30 Years of Video Games – Donkey Kong (1994)

I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years.  Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.

Donkey Kong

“Lateral Thinking of Withered Technology”, Gunpei Yokoi (1941-1997).

It sometimes amazes me the things that developers pulled off with the original Game Boy.  Its aged hardware and architecture dated back to the 1970’s but clever design and coding magic resulted in a system that still to this day is home to some of my favourite games of all time.  1994 was a particularly impressive year with the first party developer Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 and third party games Mortal Kombat 2 and Mega Man V all hitting shelves within months of one another, all of which made it well worth being a Gameboy owner.  But perhaps the best reason to be a Gameboy owner in the year of 1994 was a Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong ’94 as its known today is a modern classic.  But it is also the first example I can think of for a remake or remaster of a game.  The developers took the original Donkey Kong and expanded it beyond those four instantly recognisable levels of the original to make it a big and diverse puzzle game that was far beyond anything that had appeared on the Gameboy previously.  Gone was the simple loop of four levels and in were over a hundred levels and new abilities to help hero Mario pursue the mischievous Donkey Kong and save damsel in distress, Pauline.  It cleverly started off with a nostalgic reminder of its roots and quickly blew that away in favour of a more meaty and less arcade experience.  It was a timely reminder of just how far gaming had come since the early eighties, and just how powerful Nintendo’s handheld was in the right hands.

There is no doubt that Donkey Kong ’94 is in the must own category of Gameboy games.  It managed to rekindle nostalgia for the original game while managing to masterfully retool a classic experience so that it was not only handheld friendly but appealed to an entirely new generation of players that were used to bigger and more varied game play experiences.  If you own one game for the Gameboy it should arguably be this one.



Have a favourite game from 1994?  Tell us in the comments below.  Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown.  Miss a year?  Catch up below.

1993 – 1992 – 1991 – 1990 – 1989 – 1988 – 1987 – 1986 – 1985 – 1984 – 1983