And it was awesome. And dare I say maybe even better?
Maybe I am a little bit biased towards Jr. because it was the first Donkey Kong game I remember playing in an arcade. Because of that, I always associate Donkey Kong games as being a duo of characters, with the big ape and Junior. It's hard for me to associate Donkey Kong as a villain as he was in his first game, or acting alone in his adventures. It's just the way it is in my mind.
Conversely, despite this being the only game ever where Mario is the bad guy, I refuse to accept that reality. Sure, he was actually named Mario, but let's be real here. This isn't the heroic plumber we know and love. This character is just a pissed off zookeeper who is trying to keep sanity and order while an escaped monkey is trying to breakout a father-figure of an ape.
Frankly, I'm glad this direction was one-and-done for the Mario character.
Anyway, tonight I played this on my 3DS. It was a free download from the Ambassador Program that Nintendo did when sales of the 3DS were abysmal. They wanted to thank all early adopters of the handheld system by giving us twenty free downloadable titles for our handhelds, which is one of the coolest things to come from a company in a long time.
The game is hard once we get to level three. Having to jump over those sparks that the stupid "Mario" is throwing my way. Once you beat that monstrosity of a level, the last level awaits where you have to unlock all the locks in order to free DK. Once you do, you can start the game over, but the difficulty ramps up. The thing that makes this game hard is that it's not all based around your hand/eye coordination, but rather your patience level. You see, the game requires a lot of patience to beat it. You don't have to just make precise jumps, but you have to wait for the exact right time to do it. And sometimes that means you have to wait quite a while.
I'm noticing one thing in this series so far. It is soooooooo hard, overall. Sure, with enough practice you can get very good at it, but if you just start playing the game without much time invested to it already, it would be easy to be scared away from it. But that's sort of what makes this series great - the surprising difficulty. More on that to come, I promise.
So is Donkey Kong Jr. better than the original one? No, probably not. It's just different, well-done and an important game that pushed the series into something that could (and would) go on for many, many years. Besides, any game where Mario is a bad guy can't be that great, can it?