When you start the game, Jumpman will start at the oil can on the bottom floor of the Ramp Stage. Your job is to navigate him to the top so that he can progress to the next stages. Here are some strategies for each stage...
RAMP STAGE : This is the first stage of each level.
1) On L-01, the Ramp Stage pretty easy. Donkey Kong will start the show by dropping a Beam into the oil can, igniting it. After a couple of seconds, a Fireball will jump out and dance about. Afterwards, every eighth Barrel released by Donkey Kong will be a Beam. In the later levels, Donkey Kong will throw the first Beam diagonally toward the lower right corner. If you are running toward that ladder, you and the Beam may have an unexpected encounter. On the later levels, it's better to hesitate briefly, then start running so you can jump the Beam.
2) Donkey Kong releases a Barrel about every 2 seconds. This does not mean, however, that the Barrels will all come at you at a uniform rate. Some Barrels will fall down the ladders, whether they are broken or not, before reaching the end of a platform. This can cause the Barrels to bunch up in twos, threes, and even fours. Be wary when attempting to jump too many Barrels since you don't have the horizontal range to jump too many.
3) Also remember to have enough overhead clearance when jumping Barrels. If Jumpman's head goes above the platform above, he may hit a Barrel rolling down that platform. This problem is especially true at the ends of the platforms.
4) In the later levels, the Barrels seem to go for Jumpman. To offset this a bit, go just a little past a ladder. The Barrel may drop giving you an opening at a ladder farther down the platform.
5) The Hammer can be either your greatest friend or your worst hindrance. It lasts anywhere from 5-7 seconds. Here are some hammering tips :
a) Remember, you cannot jump or climb ladders when you have the Hammer.
b) Be wary of trying to hammer Barrels that are close together. You will take out the first Barrel, but the second Barrel will get you when Jumpman is swinging the Hammer up. It's better to do a quick back and forth jog so that you can get the second Barrel.
c) If Jumpman stands at the end of a platform so the one above is right above his head, he can destroy Barrels before they drop to his level. Again, watch out for how much hammering time you have or a Barrel may drop on you right when your hammer goes away.
6) If there is a Barrel coming down the platform above and you are about ready to climb a ladder, wait for a moment. If you are on the ladder, the Barrel may decide to take a short cut and land on your head. This becomes more prevalent in the higher levels. NOTE: On the Japanese version, a Barrel cannot drop down a ladder while Jumpman is on it.
7) As you proceed into the higher levels, Donkey Kong does not always play fair. He has a tendency to throw Barrels diagonally or even to drop them to the next platform. Be ready to expect the unexpected at the later levels.
8) Although the Fireballs on this stage are rather sedate, they still can pose a danger. If you take too long on the level, the Fireballs will eventually climb the ladders to higher platforms so it is important to move up quickly and safely.
9) On this and all stages, Jumpman can only survive falls at a distance no greater than his height.
CONVEYOR BELT STAGE : A relatively easy stage. You just have to watch out for Fireballs, Cement Pies, and conveyor belts...
1) The conveyor belts have a tendency to change direction very quickly. So if you are just under a ladder, you may find yourself being moved in the wrong direction. You may want to jump toward the ladder to reduce this chance.
2) Watch out for the Cement Pies. They come up randomly and Mario will lose the battle if a Cement Pie hits him. The same goes for the Fireballs that are born from the oil can.
3) If Jumpman goes off the edge of the screen on a conveyor belt he will lose that battle.
4) Any platforms that have circles on one or both of the ends are conveyor belts. That means the very bottom and third platforms are not conveyor belts. Plan your strategy accordingly.
5) Once you get up to the fourth platform, depending on what side you are on, you must make it to the telescoping ladders. You can hang on the ladder when it is retracted to avoid the Cement Pies. Just make sure there aren't any Fireballs around to harass you. Once the ladder extends to the next platform, climb it.
6) On this stage, you don't have to climb the ladder to the platform Pauline is on. All you have to do is make it to the platform that Donkey Kong is on.
ELEVATOR STAGE : Probably the hardest stage in the game. It's the one that players have the most trouble with.
1) Jumpman will start out on the bottom of the leftmost girder. This level has a few hazards you must negotiate :
a) The gaps between the girders. A sure hand and jump at the right place will prevent tragedy.
b) If you take the lower route, you will have to cross the path of the Springs twice. Once while travelling on the first set of girders and again when you cross over on the second set of girders.
c) The Springs themselves are a hazard. If your timing is off, be prepared to have Jumpman squashed by a wayward Spring.
2) There are two routes you can travel to get to the top : The upper and lower routes. All veteran Donkey Kong players know that the upper route is the best route but it takes a little skill. The reasons for the upper route are :
a) You don't have as many jumps to make.
b) If you take the lower route, you will have to cross the path of the Springs twice. Once while traveling on the first set of girders and again when you cross over on the second set of girders.
c) These factors create a higher risk for Jumpman to not make it.
3) To navigate the top route, do the following :
a) Get on the first elevator (it is going up). When you almost get even with the top of the next girder to the right, jump onto it. If a Fireball is in the way, jump back to the top of the girder on the left (and pick up the Umbrella if you haven't done so yet).
b) From the top of that girder, get ready to jump on the next elevator (it is going down). When the elevator is slightly higher then the girder Jumpman is standing on, jump onto it. Without breaking stride (in other words, keep running), jump again to the third set of girders. Jumpman will have a pretty good arc since you ran him constantly. You should land on the top or second level of that girder.
4) Climb the ladder onto the girder that Donkey Kong is standing on and don't move. Jumpman will be right on the edge of that girder. The Springs will get very close to Jumpman (basically shaving his nose) but they won't hit him.
5) When a Spring basically scrapes Jumpman's nose, take off running toward the ladder to the platform with Pauline. This trick will require some timing. Run a little past that ladder then immediately turn around and go up the ladder. If this trick is done correctly, Jumpman will follow the Spring that just bounced over him and beat the Spring right behind it. This trick works on the later levels even when the Springs are 'double-jumping'.
6) This stage requires practice to perfect your techniques. Fortunately, in the US version, there is only one Elevator Stage per level after L-03 (100m from L-04 onward). Remember, Jumpman cannot survive long falls.
RIVET STAGE : This is final stage of each level. However, it is probably one of the easiest stages to go through.
1) There is no real pattern to taking out the rivets holding the girders. What you must really be wary of are the Firefoxes. At the later levels, the Firefoxes move quite a bit faster and they become more aggressive.
2) One tactic is to get on one side of the rivet. Just as a Firefox gets right next to Jumpman, jump backward over the rivet. You will gain 100 points and remove the rivet. Firefoxes cannot cross the gap created by the missing rivet.
3) Make sure you don't accidentally jump into Donkey Kong when you are on the upper platform. This will lead to a premature end for Jumpman really quickly.
4) You can jump into the side walls away from the girders and they will bounce you back onto the girder you were on. This move is usually for if you are surrounded by Firefoxes and there is nowhere left to go.