DK Vine: Honourable Mentions: 2A: Donkey Kong Precursors (Arcade Era Cameo Games)

2A: Donkey Kong Precursors (Arcade Era Cameo Games)

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Similar to DKU cameo games, these are games that feature characters from DK's Arcade Era in a significant role without being nominally part of the series proper. Let's go!



Green House (1982, Game & Watch Multi-Screen)

What is it?  
This picture's not framed the best but I had to show you this art! Man!

An early Game & Watch, this features a man who is most likely Stanley the Bugman trying to keep various bugs away from his plants. It was featured in Game & Watch Gallery 3 (AKA Game Boy Gallery 3/4 in Japan/Australia) in a "classic" mode and also a "modern" mode that reframed it with Yoshi, thus removing its relevance to this list. It was also featured in the Club Nintendo giveaway Game & Watch Collection. WarioWare DIY had a microgame based on a simplified version of this G&W.

Seems to be another reuse of the DK G&W hardware. And hey, look, it's Stanley the Bugman!
You get 'em, Stanley!
Do it for Greffin!


Okay, maybe it's not Stanley. Maybe it's Lennard.
Nope, definitely Stanley. No question. (Yes, earlier WarioWare's partial recreations were in a separate section to the original game, but this is a lower-tier game on this list and it would've been weird putting this further up and and and... structuring this thing is HARD, okay?)


Why is it mentionable?

This is an unusual case. It was released prior to Donkey Kong 3, but with the common setting and enemies the intention seems obvious that the protagonist here (named in the manual as "the Fumigator") returned in that game as Stanley the Bugman. Indeed, a commercial later retroactively identified him as such. Think of it as a situation like Jumpman later being identified as Mario; this game shows us that Stanley was having bug problems in his Greenhouse even before Cranky showed up to instigate further attacks, and that he was already a dab hand with a spray gun. Really fleshes out the history of our favourite pest controller. Of course, that means that Stanley is not technically a DKUHM character, having debuted before his DKUHM appearance in DK 3, so why cover this game? Well, what better place for this precursor to a precursor? Besides, the rules are a little bendier down here anyhow, and we couldn't just ignore a Stanley game.

More info:

Scan of the game's manual
Mario Wiki's general information about the game
Site hosting various recreations of this and other LCD games, playable on modern computers
Commercial for Game & Watches naming Stanley as the star of this game
DK Girder's article on Arcade Era Game & Watch games with more pictures




Family BASIC (1984, NES)

What is it?  
These things only get better with age.

Released only in Japan, this collaboration between Nintendo, Hudson Soft, and computer manufacturer Sharp was a tool for teaching gamers how to program in the BASIC language. It included a keyboard that connects to the Famicom, a hefty manual, and a cartridge containing resources for creating your own games. A separate cassette recorder was required to save programs. The third revision of the package, released a year later, also included some premade minigames on the cartridge.

From a pamphlet advertising the product. You kids don't realise our tellies used to look like that. (Thanks to NES World for the picture.)
An in-game display of available terrain tiles for use, reminiscent of DK, DK Jr., and Mario Bros. (Thanks to nindb for the screenshot.)
And Mario's heart grew 23x27 sizes that day. From one of the minigames included in revision 3 of the package. (Thanks to nindb for the screenshot.)




Why is it mentionable?

The resources include tilesets from the games Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., so you can create your own variations on their levels. A set of sprites for Mario resembling his DK Arcade sprites are included, but so are a set for Pauline with the same animations, so it's possible to insert her as a playable character. There is also a selection of enemies from both games and Mario Bros., as well as a cameo by a Hudson penguin (crossovers wahey!). As a game creation tool its status in the canon is fringe at best, but the premade content... exists. What does it have to tell us? Mario and Pauline have a love connection, the crab from Mario Bros. coexists with the aforementioned penguin, Mario is often put-upon by various creatures, and some enemies from the aforementioned games went to space and got shot. Nifty?

More info:

Nindb's summary with information on the content
A poorly translated but thorough overview, including a spritesheet
Another spritesheet rip
DK Vine post where I.M.Gibbon discovers this




Super Mario Kart (1992, SNES)

What is it?  
Excuse me, SMK box art, I don't think racing truly became an adventure until 1997, hmm? Hmmm?

The first in the prestigious Mario Kart series (although not the first racing game to feature Mario) filled out its roster with many Mario staples, including Donkey Kong Junior. Its Mode 7 graphics may be dated, but its Kong-inclusive character list set a precedent for the series that's been DKU ever since.

I don't know why this screenshot looks better than the others. Sorry.
The animated map is a cool feature, but did it have to take half the screen? I guess the Mode 7 tracks don't have a lot of verticality.
Wait, how old is Junior exactly? Oh, he thinks the champagne is juggling pins. Carry on then.


Why is it mentionable?

As mentioned, this game established the Mario Kart series' long-standing formula and has deviated very little from this in subsequent iterations (for better or for worse), up to and including having Kong reps (ah, for better then!). Junior was the most viable contender at this pre-DKC stage. This is the second example of a friendly competition between the Kongs and Mario's gang after Donkey Kong Hockey, and the first of many (so many...) that our DK attended. It's interesting how Junior was established as a member of the extended cast here, only to be almost entirely replaced by DKC's version of DK (who is, of course, the same character) two years later. And quite right, too.

More info:

Scan of the game's manual
Nintendo of America's page for the Virtual Console re-release on Wii U
Mario Wiki's general information about the game




Mario's Tennis (1995, Virtual Boy)

What is it?  
I thought the Japanese Super Mario World box art and that one Yoshi's Island boss fight were the only ones to have small planetoids before Galaxy. Or maybe it's just a fisheye lens.
Oh and apparently Junior wears SHOES here?? Probably hiding his prosthetic tennising toes.

The immediate precursor to the "Mario ____" sports series, Mario's Tennis solidifies the standard Mario spinoff cast of the time before Wario and DKC's Donkey became staples (except Bowser isn't in this one). This rather basic tennis simulation isn't as fanciful as the Mario Sports game would become, but it's on the Virtual Boy so it's immediately the bee's knees at DK Vine.

Now in eye-melting RED-O-VISION.
Not many options here. No tilting courts over lava, no legions of human characters. WHAT'S THE POINT?
Although the court's always the same, there are multiple backgrounds (mostly based on Super Mario World, just as Super Mario Kart was).


Why is it mentionable?

Again, as a snapshot of the standard "Mario regulars" at the time, it's interesting that Junior is here. This is the last game where that is the case; after this—and their time travel-aided shared appearance in the N64 Mario Tennis—DKC's version of DK would almost entirely replace Junior for spinoff purposes (with exceptions, as seen below). A continuity quirk arises though: DKC was released before this, with ostensibly the same character having a new appearance. We must conclude that, contrary to our common assumption of release dates, this sport event occurred some years before the release of the game itself.

More info:

Comprehensive information about the game, including a scan of the manual
Mario Wiki's general information about the game




Game & Watch Gallery (1995, Game Boy)

What is it?  
Here we see many of the characters involved, as well as their habits in the bedroom.

When Nintendo decided to re-release Game & Watch games in compilations for Game Boy, they tested the idea with a game exclusive to Europe and Australia called Game Boy Gallery, using generic characters and few extra features. After this the packages became beefed-up, with more games, a mode with smoother gameplay as well as classic recreations, a museum, and the Mario IP. The first of this new series, Game & Watch Gallery (AKA Game Boy Gallery in Japan and Game Boy Gallery 2 in Australia), has only four games.

The multiple DK Jrs problem rears its head.
The multiple DK Jrs problem taunts us.
Send us your theories on what DK Jr. is doing down there: call 1-281-410-KONG!


Why is it mentionable?

Everyone's favourite younger version of a beloved video game character, Baby Rosalina Young Conker Donkey Kong Jr. pops up in 3 of the 4 games to participate as part of the extended Mario cast, as he did in Super Mario Kart and Mario's Tennis. We do have issues of multiple iterations of him appearing on screen at once; time-displaced clones? Generic Kongs in costume? Holograms? Eh, these are only Honourable Mentions, we don't need to explain it. We can see Junior escaping a fire in Peach's Castle, crossing a river, and minding his own business hoping that Mario stops Bowser from dumping oil on his head. Basically hanging out in the Mushroom Kingdom with his pals, outside of a formalised competitive context like a Kart race or sporting event; a rare sight indeed.

More info:

Mario Wiki's general information about the game
Nintendo of America's page for the Virtual Console re-release on 3DS
Site hosting a scan of the manual
DK Girder's article on Arcade Era Game & Watch games with more pictures



Game & Watch Gallery 2 (1998, Game Boy/Game Boy Color)

What is it?

Following the formula of the previous game, Game & Watch Gallery 2 (AKA Game Boy Gallery 2/3 in Japan/Australia) has 2 extra games, and was released in Game Boy and, later, Game Boy Color editions. As before the games are presented in Classic approximations of the original LCD games and Modern remakes with new gameplay elements and the extended Mario cast.

 
Show a lot of things happening at once, remind everyone of what's going on...
We had some fun before we hit the ground...


Why is it mentionable?

This game is most notable for hosting an extensive revamp of the Donkey Kong Game & Watch. Screenshots for that remake are further back in this section, in the entry for the original LCD game. Apart from that, we have but one example of the behaviour seen in the previous game: DK Jr. palling around with the Mario cast, with the objective in the case of Parachute being to get him out of trouble by catching his falling form before he plummets into the water to be eaten by a Big Bertha from off of SMB3. Perhaps the airship is being piloted by alien-human hybrid supersoldiers who were injecting him with alien DNA as part of a scheme to deactivate the immune systems of the Mushroom Kingdom?

More info:

Mario Wiki's general information about the game
Nintendo of America's page for the Virtual Console re-release on 3DS
Site hosting a scan of the manual
DK Girder's article on Arcade Era Game & Watch games with more pictures



Game & Watch Gallery 3 (1998, Game Boy Color)

What is it?  
Reality cracks as the Five Dimension encroaches upon other universes.

This time the game is exclusive to the Game Boy Color. No more Super Game Boy borders! Game & Watch Gallery 3 (AKA Game Boy Gallery 3/4 in Japan/Australia) has only five games with Modern remakes, but there are other extras, including an additional five unlockable games that are only playable in Classic mode.

Why is it mentionable?

There's nothing extra to show here, with no cameo appearances by DK Jr. in any of the games. However, we do have a full remake of the Donkey Kong Jr. Game & Watch with new level layouts and enemies, which you can see under that game's entry on this list. There is also a playable recreation of Donkey Kong II in Classic mode only. This entry on the list looks a bit lame actually, but that's the way we've structured this stupid page. Ho hum. Should this even be here? Well it's all written up now, it'd be a shame to chuck it.

More info:

Mario Wiki's general information about the game
Nintendo of America's page for the Virtual Console re-release on 3DS
Site hosting a scan of the manual
DK Girder's article on Arcade Era Game & Watch games with more pictures






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