Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Game of the Week: Donkey Kong for Colecovision

Back in the early 1980s when home video game systems were still in their infancy compared to today's technology, next to none of the home versions of hit arcade games looked anything like their original arcade versions. For some games this didn't matter much because the gameplay was so simple; Frogger for the Atari 2600 comes to mind. But for other games it was kind of ridiculous, such as the Atari 2600version of Zaxxon, which appeared noting like its arcade version.

With the limited technology of the time, it was something of a challenge for game design to port good versions of arcade games for the home systems. Game players and collectors would sometimes pride themselves on having a home game that played somewhat like and appeared somewhat like the arcade version of the game.

For most of the very early 1980s, it seemed impossible that a home version of a game could come close to appearing and playing like the arcade version.

Then along came the Colecovision to prove everyone wrong with its fantastic home version of the Donkey Kong game.

Released by Nintendoin the early 1980s, Donkey Kong was a massive hit game in the arcades. It not only has spawned dozens of sequel games in the arcades and on computers and home gaming systems, but Donkey Kong also featured the first appearance of a video game icon, Nintendo's Mario, the little Italian plumber who has had tons of games featuring him or named after him.

The toy company Colecogained the rights to make and sell home versions of Nintendo's games, which included Donkey Kong. Soon enough verions of Donkey Kong appeared on the most popular home gaming systems of the time, the Atari 2600 and Mattel's Intellivision.

But that wasn't enough for Coleco. They thought they could go one better, and they did so by soon introducing their very own home gaming system, the Colecovision.

The Colecovision was a strong system, though some would argue it was not without its faults. For example, as with many early control schemes, it took a little getting used to the quirks of the Colecovision's hand controls. But once that was accomplished, the Colecovision truly was a solid home gaming system.

It was the graphics that really stood out on the Colecovision. No longer were there just a bunch of boxy colored squares bumping around on your television screen, because the Colecovision games actually looked like real video games from the arcade.

On top of all this, the folks of Coleco showed some genius by packaging the Colecovision version of Donkey Kong with the actual Colecovision itself. Just buying a Colecovision meant you had a game, one that not only had you heard of, but of which you had likely heard good things.

What kind of good things? Well, for starters, you'd probably heard the Colecovision version of Donkey Kong looked just like the original arcade version of the game. You'd also heard the gameplay was exact.

This was actually an exaggeration. The graphics and the gamplay for Colecovision's Donkey Kong weren't exactly the same as arcade version, but they were awful close, especially for the technology of the day. You could actually see Donkey Kong himself in all his giant gorilla glory on your TV screen, and not just some brownish, purplish blob that was supposed to be Donkey Kong.

So when you bought a Colecovision, you ended up with not only a great system, but with one of the best games for this great system. And back in the day that was the best a gamer could ask for.

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