Video Game / Donkey Kong '94

Donkey Kong '94 ( Or GAME BOY Donkey Kong, as the title screen says) is one name for a Puzzle Platformer released on Nintendo's Game Boy handheld in 1994. The game is essentially an Updated Re-release of the original 1981 arcade game. The exact same Excuse Plot is used here—Donkey Kong has kidnapped Pauline, and Mario must chase him down.

The game even opens with the same four levels of the original. But after the fourth level is beaten, the arcade ending begins, and is immediately subverted when DK comes to and takes Pauline back. What follows is 97 levels of lock and key puzzles spread across 9 worlds.note 

Every four levels, you face off against DK himself. The last stage of each world is a barrel fight.

Several game mechanics are in play:
  • Of course, all the challenges you'd expect from a Platform Game. This includes moving platforms, climbing vines, swinging from ropes, conveyor belts, wind, etc.
  • The aforementioned Lock and Key Puzzle. No explanation necessary. Sometimes Mario will be forced to drop the key for a while so he can do other things, but if it's left alone for too long (about ten seconds), it will warp back to where it started.
  • Boxes that, when Mario touches them, will allow the player to place temporary walkways, ladders, single blocks, or springboards. Quite a few levels hinge around placing these and racing the clock to cross them before they disappear.
  • Levers that manipulate various aspects of the level, such as opening gates or controlling moving platforms.
  • The hammer from the arcade Donkey Kong is still here. This is the only way to kill Mooks besides throwing stuff at them. There is also an enhanced, respawning hammer used for breaking certain blocks.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance was originally planned as an Updated Re-release of this game; the working title was Donkey Kong Plus and it was to include a level editor.

It was also the first game to have Super Game Boy enhancements: Color support, some enhanced audio, and a custom border designed to look like a Donkey Kong arcade cabinet.

Donkey Kong '94 provides examples of:

  • Acrofatic: While high jumps are expected from Mario, his acrobatic prowess in this game is something you have to see to believe. His gymnastics here may have been the inspiration for his abilities in Super Mario 64.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Pauline was changed from a blonde to a brunette for her current look, presumably to differentiate her from Princess Peach.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Remember, "94" is a designation mostly used by fans. The additional 99 levels, not to mention the plot elements that come along with them, were slapped onto what was from its title just a game boy version of an arcade classic.
  • Art Evolution: Donkey Kong is given his trademarked red tie in this game which was carried over to Donkey Kong Country (although technically it's still the future Cranky Kong in this game), while Pauline now sports her current brunette look.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Perhaps as an Homage to the original Donkey Kong / King Kong trademark infringement lawsuit, the final boss is Donkey Kong grown to giant size attacking Mario.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The penultimate boss theme, stylistically.
  • Boss Remix: The final boss theme is basically an extension of the jingle that played in the original arcade version when Donkey Kong climbed the ladder; it's played in this game when a boss level is selected
  • Call Forward: Mario, DK, Junior and Pauline all end up in the Mushroom Kingdom, where the events of the first Super Mario Bros. takes place.
  • Catch and Return: If Mario is doing a handstand, a barrel that hits his feet will land harmlessly to the side, allowing him to pick up the barrel and throw it back.
  • Cranium Ride: Used as a key part of many levels.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Although the button layout is what a veteran of Mario games is used to, the game engine is similar to the original Donkey Kong, so Mario's movement is different (particularly relating to stopping from a run) than in the Super Mario Bros. games. He also lacks the ability to safely land from falls of any height, although he can fall further safely than he could in the original game.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Mario finally defeats DK at the tower, judging by the photo shown in the ending.
  • Difficulty Spike: The game really starts to get hard around the iceberg level.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • This is what happens to Donkey Kong before turning giant.
    • And like the original game, Donkey Kong falls to his demise after beating the last of the original four stages, only to get back up and kidnap Pauline again.
  • Drop the Hammer: Gets more uses in puzzles here than in the original.
  • Drop the Washtub: In most of the boss battles, DK pounds the ground and causes debris to fall from the sky, including tires, barbells, 16t weights, and washtubs. Like with barrels, doing a handstand will protect you from getting crushed by any of them.
  • Easy Level Trick: Most levels have at least one shortcut that helps shave off seconds.
  • Foreshadowing: You can see the final tower world off in the distance in the jungle levels.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: How Donkey Kong primarily attacks during the final showdown.
  • Going Through the Motions: It has a few more than a player might expect for this type of game.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Among the aforementioned stuff thrown at mooks to kill them is other mooks.
  • Half Truth: Page 8 of the game's manual claimed that "Mario cannot use some of these new actions at first, but as he continues along the quest, he will acquire the skills to use them." This would seem to imply that some of Mario's moves had to be unlocked; in reality, all the moves are usable from the beginning, and the only things you can't do involve level elements (e.g. levers) that don't show up until later. Most likely, the manual's writer was tripped up by the existence of cutscenes that illustrate moves being shown every few levels, which might make one think that you can't use those moves until you've seen them in the cutscenes, even though that's not the case.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: You only go up in the last tower.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Though Jr. isn't as good at antagonizing Mario
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Pretty much the entire point of the game.
  • Make My Monster Grow: The final boss, though he seems to make himself grow.
  • The Many Deaths of You:
    • Unlike the original Donkey Kong (and most of the other platforming Mario games), there's a wide range of death animations for the many, many ways Mario can purchase the agricultural facility. And most of them have their own little ditty; the original death animation and its corresponding music are still in the game, though.
    • For example, if you get too close to DK in the levels he appear in, DK will grab Mario and slam him like a ragdoll several times before chucking his body away.
  • Meaningless Lives: Almost every level has a 1-Up floating around somewhere. In addition to this, every four levels you get one extra life for every hundred points made in those levels (usually at least five), and then there's the bonus games at the end of each level if you collect all of Pauline's accessories. To top it all off, the game saves your progress every four levels, and since levels are quite short, it's usually not a huge loss to get a game over.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Donkey Kong himself does a one-sided version of this to Mario if you're foolish enough to touch him.
  • Nostalgia Level: In addition to the first four levels, the game contains stages designed to resemble the levels from Donkey Kong Jr - In fact, stage 9-4 is basically Donkey Kong Jr's final stage - except the keys are locking Junior in the cage. As you might guess, it's the last stage where he appears.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You:
    • Mario can die if he falls far enough - unless you can manage to grab a vine in time.
    • Mario also has a rolling maneuver if he's moving diagonally, which prevents him from being stunned like he normally would if he falls far enough. If he completely inverts during the fall, he will die though.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Mario will die from hitting just about anything.
  • Poison Mushroom: Donkey Kong and Jr will throw these at you on rare occasions. In fact, these mushrooms are a power up to DK himself.
  • Puzzle Platformer: The final level of the original arcade game already had a puzzle element thrown in and almost every new level after it continues the trend.
  • Rule of Three:
    • The three bonus items in each level. Collecting all three will allow one to play a bonus game for extra lives.
    • Donkey Kong takes three hits with barrels to defeat.
      • Except in the final battle, where it's six hits.
    • Every set of levels has three normal levels, punctuated by one boss level.
  • Save Point: Every four levels.
  • Save the Princess: Pauline isn't actually a princess, but still.
  • Scary Scorpions: An uncommon enemy, they don't go out of their way to attack Mario.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: The first four levels are the levels of the original game. However, Mario starts with all of the upgraded abilities that you get to take advantage of in this game. Even if you don't know how to do his new moves, this includes improved jump height, improved speed on ladders, and the ability to fall much further before dying. Consequently, it's much easier to clear the first four levels than it was in the original game. A level in the Tower is much closer to the actual 25m, although it's just as easy to get through as the first level with Mario's new moves. The other levels, however, didn't receive the same treatment.
  • Squashed Flat: One of the many ways Mario can die. In fact, there's three ways this can happen; being crushed by a Thwomp Block, by being pushed into a wall by a Sir Shovalot, or being crushed by Giant Donkey Kong's fists.
  • Stalactite Spite: Icicles that only fall when Mario passes under them.
  • Stealth Sequel: Depending on your viewpoint, as this is a retelling of Mario's first adventure, and in the ending sequence, it appears that World 1-1 from the original Super Mario Bros. was on the other side of that tower. Not only that, but it seems Pauline introduces Mario to his first Super Mushroom.
  • Stern Chase: Lots of damage is taken by both parties, the obstacles are many and the locations get more ridiculous as it goes on.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: It made sense in the original game, when Mario could only barely clear them, to constantly throw barrels at the plumber. But now that he can jump higher and Catch and Return them? Not DK's best move. Of course, since he's merely a gorilla, and Mario still goes down instantly if a barrel actually hits him, it's at least justifiable.
  • That's No Moon!: That huge head in Donkey Kong's likeness that sits atop the tower? It's not part of the tower. It's Donkey Kong himself.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Donkey Kong uses this even more and Mario does too.
  • Up to Eleven: AND HOW! Not only is Mario more acrobatic than usual, but upon completing the stages from the arcade original, Donkey Kong hops back up to capture Pauline again and from that point onward the game turns into a much more fully-fledged puzzle-platformer.
  • Video Game Settings: Mario chases Donkey Kong through quite a lot of scenery:
  • Wall Crawl: Many enemies can do this. Occasionally you need to stand on top of them to get where you need to go.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle:
    • The game opens with the four levels from the original arcade game, leading players to believe that it's just an ordinary port. Until one beats the fourth level and the arcade ending is subverted. Then everything changes.
    • Yet another one after Stage 9-8. Wait, Stage 9-9? Oh dear...