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Cult Video Game Essentials: Donkey Kong Jr. Math (1983)

Donkey Kong Jr. Math was a Nintendoedutainment video game where players must solve math problems in order to win. It was released in 1983 for the Family Computer in Japan and then for the Nintendo Entertainment System two years later in North America and PAL regions. It is the only game in the “Education Series” of NES games in North America. Donkey Kong Jr. Math was made available in the video game Animal Crossing. Donkey Kong Jr. Math was re-released on the Wii’s Virtual Console in Japan on March 27, 2007, Europe and Australia on April 20, 2007, and in North America on September 3, 2007. Donkey Kong Jr. Math was re-released again on the Wii U’s Virtual Console in North America on August 28, 2014.

Since its release, Donkey Kong Jr. Math has received very negative reception; Nintendo spokesman Tom Sarris commented that it was not well received, resulting in Nintendo ceasing development of educational games for the time. It was noted as one of the worst launch video games ever made by publications such as Electronic Gaming Monthly and 1UP.com. It has also received criticism from several publications including IGN, who called it one of the worst Virtual Console games. The game was the worst-selling game in the NES’s launch library in the US.

The game features one and two player modes, both of which are single screen. In the first mode, the objective is to enter math answers in order to receive points. These questions include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the two player mode, two players control two characters as they race to create a math formula to reach the number shown by Donkey Kong, incorporating platform gameplay.

The mechanics are similar to Donkey Kong Jr; players climb vines to reach higher areas in order to collect numbers scattered around the area. In order to complete mathematics problems, players must collect at least three things: the first number, the symbol necessary to reach the number shown by Donkey Kong, and the second number. When the game features a high number, such as 66, players must collect multiple numbers and mathematics symbols in order to reach this. For example, players could choose a nine, a multiplication symbol, and a seven, followed by an addition symbol and a three to reach the number 66. The two player game have two different levels, Calculate A and Calculate B. Calculate B is more challenging, not only the goal is a negative number, but giving players the set number.

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