Currently, my high score is 95,300. Years ago, my highest score on this game when I played it in an actual arcade was over 146,000. Someday, I hope to beat that score.
The Frantic Factory level contains the Donkey Kong arcade machine. Have Donkey Kong "Gorilla Grab" the lever in front of it to start it up. Clear all four levels without losing a life to earn a Golden Banana. Then do the same again to earn the N64 Coin. Once you've photographed six Banana Fairies and have the N64 Coin, you'll be able to play the arcade game any time you want from your "Mystery Menu".
Although the cabinet does not have the side art, the marquee art is pretty much accurate.
It even shows the earliest known version of Mario (back when he was called "Jumpman".)
The first level of Donkey Kong. This is probably the one level that even those who are only remotely familiar with Donkey Kong have seen. The objective? Get to the top while avoiding the barrels and fireballs or smashing them with the hammer. It's pretty much common knowledge that you can score more points by using the hammers than by simply getting to the top. Although it was never enough to deter me from playing it, when I was a little kid I actually thought Donkey Kong was rather scary. I thought his laugh was scary and the "bass drum" noise of his chest-beating scared me, too. I don't remember finding anything else in arcade games scary back then, so maybe that actually helped form my fascination with this one.
Level 2 is the infamous "Pie Factory". This is the one level that never made it into any home version of the game, with the exception of the extremely elusive Commodore 64 version. Even though this level is sometimes officially referred to as the "Pie Factory", originally that wasn't what it was supposed to be. The arcade cabinet referred to the pies as "tubs of sand". But they looked so much like pies, that that's what everyone called them and somehow even Nintendo started calling them that. The Pie Factory was sort of a test of your "DK meddle" in the arcade version because it took so long to get to it. (You had to loop the game several times before you'd reach it.) If you could get that far, it meant you were somewhat of a DK expert. But since Rare changed the order in which the stages progress on the DK64 version, you'll get to it just by beating Level 1. It's arguably the easiest level, especially if you can kill the fireballs because they don't respawn.
Level 3 is the elevator level. This level was my nemesis in the arcades, and it still is. The problem is that those falling jackhammer things shift position, and I find it difficult to figure out their pattern, if they even have one. Although it's possible to jump from the second elevator to either of the upper platforms across from it, I almost can never make those jumps, so I have to ride all the way down, then jump back up via the platforms on the right. And getting past both the jackhammers and that fireball can be a real bitch. (I also thought the jackhammers were scary when I was a kid, too.) Arguably the hardest level.
The fourth and final level is the one where you have to make Donkey Kong fall on his head by removing all the yellow rivets from the tower. The fireballs that appear on this level look a little different than the ones that appear on the other three levels. They look more like snakes because they have a little tail and rounded head. I don't find this level as hard as the elevators screen or as easy as the pie factory. But I actually think it's a bit easier than the first level. The only problem I have is sometimes getting "trapped" in one of the upper corners.
All-in-all, I think Rare should be commended for being one of the only game developers to get the home version of this game *right* (now, my memory of the Commodore 64 version seems to think that one was arcade-accurate, too, but my memory's been known to be wrong, and I haven't played it in years). It's not just the inclusion of the Pie Factory, but the NES and various other home versions often had other problems that took away most of the challenge. For example, on none of those versions does Donkey Kong fling wildly unpredictable zig-zagging barrels across the screen in Level 1. On the NES version, the fireballs move too slowly on the last level. It's much easier to make the jump to the upper platforms on the elevator level on the other versions, which negates the challenge of that stage. The sound effects on the other versions are way off (all of them are missing that "bass drum" effect that I found so scary when I was younger). For some inexplicable reason, the first hammer on Level 1 of the NES version was moved to a different spot.
And the Atari 2600 version?
I don't even wanna go there...