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Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong

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Creation and Conception

Donkey Kong was created by Nintendo's game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. He believed "donkey" meant "stupid" in English, and assumed the name would convey the sense "stupid ape" to an American audience.[1] When he suggested this name to Nintendo of America, he was laughed at, but the name stuck.[1] The validity of this story, as well as others, has been disputed. [2] Initially, Donkey Kong was a large brown gorilla with no distinct features aside from a slight cowlick. Since the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, he has been depicted wearing a red necktie, usually with a DK emblem.


Early history

Donkey Kong made his first appearance as the titular character of the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong alongside protagonist Mario (then known as Jumpman) and damsel in distress Pauline. As Mario, the player must reach Donkey Kong at the top of each stage, where he is holding Pauline captive. Donkey Kong attempts to hinder the player's progress by throwing barrels and other obstacles towards Mario. The ape would reappear the following year in the sequel Donkey Kong Junior, where Donkey Kong is taken captive and locked in a cage by Mario, while Donkey Kong Junior sets out to rescue him. Donkey Kong would resume his antagonistic role in Donkey Kong 3, this time the character Stanley the Bugman taking Mario's place as the protagonist (Mario was given his own spin-off game, Mario Bros.). Stanley fights Donkey Kong's attempts to invade a greenhouse along with a horde of killer bees.

After Donkey Kong, Mario would go on to become Nintendo's primary mascot, while Donkey Kong and his son were relegated to supporting roles and cameos such as in the arcade version of Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Kart, and the Virtual Boy game Mario's Tennis. The 1994 Game Boy version of Donkey Kong marked his re-emergence as a major character. He was redesigned, sporting a necktie as his sole article of clothing.

Rare Era

The 1994 Super NES game Donkey Kong Country made by British game developer Rare marked a turning point for Donkey Kong by creating a new setting, Donkey Kong Island, and back story for the character.

The Donkey Kong character introduced in the Donkey Kong Country is stated to be the grandson of the original Donkey Kong, who appears in the game as an elderly ape named Cranky Kong.[3] This Donkey Kong is portrayed as a powerful, yet lazy and laid-back ape who was more interested in lounging than heroics, and as such was constantly vilified by Cranky and his peers. The series introduced a sidekick for Donkey: his hyperactive friend, Diddy, and DK's crocodilian archenemy, King K. Rool.

Despite his name being in the titles of both games, DK is not the protagonist in the sequel Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest nor Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!. Instead he is captured by K. Rool, while the player controls different Kongs who have set out to rescue him. The Donkey Kong Country series also inspired the Donkey Kong Land trilogy and a television series.

Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64 would be the last platform game developed by Rare starring Donkey Kong. The modern Donkey Kong supplanted Junior's role in the Mario Kart series from Mario Kart 64. In addition, DK became a regular playable character in the Mario sports series and other spin-offs such as Mario Party and Super Smash Bros.

Post-Rare Era

Following Rare's departure from the series, Nintendo co-produced a trilogy of rhythm games with Namco for the Nintendo GameCube known as the Donkey Konga series, which were based on Namco's own Taiko: Drum Master, though only two of the series' games made it to America. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released on March 14, 2005 in North America for the GameCube. It depicted DK as being more violent than his original image and also used the bongo controllers. In October 2007, Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast was released in North America for the Wii. It has been suggested by many fans that this is Nintendo's way of legally semi-reviving the cancelled Gamecube racing game for Donkey Kong which was to be called Donkey Kong Racing but was lost after the Rare departure.

Meanwhile on the handhelds, Donkey Kong was reunited with his former rival Mario in the 2004 Game Boy Advance game titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong. A throwback to the Donkey Kong title for the Game Boy, Donkey Kong resumed his antagonist role from his earlier games by taking over the Mario Toy Company, upset over the lack of Mini-Mario toys available for purchase. The game was followed by a 2006 sequel titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, where Donkey Kong, who is infatuated with Pauline, kidnaps her and takes her to the roof of the Super Mini-Mario World amusement park when she ignores a Mini-Donkey Kong toy in favor of a Mini-Mario. Aside from those, DK King of Swing on the GBA was released by Paon around the time of Jungle Beat, and its sequel, DK Jungle Climber for the Nintendo DS, was released in North America on the September 10, 2007. Jungle Climber took the game play of its predecessor, KoS, and mixed it with the style, locations, and items of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy.

Other appearances

In 1999, he was one of the first to appear in the successful game and eventually series Super Smash Bros. He also returned in the sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, along with the other original twelve, plus 14 new characters. His latest appearance in the series is in Super Smash Bros. Brawl with a new stage based on the look of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Donkey Kong's "Final Smash" (a powerful super-move) is "Konga Beat" which is based on the DK Bongos.[4] In all of the games thus far, he has been classed as a heavyweight, a character with great strength and weight, but with low speed and jump.

DK is a playable character in most Mario Party games, until Mario Party 5, in which he becomes in charge of DK spaces. In Mario Party 5 these bring a DK related mini-game, but in Mario Party 8 landing on a DK space gives an advantage (ie. a chance for a free star).

A character resembling Donkey Kong made an appearance in the television series, Futurama. The character known as "Ambassador Kong", was the leader of the planet, "Nintendo 64", an obvious reference to the game system, Nintendo 64.

The Donkey Kong monster truck made its debut in the Monster Jam event at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US on December 8, 2007.[5]


  1. Interview with Miyamoto. Miyamoto Shrine (2001-05-16). Retrieved on 2007-05-31.
  2. http://www.snopes.com/business/misxlate/donkeykong.asp
  3. Donkey Kong Country instruction manual, pg. 6
  4. Rumble Falls. Smash Bros. DOJO!!. Smashbros.com (2007-07-23). Retrieved on 2007-08-02.
  5. Wild New Donkey Kong Truck Swings Into Monster Jam. Nintendo. Nintendo of America Inc. (2007-12-06). Retrieved on 2008-02-19.

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