Atari 7800 Review: Nintendo on Atari: Donkey Kong
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By Brian Thomas Barnhart |
Hey, what is up everybody? Welcome back to 7800 Avenue! We’ve got some amazing games we’re playing right now, and joining us today are my friends Carlos “The Super Retro Mexican” and my friend Armando here, who is the owner of Pixel Vault Games.
I love Pixel Vault Games, to me it’s one of the best places to get retro games. The way they manage the store, the way it looks, they take pride in the store. I see it every time I come in. Pixel Vault is the place to go.
We’re going to start off by playing some Nintendo games on Atari, starting with Donkey Kong. Can you imagine that? Nintendo games on Atari. It’s really hard to imagine now, playing a Nintendo-exclusive game on another console. Everybody knows how strict Nintendo is on their licensing.
Seeing a Nintendo-exclusive game on a different console is crazy. Imagine what it would be like to see a Super Mario game on Sony PlayStation. It’s wild to think about.
For this review we’re going to be playing the original Donkey Kong on Atari 7800. Nintendo released Donkey Kong to the arcades in 1981, and this version was released for the Atari 7800 in 1988.
So in 1988 Nintendo was already doing it’s thing, the NES was huge, and yet Donkey Kong is coming out on the Atari 7800. This is crazy. Nintendo on Atari, when Nintendo was ruling the earth. It’s hard to even fathom that.
Use the 2nd elevator to take a shortcut from the high ledge on the left to the high ledge on the right.
In this episode, Armando, Carlos and I play Donkey Kong on the Atari 7800 using the hard-to-find Atari 7800 control pad, which was never officially released in the USA.
As you’ll see in the episode, Armando and Carlos were surprised by the quality of Donkey Kong on the Atari 7800 and the responsiveness of the Atari 7800 control pad using the short-throw thumbstick. They weren’t expecting an Atari console to push graphics nearly identical to the NES version of Donkey Kong.
“I love ’em” says Carlos.
“Dude, I like it! I liked it!” says Armando. “You know, it does feel almost like a Nintendo controller. It does! It’s missing the Start and Select buttons, which even the Sega Master System didn’t even have.”
“So how do you compete with Nintendo, and not bring bring out the Atari 7800 control pad? That’s insane.”
– Brian Thomas Barnhart
Armando’s answer: Bad marketing.
“Even on the Sega Dreamcast, bad marketing. Bad management, bad marketing, it all adds up.” And the graphics? “Impressive.” The sound, it’s not Nintendo quality, but for an Atari, to sound even close to that is pretty cool.
I think it’s easy for us now to rattle off a bunch of systems in hindsight to compare and criticize the sound capabilities of each system. We can do that now. But I think if you were a kid, in 1986, in 1984… you know, you’d be like “Hey I’ve got Donkey Kong man, come over and play Donkey Kong!”
You wouldn’t have some kid that was like, with folded arms saying “You know what.. the sound is meh…” You’d be playing with your buddy! You’d be playing Donkey Kong!
Alright, well that’s it! We have got two more Nintendo games on Atari 7800 that we’re going to be looking at later on in the next episodes of 7800 Avenue, Donkey Kong Jr. and Mario Bros.!
I hope you guys love Donkey Kong. I know I do. Join us next time on 7800 Avenue! And check out Lynx Lounge and Jag Bar, those are great shows and we do it all here in the new studio and talk about some really great Atari games. Anyway, we will see you guys later! Take it easy!
The original Donkey Kong was created by Shigeru Miyamoto at Nintendo. Donkey Kong was released by Atari for the 7800 in 1988.
Brian Thomas Barnhart is a classic gaming aficionado, retro pop culture connoisseur, and a Senior Fellow at Atari I/O. He is host of The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, 7800 Avenue, and the Atari I/O After Hours Podcast. Brian is a Moderator in the Atari I/O Forums under the name btbfilms76. You can follow him on Instagram and at his YouTube channel.
model # CX7848