Hello. My name is Cammy. I am a gamer--one of the girl gamers as one can expect from my name. But I'm not one of those gamers that are crazy about it and feel like they'd die if they don't get their gaming fix. No, I have healthy interests outside of them, and am a grown-up person with a job. But I do like to play video games on occasion.
I especially like the games of my childhood, like the old arcade and NES games, with the occasional Sega Master System--many of the games on that system also got ported to Game Gear. But one game I especially liked was Donkey Kong Jr. And what made this game my favorite is it maintained all its levels from the arcade game when ported to the NES. As we all know, the original Donkey Kong had to give up one of its levels--specifically the "pie factory" level--due to space constraints when ported to the NES. But Donkey Kong Jr. got to keep all four of its stages.
Well, a while ago, I dusted off the old NES, but my Donkey Kong Classics NES cartridge wasn't working anymore, probably because of long age. So I went to a Vacs 'n' Videos that was near where I lived and asked if they had any Donkey Kong Jr. in stock.
The clerk went to the supply room and got out a cartridge, but while it still had the original label, instead of a duct tape with a title on it like in other stories, the word "Orphaned" was written above the name "Donkey Kong Jr." The clerk explained that someone had to sell it off for money since he was on tight times. Both he and I thought that the word "orphaned" was written on the label as little more than a morbid joke. I bought it at a relatively low price and then went back home and put it into my NES.
Now, I assure you, this isn't one of those accounts of my plush toys coming to life, or an evil voice telling me to attack my neighbors, or my breathing becoming heavy... and please, there isn't a ghost in this cartridge. But there was something weird going on, as I will soon explain.
When I turned the game on, the Donkey Kong Jr. title appeared, with "ORPHANED" in the selection menu's font over the title. Just from the title alone, I began to suspect this might have been a ROM hack disguised as the genuine game in some way. Nevertheless, curiosity prompted me to play it and find out.
The first level showed Donkey Kong Jr. at the starting point, and the rest of the level looked normal... well, normal except for Donkey Kong Sr. with x's for eyes... could he be dead?! It can't be! The snaptraps--the alligator-esque enemies soon emerged from Mario--I still through habit call him Jumpman--and these snaptraps looked even more demented than usual. The eyes just seemed to show a sinister look despite the crude 8-bit era graphics. Still, the game played like normal, and I did the climbing of the vines, dropping fruit on enemies to keep them at bay, and so forth. I soon reached the key to complete the stage.
Level 2 came up. Again, Donkey Kong Sr. had the x's for eyes, and some reddish spots on his body. At the time, I thought it was some minor glitching due to it being a relatively old game. The platforms and other elements of the stage were gray, almost like World 6-3 in Super Mario 1 (the NES version, anyway). Instead of birds, Jumpman sent out bats that looked very similar to the Keeses--the bat-like enemies in Zelda 1. This was odd, since the first Zelda game wouldn't be around till 1986--four years after this game. But these bats acted similar to the birds in the regular Donkey Kong Jr. game, so they too were hit by the fruit. I then continued to the key and went to the next stage.
When Level 3 started, this was where I knew for sure this was a ROM hack of sorts. Donkey Kong Sr. had lost some of the body and I could tell there was some of his skeleton showing. It then dawned on me what happened in Level 2... the body of Donkey Kong Sr. was decaying, and this was an attempt to show a decomposing corpse in 8-bit style!
"WHAT SICK BASTARD MADE THIS?!" I yelled aloud.
But soon my attention returned to playing. I soon got past the sparking enemies, who looked more sinister than usual--they almost looked like the Spark enemies in Super Mario 2 USA version--which of course was Doki Doki Panic in Japan. Again, this game was first made long before that and Zelda, so this was definitely a ROM hack. Eventually, I again made it to the key. I barely avoided losing any lives in this, since I had a lot of experience with the original Donkey Kong and the original Donkey Kong Jr. But nothing could prepare me for the final level.
Level 4 had Donkey Kong Sr. now a skeleton. The demented looking Snaptraps and Keese-like Bats had appeared again. But they behaved as the regular enemies did in the regular Donkey Kong Jr. game. I quickly as I could moved the keys to their respective keyholes to free what was left of the papa Donkey Kong. When Jumpman fell, he exploded in some red pixels--which I assmed to be crude 8-bit blood and gore. And Donkey Kong Jr., with a sad face, caught the bones of his father.
The ending had a heartstring-tugging scene of Donkey Kong Jr. cremating the bones of his father on a funeral pyre. Text appeared, saying "I'll miss you, Daddy" in the same font as the selection menu on the title screen.
After turning the NES off, I took the cartridge out. The next day, since it was the weekend, I visited the Vacs n Videos again, cartridge in tow.
I asked the clerk, "Do you remember who sold you this cartridge?"
He then scratched his head for a minute and said, "I didn't get his name, but he had PETA written on his shirt."
My eyes widened. But to a small extent, it made sense. I mean, PETA had done some crazy stunts involving video games in the past due to perceived mistreatment of animals. After all, they did have that silly protest about Super Mario 3, since one of the power-ups was the Tanooki suit and PETA assumed that Mario had skinned an animal--some people just don't appreciate imagination much, or just want to find any excuse for being upset. And they did one time make a Tofu Boy as a parody of Super Meat Boy. So perhaps a macabre hack of Donkey Kong Jr. wouldn't be that farfetched an idea for PETA.