Castle Kong – Review
Follow Genre: Platforming, Arcade
Developer: Drowning Monkeys
Publisher: Drowning Monkeys
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Castle Kong – Review

Site Score
Good: Old-school arcade fun, Arcade mode, Responsive controls
Bad: High and unforgiving difficulty
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

In the early 1980s, Nintendo created their first real videogame: Donkey Kong. This game became a hit and started a popular series. 40 years later Donkey Kong remains a cult classic. Now in 2021, a small developer named Drowning Monkeys decided to give this particular classic a ‘do-over’ and thus came Castle Kong, a true homage to an arcade classic. 



The game begins on a sunny day in the kingdom where PrincessGirl is just picking flowers to surprise her beloved PauperBoy. BaronMan sees the damsel and is jealous of her love, so he decides to kidnap her right in front of the eyes of PauperBoy. You play as PauperBoy and must get your beloved PrincessGirl back from the hands of the wealthy and powerful BaronMan. This lore is sadly never explained in-game but is found on the website of the developers. One can presume that this is because Castle Kong is an arcade game and leaves the storytelling over to an info card on the arcade machine or in the booklet, just like in older games. There is no flow or story progression, as the game is just about clearing levels, getting a high score and maybe getting rid of BaronMan if you manage to get the secret ending.


Visually Castle Kong looks terrific; the mixture of colorful assets and high detailed pixel artwork makes playing this game both fun and nostalgic. While there are only four different stages, each one will have slight alterations. The devil is in the details and you will notice this when paying close attention to all the different enemies and objects in the game. If you have any intention of building this game into an arcade cabinet, then you will be happy that the game features an option to flip the screen for an authentic arcade view.


The sound in Castle Kong is a true homage to the 1980s. From the music to the sound effects, everything sounds periodically correct. The soundtrack might not be as nostalgically imprinted as the real Donkey Kong, it serves its purpose perfectly. It might have been better to have the game rely more on sound cues when enemies attack, because now you get caught off guard rather quickly.


Castle Kong is an arcade game inspired by Nintendo’s 1980s hit Donkey Kong. You play as a young fellow that must rescue his kidnapped girlfriend while overcoming many obstacles to reach the end of the level in a true platforming fashion. Those who have played the original might think that this game is going to be a walk in the park but they are in for a treat. Castle Kong is a pretty hard game that can feel really unfair at times. The first level starts off doable, but after that, the real deal begins. Older games can be easily beat when you know the patterns for enemies, in Castle Kong they mostly feel randomized and some enemy behavior is far from readable. In short, you will die, a lot.

It feels like Castle Kong is only meant for those who are masochistic enough to power through the constant deaths and restarts that the game forces upon you. Just like in the arcade, there are four levels, yet it isn’t just beating level one through four over and over again. There is a certain pattern of beating the “campaign” and getting into round two with different level layouts and if you are lucky, a completely new scene. This does give the arcade game a goal to work to if you want to play all the different levels that the game offers.

While the game is heavily inspired by arcade games, they have set the setting on what would be called your last quarter if you were playing this at an arcade. This means that you only get three lives to start with and never get a chance to either fill them up with another coin or get a good score for a bonus life. If you screw up too much in the beginning, it is better to do a soft reset rather than marching on. This can be really frustrating when enemies have random placements or behavioral patterns, such as the lava deciding to land on your tile rather than falling through or the flame birds randomly changing direction when you try to jump them.

Controlling your character is rather easy. In a true arcade fashion, you will just need your stick and the jump button. The controls feel really responsive and missing your jump is something that rarely happens. One new feature that wasn’t in the classic game, is the ability to take your weapon up and down ladders. Now you can use the pitchfork to clear out different stages and give you a fighting chance against the powerful enemies that roam the castle courtyard.


Castle Kong isn’t a game that we really asked for but is welcomed with open arms. The higher difficulty is perfect for showing off your Donkey Kong skills while reminiscing about your childhood. The graphics and sounds all feel like a time long gone and the game supports arcade builds by allowing the user to flip the screen, perfect for in a man cave. The controls are responsive and give a good fighting chance against the steep difficulty that the game brings.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Castle Kong – Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.