Donkey Kong (game)
Donkey Kong is an arcade game that was Nintendo's first big hit in North America. It marked the beginning of the Mario and Donkey Kong franchises and introduced several of their earliest characters, including Mario himself (a carpenter rather than a plumber), the original Donkey Kong (who, in later games, would become Cranky Kong, the current Donkey Kong's grandfather), and Lady (later renamed Pauline). A version of the game was also created later for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo's first home console, under the Arcade Classics Series. The game sold very 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 50 m cut. This game was also the first title to be released on Virtual Console. Donkey Kong was the second platforming game ever made; the 1980 game Space Panic was the first.
Official story quoted from Nintendo of America
Donkey Kong stars Mario, who attempts to reach the top of a construction site where Lady is held captive. He can walk along platforms, jump, and climb ladders as well. In the process, Donkey Kong may attempt to hinder Mario from a higher location by sending obstacles at him. Mario has the ability to jump over these obstacles or obliterate them using a Hammer; in both cases, he obtains a number of points that are added to a score. However, if Mario ends up falling off the side of a platform and lands on one below him (or none), and the difference in height is greater than Mario's by one and a half, he loses a life. Each time Mario reaches Lady, Donkey Kong will carry her away on a pair of ladders to the next level until the fourth stage, where he is defeated upon completion.
Each of the 22 playable levels consists of those four screens:
After completing the fourth screen, 100 m, the player has reached the next level, which starts at 25 m again, but with increased difficulty like more frequent barrels and faster fireballs.
Killscreen in Level 22
Although the game is intended to be playable indefinitely by not having a level cap, it is impossible to complete the first screen of level 22, due to a glitch within the process of calculating the time limit. Said time limit is calculated using the formula (10 × level number) + 40 and shown in hundreds as a bonus counter in the top right edge of the screen. Because the calculated value is stored as an 8-Bit integer, which can only save 256 different values ranging from 0 to 255, and the formula results in a value of 260 for level 22, an integer overflow occurs and the value is saved modulo 256, which means 260 is saved as 4. This leads to a starting value of 400 for the timer of level 22, so that Mario dies a few seconds after starting the level, being unable to finish it.
Donkey Kong was created in late 1980 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 more gamers. Shigeru Miyamoto later admitted that he did not focus on the story of the game, instead creating a basic plot with colorful characters and music that he himself penned. He said that Mario and Lady were not intended to have a relationship, and he did not know where the idea came from, but he thought that it did not matter much. The game was also originally designed to have Mario escape from a maze, and jumping was not yet implemented, making platforming too difficult. In a time where arcade games took around two to three months to build, Donkey Kong was built in four or five months and Shigeru Miyamoto was focused on developing it for a global market rather than just for Japan. The final version of the 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.
Donkey Kong was originally conceived as a Popeye game, with Bluto being in the spot of Donkey Kong, Popeye being Mario, and Olive Oyl being Lady. The game ended up being changed due to Nintendo being unable to secure the license for Popeye at the time. Nintendo would later secure a license, making the Popeye arcade game a year later in 1982.
Miyamoto envisioned Mario to be a young man at around 24 or 26 years old, describing Donkey Kong as Mario's pet who escaped and kidnapped his girlfriend.
Universal Studios lawsuit
In 1982, around a year after the game's release, Universal Studios sued Nintendo, claiming that Donkey Kong infringed on Universal Studios's 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."
Crazy Kong was an officially-licensed clone of Donkey Kong manufactured by Falcon. On June 30, 1982, Nintendo of America filed a complaint toward Elcon Industries Inc., an arcade hardware manufacturer based in Michigan that sold Crazy Kong boards. The complaint alleged that the licensing agreement with Falcon explicitly forbade the manufacturing or export of Crazy Kong outside Japan. The case was taken to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which quickly ruled in favor of Nintendo.
As Nintendo's newly established video game division lacked programming manpower, the arcade version of Donkey Kong was programmed by Ikegami Tsushinki, a contractor that had worked for Nintendo for several of its arcade releases. For Donkey Kong's development, the two companies signed a contract which gave Ikegami Tsushinki exclusive rights to the manufacturing of Donkey Kong arcade boards.
In 1983, Ikegami Tsushinki sued Nintendo on the ground that the company had violated the contract and produced around 80,000 arcade boards on its own. Ikegami Tsushinki also sought compensation for the use of reverse-engineered Donkey Kong code in Donkey Kong Jr. and claimed it owned the copyright on Donkey Kong's code (while the contract did not specify ownership of the code, a judgment relating to Space Invaders Part II set a precedent establishing computer code can be copyrighted). In response, Nintendo claimed it owned Donkey Kong's code as Ikegami Tsushinki was hired as a sub-contractor.
The case went to the Tokyo District Court until March 26, 1990, at which point the two companies settled out of court. The lawsuit has often been stated to be the reason behind the lack of rereleases of the arcade version of Donkey Kong until 2018 and the existence of Donkey Kong Original Edition; Donkey Kong 64 nevertheless features a full port of the arcade version, albeit with slight differences as it closely imitates the source code.
Sequels and ports
Donkey Kong has four sequels:
In addition to the arcade version, Donkey Kong was ported into several other gaming systems and computers:
As a minigame
It is featured as a minigame in the following titles:
The arcade version was produced by Gunpei Yokoi. Shigeru Miyamoto and Hiroshi Yamauchi directed the game while an uncredited Ikegami Tsushinki did programming duties, later leading to a lawsuit over which company owned the arcade code's rights. Intelligent Systems' own website claims credit for developing the NES port for Nintendo, though neither the cartridge nor title screen mentions the company and the Iwata Ask interview released for New Super Mario Bros. Wii states the game was developed by Nintendo Research & Development 2. Landon Dyer programmed the DOS Version.
Although Ikegami Tsushinki is uncredited, a 1996 article published in Bit Magazine and written by one of the programmer involved, Hirohisa Komanome, reveals the name of the programmers who worked on the game.
References in later games
Name in other languages