Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Unveiling (drumroll): Donkey Kong Hockey!! And Why Game Boys suck.

Christmas has come and gone!!!

So here it is, the grand unveiling of my present:
Donkey Kong Hockey!!!!

Nobody quite guessed it right, though I give Bryan partial marks for guessing that it was a Game and Watch and to Famicom Freak for guessing that it had something to do with Donkey Kong.

This is the most amazing thing. Ever. I love it. It is the most brilliant thing human hands have ever created. If I were to create a religious cult based on the idolatrous worship of some tangible entity, it would be devoted to my Donkey Kong Hockey. It is that good. My wife, who gave it to me, is the best! I have reserved a privileged position for her in the hierarchy of deities in the Church of Donkey Kong Hockey Pantheon.

This thing is even more awesome than it appears in the above photo. Look, it opens up:Wow, its got two controllers inside! And you can unwind them. A lot:
And then it snaps closed and you've got a nifty little mini-console:It came with a cool box too:
If you don't have one of these, go out and buy one. Somebody found an unopened caseload of them so they are pretty much the cheapest Game and Watch you can get.

Seriously, this is one of the best designed things I have ever seen. The controllers unwind and wind up flawlessly and it is so easy to use. Its crazy how efficiently they pack up too, despite having to carry the two controllers the unit is roughly the same size as a GameBoy:
This leads me to a rant. My basic premise: Compared to Donkey Kong Hockey - made in 1984 - Game Boys (and subsequent handhelds) suck.

Let me explain why.

I have to preface this rant by saying that I love playing games in multi-player mode. I think of gaming primarily as a social activity that I can do with someone. Of course sometimes I play games alone, but far and away I have the most fun when I play with somebody else.

Now, lets just run quickly through what you need to do to play Dr. Mario (for example) in multiplayer (2 player really) on a Game Boy:
First: Buy a Game Boy.

Then: Buy another Game Boy.

Then: Buy Dr. Mario.

Then: Buy another Dr. Mario.

Then: Buy a Cable to connect the two Gameboys.

Then: Try to arrange a time when you will have all of the above items in the same place at the same time.

Then: You can play Dr. Mario in multiplayer mode on the Gameboy.

Now lets compare that process with what you need to do for two people to play Donkey Kong Hockey:
First: Buy Donkey Kong Hockey.

Then: You can play Donkey Kong Hockey in multiplayer mode.

(Bangs head on table repeatedly).

So, in other words, in 1984 Nintendo had literally created the perfect portable handheld device with which two people can play a game together at the same time. I mean, this thing is insanely good - the controllers work flawlessly, they are easy to pack up, they don't waste space, etc etc.

Then what do they do when it comes time to introduce a cartridge based portable system? Junk all that and make something that is insanely difficult and expensive to play in multiplayer mode of course.

I can think of two reasons why this horrible retrogression occurred:

One: The GameBoy like most handhelds is mainly designed to be played alone by people riding on subways and buses. In light of this they probably reasoned that they could make the units a bit cheaper and maybe a bit more durable by not including the extra controllers and that is why they did it.

Two: More money (see "how to play Dr. Mario in multiplayer on a GameBoy" above).

Its probably a bit of both of these, but all I can say is what a waste. Could you imagine how awesome a GameBoy would be if it had little controllers you could unwind and play with a friend? Yeah, REALLY awesome.

Not that I blame Nintendo, the Game Boy was an incredible success, selling tens of millions of units while Donkey Kong Hockey sold more like tens of thousands of units. But it would have been nice, that's all.

I'm going to be taking a long train trip with my wife pretty soon. My Game Boy is staying home. Donkey Kong Hockey is coming with us. We played it for a while yesterday and it was insanely fun. Its a real simple game (Hockey, basically), which is often all you need to be kept entertained. Vive la simplicity!


  1. Oh, *very* cool! And I did kind of guess it at one point .. although admittedly I didn't pinpoint which exact G&W it was. Oh, and I guessed a few times. Still!

    Anyway, consider my envious. Oh, and I agree with you about the design -- awesome! I esp. love how the two controllers fit inside the handheld shell...

  2. Yes, I did give you partial marks for those efforts! You almost had it!

    The controllers are great, aren't they?

  3. Awesome! What an awesome game that is! Congrats and hope your Christmas was everything you wanted it to be and more!

  4. Thanks, Famicom Freak! I extend the same greetings to you!

  5. I always thought I was the only one with this. I bought one in the early years of my eBay addiction, in at least 2002. It's served me well and I can honestly say it's one of the best designed video game equipments of the 80's. They made a few more of these .vs Game and Watches, but I can't remember what exactly they are on the top of my head.

  6. Hey, another Donkey Kong Hockey owner? We should start a club!

    I definitely agree that they are one of the best designed pieces of video game equipment from the 80s. They are just a real pleasure to play.

    They made two others with the same design, a green one and a red one. The green one is Donkey Kong 3, I can't remember what the other one is.

  7. I used to love this game. I played it for days and days with my brother.

  8. Gameboys and later handheld consoles DO NOT SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >:(

  9. Yeah, that was a bit unfair of me. They don`t suck, but I still say their design is nowhere near as cool as these Vs Game and Watches.

  10. ah ok, you should have just said that