Donkey Kong (JP) is an arcade video game released in 1981 by Nintendo. It was Nintendo's first big hit in North America and the very first game in the Mario franchise. The game was released a few years before the NES console was released, the first home console to feature this game was the Atari 2600 published in the following year of 1982. The game was a big hit with consumers and sold an estimated one million copies. The game was subsequently released on a variety of platforms, all of which can be seen below. The game spawned several sequels and was among the earliest platforming video games to be released and also the first to feature the characters Donkey Kong and Mario. In the game, the player controls Mario, originally known as Jumpman, across a series of girders in an attempt to rescue one of his first girlfriends, Pauline, known initially as "Lady," who was kidnapped by Donkey Kong. In the game, Jumpman is required to jump over barrels and other similar obstacles that Donkey Kong sends down to the hero.

The game is widely considered to be one of the most important arcade games released during the 1980s. It introduced jumping to the platform genre, and contained a plot, whereas in previous games players had no motivation for what they were doing. It was not only Nintendo's first real worldwide success, it was one of Shigeru Miyamoto's earliest gaming efforts. Miyamoto initially wanted the game to feature Popeye characters, though when they were unable to receive the license, he resorted to creating his own characters, who would soon grow into lucrative properties and the most successful and noticeable images in the video game industry {according to Nintendo Power}. Cut-scenes, while included in Pac-Man, were more impressive in this game and had a purpose to the plot. The multiple stages were also innovation and were only predated by Golf.

Nintendo released Donkey Kong in an attempt to replace unused Radar Scope units which proved unsuccessful in America, a territory where Nintendo saw potential in due to their increased interest in the industry. When Radar Scope eventually arrived, it was viewed by the general public as outdated, so when retailers refused to purchase the units, they were sent back to Nintendo. Nintendo needed to create a game that would either make or break them, and so the president of the company, Hiroshi Yamauchi, ordered Miyamoto to create a new game for the cabinet. He decided to do something new, and upon being released, it would capture the hearts of millions, start a new franchise, and shoot Nintendo to the top of the industry. This was the beginning of a fresh start for a nearly 100-year-old company. After a continuous stream of failures, Nintendo finally found their saving grace. A new generation started, and it was only the beginning.


At the time of the game's release, it could be said that Donkey Kong was more popular than its star character Jumpman. Donkey Kong, who unlike his heroic rival had a unique name, was an ape and a pet who escaped his masters' clutches, kidnapped the lady and went to a construction site where he climbed up the top of a series of girders, where he awaited his former owner to arrive. Pauline was initially known simply as Lady. Jumpman, using his fantastic jumping abilities, climbed to the top and, after destroying the girder Donkey Kong was stationed on, the beast fell to the bottom and was knocked out. Jumpman and Lady were once again reunited.

The game's damsel in distress plot became a commonly used idea that would be featured in countless games that followed, including many Nintendo published and developed ones. Even games that would contain in-depth plots would sometimes feature a case where the player character would have to go out and save a female, usually of royal descent. Lady was not a princess, though her successor, Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros., certainly was.

Each of the three primary characters is each different by their appearance. Not as generic as most characters of the time, the main characters each had aspects that made them unique. This, however, was not precisely done purposefully. Jumpman, for example, only has a hat because Miyamoto didn't want to create flowing hair, while his mustache is there because a moving mouth would be too difficult to animate at the time. Finally, his garb was turned into overalls to show his movements clearly.

The narrative focus in Donkey Kong is unique because it's the first game to have a complete plot from beginning to end. Cinematic movies propel the story forward, and the transition from scene to gameplay was also the first of its kind. Donkey Kong was a unique antagonist as he couldn't correctly be viewed as a villain once his motives became clear. He was simply tired of being kept in a cramped cage and vowed to get his revenge. Because he was an ape, he couldn't be viewed as an evil villain with terrible intentions.

Nintendo knew that the main character had to have a better name if they wished for his career to continue, and as legend has it Nintendo of America's landlord arrived demanding his money when they were debating on a new name. His name was Mario Segale. The lady also needed a new name, so they named her Pauline after the warehouse manager's wife, Polly James. Jumpman would change into Mario and would become the mascot of Nintendo, Donkey Kong would soon star in his own series of games, and Pauline never made much of a name for herself when Princess Toadstool replaced her.


There are three primary characters in the game, each fulfilling a different role. Jumpman was the game's protagonist and the one the player controlled. Donkey Kong, who was stationed at the top of each stage, was the game's antagonist who kidnapped Lady. Lady was the damsel in distress who was at all times stationed at the top of each stage, yelling for help. Multiple fireballs littered the stages, though their role in the plot is non-existent.

It is widely known that Nintendo sought after a Popeye license, though was refused by the owner. It can be said that the three main characters in this game were based on the characters from Popeye. Jumpman could have taken the role of the series' title character, Donkey Kong could be based on Brutus, and Lady may've been inspired by Olive. The game's original characters can be seen below, accompanied by a description.

  • Jumpman/Mario: Jumpman was the game's protagonist. He was described by game creator Shigeru Miyamoto as a "hang-loose kind of guy." In the game, his goal is to save Lady, later known as Pauline, from Donkey Kong. Jumpman's name was later changed to the iconic Mario. He's based slightly after Popeye, an old TV Series character except he wasn't Italian.
  • Donkey Kong: The game's antagonist, he was tired of being locked up in a cage and escaped, kidnapped Jumpman's girlfriend, and escaped up a series of girders. Miyamoto made Donkey Kong an ape because he wouldn't be viewed as too evil, whereas if he were a human, his actions would be put into question. At the end of the game, Donkey Kong is knocked out. Initially, Miyamoto said that the ape died, but this wouldn't fit with the game's sequel.
  • Lady/Pauline: Lady was the damsel in distress. In the game, Donkey Kong escaped from his cage and kidnapped his owner's girlfriend. After going to the construction site, he placed Pauline on a girder next to him, where she awaited Jumpman to rescue her. She continually would yell out for help, and at the end of the game would finally be saved by Jumpman. Her name was later changed to Pauline.


In the game of Donkey Kong, the player is required to jump over barrels, climb up ladders, unlock keys and perform a series of other actions all which lead to taking the game's antagonist Donkey Kong down. All of Jumpman/Mario's actions are the perfect describing of the term platformer. While not technically the first platformer to be released, it was undoubtedly the most important of the initial bunch. Many consider Donkey Kong to be a challenging game. One professional gamer, when describing it, said that an average game wouldn't last more than a minute. The player has to time his jump perfectly when obstacles come near his character, and the randomness of some of the portions in the game can cause some to stumble. Each stage becomes progressively harder, though none are as recognizable as the first stage, which is probably the stage in which most consumers die, never being able to reach the other stages due to the game's difficulty.

While for most the goal is to save the damsel in distress, doing so won't net the player any rewards in the long run. Few aim to accumulate the highest score. Some try to get the highest score in the arcade cabinet they're playing on, while others try to beat the highest score of all time as recorded by the Twin Galaxies. Doing so can unarguably be considered one of the hardest feats in video games. It's so competitive among two key players (Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell) that a documentary based on them was released in select theatres. Currently, Billy Mitchell holds the record with 1,050,200 points. Acquiring that many points can take many multiple hours, though it can't compare to how much the player has practiced the game.


The game features four separate stages that, when put together, equals 100 meters. Each stage is evenly divided and poses a unique challenge. The layout of each level is entirely different from the previous stage, though the original is unarguably the most iconic of the bunch. The various remakes of the game tend to include most of the stages, though the stage is famously known as the Pie Factory usually is not included, and the order in which the stages appear is commonly altered.

The stages in the game don't have official names other than how high the player is. For example, the first stage can usually be called 25m. Fans, however, have made names for each stage that are mutually used across many online publications. Instead of being called 25m, the first stage is usually considered the Ramp Stage. The name of the stage is based on the primary theme of each stage.

After the player goes through twenty-two levels, the game will end after a few second fall victim to a glitch that causes the player to die instantly, which will end the game. Getting the kill screen is incredibly hard to accomplish. If the player wishes to accumulate the highest score of all time, then he or she must make sure to get that score before entering the twenty-second level.




The first stage is the most famous of the bunch. Because of the game's challenge, most players won't get past the first stage in their first try. After multiple attempts, they will usually be able to make it to the second stage, known either as 50m, Conveyor Belt Stage or the Pie Factory, though once there they'll have to alter their tactics due to the new challenges offered. In the Ramp Stage, Mario starts at the bottom of the left-hand corner and is required to climb the girders to reach the very top of the stage. To get to the next ramp directly above the player, the player must direct the character over the ladder and press up on the joystick.

While getting to the top, Donkey Kong will constantly be tossing barrels down at the player, which flow perfectly down the ramps and occasionally go down the ladders. Mario can either jump over the barrels or use one of the two hammers that are made available to destroy them completely. Once the character moves into a hammer, Mario will start to move the hammer up and down rapidly. Every barrel that is in his eyesight will be destroyed, though if one hits his back, it'll result in a lost live. While this is good for getting points, it won't progress the game since you won't be able to climb ladders when the hammer is in the players' hand. After a short time, the hammer will disappear.

Fireballs will also enter the fray when barrels are tossed directly into the oilcan below. If Mario touches a fireball, he'll instantly lose a life. These, coupled with the barrels, must be dodged if the player wishes to succeed. Unfortunately, these fireballs follow Mario up the ramps, and their numbers will increase when the player returns to the level after completing the story the first time.




In the second stage, there are five levels that the player must climb to get to the top. There are multiple routes, and on the second floor, a conveyor belt will have a series of tins of cement on them that the player must jump over while also not being dominated by the conveyor belt itself. The tins can be destroyed by a hammer that is available on the second level. On the first level, the player can choose to climb up any one of the four ladders. After that, the tins will arrive, and the player can prefer to either destroy the tins with a hammer or continue up one of the two ladders. The conveyor belt's length spans the entire second stage.

The direction that the conveyor belt moves is random, and it'll affect Mario's movement. Once Mario climbs up one of the two ladders on the conveyor belt, he will be in the middle of three disconnected girders. You can choose to get the two prizes on this stage, and the hammer on the left can destroy the fireballs, though it's advised that you continue on. You can choose to go up the two ladders in the center or jump to one of the other ramps, each one containing a ladder of its own.

The next level is considered by most to be the most dangerous. The oil can in the middle emits fireballs, while both portions of the stage are conveyor belts, always moving in the opposite direction of each other. Tins will come towards the player, as will fireballs. Because of this, the player should climb up the ladders as soon as possible and finally reach Pauline before Donkey Kong grabs her and goes to the next level.

This level was omitted from the Nintendo Entertainment System, ColecoVision, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Atari 7800 and GameBoy Advance port.

Due to the tins' resemblance to pies, this level is often called the "pie factory."




75m, also sometimes known as the elevator stage, is the third level in Donkey Kong. There are two sets of platforms that move up (left) and down (right). They are only present in the first portion of the stage, though it can be hard to maneuver. A platform with two ladders and a fireball is in between the two elevators. The player will begin the stage on the bottom of the leftmost platforms. After the player is finished with the elevators, he will move on to a series of platforms that move upwards to Donkey Kong. The platforms can be jumped to, though some require the use of a ladder. The fireballs will become the primary obstacle here, though it can be avoided with careful maneuvering. The telephone at the top of the platforms will give the player extra points.

Once the player reaches the platform where Donkey Kong is positioned, the player will face a new threat that wasn't present in the previous stages. The new obstacle is a springboard. Instead of barrels, Donkey Kong will start to hurl springboards at Mario that jump up and down. These springboards cannot be jumped over, and you must find a space where the springboard is in the air at the time and go there. It's a pattern that never changes, so once you find the unoccupied space where the springboard never lands but instead soars in the air, go there. After the springboard passes, the player will be given access to Pauline. This is still not the final stage, however.

Fans of Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii may recognize this stage. 75m was an unlockable stage in the game and was replicated almost flawlessly. The sides were expanded, though the graphics remained almost untouched. When the player tries out Donkey Kong in the Masterpiece mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, this is the stage that they will be able to play. It should be noted that the Masterpiece version of Donkey Kong is the Nintendo Entertainment System version rather than the arcade version. The stage and Masterpiece also makes a return in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and available from the start. The Ω version of the stage has the actual 75m visible in the background while players fight on a stack of three red girders in the foreground. Donkey Kong still appears in the Ω version, though he won't throw any jumping jacks.

The stage would also become notorious in the community for being extremely hard to play on.




The final stage of the game, 100m has blue girders and yellow ladders. There are five levels in this stage. The upper four levels each have two locks on them, with a total of eight locks altogether. The first level has three ladders the player can climb, the second four, the third three, and the fourth four. Fireballs litter the entire stage and can be destroyed via the two hammers.

The main goal of this stage is to get rid of all of the rivets that connect the girders together. This is done simply by walking over them. Once the player walks over a lock, it'll disappear, leaving a gap in between the two ramps. If the player falls through the gap, he will lose a life. He or she can, however, jump over them or plan a way where he or she doesn't have to go over the gap. The two locks where Donkey Kong is are the hardest to get because you can't go from one lock to the other since Donkey Kong sits between the two. So, what you have to do here is destroy one lock, go back down the ladder, head over to where the other lock is, and climb up the ladder to destroy that lock, all while avoiding the many fireballs on the stage.

After all of the plugs have been destroyed, the entire structure will collapse, and Donkey Kong will be knocked out. Mario will climb up to his girlfriend, and a huge heart will loom over them and encompass the screen. While the story is over, the player will have to play again and again until he loses all of his lives.

Items and obstacles[]

The game includes a plethora of weapons, items, and obstacles that the player can collect or battle. The game's sole weapon was a hammer, which is explained below:

  • Hammer: The hammer in the game is found in all of the game's stages except 75m. It is the only weapon that Mario can wield, and it can be equipped by directly jumping towards it. Once this is done, Mario will use the hammer by smashing it on the ground rapidly. Every enemy or obstacle in his path will be destroyed, whether it be barrels, fireballs, or concrete pies. If an obstacle hits Mario's back, however, he will still lose a life. When Mario has the hammer in his hand, he is unable to climb up ladders. The player is also unable to discard the weapon and will have to wait until it disappears. In the stages in which the hammer appears, there are two per stage.

The hammer is not the only item in the game that will reap positive rewards for the character. In the game, when Donkey Kong brought Pauline up the stages, she dropped many of her valuable items that are scattered on all of the stages except the first ones. When collected, the items will give Mario points. The items that appear on each stage include:

  • 50m: Pauline's umbrella and hat.
  • 75m: Pauline's umbrella, hat, and purse.
  • 100m: Pauline's umbrella.

In the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game, the hat and purse have been replaced by a can and a piano, though the umbrella remains.

In higher quantity than any other item in the game are the obstacles that are in each level. The game's obstacles include:

  • Barrel: The most recognizable obstacle in the game are the barrels. Surprisingly, the barrels only appear on the first stage. Donkey Kong has a stack of barrels next to him that never run out. He sends them down the girders in hopes that one will plow over Mario. When a barrel approaches Mario, the player can either choose to jump over it or use a hammer to destroy it. Doing so will reward the player with points.
  • Beam: Beams are similar to barrels, though they are blue. They'll still go down the girders and only appear in the first stage. The only difference between the two there than their appearance is that when the beam reaches the oil can, it'll cause a fireball to be ejected from it.
  • Fireball: Fireballs only appear on the first stage when a beam goes into an oil can. They follow the player, even going up ladders. They're hard to avoid, and more troublesome when in large numbers. They're jumpable, though because of their unpredictable movements, they're hard to avoid. The fireball should not be mistaken with a Firefox.
  • Firefox: The Firefox can be considered an enemy rather than an obstacle. They're the fireballs that appear on all of the stages excluding the first one. They automatically appear when a stage starts. They're harder to avoid than the Fireball, though the player can still jump over them.
  • Spring: The Spring is an obstacle found at the end of 75m. Donkey Kong will hurl these at the players, though they'll land in the same positions each time, meaning if the player situates himself in between the landing spots, the character will be safe.
  • Cement Tins: Cement tins appear only in 50m. They appear on the conveyor belts, and if Mario runs into one, it'll result in a lost life. They can be destroyed with a hammer.


Nintendo had wanted to break into the American industry and created an office there. They created a game by the name of Radar Scope that they thought would appeal to the gamers in this new territory. Upon shipping, the game took months to arrive in America, and once it did, the mutual thought of the game was that it was outdated, had uninteresting sound, and basically was similar to previous games that were already available. Retailers refused to purchase the arcade units, and they sent them back to Nintendo. Now, with available game units, Nintendo didn't have the money to make new arcade cabinets directly, so the president of the company, Hiroshi Yamauchi, ordered employee Shigeru Miyamoto to create a new game that could be placed within the Radar Scopecabinet after he said that he could create a video game.


Concept art for Mario/Jumpman.

Miyamoto didn't go into the project alone, however. Yamauchi also assigned the lead engineer Gunpei Yokoi, who had previously created the Game & Watch games, to watch over the project and train Miyamoto. The two became a fantastic team, and together, they created what would soon become known as Donkey Kong. The characters, however, would go through a massive transformation before eventually becoming what they are today. Nintendo initially was looking to make the game based on Popeye and its well-known characters. They were unable to acquire the license, so Miyamoto decided to create unique characters. While new, these characters would be based slightly off of the character triangle that was present in the Popeye series. Needless to say, after Donkey Kong became so successful, the company received the license to create games based on Popeye.

With the characters intact, they needed a name for them, and perhaps, more importantly, a name for the game. Because the game was intended for the American audience, the president of the company desired that the name be English. The name would eventually be named after the antagonist of the game, who Miyamoto felt most dear about. How Miyamoto came up with the name of the character, however, isn't exactly clear. There are many legends of how he did this, and they include the following:


Donkey Kong concept art.

  • Myth 1: The name of Donkey Kong was initially Monkey Kong, though because of a mistranslation they accidentally changed the name Monkey to Donkey.
  • Myth 2: When Miyamoto was looking in a dictionary to find words that meant stubborn, he came upon the word Donkey. The word Kong was used because of its common usage in Japan as an alternate word for gorilla.
  • Myth 3: Nintendo's export manager came up with the term Donkey.

Miyamoto has confirmed that he wanted the name Kong in the game, and that Donkey was supposed to mean stupid, so he went with that. He said that when he explained the name to those at Nintendo of America, they chuckled at the idea, though he went through with it anyway.

When it actually came to developing the game, Miyamoto found that it was hard to come with a concrete idea. He didn't want the game to be a traditional maze or shooter game that was popular at the time but instead wanted something unique. He gathered many ideas that employees at Nintendo had, though when Miyamoto came up with the basic concept his supervisor Gunpei Yokoi explained that it would be too complicated to program. When Yokoi created the ideas of catapulting, they were unable to program it, so Miyamoto had to go back to the drawing board when he came up with the idea of sloped levels, multiple stages, and barrels that Donkey Kong would hurl at players. The overall code for the game was 20,000 lines long, and the programmers apparently complained that they were essentially making four games instead of one because of the many stages Miyamoto ordered. Reluctantly, they followed through with Miyamoto's requests.


Pauline concept art.

Upon viewing the game, Hiroshi Yamauchi knew that what Miyamoto had created was going to be very successful.

Back in America, the branch head Minoru Arakawa was introduced to Howard Lincoln, who would copyright the name Donkey Kong. Howard Lincoln was found by the distributors Ron Judy and Al Stone. Now, with the trademark in place, the Japanese branch sent over the game to America for them to test. Right off the bat, almost everyone at the branch hated it. Even Al, Howard, and Ron felt that the game would be unsuccessful. The sales manager didn't understand why it wasn't a maze or shooter game. The only one who was positive was Arakawa, who eventually convinced everyone at Nintendo that the game would become successful. Upon requesting a name change, Yamauchi, being the determined man that he is, refused. After Nintendo of America created all of the promotional material, translated the game, and changed the names of some of the characters, they decided to release two cabinets throughout Seattle in Washington, where the company was based.

The owners of the bars where Nintendo brought the cabinets didn't want the games initially. They didn't think they would appeal to anyone but were eventually convinced to hold them for a week. After a week, each cabinet found an average of 120 plays per day, equaling out $30, or $210 for the whole week. They were so satisfied with the results that they ordered more units from Nintendo. But, Nintendo didn't expect such fantastic results and hadn't even started gutting the Radar Scope units and replacing them with Donkey Kong. The branch only had a few employees, and when the game became successful in the bars, everyone at the company started to replace 2,000 Radar Scope units with the new game. In all, there were only six people involved in doing all of this. One of the people, Yoko Arakawa, wasn't employed at the company, but instead was the branch head's wife. He was even one of the six involved. And, when all was said and done, the game went on sale sometime in July of 1981.

Within months, Donkey Kong would become one of the most successful games of that generation. A game that was doubted by so many people both externally and domestically would sell out so quickly that Nintendo of Japan couldn't keep up with the orders Nintendo of America was placing. Eventually, they would start to release the game in Canada, where it was just as successful. Selling 4,000 units a month, Nintendo managed to sell over 60,000 cabinets by the end of 1982. Those within Nintendo who doubted the game's success eventually earned themselves millions of dollars once Nintendo received over $280 million by 1983. In Japan, the game wasn't nearly as successful, though it did manage to rake in some cash.

Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd.[]


Universal claimed that the two characters were too alike. Donkey Kong climbing up the girders could be confused with King Kong climbing up the Empire State Building in the film.

All good things come to an end, and in 1982 after the game had become so successful, Universal Studios and MCA learned of the game and assumed that it might have infringed on Universal Studio's successful King Kong license. Donkey Kong's basic plot was similar to that of King Kong's, and the fact that both of the title characters had the word Kong in their name may have raised some eyebrows within Universal. Universal initially started small by threatening Coleco, who had earned the license from Nintendo to create a game based on Donkey Kong. Coleco gave in and gave Universal 3% of the earned revenue that their game had received. Winning the first battle, Universal moved onto the source of the original game, Nintendo. Nintendo and their lawyer Howard Lincoln mutually decided not to pay Universal any royalties as Coleco had done. Inevitably a heated battle would ensue, and when a company with but a few employees go against the juggernaut that is Universal Studios, the result would usually never end up on the positive side for the smaller company. Universal planned to attack, and they hit Nintendo hard. The lawsuit, which was initiated on June 29, 1982, seemed like it could potentially destroy this company.

Universal had a good case. They claimed that Nintendo had infringed on their King Kong plot and that the name of the two characters could be a cause for confusion among people. They said that Nintendo chose the name to cash in on the film series' success. However, a little research would propel Nintendo to the top when Universal's claims bit them back. Nintendo appointed John Kirby as their council, who found that previously in an unrelated case, Universal had claimed that the King Kong brand was of public domain. With this fact, Nintendo dominated the courtroom, and the judge not only rules in favor of Nintendo, though rewarded them with the profits Universal had earned with a King Kong video game, as well as damages and the fee to pay for an attorney. In the end, Nintendo managed to get $1.8 million from the lawsuit. Nintendo thanked John Kirby by giving him a sailboat named Donkey Kong. They jokingly gave him the rights to name all sailboats after their character. It is also said that the character Kirby is named after John Kirby, but this has not been confirmed or denied by Nintendo.


The Donkey Kong arcade game came in four different styles. Two of them were the traditional upright ones, though there was also a cabaret and a cocktail cabinet. The two upright ones were decorated with the game's original characters, and were very distinguishable, though the two others weren't too distinct from other cabinets, being mostly black. As stated above, the upright ones were initially Radar Scope cabinets that were gutted and replaced with Donkey Kong, and of course, decorated appropriately to reflect the change in the program.

Rereleases and licenses[]

It was an inevitable occurrence. After the game became successful, countless (or rather around 50) companies went to Nintendo, hoping to gain a license to either use their characters in non-game related merchandising or to translate the game for a console release. Nintendo agreed to many of these, and thus the game's popularity soared even farther. In the early eighties, the characters could be seen on cereal boxes, on Saturday morning television, and a Miltion Bradley game board. A song called 'Do the Donkey Kong' was released as part of the 'Pac-Man Fever' album, and all of these occurrences led Donkey Kong to become the second best selling arcade game of all time, just behind the Pac-Man game.


The Atari 2600 version of Donkey Kong.

Many console companies wanted to get a piece of the pie and were given the rights to create Donkey Kong games on their consoles. Nintendo had little to no influence over these new games, and some translated the game well, while others didn't. A few consoles that Donkey Kong appeared on include:

  • Colecovision (1981): The Colecovision version includes all of the stages excluding the pie factory. The graphics are incredibly similar to original, though quite a few things were altered. They translated Mario's sprite almost flawlessly, with some minor color alterations. In the 75m stage, the springs are oddly not present.
  • Intellivision (1982): The Intellivision is perhaps one of the worst available. The graphics weren't nearly as close to the original as they could've been, and the jumping mechanics are too challenging.
  • Atari 2600 (1982): This version of the game had only two of the arcade's stages including 25m and 100m. 25m translates well for the console it appeared on, though 100m wasn't nearly as good as it could've been. The girders were purple instead of red, and while Donkey Kong looked entirely different from his arcade incarnation, Mario and Pauline looked quite similar (though Mario did look overly puffy).

There were a variety of other consoles as well, including Atari 7800, Atari 800, Commodore VIC20, Commodore 64, TI 99/4a, and the Atari XEGS. Of course, when Nintendo started creating their own consoles, they released the ever popular game too. Nintendo's versions were, without a doubt the best of the bunch. The consoles Nintendo released their game on include the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy (an overhaul and not exactly a remake), Nintendo 64 (as an unlockable in Donkey Kong 64), the Game Boy Advance (as part of Nintendo Entertainment System Classics series), the e-Reader, the Famicom Disk System, and the Wii's Virtual Console. Most of the recent releases were versions of Nintendo Entertainment System game instead of the arcade game. Nintendo Entertainment System version omitted the Pie Factory.

After the game became so popular, Nintendo also released a Game & Watch version of the game as a Multi-Screen title. The game was titled Donkey Kong. It was remade a variety of times for Game & Watch Gallery 2, Game & Watch Gallery 4, and Game & Watch Collection for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS, respectively. The Game & Watch version only contained the original stage.



The legacy of Donkey Kong continues on to this day. Donkey Kong defined the platforming genre, and essentially all future platforming games can thank Donkey Kong for their success. Two sequels were made in response to the game including Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3. Donkey Kong Jr. was extremely successful, and contained unique platforming elements, while Donkey Kong 3 failed to make a name for itself, perhaps because Nintendo resorted to making it, of all things, a shooter instead of a platform game. Another game was released for the Game Boy called Donkey Kong '94 that featured the original four levels as well as 97 others.

After the Donkey Kong name had come, it quickly went away when Nintendo resorted to using its star character Mario in games instead of the villain. Mario would appear in the spin-off ultra hit Mario Bros., which introduced Mario's brother Luigi. Mario would go on to star in three classic Nintendo Entertainment System titles within the Super Mario Bros. series, and after Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong would never make an appearance in a main Mario platform game.


75m as seen in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

In the 1990s, Nintendo second party Rare was given a chance to revive one of two franchises. The two franchises included Kid Icarus and Donkey Kong. The ultimately chose Donkey Kong due to his popularity in the '80s and totally recreated the series. In the games, you would control Donkey Kong and a few new friends. It didn't contain the spirit of the original, though the Donkey Kong Country series became super popular due to their 3D-esque graphics.

In 2004, Nintendo decided to make Donkey Kong the villain again and have Mario stop him. Donkey Kong wasn't as evil as he was in the original, and Mario wasn't as ruthless. Nintendo Software Technology in Redmond decided to take the reins to create a puzzle based game called Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance. A sequel was made for the Nintendo DS titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, which featured for the first time in years Pauline, which confirmed that she was still around, but that she and Mario were just friends now.

Meanwhile, on the console side of things, Nintendo and Namco teamed up to create the DK Bongos, which would be used to control a series of three Donkey Konga music-based games. While those games were successful, it was Donkey Kong Jungle Beat that really hit the nail on the head. Developed by Nintendo EAD Tokyo, they took the DK Bongos and made a platformer that made use of the controls.

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, an almost exact replica of the 75m stage is present as an unlockable stadium. Among other Donkey Kong related features are music by Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka, stickers, trophies, and a demo of Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game in which you can play less than a minute on the 75m stage. In the entire series, the Hammer from this game is present as a weapon and is considered to be one of the most powerful weapons in the game, save for the Smash Ball and Dragoon in Brawl.


In addition to the arcade version, Donkey Kong was ported into several other gaming systems and computers:

  • NES
    • 50m and most cutscenes have been removed.
    • Donkey Kong is recolored.
  • Game & Watch
    • Only one level appears. This level only has three floors, and Mario has to reach the top four times.
  • e-Reader for the GBA.
  • Family Computer Disk System Similar to NES version.
  • Atari 2600
    • 50m and 75m have been cut out.
    • The game has much simpler graphics.
    • In 25m:
      • Only one Hammer appears instead of two.
      • Donkey Kong does not throw the barrels, but they are automatically spawned.
      • Fires and blue barrels do not appear.
    • In 100m, four large Fires spawn automatically, though additional Fires do not spawn. Cutscenes are also absent.
  • Atari 7800
    • 50m has been cut out.
    • The graphics more closely resemble the original game than the system's predecessor.
    • In 25m, blue barrels do not appear, and are instead replaced by barrels that go sideways.
    • Pauline's hat does not appear in 75m.
  • Atari 8-bit computers
  • ColecoVision (Pack-in game)
    • 50m has been cut out.
    • There is no Spring on 75m.
  • Intellivision
    • 50m and 75m have been cut out.
    • The game does not work on the Intellivision II due to an intentional cartridge lockout of specific Coleco-branded titles.
    • The Intellivision staff were very angry about the release of this port, speculating that Coleco made the game intentionally look bad visually so the ColecoVision version would look superior. The more likely outcome is that Coleco simply did not have much experience programming for the Intellivision hardware.[1]
  • Commodore VIC-20
  • Commodore 64
    • Two official ports exist, one released in 1983 in North America by Atarisoft, and another released in 1986 in Europe by Ocean.
  • Texas Instruments TI-99/4A
  • Amstrad CPC
  • ZX Spectrum
  • MSX
  • Coleco Adam
  • Coleco Tabletop
  • Apple II
  • MS-DOS
  • In Game & Watch Gallery 2 and Game & Watch Gallery 4, Donkey Kong was one of the minigames. It could be played in both modern and classic modes.
  • Two different ports of Donkey Kong have appeared on Virtual Console. The first, released in 2006, is essentially a direct port of the NES version, while the second, entitled Donkey Kong Original Edition (ドンキーコング オリジナルエディション), attempted to adhere to the arcade version, and was pre-installed for the European release of the Mario 25th Anniversary limited edition red Wii in 2010. This version restored some missing animations and the level 50 m, which was cut from the NES version, although Donkey Kong mistakenly stands still in this level, and while the port's graphics are an improvement to the NES port, it is still inferior to the true arcade version, which remains unavailable on Virtual Console. The latter port was made available on the Nintendo eShop in Japan when a Club Nintendo member purchased the download version of one of two games, one of which was New Super Mario Bros. 2[2], from July 28, 2012 to September 2, 2012.[3] A similar promotion took place in the US between October 1, 2012 and January 6, 2013, exclusively to members of Club Nintendo who have, within the aforementioned time frame, linked their systems to their Club Nintendo accounts and have purchased the downloadable version of one of five select 3DS titles (one of which was Paper Mario: Sticker Star). There are currently no plans for a wide release of this version in the U.S., although it was released in Europe for the 3DS eShop on September 18, 2014.
  • The NES and Famicom version of Donkey Kong is one of the 30 games included in the NES Classic Edition and Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer, respectively.
  • The NES version, with added online play, was one of the 20 NES titles made available at the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service's launch in September 2018.[4]

Donkey Kong was also re-released as part of two compilation games, Donkey Kong Classics and Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr./Mario Bros., and it is featured as a playable extra in the following titles:

  • Animal Crossing (NES version included as minigame)
  • Donkey Kong 64 (arcade version included as a minigame)
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U (NES version included as a Masterpiece; it starts on the third level, 75m, which is also an unlockable stage in both games)
  • amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits (NES version included as a "highlight"; the player can play on 25m, 75m, and 100m in three separate "scenes", each of which are 180 seconds long)


  Main article: Donkey Kong (video game)/gallery


  • The music that plays when Donkey Kong is climbing up the building in the arcade version, or when the Nintendo Entertainment System version is started, is based on the Main theme from Dragnet.
  • It is known that Donkey Kong is actually Cranky Kong in this game.
  • In the 75m stage, it is the only stage with no music.
  • The Hammer theme used in this game is later used for the Golden Hammer in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • This is one of the 16 games featured in NES Remix.
  • Even though Mario wears his signature red and blue clothing in the game, he wears blue and white clothing on the box art for the NES port.
  • Nintendo Power distributed an original Donkey Kong arcade cabinet as the grand prize for the Classic NES Series sweepstakes.
  • In 1982, Buckner and Garcia recorded a song titled "Do the Donkey Kong", using sound effects from the game, and released it on the album Pac-Man Fever.
  • A Europe-only slot machine was made in 1996 by Maygay, based on the game.


External links[]