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Subject: Barrels of fun? rss

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Ally Steven Severi
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Donkey Kong: The Board Game

The board game version of the classic and the popular Donkey Kong title,
attempting to translate Mario's barrel-jumping adventures
as best they could without the help of a video game screen.

Strangely enough,
there have been a few board games based on arcade triumphs that were actually pretty good.
I'm not sure Donkey Kong falls under that distinction,
but they certainly gave it a nice try.


Image by Ross Gerke

The box looked promising.
A comical ape carrying a busty blonde,
chased by a grumpy plumber who's dodging man-sized fireballs.
Milton Bradley knew that any normal type of board game couldn't do Donkey Kong justice,
so we were bribed with a large action toy of the big monkey himself.


Image by Matteo Montanari

It was disguised as a game piece,
but when you're handed a plastic monkey
whose arms can be pushed down to chuck little barrels?
Make no mistake, it's a gimmick.
But it looks cool right?



Image by Bill Paradise

The playing field looked almost precisely like the arcade game,
complete with the ladders, platforms, oil drum, and the damsel in distress.

Everything you did in the video game,
you did with your dice and cards.
Playing as Mario, your goal is to avoid barrels and fireballs while racking up points with your hammer,
and the first person to make it up to poor captive Pauline (The forerunner of Princes Peach)
gets a big bonus and a sure victory.

Obviously, you needed at least 2 players to play,
but the game could be utilized by up to 4 players,
all playing with little Mario markers in differently colored overalls.

While there aren't many pieces to set up,
things still seemed a little too intricate for me
to take on without first consulting the instructions.
For a kids game it has a lot of pages.
After all, how hard could figuring out a kids game really be?

Setting up the game is very well explained.
-Fill the Kong dispenser with barrels and clip it on the board.
-Shuffle the Jump/Hammer cards.
Give every player 3 cards face down.
-Put a couple of barrels on the designated spots on the board.
-Pick a color of Mario and you’re ready to go.


Not so fast…
The rules about actually playing the game on the other hand
are a bit vague on some parts.
You wouldn't believe how poorly they explain all this in the manual:
'fireballs trap Mario.'
Well...?... Good to know.
Not all situations that can happen during the game are covered.
Some creativity and common sense will enhance your gaming experience.

Meet Donkey Kong...
Admittedly, this was a pretty cool feature.
DK's right arm was hollowed out so you could fill it with barrels;
while the left arm could be pushed down to make Donkey perform
his sleight of hand barrel-appearing magic tricks.


Image by George Kinney

Meet Mario & co
The 'pawns' are interesting.
Mario (Red) and Luigi (Green) are present.
The Blue and Yellow varieties land a little further away from the game,
but it doesn't matter much anyway.

On your turn you roll 2 dice (1ordinary and 1special red die).
You move your Mario accordingly to the normal die.
If you land on a red dot
you may draw a Jump/Hammer card
and put it face down in front of you.


Image by Bill Paradise

Kong is controlled by rolling the red die.
Your only hope is to make a 'Kong Rests' roll,
which puts the gorilla into a state of dormancy
where he can't throw things (the barrels don’t move).
If the red die shows any pips…
move the barrels accordingly.
Barrels can only move downwards or take a shortcut rolling down ladders.
You guessed it already...
The barrels move on sonic speed with 4 Mario’s,
compared to a 2 player game.
If you come in contact with one of 'em,
you're forced to flip over one of your facedown cards Or
use a flipped card.
If you use a flipped card, discard it (you lose points).
If another player is harassing you with moving obstacles,
he gets your card (if he moved the obstacle).
Jump cards lets you evade barrels
and Hammer cards removes the barrel from play.
On the cards is a point value (say 100, 200).


Image by George Kinney

If a barrel falls in the oil drum,
it becomes a fireball.
Oddly, the fireballs are moved in almost the same fashion
as your player piece - through the magic of a common dice roll.
The “sparkies” move even faster than the barrels.
Fireballs can only move upwards and take shortcuts over ladders.
If a fireball reaches Donkey Kong,
the Fireball becomes a barrel again.

The four 'fireball pawns,
will ultimately end up scattered around the board,
acting as obstacles for Mario and Green Mario.


Image by Chris Hansen

In this case,
Green Mario is faced with a fireball obstacle.
Luckily revealing the 'jump' card,
he avoids being burned to death and racks up an impressive 300 points.
Fireballs and Hammer cards don’t mix.

Saving Pauline
You can get up there easily enough, and yeah,
you'll get a reward of 500 points for doing it.

The main point of the game is
to achieve more points than the other players.
In that sense, the design is way flawed.
The person who first makes it to the top won't necessarily be the winner,
and it didn't take long for the players figure out the benefits of just sticking
with chasing those barrels to get consistent bonus points.

House rule: If you rescue Pauline: you get 500 points and the other players lose 1000 points for being lazy bastards.


Overall:
Compared to Frogger, Pac-man, Berzerk, Centipede, Zaxxan, Pitfall!.....
Donkey Kong was the best attempt to translate from the arcade to the board game format.
I’m not saying the game is stellar,
but it has its charm…
in the shape of a plastic gorilla.

If you really thought about it,
there isn't a game in the world
that wouldn't benefit from the addition of a
Donkey Kong figure that spits barrels.
Imagine this thing as a Carcassonne Tile dispenser.

Retro-board gamers, nostalgia hunters and collectors might be interested in it.
If you don’t fit into that profile…
Play something else.
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I am on a Journey...
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I remember seeing this in our local department store back when I was only 4-6 years old. It looked so cool.

It was one of the few board games I didn't get as a kid. Bummer.
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Ally Steven Severi
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You can't get everything you want in life.
Well... You won't miss out on much
compared to all the new next generation board games.
But the nostalgia factor is strong in this one.

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Branko K.
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Is this review like a song or something?

Btw:

Ally Steven Severi wrote:

House rule: If you rescue Pauline: you get 500 points and the other players lose 1000 points for being lazy bastards.


I used my incredible math skills and deduced that this statement is similar to the rescuer getting 1500 points. I'll test my hypothesis a bit further but I have a strong hunch I'm correct.
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Joe Doe
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Hi!

Unfortunately, my copy of the board game is missing the instructions.
Do you have any idea if there is a pdf or something on the 'net?
Haven't found anything yet...
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Kris Barton
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Nostalgia!

Man, I was flipping through the "Random Game"s here on BGG and all of a sudden I see Donkey Kong, and think to myself; "Huh, wonder what that looks like" and I click on the images link. Magically I was transported back in time with a flood of geeky memories from my childhood. I remember all these pieces. I remember dismantling Donkey Kong to figure out the dispenser mechanism. I remember that weird-ass pose that Mario and his chromatic clones are doing. I know it wasn't an awesome game, but at the time it was pretty damn cool to have a Donkey Kong Boardgame. I wish I still had it, but that was 30 years ago and its long gone.
I miss you, ya big monkey!
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Michael Bonet
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I've read the rules a few times and now read this thread but I am still confused over how these face-up/face-down cards are supposed to be handled.
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I am on a Journey...
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MikeNvP wrote:
I've read the rules a few times and now read this thread but I am still confused over how these face-up/face-down cards are supposed to be handled.


I'll try it out this week and see if I can make any sense of it and report back.
 
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Michael Bonet
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I want to like the game, but the confusing rules make it difficult to make that determination.

Thanks!
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