Head 2 Head: Donkey Kong – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision

Another Head 2 Head and another classic title to savour. Released in arcade format in 1981 and designed by Nintendo genius Shigeru Miyamoto, this game has since become one of the iconic games of the 80s. Later to be released on almost every format imaginable including: Amiga 500, Apple II, Atari 7800, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, NES, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Atari 8-bit family and Nintendo 64.


When judging which of the three versions is the best graphically there can be no doubt of the winner, so I will firstly discuss the runners-up. Firstly the Atari 2600 version, which in fairness does the comparatively primitive hardware some justice with good character graphics (especially Mario) and excellent games speed. As is often the case with a 2600 game, there is a charm to the simplicity of the graphics that just ‘works’. Not so with the Intellivision version. Mario is yellow for f*cks sake… this is a licensed version of a Nintendo game and the game character is the wrong colour? Oh wait, he does have a cap on… that’s ok then. Donkey Kong is also green, which is obviously just wrong although the girders have a smidge more authenticity to them than the 2600 version. Enough about those two, lets talk about the clear winner here. Graphically, the ColecoVision version of DK is as close as you can get to the original coin-op on a pre-NES home console. Everything (except girder layout on some levels) is as near to perfect as you would wish, with almost pixel perfect recreations of all the characters in the original arcade game. For 1982 this was a triumph and it’s no wonder they had this as the pack-in game on ColecoVision’s launch. First round to ColecoVision.


The Intellivision version of this game is a travesty to the eardrums, with beeps that belong in another game and no original sounds at all. The Atari doesn’t fair much better on the original sounds but does sound a whole lot better than the Intellivision at least. Another victory to the ColecoVision with it’s true-to-arcade sound effects and music.


Intellivision plays like a dog, simple as that. Poor collision detection and hit and miss ladder climbs make it no fun to play. In contrast, I really enjoy DK on the Atari 2600, it just plays really well with smooth graphics, a good difficulty setting and great collision detection. ColecoVision has this one licked too though, it plays as well as it looks and sounds, just a pity they never produced an arcade stick for it!

Judge for yourself! Watch our Review Video

Now featuring the new RGC theme tune by PeacHy Moonshine.

Author: Ant Harper

Father, Husband, website developer, avid gamer since the mid-70s and collector of just about anything video game related. 8-Bit microcomputer and Sinclair specialist with a huge Sinclair related collection of his own. Blogs about retro gaming here but occasionally elsewhere when people ask. Bored of Mario and never much liked Zelda. Performs quirkafleegs for cold hard cash. Often found destroying ice crowns in the Lands of Midnight. Remembers: Lunar Lander. Plays: Steel Battalion, Gears of War

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1 Comment

  1. Cool article :)

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