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Review: Castle Kong

Publisher: Drowning Monkeys

Developer: Drowning Monkeys

Release: February 25th, 2021

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Also on: PC

There are a lot of arcade clones. Sometimes these games are just a straight copy, other times they will actually add something new. What makes Castle Kong different is that it’s more of a parody of Donkey Kong. The game does have a few areas that could be improved upon, but overall it’s a really good parody of Donkey Kong.

You play as what appears to be a peasant, saving the fair maiden from an evil prince (who kind of looks like Farquaad). Similar to Donkey Kong, the first level has ladders to climb up to save the princess, but instead of climbing scaffolding, you climb up a castle (thus the name Castle Kong).

In a lot of ways, this game is similar. Before you start each level, there is the prince, with a different meter height for each level with the sentence “How low can you go?” (parodying the “How high can you go?” in Donkey Kong). Even the music is a twist on the original Donkey Kong music, with a few notes being either a bit off or in a different key.

The level designs also parody the original game. In the first level, you scale the castle by climbing up the ladders and jumping over the burning oil the prince is throwing down to try and stop you. In the second level, you have to unhook different straps to make the chandelier come crashing down on the prince. There’s even a level with pies on a conveyor belt. It’s fun to see how the designers take the original concepts of Donkey Kong and incorporate them into the castle theme.

The designers did add a few flairs to the game to change things up. For instance, there is a pitch fork that replaces the hammer from Donkey Kong, but you can climb up the ladders with the pitch fork, which is a welcome change. There are some additional challenges like an archer shooting arrows at you, and there are letters throughout each level that spell out KONG that you can collect to get more points.

Similar to the original arcade Donkey Kong, this game is very challenging and you’ll try to convince yourself that the next run will be a better one. It does take a bit to get used to the responsiveness of the controls, they aren’t quite as tight as Donkey Kong and feel a bit floaty at times, but a few rounds of the game and you’ll pick up on the nuances. It also incorporates a global leaderboard. The one critique here is that the leaderboard should include how you compare to your local region and against your friends.

Final Grade: B

As far as Donkey Kong clones go, Castle Kong is a great parody of the original game, incorporating aspects of the original into each level’s design, but adding a twist to tie it into the castle theme. The game plays a bit looser than the original Donkey Kong, but once you get a feel for the controls, the game is an enjoyable romp in the arcade genre. It’s unfortunate that the leaderboards don’t include a region and friend ranking system, but maybe that’s something that’ll be added in a future patch.

Review code provided by PR Hound



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