Castle Kong is a nice little homage to the legendary arcade classic Donkey Kong. Complete with 22 levels to slowly jump through, its brutally difficult in sometimes completely unfair ways leaving you lost for ideas on how to progress.
Castle Kong follows the typical donkey kong story tasked to save a princess; however, this time, replace the plumber with a pauper and the monkey with a king. And that’s about it, sweet but straightforward save the princess and avoid whatever the king might throw your way.
The story is not where the donkey kong inspiration stops, with Castle Kong takes a lot more inspiration from the original Donkey Kong, possibly to much. The speed of the game is painfully slow. When controlling the pauper, you gain minimal momentum when you jump and move at a gruelling pace making every jump seem like a leap of faith. And not to mention, if you miss a jump and fall a “level.” you die using up one of the very few lives that you have.
Castle Kong is painfully difficult with each run starting with three lives, and a single continue once you run out of lives its back to the start. This makes it almost impossible to progress to some of the later levels, especially with how unfair some of the enemy AI is. Most of my deaths felt incredibly cheap. I never felt challenged by the game; I just felt like everything was out to get me, and one wrong move would leave me trapped. And one miss-timed jump would end the run. To add to the annoyance of having to start the whole game over after running out of lives, the game takes about 15 seconds to go from death to playing again. Ultimately instead, the felling difficult or challenge castle kong is just annoying and overly punishing.
The level design in Caste Kong is a lot more creative than the gameplay mechanics; however, tasking you to dodge arrows and cut down chandlers to progress gives some diversity to the gameplay rather than the classic climb the tower and gain score. However, the game does become stale after you run through the first few levels over and over. So you can have another go at one jump that took all your life’s the first time around.
Stylistically the game does look great using a classic 8bit art style with bright, vibrant colours that pop wonderfully of the screen. Most of the character design is pretty standard but shout of to the king for looking particularly like Lord Farquad and making him even more detestable. However, my desire to save the princess and take out the king does not help me overcome painfully slow movement.
Overall, Castle Kong tries to recapture the original Donkey Kong’s original feel and succeed in doing that but maybe slightly too well, leaving the game to feel very slow. Castle Kong is also frustratingly difficult, and the long respawn times make the temptation of switching over to something out very appealing.