Donkey Kong: Original Edition Review - Screenshot 1 of 3

The legendary arcade title Donkey Kong is slightly infamous for receiving a rather botched NES conversion. Lacking several screens, animations and even an entire stage, it wasn't exactly one of Nintendo's finer porting jobs, especially when other home versions by different companies did manage to include all of the original content.

Rumour has it that Nintendo was at one point planning to release a second version of the game for NES which restored these features, somewhat similar to a second version of Mario Bros. released later in the system's life, but for reasons unknown it never saw the light of day. Finally, a few years ago, as part of two special promotions, Nintendo released Donkey Kong: Original Edition on Wii in Europe, and later 3DS in North America; now, it's simply available to purchase in the 3DS eShop.

Donkey Kong: Original Edition Review - Screenshot 2 of 3

Naturally this is, for the most part at least, the same NES version of Donkey Kong that's already been made available on every Virtual Console thus far — a home port of the classic arcade game that has Mario (or Jumpman, rather) climbing ladders, jumping over barrels and whacking flames with hammers in order to reach the top of a construction site and rescue his beloved Pauline from the clutches of Donkey Kong. Once you've succeeded at your mission the game will start over, looping endlessly and getting harder each time until you lose all your lives, making it one of those games where the point is to try and improve your highscore each time you play.

Although it's still not an arcade-perfect port, Donkey Kong: Original Edition reinstates a few of the things that the original NES release was missing. The most significant of these is that the second stage, with conveyor belts transporting cement, is now accounted for once again. It's arguably the most annoying out of the four stages, but it was always a bit silly that such a short game somehow lost an entire stage in the transition to home consoles; it's good to see it back.

A few other less important things have also returned, such as the animation of Donkey Kong grabbing Pauline and climbing up to the next stage every time you reach the top; inexplicably, though, the iconic screen in-between stages with multiple Donkey Kongs stacked on top of each other that shows what level you're on is still missing in action.

Donkey Kong: Original Edition Review - Screenshot 3 of 3

Since this is basically the original NES release of Donkey Kong with some additions, it means that the NES-exclusive features are also still available — you can still opt to play a secondary game mode in which the game gets harder much faster, as well as a two player mode where, if you link up with another 3DS, you can take turns tackling stages.


While the original Donkey Kong is a classic title, there's no denying that it's starting to shows its age. The gameplay itself is timeless, but even with the full set of four stages it's a very short game, meaning the only reason to keep playing after 10 minutes is to shoot for a highscore. This version naturally makes the other NES version of Donkey Kong completely obsolete, but we can only really recommend it to those that are exceptionally interested in what the NES port could have been like had Nintendo gotten it right the first time. As it stands, this release is about 30 years too late!