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Donkey Kong (abbreviated as DK) is a video game character and icon who was introduced in the arcade classic game Donkey Kong as a villain in 1981. He was originally created by Shigeru Miyamoto alongside Mario. After his appearance in Donkey Kong, Nintendo created the successors Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3. Following these popular titles, Nintendo let the franchise rest and focusing on more games featuring Mario, the original protagonist. Rare was offered them the chance to revive the Donkey Kong franchise in the nineties, resulting in Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Donkey Kong is a large, muscular ape with a red tie that sports his initials. The name Donkey Kong is given to three characters in the Nintendo universe, including the two from the arcade games and the one from the Donkey Kong Country series. The Donkey Kong from the arcade games is supposedly Cranky Kong, and Donkey Kong Jr. is the father of the modern Donkey Kong. Rare had implied that Donkey Kong Jr. is the current Donkey Kong, as Cranky Kong has referred to Donkey Kong as his son in Donkey Kong 64 and an employee at Rare has claimed that as far as they knew this was the case. However, the more recent titles including Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Tropical Freeze state that DK is Cranky's grandson while Jr. is DK's father.

History and story

The Original

DonkeyKongconcept

Concept art from Donkey Kong.

In the original Donkey Kong, the disgruntled ape was annoyed of being miss handled by his master Mario. He looks more like a real gorilla and lacks his trademark tie. he escaped from the carpenters' clutches, kidnapped his girlfriend Pauline, and took refuge on a series of girders at a construction site. The ape was able to break the ladders and tossed barrels at Mario to keep him away. Eventually, Donkey Kong and Mario reach the highest levels of the building and Mario causes these levels to collapse to send Donkey Kong down and rescue Pauline. With Donkey Kong defeated, Mario keeps him locked up in a cage. The name Donkey Kong was devised when Shigeru Miyamoto was looking in a Japanese to English dictionary for a word that meant stubborn. He came across the word donkey, which grammatically doesn't make any sense, and went with Donkey Kong. Nintendo of America urged them to change the name, though NCL refused.

Now imprisoned in the sequel, he now relies on his son, Donkey Kong Jr., to rescue him from Mario's clutches. Donkey Kong is trapped in a cage at the top of the screen guarded by Mario. Jr. has to collect keys to free Donkey Kong from the cage. Once free, Donkey Kong and Jr. runaway though not before Donkey Kong beats up Mario offscreen. Donkey Kong's appearance has not changed too much from the original with his sprite gaining cuffs on his wrists and ankles. The third entry, Donkey Kong 3, has the titular Kong attack a greenhouse to which the gardener, Stanley, must fend him off while protecting the plants from bugs. Donkey Kong aggravates the beehive and slowly descends with him knocking down fruit in the other stage. Stanley can send him packing by spraying bug spray up which pushes him into a beehive before he comes crashing down. Donkey Kong is largely the same as his earlier games with a slight change in proportions as he is climbing now.

After his arcade appearances, Donkey Kong went on to appear in a variety of remakes, but nothing spectacular or new. He appears in the Nintendo Entertainment System edutainment game Donkey Kong Jr. Math as the presenter and was planned to appear in a music-based spinoff called Donkey Kong no Ongaku Asobi. He made a cameo appearance in the NES version of Punch-Out!! as an audience member as well as in Tetris. There were also remakes of all three Donkey Kong arcade games for the NES as well as one that contained all three of them together in a game called Donkey Kong Classics. After this, he had virtually no presence until 1994 with two reboots.

The first is Donkey Kong, a Game Boy remake of the original arcade title. In this game he uses a more modern design (though still clearly inspired by the Arcade games) with his being more cartoonish and wearing his iconic red tie. The game goes far beyond the original with Donkey Kong recovering and kidnapping Pauline and escaping into the Big-City. Mario chases Donkey Kong through the many locations and defeats him at the end of each world but, Donkey Kong still recovers and continues to next one. Donkey Kong is aided by many enemies of the original trilogy as well as his son. In the end, Mario and Donkey Kong have a final confrontation at the Tower but, Donkey Kong consumes too many Super Mushrooms to cause him to grow to enormous proportions. Still Mario defeats him, and causes him to return to normal size. With his own Super Mushroom, Mario catches Donkey Kong as he falls. The credits photo shows Donkey Kong, Jr., Mario and Pauline posing in front of the Rocky-Valley, suggesting they make amends.

Rare revives the franchise

European game developer Rare was a well-known video game developer, and when the SNES was released Nintendo approached them with an offer to develop a new Donkey Kong title. Due to the series' success in arcades, Rare felt that they would find most success if they revived Donkey Kong. But they weren't satisfied with doing just that, and made what was considered the most impressive graphics engine on the SNES. With pseudo-3D renders, Donkey Kong Country was sure to find success when it was released, and it most certainly did. So much that two sequels to the game were created and various remakes.
DKCountrysketch

Concept art for the new Donkey Kong.

But, there were a few things that players had to keep in mind when playing.

First, this was not the same Donkey Kong that Mario fought in the original arcade classic. Rather, this was either Donkey Kong Jr. or Donkey Kong Jr.'s son. Most games and sources point to the latter. The Donkey Kong from the original game was now known as Cranky Kong, an old monkey who is now skin and bones that has a cane. Donkey Kong also looked a lot different from the Donkey Kong in the original. There were various other things that the series introduced, such as a new villain named King K. Rool. Mario was completely omitted from the game series save for a trophy cameo.

Oddly, Donkey Kong would not appear as a playable character in this game's sequels. Rather, it would be some of the characters from the previous titles and brand new ones too. In these games, Donkey Kong would be the one who would be kidnapped by King K. Rool. King K. Rool in the first game stole Donkey Kong's banana hoard. While his motives were unclear, an employee of Rare said that without any bananas to eat, Donkey Kong would die of starvation. So, it was only natural that Donkey Kong and his pal Diddy Kong would go out to reclaim their treasure.

Following the SNES era of games, Donkey Kong went on to appear in Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64. In this game, he and a bunch of buddies team up to take down King K. Rool, who managed to construct a device capable of destroying Donkey Kong Isle, where they all reside. The ship that the machine was on crashed on a rock, and halted the progress of their plans, giving Donkey Kong the time to go and thwart him once again.

Rare leaves, the series continues on

In the early 2000s, Nintendo did a surprising move and sold Rare to competitor Microsoft. An era had ended, though the series that they revived would continue on. Nintendo bought the characters that Rare had created through the Donkey Kong series, most notably Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, and King K. Rool, and continued to manufacture, publish, and on rare occasions even develop new Donkey Kong games. Their first venture post-Rare was a series developed in conjunction with Namco titled Donkey Konga. A music title, this game came with a set of DK Bongos. A DK Bongo had two drums and could hear when the player clapped. The player would have to keep with the rhythm in the game by drumming and clapping. In all, there were three games released in the series, including Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2, and Donkey Konga 3, the latter game being released exclusively in Japan.

Meanwhile, Paon was given rights to develop Donkey Kong games, and created DK: King of Swing, DK: Jungle Climber and Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Wii, respectively. The two former games were part of a series of games where Donkey Kong and crew would grasp onto spheres hanging in mid-air and climb to the top of stages. The games were greatly compared to the NES classic Clu Clu Land, which was developed by Nintendo. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat for Wii was critically panned and was considered by many as too hard to control.

JungleBeatimage

Donkey Kong was redesigned yet again for Jungle Beat.

Nintendo Software Technology in Redmond, Washington created Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance in 2004. This game reunited the original cast of Donkey Kong excluding Pauline, albeit the Donkey Kong used in this game was the one that Rare created. This is confusing, however, as they made it seem like it was the same one present in the original arcade classic. The game was successful and the developers ended up creating a sequel for the Nintendo DS titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, which actually featured Pauline. In the game, Donkey Kong would once again kidnap Pauline, and Mario, using miniature toys, would have to save her.

Perhaps the most notable Donkey Kong game released after Rare's departure was a game developed by the then new Nintendo EAD Tokyo, the fifth Nintendo EAD division. The team created the GameCube title Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, which was controlled via the DK Bongos Namco and Nintendo made for Donkey Konga. The game could also be controlled with the GameCube controller, though most agree that it isn't nearly as enjoyable. The game was a sidescrolling platformer like the Donkey Kong Country games and gave Donkey Kong a slightly new look. It was highly praised among critics, though unfortunately didn't manage to sell a million units. The game was later remade for the Wii under the title New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, and featured numerous updates. Nintendo EAD Tokyo would go on to create the best seller Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.

The return of the Country series

After the release of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! in 1996, the country series was put on hiatus for an undefined time by Nintendo and by the end of the 2000s, Nintendo wanted to revive the dormant series. Since Nintendo EAD Tokyo was already working on Flipnote Studio and Super Mario Galaxy 2, the project was handed to Retro Studios which had just lost several key members. The game named Donkey Kong Country Returns was announced by Reggie Fils-Aime during E3 2010 and released worldwide by the end of December 2010. The game was later ported to the Nintendo 3DS in 2013.

The same year, during E3 2013, Nintendo announced a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns named Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Unlike Returns, Tropical Freeze brought back the idea to have other Kongs outside of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong being playable and so, Dixie Kong returned as a playable character and Cranky Kong made his first appearance as a playable character in a country game. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze finally released in February 2014 for the Wii U. In 2018, a port of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze released on Nintendo Switch. The port played further with the idea of having multiple playable Kongs and added Funky Kong as a playable character.

Outside appearances

Donkey Kong has made various appearances outside of his franchise. He is a regular character in the Super Smash Bros. franchise and was an opponent in Punch-Out!! for the Wii as the final character in the game that you could fight. The character is extremely challenging to unlock, as the player can only fight him after getting through the Last Stand mode. He has appeared in many different Mario spinoffs such as all post-Super Mario Kart Mario Kart games, sports titles and the Party games.

A baby version of Donkey Kong, appropriately known as Baby Donkey Kong, was one of the five characters that would ride on top of Yoshi in the Nintendo DS video game Yoshi's Island DS. He would give Yoshi new abilities such as crashing through blocks and climbing up vines, though his weight also posed a problem.

Super Smash Bros. series

Donkey Kong is has appeared in every single Super Smash Bros. video game thus far, from the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch. In all the titles he is among the strongest and heaviest characters in the game. He uses realistic gorilla noises instead of the voice clips using in

Attacks

Donkey Kong's attacks mostly revolve around swinging his arms. He has a wide variety of strong attacks though some have long setups. His back aerial is one of his quickest moves and is good for a safe attack. With 3DS and Wii U, Donkey Kong's dash attack changes from a sliding kick to a roll like in the Country games. His specials are the following:

Alternate Costumes

Sports games

Donkey Kong has appeared in many Mario sports titles that aren't considered Donkey Kong games. Because of his many appearances in these games, he is often called one of the "Big Eight": eight Mario characters who commonly appear in games together. The others include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Toad, and Wario. In the sports titles, Donkey Kong has appeared in all of the Mario Golf games, all Mario Kart games (except Super Mario Kart), and the tennis, baseball, soccer, and basketball games. He is commonly one of the heaviest playable characters in the titles or a power-type character. Donkey Kong appeared in a beta version of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and was officially confirmed for Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games at E3 2009 along with Metal Sonic.

Mario Party

In the Mario Party series, he started as a playable until Mario Party 5, where he was shifted to a board event as a counterpart to Bowser Spaces. When a Donkey Kong Space is landed on, he triggers a beneficial event either where he gives the player coins or gives them a chance to earn more coins or a star with a minigame. He would not become playable again besides Mario Party DS until Mario Party 10.

Official Descriptions

"Donkey Kong and Mario started out as arch-rivals, but they've patched things up in recent years. These days DK spends his time searching the jungle for bananas instead of kidnapping beautiful maidens. In the past few years, other members of the Kong family have cashed in on DK's fame as well, including his favorite nephew, Diddy."

"While he now prefers the laid-back jungle lifestyle to construction site mischief, DK is often forced back into action by the Kremling Krew. The great ape is quite fast despite his burly physique, and he keeps his strength up with a steady diet of his favorite food: bananas. His one extravagance (and only piece of clothing) is a monogrammed necktie. (Donkey Kong, Arcade 1981)"

  • Super Smash Bros. Melee - Trophy (Donkey Kong [Smash])

"Donkey Kong is a huge target in a fight, so he hates crowds. When he's in the fray, his Giant Punch deals serious damage to multiple opponents. The big ape's Headbutt hits so hard that it temporarily buries opponent's in the ground. DK is a lot faster than he looks, and he's lethal in the hands of a master. (B: Giant Punch, Smash B: Headbutt)"

  • Super Smash Bros. Melee - Trophy (Donkey Kong [Smash])

"Being the strongest simian around, DK has the upper hand once he grabs an opponent. He can even lift his foe up and make him or her an unwilling traveling companion; if DK grabs you, shake your Control Stick as fast as you can to break his grip. His Spinning Kong covers more lateral distance than vertical, so use it quickly to recover. (Up & B: Spinning Kong, Down & B: Hand Slap)"

"A carefree jungle dweller with the charisma of a natural leader. He keeps busy by foiling the plans of the Kremlings and their boss, King K. Rool. As his physique suggests, this ape is a powerhouse. He's got speed to match too, and his love for bananas is second to none. His famous necktie is adorned with his initials, DK. (Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong 64)"

  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Trophy (Konga Beat)

"DK about to go to town with some bongos! His performance is so magnificent and upbeat that it creates damage-inducing sound waves. Press the buttons in time to the music, and the sound waves may grow stronger. DK's invulnerable when launching this attack, but he's also immobile, so be careful using it on scrolling stages. (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)"

Appearances

Gallery

Main article: Donkey Kong (character)/gallery

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