Classic Kong Review (SNES) – Piko InteractiveFebruary 14, 2014
Retro gaming has gotten a bit of a new lease on life as of late, with the emergence of small publishers dedicated to releasing new games for systems such as Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance and Sega Genesis. The last official Super Nintendo game released was Frogger back in 1998, but Piko Interactive is pressing up brand new games in collaboration with homebrew developers – helping them gain recognition and compensation for their efforts while simultaneously reinvigorating the retro gaming world. Their newest release is Classic Kong, an incredibly faithful 16-bit remake/ homage to Nintendo’s arcade/ NES classic Donkey Kong.
Piko Interactive went all-out in the manufacturing process – the level of quality on display here is through the roof. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a boxed Super Nintendo game, but breaking the seal on Classic Kong certainly brought back some 16-bit memories. Everything from the box to the manual to the game cartridge feels 100% authentic to the design of the original licensed titles.
Classic Kong comes sealed in shrink-wrap, the box feels sturdy, and while the manual is only a few pages (it’s not a complicated game), the paper it’s printed on is high-quality. Normal copies of the game are numbered, with the number being displayed on the start menu – the review unit I was sent says “Press Copy”. Props to Piko Interactive for delivering a one-of-a-kind experience in 2014 – who gets to crack open a new Super Nintendo game anymore?
Classic Kong plays almost exactly like you remember the original Donkey Kong arcade game playing. Just as players had to help Mario save Princess Peach (or was it Toadstool back then?) from the maniacal, rampaging Donkey Kong, here Sarnion is tasked with saving Molly from Big Ape Kong, who has captured her. The ape will toss barrels down at you, and you’ll need to jump over obstacles and climb ladders as quickly as possible. Jumping over dangerous objects, like the aforementioned barrels and the “Flameys” that are spawned from the oil barrels, nets the player extra points.
If you can grab hold of a hammer in a level, you’ll momentarily be able to destroy any objects in your path – but be warned that this does not make you invincible. Touching any dangerous object results in instant death, and you only get three lives to make it as far as you can. Just like any good 16-bit game, Classic Kong sports a punishing level of difficulty right from the start, and it only gets harder as you progress through the levels, which become far more complex and more populated with enemies. There are also various items in each stage that can be collected for points.
Classic Kong sports detailed 16-bit sprites and colorful, interesting backgrounds. While Nintendo’s Donkey Kong home release was for the NES, Classic Kong is graphically far superior given the leap in hardware capability. The sound design and music is great as well, and the controls feel very responsive and tight. If you die in this game, it’s not the game’s fault – you just need to practice more. I should mention that I did not play the game on an original Super Nintendo, but rather Retro-Bit’s Retro Duo clone console (which I’ll be reviewing soon). The back of the box states that it can be played on American, clone, and Japanese consoles. Also on the back of the box is a QR code where the scan bar normally would be – I used my QR scanner on my iPad and it brings you to the Piko Interactive website.
Overall, Classic Kong is a fun and faithful recreation of an arcade classic, updated with vibrant 16-bit visuals and a great soundtrack. Piko Interactive’s quality level is top-notch, and everything from the cart to the box and manual are perfectly accurate and would feel right at home alongside a shelf of officially licensed Super Nintendo games. The company has a solid lineup of upcoming games, so be sure to check out their website and relive some childhood memories.