Donkey Kong (game)

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This article is about the 1981 arcade game. For information about the 1994 remake, see Donkey Kong (Game Boy). For the character, see Donkey Kong.
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong NES Cover.PNG

The NES boxart.

Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Intelligent Systems (NES port)
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Release date Arcade
July 9, 1981
NES port
Japan July 15, 1983
USA June, 1986
Europe October 15, 1986

Famicom Disk System:
Japan April 8, 1988 [1]
USA September 16, 2002 [2]
Game Boy Advance
Japan February 14, 2004
USA June 7, 2004
Europe July 10, 2004

Virtual Console (Wii)
USA November 19, 2006
Japan December 2, 2006
Australia December 7, 2006
Europe December 8, 2006

Virtual Console (3DS)
Japan October 17, 2012

Virtual Console (Wii U)
Japan July 15, 2013
USA July 15, 2013
Europe July 15, 2013
Genre Platformer
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Standard, mini and cocktail
Monitor Raster, standard resolution 224 x 256 (Vertical) 256 Colors
Control pad
Wiimote Sideways.png Wii Remote (Sideways)
Nintendo 3DS:

Donkey Kong was an arcade game that was Nintendo's first big hit in North America. It also marked the first appearance of Mario (originally known as "Jumpman", a carpenter) and of the original Donkey Kong. A version of the game was also created later for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo's first home console. The game sold well in the United States, becoming one of four games to be inducted into the Nintendo Hall of Fame. The original arcade version had four screen levels, but the Nintendo Entertainment System version only has three, with the stage 50m cut from this version.


Donkey Kong has escaped from his owner, Mario, and kidnapped Mario's girlfriend, Pauline (originally known as Lady), taking her to the top of a construction site. Mario must climb to the top of this construction site and rescue Pauline from the giant ape.

Official story quoted from Nintendo of America

The flier for the game, which was handed out in arcades, toy stores and such.
"HELP! HELP!" cries the beautiful damsel in distress as she is dragged up a labyrinth of structural beams by the ominous Donkey Kong. "SNORT. SNORT." Foreboding music warns of the eventual doom that awaits the poor girl, lest she be miraculously rescued. "But wait! Fear not, fair maiden. Little Mario, the carpenter, is in hot pursuit of you this very moment."

Throwing fate to the wind, risking life and limb, or worse, little Mario tries desperately to climb the mighty fortress of steel, to save the lovely lady from the evil Mr. Kong. Little Mario must dodge all manner of obstacles- fireballs, plummeting beams and a barrage of exploding barrels fired at him by Donkey Kong. Amidst the beautiful girl's constant pleas for help, your challenge is to maneuver little Mario up the steel structure, while helping him to avoid the rapid-fire succession of hazards that come his way.

As little Mario gallantly battles his way up the barriers, he is taunted and teased by Donkey Kong, who brazenly struts back and forth, beating his chest in joyful exuberance at the prospect of having the beautiful girl all to himself. It is your job to get little Mario to the top. For it is there, and only there, that he can send the mighty Donkey Kong to his mortal doom. Leaving Little Mario and the beautiful girl to live happily ever after. "SIGH. SIGH."






The cabinet

Donkey Kong was created when Shigeru Miyamoto, under the supervision of the late Gunpei Yokoi, was assigned by Nintendo to convert Radar Scope, a poorly selling arcade game in North America, into a game that would have more appeal to gamers. Shigeru Miyamoto later admitted that he did not focus on the story of the game. He also said that Jumpman (later to be renamed Mario) and the Lady were not intended to have a relationship, and he did not know where the connection idea came from, but he thought that it did not matter much. Regardless, the resulting game was a major breakthrough for Nintendo and for the video game industry, becoming one of the best selling arcade machines of its time. Its platforming gameplay also distinguished it from most other arcade games at the time.

Concept art for Mario.

In 1982, around a year after the game's release, Universal Studios sued Nintendo, claiming that Donkey Kong infringed on Universal Studios' intellectual property rights to the film King Kong. Howard Lincoln, attorney and future president of Nintendo of America, decided to fight the case and hired seasoned attorney John Kirby to represent Nintendo. When Kirby showed that not only was Nintendo not in violation of any copyrights, but also that Universal Studios themselves had sued RKO Pictures in 1975 to prove that the plot of King Kong was in fact in the public domain, Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled in Nintendo's favor, ordering Universal to pay Nintendo $1.8 million in legal fees. In an ironic twist, Judge Sweet also ruled that Tiger's King Kong video game, licensed by Universal, infringed on Donkey Kong. After the victory, Nintendo awarded John Kirby with a $30,000 sailboat, christened the Donkey Kong, and gave him "exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats."


Main article: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

In 2007, a documentary film directed by Seth Gordon based off Donkey Kong was released. The film centers around high school teacher Steve Wiebe as he tries to achieve a world record for obtaining the highest score in the game, which is held by Billy Mitchell at the time.

Sequels and ports

Mario (Jumpman) about to jump over a barrel.


Donkey Kong has four sequels to date.


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

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:


Main article: List of Donkey Kong staff


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Donkey Kong (game).


The arcade machine found in the Frantic Factory.
  • The twenty-second board is the final level of the game; Mario instantly dies within eight seconds of playing in the level, regardless of how many lives the player has left. This bug, known as a kill screen, happens due to a programming oversight in which the game does not have enough memory to continue. Games such as Pac-Man and Duck Hunt also have kill screens.
  • Donkey Kong was the second platformer ever made; the 1980 game Space Panic was the first.
  • Intelligent Systems' own website claims credit for developing the NES port for Nintendo, but neither the cartridge nor title screen mentions the company.
  • There is an alternate rendition of the game called Crazy Kong, which was apparently licensed by Nintendo for non-US market distribution. Home ports exist as well.
  • The Commodore 64-exclusive Mario's Brewery is based on Donkey Kong, although very little is known of its authenticity, and it is assumed to be a fangame or pirated copy of another game.
  • Mario is discolored on the boxart for Donkey Kong for the NES.

External links


  1. ^ Date info of Donkey Kong (FDS) from TMK, retrieved 11/25/2012
  2. ^ Date info of Donkey Kong (e-Reader) from TMK, retrieved 11/25/2012