He’s the rotten apple of the nasty Kong’s eye

Donkey Kong Jr. (1982)

I know it’s coming, by God, I know it’s coming. I’m like the gorilla in that Dairy Milk ad, sitting and waiting on the drum-kit as Phil Collins lilts through the air, before everything comes crashing down. I’m talking about the biological clock of course, and how madly it begins to tick. It’s not my own clock, of course, my tadpoles are good for life. But the missus you see, the bells toll for her. She tells me now, “no kids”, “I like being able to hand them back” and all that game.

Don’t listen to all that, this is all just designed to trap young bucks like you and I into settling down. Then, before you know it, you’re changing nappies because you’re a “modern man”. Then you’re losing an absolute fortune. Then, you’re almost as much of a disappointment to your unruly child as they are to you. God, they might even bring the police home, or worse, someone who supports your favourite team’s biggest rivals. 

Yes, you never know what kind of kid you’re gonna bring into the world. I’m afraid I just don’t want any part of it – I know what a little pain in the neck I was as a child. Arguably I haven’t even grown out of this period of my life; nowadays I’d have to be classified as some rather desperate kind of manchild who writes little repartees about children’s video games, as if I have the gravitas to turn around and look down on bronies. I can’t have a kid, because I myself am one, and I have a terrible personality.

Mind you, looking back, I could have been a lot worse. I’d even argue that I actually displayed some model behaviour in my formative years, perhaps too model. For instance, I know of a husband and wife who now live in a car, simply because their tearaway sons got in way over their head with drugs, and as is usually the arrangement with gangland lowlifes, their house was completely torched.

Imagine you gave someone life, and then they do that to you? At what point do you go to your children and ask for all that money back? Not to mention the time investment, the fact that you ruined your life to give them a shot at theirs. Where’s the receipt?! Can you have a mulligan? Maybe an entire do-over for your life? Not at all sunshine, unless we finally break free of the Great Simulation and we manage to upload our concsiousness into the supercomputer. But then what if the children files in our parental folders get a virus and go wild as well? See what I mean, this parenting lark is a minefield.

Maybe I’d sire a child if I was guaranteed a Nobel peace prize winner, or even just some kind of law-abiding softy who won’t cause you a moment’s worry, and will be kind or guilt-ridden enough to put you in a decent home – and do so at your own request, rather than at the request of some spiteful son-in-law or harridan daughter-in-law.

Donkey Kong may have been a bad old ape in that wayback of wayback arcade games, when he was off stealing women and getting foiled by Jumpman. Let’s hope his wife never found out about his indiscretions, because it turns out that DK has a son, who refreshingly isn’t half-human. Little Donkey Kong Jr. is a nimble mover – he can jump and can climb up vines at a decent old clip. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that he moves quite a bit like Jumpman, later called Mario, which leads me down a pretty dark path of speculation regarding DK Jr’s parentage, but that’s neither here nor there.

This is Donkey Kong Jr. then, the inevitable sequel to the arcade smash hit that brought us Pauline, the Hammer song, and Billy Mitchell. It’s another four level caper featuring Mario and a monkey, or two monkeys in this case, but it’s still about as basic as you can get while still being called a game. Whatever about the arcade version, I’m not entirely sure that your NES needs electricity to power this game, it’s that primitive.

One thing this game is definitely notable for is the fact that this is Mario’s only appearance as a villain, although I would dispute that fact as he’s broken my heart more than a few times on Mario Kart, and you won’t believe him in Mario FUNdamentals when he looks you in the eye and lies to you in Go Fish.

Well, the original Donkey Kong was a stone cold classic, most people can agree. Don’t get me wrong, it’s laughably stone age, but it could get away with that sort of short length and general gameplay. But even with more music and sounds on offer, the Donkey Kong Jr. game suffers big time.

But then again, maybe I should be nicer about this game’s lack of new features. After all, in 1982, I’m told they didn’t even have food, let alone innovation. And anyway, what did Ms. Pac-Man, also released that year, add to proceedings apart from a dainty bowtie? That’s not just a punchline from Wayne’s World, there really is barely any difference between both Pac titles. If a hundred-mile-an-hour yellow dude who chews pills all day can’t bring much new to the table, then what do you expect from monkeys?

So that’s fair enough, and ultimately I’d have to call DK Jr. himself a good kid – anyone who manages to take the smile off Mario’s stupid face is a legend in my book. But we won’t give him an extra helping of dessert or buy him his favourite toy just yet because he, like most kids, will eventually end up breaking our hearts. No, I’m not even talking about his bizarre appearance in Super Mario Kart, where he excels at dropping banana peels in your face and laughing at you. I’m not even talking about his equally bizarre appearance in Mario Tennis where he will properly school you if you’re not a N64 polygonated version of Roger Federer.

No, I’m talking about the cast-iron certainty where DK Jr will come to you looking for help with his maths homework, and you won’t have a clue how to do it. That’s when you’ll both break each other’s hearts at the same time. And do you know, while most kids, especially in America, will seek to embrarrass their parents on a massive scale by writing a book as they grow older, Donkey Kong Jr went a step further.

This darn ape was only too happy to come out with another NES game, specifically designed to show you up on how bad you are at arithmetic – Donkey Kong Jr. Math is the imaginative name of this illustrious software title. And to make matters worse, the game isn’t even cheap to buy. But that’s kids, isn’t it? They’ll always let you down, and if they’re anything like DK Jr., they’ll be throwing their excrement at you while doing so.

25 January 2022

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