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- Patrick Wong stuck to their story that it was a ROM issue, 4k was not
enough to program Donkey Kong with all of the boards and
Americans love a good monkey tale. From the legendary Coleco would not allow them to use additional memory. At
"King Kong" to "Planet of the Apes" along with other various one point, the Atari version outsold all of the available Cole-
cartoons, movies and television shows based on apes and coVision units on the market. Its success in sales could not
monkeys, Americans are fascinated with these hairy crea- be denied.
tures. So when Midway’s Pac-Man craze was starting to cool
off, what better character to replace it with than Donkey While Atari had some disasters in converting arcade titles,
Kong? they also had some great efforts like “Pole Position”, “Ms. Pac
-Man”, “Jungle Hunt”, “Joust”, “Stargate”, and “Centipede.”
Nintendo’s Donkey Kong is the first popular arcade game to Donkey Kong would have been a much better game if
bring home the old fashioned concept of “guy rescues Coleco had untied Atari’s programmers.
girl” (Atari’s Superman is the first home console based game
to feature this concept). Jumpman the carpenter (later re- The Intellivision story, however, is a little different. While at
named "Mario", who then made a career change to that of a first glance this version looked nice, it performs slowly and its
plumber) has to rescue The Lady (later renamed "Pauline") gameplay is poor. When Mattel’s programmers saw Coleco’s
by making his way through four different levels (girders, riv- conversion of Donkey Kong, they were outraged and asked
ets, elevators and conveyor/cement factory). Along the way Mattel’s President if they could program their own version of
he must avoid barrels, fireballs, mad elevator springs and Donkey Kong and hold a press conference to show the world
concrete containers. To help Mario, some of the boards that the Intellivision could do a great version of Donkey Kong.
feature a hammer which Mario can jump up and grab to However, Mattel’s President said no and sent them back to
destroy some of his adversaries. What puzzles me is why work on other games.
Shigeru Miyamoto decided to name the ape "Stupid Kong. So, while the conspiracy theory couldn’t be proven, one has
The last time anyone has seen an ape scale a building just to wonder what an Atari and Intellivision version that was
for a girl, they called him King Kong! programmed properly would have looked like. Atari and
Tie together an old fashioned theme with a movie classic and Intellivision owners missed out on being able to fully enjoy a
you have a game that the world could not resist. Everyone great game.
had to play it, and over the years Donkey Kong has made The Bad
appearances on almost every 8-bit game
system: Atari 2600 VCS, Intellivision,
Coleovision, Atari 7800, Nintendo Enter-
tainment System, Nintendo Gameboy,
and the Atari XE Game System.
The Ugly
The two worst versions, hands down, are
the Atari 2600 VCS and Intellivision ver-
sions. First, there are only two boards!
While Donkey Kong is a lot of fun, he is
not Pac-Man (where one board was all
you needed) and one of the charms of
Donkey Kong was being able to conquer
the different boards. The boards them-
selves resembled mini games, each with Atari 2600 Version Intellivision Version
different strategies and ways to win.
On the Atari version, the rivets board
features the Firefoxes running back and
forth individually on each of the girders!
They don’t chase Mario up and down the
ladders, but instead they just simply run
back and forth across the girders. Heaven
forbid the programmer try to get more
than one FireFox on each level. The
board almost completely lacks any fun.
So bad were the Atari and Intellivision
versions that almost everyone who played
them assumed that there must have been
a conspiracy by Coleco to make these
two versions look so bad that everyone
would run and buy a ColecoVision!
What is surprising is that the Atari version
was programmed by the Kitchen brothers
(of Activision fame). Over the years both
Gary and Steve Kitchen have both taken
credit (to everyone’s surprise) for pro-
gramming the Atari version. Both have
20 | Video Game Trader Magazine | #8 |
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