white mode that kinda resembles the original game a bit more.

The word kinda can be used to describe a lot of aspects of this game. It kinda plays like the original, but it doesn't. Jumping for the key requires you to push up. The controls are kinda loose. The vine jumps at the start and far right of the screen no longer land you points for falling over a Snap Jaw. The fruit kinda works the same, but is now faster. So the clock work rhythm is kinda off. The scoring is also a bit off. JR no longer gets 9 points for taking out Snap Jaws on the lower level. That's a shame. As well, he doesn't always clear out the right amount of enemies when he lands back at start. This can result in some cheap deaths. And Jr kinda has most of the personality found in the original game.

Now I realize the makers wanted to have the game to have a certain look, but JR just isn't as charismatic as he was back when he was hand drawn. This is something 2D seems to always have over 3D sprites. Game and Watches feature some of the most beautifully drawn sprites of their day. They still stand the test of time today. This game does too have it's charms, but whereas JR seemed to have a little more brains and cunning in the original, his looks echo more of a simple minded ape in this version. The new take on JR in the early 80s drew many fans to the game alone. He had lost his clothes and gained Pac-Man eyes. But, hey, the same can be said of this version. I found this game by doing a google image search and instantly clicked the fascinating picture depicting the play field. Cosmetic changes draw us in and offer us something new and exciting to look at. That's what game design should be all about. Nintendo was all about this in the 80's. We were constantly getting new takes on the characters. It still happens today from time to time as well. Sadly I think it's Something Nintendo themselves forget about, especially when they over use their generic Mario 3D sprite in print and game media. At least this JR doesn't run along the same lines of Mr. Game & Watch who has been said on, to be an insult to everything the Game and Watch team tried to create.

"Mr. Game & Watch's design is somewhat of an affront to the spirit of the Game & Watch series. Whereas Mr. Game & Watch is exceedingly generic and nondescript in his design, most Game & Watch protagonists were anything but. Series creator Gunpei Yokoi and his team worked very hard to give each title unique graphics and make each character as distinct as possible despite the limitations of the hardware. The characters in Game & Watch games have distinguishing eyes, mouths, noses, even ears sometimes. The only characters that look anything like Mr. Game & Watch are the NPCs you rescue in Parachute and Fire. It is no small tragedy that Nintendo has paid tribute to its successful handheld franchise by turning the series' most generic sprite into its public face. Nintendo should be ashamed of themselves for doing this. I know I am."

All that said, I do recommend the game. It's free and even if it wasn't, as a Game and Watch fan I could see myself dishing out a couple bucks to play it. It's not perfect, but I can only hope we will get more that is, if we support it. You can download it from the creators site for free here:

These screens are from the Donkey Kong II Game and Watch, but the same character model is used. Note that JR did the peace, or victory sign long before Mario did. XD

As you can see there was a ton of personality here. As a young gamer I fell in love with the little simians charms. Donkey Kong Jr Looks like an old 1920's Cartoon character in the original Game and Watch. This art style was applied to most games characters of the series. I think this was a very smart tactic that really drew in a lot of players young and old to the series.

A rare image from a guide for Donkey Kong 94. It seems to retain a very classic cartoon feel to the characters. Something Nintendo no longer seems to promote.

Nintendo was all about changing it up back in the day, like with this eye grabbing take on King Koopa and the beaked Troopas. (Based I am sure on the game sprites look.)


  1. DK classic eh? :D mmm looks like they havent did anything new to DK in DS yet - FallenAngel

  2. Well they do have two Mario Vs Donkey Kong games, the second King of Swing game and some G & W ports, but no nothing really new based on the original Kong, or Country games.



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