Castle Kong is the most recent game from Monacan studio Drowning Monkeys. The game is an unsubtle and unabashed reimagining of the legendary Donkey Kong arcade cabinet. Albeit under a (barely) different name.
Though CK is clearly meant to mirror the arcade classic, there are a few elements that set it apart. Instead of fighting fireballs and barrels, the medieval setting provides for a more interesting shakeup. Archers and knights are littered across the stages and obstacles have more visual flair. Players can also climb while equipping the hammer equivalent, something Drowning Monkeys thought needed to be improved.
The game has 22 levels and 4 stages, offering a handful of diverse settings to keep things fresh. You start with three lives and must do your best to get as far as you can. Castle Kong has no continues, so the trek is brutal. Within each level there are a set of collectable KONG letters, something pulled from the Donkey Kong Country series. Between these and traditional Donkey Kong enemy dispatching, there are a lot of avenues to help maximize your score.
Castle Kong was designed around tournament play, and even has cross-console leaderboards. As of right now, there’s a $3,500 tournament running until the 25th of May. These leaderboards have replay functionality, allowing players to learn from the best and understand the fastest and most effective ways to clear levels. For the most skilled players, there’s a kill screen waiting for them at the end of the tunnel.
The presentation of Castle Kong is fairly standard. It looks and sounds good enough to accompany the gameplay, but nothing about it stands out tremendously well. Each stage has a unique yet understated track to accompany its aesthetics. The pixel art is solid enough, but it’s a far cry from its inspiration. The game supports a vertical display option for those with faux arcade setups.
If you’re in the market for a familiar yet solid arcade experience, I highly recommend Castle Kong. The game is incredibly fun and addicting, if not very derivative. With a launch price of 4.99 USD, it’ll make a great addition to your library.