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NES Obscurity Quicky!

Donkey Kong.
The very name conjures up memories of arcade quarters long-departed, and the eternal question, "why the hell did they use the word 'Donkey' in their rip-off of King Kong?"
Fortunately I'm not going to bore you with the answer to that question (spoiler: TRANSLATION ISSUE). Actually, I'm not even going to talk about the game Donkey Kong, or its sequel, Donkey Kong Jr.
Instead, we're skipping ahead to the sequel to that sequel, creatively entitled...
Donkey Kong 3!
What's this game all about, you ask?
In this adventure in plant-sitting, Mario Stanley the Bug Man discovers that there's something terribly wrong with the greenhouse he tends:
It's overrun with hundreds of killer bees, wasps, caterpillars and other insects who studied at the Galaga school of flying menaces.
Oh, and additionally, Donkey Kong showed up to pound on the hornets' nests at the top of every screen, which will only make things worse.
What's a harried greenhouse keeper to do?
If you said, "My first response to any and all workplace troubles is to spray pesticide at a giant ape's testicles", then mid-1980s Nintendo of Japan would have liked the cut of your jib, sonny!
Indeed, that's the very nub of Donkey Kong 3: jump up to the top of the girders, spray Donkey Kong's ape butt repeated, until he rises off the top of the screen, then repeat in the next level.
But enough of this dilly-dallying with the story, let's get to the pro-s and con-s lists!
Bad News
This game mostly rewards button-mashing. If you dash up to the top of your playing field, and hold the "Up" (jump) button while pounding the "B" (spray) button, you'll push Donkey Kong off the top of the screen and move to the next level quickly...
...you may have to stop briefly to duck and dodge the descending bees, but if you take it slow, you get a lot more bogged down with more bees and caterpillars getting all up "in your business," and you usually get overwhelmed and defeated.
It's pretty repetitive as well: the main ways they try to add variety is by alternating "normal levels" with "Worm Shield" levels, and "gap in the middle row" levels:
On the "Worm Shield" levels, worms crawl across the vines that hang between you and Mr. Kong. If you hit them with your normal spray, they don't actually die...instead they freeze in place, bobbing up and down in terror like they just found out that the same actor played "Mikey" from The Goonies and "Samwise Ganges" from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Then you have to wait until they're done having nightmares of Sam giving a pep-talk to Frodo about it being "our time...OUR time down here -- but that's all over when we get in Troy's Bucket (and/or put on Sauron's One Ring)"...or something like that. Who can fathom the thoughts of worms? Anyway, until they calm down, they're blocking all your subsequent shots and you can't spray Donkey Kong!
The "Gap in the Middle Row" levels are even more straight-forwards: the construction workers designed the greenhouse's girders to resemble David Letterman's distinctive dental deficiency, so you can't just jump straight up three times to reach the top row. Instead, you have to hop up around the edges to get to the game's "sweet spot", where you can repeatedly leap upwards and blast your dangerous bug-killing spray at a giant ape's nether regions.
Good Points
I guess that kind of segues into the game's good points:
It's a friggin' game about spraying a huge ape in the undercarriage with bug spray. I feel that I can't overemphasize that point.
Also, at the beginning of every one of Stanley the Bug Man's lives, an "Atomic Bug Spray" icon is hanging up near the top of the greenhouse's, uh...Donkey Kong climbing structure (and how prescient of them to have installed one of those, might I add). If you knock the Great Donkeyed One far enough up the screen with your normal, limited-range bug spray, he'll bump the atomic bug spray down onto the floor of the greenhouse, and you're ready to rock and roll!
No longer do you need to be leaping up and down from the very top girder to repeatedly blast the big ape further up the climbing structure and towards the next level...you can chill out on the greenhouse floor, secure in the knowledge that your atomic bug spray is doing irreperable damage to a certain primate's reproductive system! Also, it's powerful enough to obliterate the caterpillar/worm enemies, rather than just cause them to fret, which is quite handy.
However, this is sort of a double-edged sword pesticide: since it only shows up once per life (not once per level), and since it wears off after a period of time (though if you hurry, it may get you half-way through the next level), it gives you only a temporary boost.
Yes, the Atomic Bug Spray overpowered when you get it, but it only lets you win a level or two, then you're back to your normal powers. Until you lose a life, of course; then the Grim Reaper evidently drops off another Atomic Bug Spray at the top of the screen for you. It's almost enough to make up for all those boomerang-scythes he flung at you in Castlevania!
Another fun twist is that there are several things to keep track of. The most common occurrence is being stung to death by the flying insects, or stumbling across a caterpillar (on the levels where they crawl around the girders, instead of the vines), or being slain by the spears or shrapnel that various insects somehow produce. However, this greenhouse of doom holds several other perils for our intrepid bug-man to keep an eye out for:
Death by Descending testicles Ape!
If you go too long without spraying Mr. Kong, he jumps off the greenhouse ape climbing structure to wreck your poopy personally!
Your Level Bonus can be stolen by flower-knapping bees!
Not only did the bees go to the Galaga school of generic flying attack patterns, they learned a trick or two from the alien tractor-beam craft in Defender: if they're allowed to reach the bottom of the screen, they'll steal one of the level's five flowers (good only for bonus points -- and presumably the greenhouse's whole reason for existing to begin with)! If they then manage to fly to the top of the screen with their flower in tow (without tasting a righteous spritz of bug destruction), you can kiss several thousand bonus points goodbye!
Finally, some of the levels end by Donkey Kong getting a bee hive stuck on his head. Is there anything better than a giant gorilla doing a Carnac the Magnificent impression while receiving hundreds of bee-stings?
Quicky Verdict?
I liked this game...in small doses. Since it's kind of short and repetitive, and its good points are more about the game concept than about playing the game, I guess I have to give it a thumbs-down overall...
Even if that means Stanley the Bug-Man gives me a Middle-Finger Up!
— carlmarksguy, 2012-08-17
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