Cranky Kong is one of the central characters in the Donkey Kong franchise, being Donkey Kong's grandfather and paternal figure. He has been remarked, especially in the Rare-made games, for breaking the fourth wall and constantly complaining and rambling, although he proves to be a helpful sage in many situations, having been shown to possess much knowledge about the current location and its history and secrets.
He is also currently a widower, as his wife Wrinkly Kong is deceased. He is the elderly form of the original Donkey Kong from the Donkey Kong arcade game, and can be described as argumentative, old, and bad-tempered. Cranky has been playable in four games, including Japan-only games. His abilities and health vary greatly in games, sometimes being unable to walk without two canes, while other times being just as athletic as the other Kongs.
Cranky Kong is the original Donkey Kong from the arcade games. During his youthful prime, Cranky Kong kidnapped Pauline, was kidnapped and trapped in a cage by Mario, and even battled Stanley in a greenhouse. He also implies in one of his lectures to his grandson that his kidnapping Pauline was consistent enough that he did so "seven days a week." Not counting the "Modern" mixes in the Game & Watch Gallery series, his final role as Donkey Kong was in Donkey Kong for Game Boy. He retired after he relinquished the name to his grandson.
Donkey Kong Country series
Donkey Kong Country
Cranky's first appearance as "Cranky Kong" was in Donkey Kong Country, in which he lives in a slightly rundown shack known as "Cranky's Cabin". From here, Cranky gives randomly selected advice on the game's various items and locations, mostly pertaining to the first few levels, to the new Donkey Kong and his friend Diddy Kong. Unlike in the sequels, Cranky asks no fee for his advices and can be consulted as many times as the player desires to.
He also appears in the opening cutscene before the title screen of the original SNES version, where he operates a phonograph, playing the theme song from the original Donkey Kong arcade game, before Donkey Kong disrupts his session by knocking him aside and dancing to a remixed version of the song Cranky was playing on the phonograph, which plays on a boombox he drops nearby. Cranky, irritated by this interruption, hurls a TNT barrel at DK's boombox, destroying it.
In the Game Boy Advance version, Cranky appears after each boss battle to provide commentary. He makes similar appearances in the GBA versions of Donkey Kong Country 2 and Donkey Kong Country 3.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Cranky sets up his "Monkey Museum" on Crocodile Isle. It appears as though, through his further aging, it has become more difficult to walk, as he stands with two canes. Once again, Cranky will give out information, this time for a price. In this game, Cranky also scatters several DK Coins throughout the game's various levels. Once Kaptain K. Rool is defeated Cranky will tally Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong's "hero status" by how many DK Coins they have collected. Donkey Kong Country 2 also introduced Cranky's wife, Wrinkly Kong.
In the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country 2, Cranky's role remains relatively the same as in the original game, although it was slightly expanded with a new sidequest. Cranky bought a racing ostrich he named Expresso, which the Kongs can bulk up using Golden Feathers and race against other ostriches to try and achieve trophies in exchange for rewards from Cranky.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, Cranky's appearances have been reduced. In Swanky's Sideshow, Cranky Kong acts as Dixie and Kiddy Kong's opponent in various ball throwing minigames. Cranky also appears at the end of the game to criticize Dixie and Kiddy's victory over KAOS and Baron K. Roolenstein, resulting in Dixie and Kiddy Kong approaching him ominously while he tries to avoid an inevitable beating by putting on glasses. At the end of the post-game cutscene, Cranky will appear in the background doing a few water-skiing tricks behind Funky Kong, who pulls him with a motorboat. He eventually falls in water, but comes back to the surface holding up a sign which says "THE END" in runny ink. He is also top of the All-Time Greats list at the end of the game, having beat the game in 04:22 with 103%. If the player beats the game with the TUFST code activated, thereby attaining 105%, they will get a trophy of Cranky Kong in a black belt's outfit and will be named "Immortal Monkey!"
In addition, a picture of Cranky Kong over a white background hangs from a wall in Wrinkly's Save Cave. The same picture can be seen in the same spot within Wrinkly Refuge in Donkey Kong Land III, which is the only visual appearance of Cranky Kong in the entire Donkey Kong Land series.
In the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country 3, Cranky runs several dojos, aptly named Cranky's Dojo to prepare for his self-purported "first" game, Cranky Kong Country. In Cranky's Dojo, players gain the ability to play as a shield-wielding Cranky during a Bristles dodging minigame. Cranky's Dojo minigame must be beaten at least once to gain a Banana Bird.
Donkey Kong 64
Cranky Kong appears as Professor Cranky Kong in Donkey Kong 64, having taken up science. Cranky's Lab can be found in every area of Donkey Kong 64 except Hideout Helm. At Cranky's Lab, the Kongs can pay Professor Cranky for several potions that can give them new powers and abilities. Also, if the Kongs manage to collect fifteen Banana Medals, he will allow them to play Jetpac, the first published computer game of Ultimate Play The Game (Rare's direct predecessor). The Kongs must beat the Jetpac game in order to obtain the Rareware Coin. Cranky also acts as the Kongs' coach during their boxing match against King Krusha K. Rool.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Cranky appears in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. In the game, he runs a shop in each world and will often make sarcastic remarks over what Donkey and Diddy Kong buy. Aside from Donkey and Diddy, Cranky is the only Kong from the original trilogy to make a return appearance. According to him, the reason he made the shop was because his pension was revoked, so he has to sell things to make money.
To buy things in Cranky Kong's shop, the player needs to have Banana Coins. In his shop, there are Extra Life Balloons bundled into groups of 1, 3, and 7 balloons. There is also a Heart Boost, which gives Donkey or Diddy the ability to have three hearts for the duration of one level, Banana Juice, which gives limited invincibility, and Squawks the Parrot, who helps the Kongs collect undiscovered Puzzle Pieces in levels. There is also a key for sale, which gives access to the locked path in each world.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Cranky Kong appears as a playable partner character in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, marking the first time he is fully playable in a Donkey Kong Country game (his role as shopkeeper filled by Funky Kong). Cranky is able to use his cane to bounce upward, as well as on spikes, and defeat certain enemies that the other Kongs cannot. His cane can also be utilized while underwater to attack and take down enemies that cannot be defeated by a simple corkscrew move, such as Pufftups and Sea Urchins. Despite the cane's capabilities, it cannot be used to collapse unsound underwater structures, balancing it in relation to the corkscrew action. Cranky's Denture Popgun has unlimited ammo of dentures, which can be shot at enemies in order to stun them for a brief period of time. Cranky's use of his cane as a pogo stick to attack enemies is similar to the method of attack used by Scrooge McDuck, the main protagonist of Disney's DuckTales, in a video game adaptation of his show that Capcom produced for the NES in 1990.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the only game of the series where Cranky does not have any written dialogue.
"Donkey Kong Country"
He also appeared in the Club Nintendo comic "Donkey Kong Country". He is the first one to discover that King K. Rool has stolen the Kongs' Banana Hoard, which follows the story of the game. Cranky's appearance in the comic differs slightly from his standard look, as he is wearing a blue shirt instead of a gray or brown one.
"Donkey Kong in: Banana Day 24"
In the comic "Donkey Kong in: Banana Day 24", published in the same magazine, he supported Donkey, Diddy, Dixie and Kiddy on their mission to save the Earth from being pulled away from the sun by a giant UFO. It was his idea to carry on negotiations with the aliens so they would release the Earth. The President of the United States puts a space shuttle at the Kongs' disposal, and Cranky is the one to navigate it. He beams Donkey, Diddy and Dixie into the UFO and stays in the Kongs' space shuttle meanwhile. When their mission succeeds, he navigates the space shuttle back to Earth, where the Kongs are being hailed by the people. Euphorically, Cranky tries to kiss a random girl, much to her disgust. After returning to their jungle, Cranky gets in trouble with his wife Wrinkly because of this. During the events of this story, Cranky did not show much of his grouchy traits as often discovered in the games, but instead appears as a helpful person.
Donkey Kong Land series
While Cranky does not appear in any of the Donkey Kong Land games, the instruction booklet for the first Donkey Kong Land explains that the game happens owing to Cranky. Jealous of Donkey and Diddy's victory over King K. Rool, Cranky attracts them into a bet, stating that if they can reclaim Donkey's Banana Hoard from King K. Rool once again, this time on an 8-bit system, he will admit that they are adequate gaming heroes. In the end, Cranky retracts his doubts when Donkey and Diddy once again defeat K. Rool and the Kremling Krew.
Additionally, the instruction booklet for Donkey Kong Land 2 accidentally states that "Even old Cranky charges for his words of wisdom", having copied and pasted the line directly from the Donkey Kong Country 2 manual.
Donkey Kong Country: Rumble in the Jungle
Cranky Kong appears in the 1995 novel Donkey Kong Country: Rumble in the Jungle, accompanying Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong across the island to reach Big Ape City. At the beginning of the novel Cranky Kong expresses his disapproval about Diddy Kong flying in Funky Kong's barrel plane, complaining that "if apes were meant to fly, they'd have wings", and "there's nowhere any self-respecting ape would want to go that he can't get to on his own two hairy feet". After Funky Kong leaves in his plane, the Kongs find that he has accidentally left his walkie talkie with Donkey Kong. Trying to contact him, the Kongs hear that his plane is being attacked by "flying pigs" near Big Ape City, and that he's going to crash.
Donkey Kong and Diddy immediately decide to travel to the city on foot. Cranky Kong doubts that they are capable, although he wishes to join them so that they don't have to "go off on another adventure alone". After reaching Tree Top Town on the edge of the jungle, Cranky Kong trips over a vine after insisting to take the lead, which triggers an alarm that alerts the Kremlings. Attacking alongside Donkey Kong and Diddy, Cranky uses his cane to slam several Kremlings on their feet, which sent them "hobbling into the bushes". An illustration also shows him swinging on a vine.
After the Kongs are guided through a mountain's caves by Squawks the Parrot, they reach the skyline of Big Ape City. Cranky says to Donkey Kong that "I haven't been here since I was your age[...] I remember battling a short plumber named Mario", which suggests that Big Ape City is the location of the original Donkey Kong arcade game. They find that the city has been overrun by Kremlings, who are building a large factory. Cranky Kong notably complains several times, being reluctant to continue while they are trying to locate Funky Kong's prison cell. In an illustration, Cranky Kong is even shown to be unimpressed when Donkey Kong uses a TNT Barrel to open the prison door lock.
While battling some Kremlings who had heard the loud explosion, Kritter tries to take Cranky Kong hostage. He shouts "stop your assault or the old ape gets it!" Cranky Kong instead elbows Kritter in the stomach, and says "I was stomping on the likes of you when you were knee-high to a salamander!". After Funky's plane is found in the factory's cargo room, Donkey Kong and Diddy both leave to retrieve a part to repair the plane, and to turn off the factory's defense system. Cranky Kong is left to keep Funky Kong company while he repairs the plane, and Cranky tells "story after story" about his youth. After the plane is repaired, the Kongs all board (although Cranky Kong is reluctant as he "hates" flying), and they escape through a hole in the factory wall created by a TNT Barrel. Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong manage to plant King K. Rool's zeppelin with TNT Barrels, which falls and destroys the Kremling's factory. Cranky Kong shares a laugh with the other Kongs as they fly back home to their treehouse.
Donkey Kong Country television series
Cranky was also a main character on the Donkey Kong Country television series produced by Nelvana and Nintendo. Here, Cranky was as grouchy and bitter as he was in the games. However, he's far less arrogant than in the video games, and the white hair he has in the games is replaced by large white eyebrows, though he still has his beard. On the show, instead of living in a cabin on the ground like in the games, Cranky instead lives in a cabin on a tree-top village, similar to ones seen in the area Vine Valley from the Donkey Kong Country game. On the show, Cranky was also seen to be adept at potion-making and magic, a trait later carried on into the games. In one episode it is revealed that he was once best friends with King K Rool before the crocodile cheated during a bet, which turned their friendship into a bitter rivalry.
Super Smash Bros. series
Throughout the Super Smash Bros. series, Cranky Kong makes a cameo appearance in the background of Jungle Japes, where his silhouette can be seen pacing back and forth in his cabin near that of his rocking chair. The stage is accessible in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He also frequently appears as an obtainable trophy, where he is often described as being a wise and helpful figure.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Cranky's trophy from this game states that his first playable appearance is in Donkey Kong Barrel Blast. However, this is not true, as he had been playable in the earlier Japan-only release Donkey Konga 3: Tabehōdai! Haru Mogitate 50 Kyoku and in the Cranky's Dojo minigame in the GBA version of Donkey Kong Country 3.
Cranky Kong is also alluded to in Solid Snake's Codec call about Donkey Kong, where Colonel Roy Campbell mentioned that the Donkey Kong who fought Mario in an "epic battle" (referring to the arcade release of Donkey Kong) was the current one's grandfather, with Snake also calling the current one "a chip off the old block" upon learning that the current one also was a rival of Mario, to certain extent.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Cranky Kong appears as a primary, ace, attack-type spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, using his artwork from Donkey Kong Country Returns. In his spirit battle, the player fights a white-furred Donkey Kong on the Kongo Jungle stage in its Omega form with a Slumber Floor effect. The music during the fight is "Opening - Donkey Kong", referencing the fact that he was the Donkey Kong appearing in the original arcade game, and the opening to the original Donkey Kong Country where he is associated with the theme.
Diddy Kong Pilot
Cranky is one of the playable characters in the 2001 Diddy Kong Pilot.
In the 2003 Diddy Kong Pilot, Cranky talks to Tean Kong and Team Kremling both before and after they start a cup or a new mode. Cranky encourages the former team to win races but criticizes the latter. Cranky one of the unlockable characters, and he can be obtained after Team Kremling complete every cup and dogfight. The character select screen for Team Cranky erroneously shows four different rosters for Cranky. He has the highest speed and acceleration of the other characters, and is a lightweight character. Cranky was replaced with Bottles in Banjo-Pilot.
Donkey Konga series
Cranky also appears in the Donkey Konga series, though he is only playable in the series' third installment, Donkey Konga 3: Tabehōdai! Haru Mogitate 50 Kyoku. It also marks the first time Cranky Kong is playable in any game.
DK: King of Swing
In DK: King of Swing Cranky Kong, along with the ghost of his wife Wrinkly, teaches Donkey Kong how to use the games unique controls in Cranky's Lectures. Cranky, along with Candy Kong, are the only Kongs who aren't playable in DK: King of Swing's Jungle Jam mode.
DK: Jungle Climber
Cranky once again appears in DK: Jungle Climber. He teaches DK and Diddy how to play the game, and also appears in various levels to teach them moves. Cranky has a very active and good-tempered role in this game, as he follows DK, Diddy and Xananab throughout the various islands. He also tells the characters what they can do with the various Banana Coins, DK Coins, and Oil Barrels they find throughout the levels once they are collected.
Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
Cranky appears in Donkey Kong Barrel Blast as an unlockable character, unlocked by completing Challenge 24 of Candy's Challenges. All three of his stats are rated four stars out of a possible five. His rival is King K. Rool (who has the same stats as Cranky Kong). His stats essentially mean that he has high stats all around. He also has his own race course, Cranky's Temple.
Cranky Kong also hosts Cranky's Flight School; a mode that serves as a tutorial to the game.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
The pitch that would lead to Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong and the Golden Bananas, featured a character named Grandpa Kong, who was a white-furred bearded gorilla who looked very similar to Donkey Kong himself. Due to Donkey Kong Jr.'s presence in the pitch, it seems that the idea of him being the original arcade Donkey Kong hadn't yet been written. Throughout Donkey Kong Country's development, the character would eventually be retooled to his current appearance, but unused dialogue found in the game's data suggests Cranky was initially written as a more kindly and friendly individual. Cranky Kong's dialogue in the final game and instruction manual was primarily written by Gregg Mayles, with some lines contributed by Tim Stamper.
Compared to his appearances in the original Donkey Kong and its two sequels, (where he greatly resembled the current Donkey Kong) Cranky Kong appears to have become thinner, more diminutive, and much less muscular over the years, with his fur also becoming slightly darker. He bears facial proportions much like those of his grandson, though his head is smooth on top, his lips are more wrinkled, and he wears thick glasses with black frames. He has also grown a thick, white beard which obscures most of his torso (due to the fact that he always stands with a heavy slouch). Beneath his beard, Cranky Kong wears a brown sweater-vest (green in Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3) as his only garment. Finally, Cranky always carries an ordinary-looking wooden cane with him (though he held two in Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3). His trademark pose involves him standing on both feet with a heavy slouch, his cane in one hand, and the other arm resting on his back.
Even though he is a supporting character, Cranky is generally depicted as curmudgeonly and bitter, always making sarcastic remarks about various things, pointing out flaws in the other Kongs (particularly Donkey Kong) or even the very games he appears in, and complaining about everything he doesn't like. He is also rather cocky, claiming himself to be among the best video game icons ever, and that he is and always will be better than his grandson despite his old and frail state. His arrogance is countered by his poor sportsmanship however. Aside from this, Cranky Kong is also known to display traits of stereotypical elders, such as constantly demanding sleep. Cranky be benevolent and heroic when the situation calls for it, such as how he helped his grandson take back Donkey Kong Island in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Cranky sometimes asks Donkey Kong for help, or allows him take over in situations.
Rareware created the Cranky Kong character as an older version of the original Donkey Kong from the earlier Donkey Kong games, but his exact relation to the current Donkey Kong has been disputed. However, Cranky Kong being Donkey Kong's grandfather was the consistent backstory throughout the SNES series. While this was not explicitly stated in the television series, he acted as a father figure and once said that he considered DK like a son. Rare seemingly started to retcon their relationship in Donkey Kong 64, in which Cranky Kong consistently addressed him as "son," implying a more direct parental role. According to Leigh Loveday in a 1999 online Q&A, their Donkey Kong was intended to be Cranky Kong's son and thus an adult Donkey Kong Jr. as far as he was aware, and requested fans to completely ignore instances claiming Cranky to be his grandfather. Whether or not this statement was intended to be taken seriously, the Nintendo of Europe website for the Game Boy Advance re-release of Donkey Kong Country supported this notion. Closer inspection reveals there may have been conflicting ideas among the developers, as footage from a promotional VHS video exclusively for Nintendo Power subscribers named Donkey Kong Country: Exposed called Cranky Kong his "dad or grandfather." According to Gregg Mayles, Cranky called DK "son" because he was so senile and could not remember.
After Rare left Nintendo, the issue was left open for some time. Official bios for both Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee implied that the Donkey Kong in the arcade may be the Donkey Kong of today, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong advertised Donkey Kong as Mario's "original foe". However, this was contradicted by Mario Superstar Baseball, which distinguished "his ancestor, the original Donkey Kong". Subsequently, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis suggested that Donkey Kong met Pauline for the first time and became smitten at first sight. Additional text for the exclusive content in the Game Boy Advance re-releases leaves the family connection unclear; for example, in Donkey Kong Country 3, Cranky claims in his dojo that his first starring role would be called "Cranky Kong Country". Super Smash Bros. Brawl (and, consequently, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) sticks with the story that the original Donkey Kong is the current Donkey Kong's grandfather. Retro Studios' Donkey Kong Country Returns reaffirms the position of Cranky Kong as the grandfather of the modern Donkey Kong.
Playing With Super Power: Nintendo Super NES Classics seemingly acknowledged both opposing versions of the Donkey Kong lineage. In one section, it is asserted that Donkey Kong Jr. is the father of the modern Donkey Kong; however, in another section, it is concluded that the modern Donkey Kong is, in fact, a grown Donkey Kong Jr. The Prima Games Twitter account has since clarified and elaborated upon the apparent contradiction, stating that the latter is meant to be written as a metaphor for the original design process, whereas the former is indeed the official interpretation of the characters' familial ties.
Game appearances (as Cranky)
Profiles and statistics
German Donkey Kong 64 website
"A sharp tongue, lots of hair and loose teeth characterize the video game veteran Cranky Kong. Even if he seldom has anything good to say about his "good for nothing" son, as he calls him, he still supports Donkey and his friends in their exciting adventures with various potions from his laboratory. These wonders from the research lab help the Kongs to turn into true super apes! Whether it's a rocket back-pack, invulnerability, increased speed or becoming the size of a dwarf or a giant - Cranky is just the right one for the purposes of the ape clan. Since one has to pay a price for these helpful abilities, however, it is necessary to have sufficient banana coins on hand when calling on the brightest scientist of the primate world."
Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U trophy
Blue indicates exclusive to the Wii U version.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate spirit
Names in other languages