I recently came into possession of one of these Game & Watch mini keychains (thanks Sarah!). My only experience of Game & Watches was looking longingly at the Game & Watch machines the luckier kids owned and who were too mean to give me a go of so it's nice to finally play one. Even better, supposedly Donkey Kong Jr. is one of the best G&W machines.
I’m actually surprised with how well DK Jr. holds up considering the hardware is more primitive than the Gameboy; the original supposedly came out in 1982. It’s real gameplay over graphics stuff. The aim of the game is to release Donkey Kong who has been captured by Mario (yes that Mario, he’s the bad guy in the Donkey Kong Jr. games). First you have to reach him by avoiding snappers by jumping over them or using the vines to evade them while watching out for birds. Once you get to the cage you have to time your jump to catch the swinging key to release Donkey Kong.
DK Jr. is a really fast paced score attack game and perfect for the portable format it’s on. You get a better score depending on how fast you reach Donkey Kong and there’s also a coconut you can drop on enemies to increase your score. The sound isn’t anything more advanced than beeps but impressively it varies rhythmically with how quick the enemies are coming for you, adding some tension as the pace of the game increases. You can mute the noise if you want if you don’t want to drive anyone nearby insane. The only problem I see is that the score is limited to 999 and when it exceeds this it is reset but this was a problem with the original hardware so it’s authentic. The clock and alarm functions of the original are also present.
It’s a fantastic little gadget and well worth owning. The gameplay has really stood the test of time and is a nice little nostalgia trip if you are one of the pricks that was playing Mario Bros. cake factory and wouldn’t give me a go. I’m not bitter.