Donkey-Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkī-Kongu?) is a series of video games that features the adventures of a large ape called Donkey Kong, created by Shigeru Miyamoto. It mainly comprises two different game series, plus spinoff titles of various genres.
The games of the first series are mostly single-screen platform/action puzzle types, featuring Donkey Kong as the antagonist against Mario in an industrial construction setting. The original Donkey Kong game was the first appearance of Mario, Nintendo's flagship character, pre-dating the well-known Super Mario Bros. by four years.
The second, the Donkey Kong Country / Land series, feature Donkey Kong and his clan as protagonists in their native jungle setting versus a variety of anthropomorphic enemies. These are side-scrolling platform games. (The Donkey Kong character of this series is the grandchild of the title character from the original Donkey Kong game.)
A hallmark of the Donkey Kong series is barrels, which the Kongs use as weapons, vehicles, furniture and lodging. Characters from the Donkey Kong series have appeared in Nintendo's crossover titles such as the Smash Bros. and Mario Kart series. The Donkey Kong character is highly recognizable and very popular; the franchise has sold over 40 million units worldwide.
Donkey Kong was created when Shigeru Miyamoto was assigned by Nintendo to convert Radar Scope, a game that had been released to test audiences with poor results, into a game that would appeal more to Americans. The result was a major breakthrough for Nintendo and for the videogame industry. Sales of the machine were brisk, with the game becoming one of the best-selling arcade machines of the early 1980s. The gameplay itself was a large improvement over other games of its time, and with the growing base of arcades to sell to, it was able to gain huge distribution. In 1981 Falcon created a legitimate clone of Donkey Kong known as Crazy Kong for distribution in non-US markets.
In Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., MCA Universal sued Nintendo over copyright violations, claiming that Donkey Kong was a copy of King Kong. Nintendo's lawyer, Howard Lincoln, who would go on to become a Senior Vice President of the company, discovered that Universal didn't own the copyright to King Kong either, and was able to not only win the lawsuit (as well as several court appeals), but get Universal to pay the legal costs. Ironically, it was MCA Universal that previously won a lawsuit declaring King Kong was in the public domain. The case was an enormous victory for Nintendo, which was still a newcomer to the U.S. market. The case established Nintendo as a major player in the industry and arguably gave the company the confidence that it could compete with the giants of American media. The case was selected as #20 on GameSpy's list of the 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming. Because of the huge success of Donkey Kong, Nintendo of America was able to grow and release many more games in succeeding years, and had the resources necessary to release the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States. The series has inspired the phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong", which has been used in various film, TV and other pop culture throughout the years. Nintendo officially trademarked the phrase on November 10, 2010, to coincide with the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Donkey Kong spawned two sequels, neither of which were as popular as the original arcade hit. In Donkey Kong Junior Donkey Kong was kidnapped by Mario and players had to control his son Donkey Kong Jr. to rescue him. In Donkey Kong 3 Donkey Kong broke into a greenhouse and got chased out by Stanley the Bugman, who carried a spray can to protect his greenhouse from Donkey Kong's insects. A music-based game titled Donkey Kong no Ongaku Asobi was originally planned to be released, but was eventually cancelled. Another title called Return of Donkey Kong was planned as a sequel, but was cancelled as well. This title had little information available, but it was confirmed that players would be able to control Donkey Kong as well as Mario.
Throughout the 1980s, eight Donkey Kong games were released for the Game & Watch platform, and in 1994 an LCD-based game was released for the Nelsonic Game Watch line. Coleco licensed Nintendo's Donkey Kong as the official pack-in cartridge for all ColecoVision consoles, and this version of the game was well received as a near-perfect arcade port, helping to boost the console's popularity. By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold more than 500,000 units, in part on the strength of its bundled game. In 1994, Nintendo produced a sequel for the Game Boy, simply called Donkey Kong. Some of its levels were based upon the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior arcade games, and the enemies from the two games also returned. Donkey Kong's, Donkey Kong Junior's and Pauline's character designs were updated for this game. This was the first game to feature Donkey Kong wearing the monogrammed necktie, which has become a trademark. In a recent interview for Official Nintendo Magazine UK, Shigeru Miyamoto openly admitted that the first Donkey Kong game was originally developed as a Popeye game, but was changed to original characters when Nintendo could not secure the Popeye license.
Shortly after that, he appeared in Donkey Kong Country (in Japan, Super Donkey Kong). Donkey Kong Country was an entirely new DK franchise established by the British company Rare and Tim Stamper which took the Donkey Kong premise in an entirely new direction and became a showcase title to show off then-revolutionary CGI graphics. In Donkey Kong Country, the original Donkey Kong's grandson, also called Donkey Kong, was the hero and he and his sidekick nephew Diddy Kong had to save his hoard of bananas from the thieving King K. Rool and his Kremling Krew. The game was an action sidescrolling title similar to the Mario games and was enormously popular for its graphics, music and gameplay. The sequel, Diddy's Kong Quest (Super Donkey Kong 2 in Japan) involves DK being kidnapped by K. Rool, who was now a Kaptain, and getting rescued by Diddy Kong and his girlfriend Dixie Kong, in a less cheery and a more darkly-themed game. In Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (in Japan, Super Donkey Kong 3) Donkey and Diddy both got kidnapped by K. Rool, now Baron K. Roolenstein, and Dixie and her cousin Kiddy Kong had to save them in the final game of the series for the SNES.
The Donkey Kong Land trilogy for the Game Boy were smaller, modified versions of the "Country" games and were presented in a rare yellow cartridge compared to the typical grey color. In addition, Donkey Kong Country was ported to the Game Boy Color, and the entire Donkey Kong Country trilogy has been ported to the Game Boy Advance.
A successful Nintendo 64 sequel was also developed. In Donkey Kong 64, DK once again has the starring role as he joins forces with Diddy Kong, Lanky Kong, Tiny Kong, and Chunky Kong to save Donkey Kong Island from destruction at the hands of K. Rool, (now King Krusha K. Rool) and his Kremling Krew. This game features a rare yellow cartridge and is only playable with the included Expansion Pak. Donkey Kong also made an appearance in Mario Kart 64, (with the model made by Rare) and since then, he has appeared in every outing featuring Mario's all-star cast on the N64. In the Mario Party series, he was a playable character in all three titles released for the N64 (also Mario Party 4 for the GameCube), but he eventually became an "event character" in the later games. He was also a selectable character in the original, Mario Tennis and Mario Golf. He was also playable in each Super Smash Bros. game. In nearly all of these games, Donkey Kong is presented as a powerful and heavy character, although slow and cumbersome.
A demo for a Donkey Kong game on the GameCube, Nintendo's sixth generation console, was shown at SpaceWorld 2001. The game was called Donkey Kong Racing and showed various characters, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Taj the Genie racing on Ellie, Expresso, Rambi, Enguarde, and Zinger, and presumably, Necky, Army, and Chomps Jr. that had been introduced in previous Donkey Kong games by Rare. Following the sale of Rare to Microsoft in 2002, Rare announced that they were concentrating their efforts on Xbox games, although they have continued to support Nintendo's portable consoles, the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. This decision is due to the fact that Microsoft does not have its own portable console in direct competition. No further information about Donkey Kong Racing has since been released, leading the game to be classified as cancelled. Rare's ownership change led to numerous changes. Donkey Kong: Coconut Crackers was originally developed by Rare for the Game Boy Advance, but was eventually released as It's Mr. Pants after the Microsoft purchase. Likewise, Banjo Pilot was originally titled Diddy Kong Pilot, but altered following the Microsoft acquisition.
Donkey Konga was released for the GameCube in 2004. Created by Namco, this musical rhythm action game relied upon use of the DK Bongos accessory (purchasable separately or included, depending on the package) to hit a beat in time with the tune. The tunes included pop songs and themes from some previous Nintendo games. Its sequel, Donkey Konga 2, was released in 2005, and Japan later got Donkey Konga 3 that same year. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat was released in Japan in December 2004 and elsewhere in 2005. This platform game used the aforementioned DK Bongos as a controller; tapping one drum repeatedly made Donkey Kong run, tapping both at the same time made him jump, tapping both alternately made him attack, and clapping or blowing in to the microphone caused an explosion, shown by a ripple in the screen, attracting assorted jewels or clearing obstacles to progress. Donkey Kong is featured as a playable character in all of the Super Smash Bros. games. In addition, Donkey Kong is featured in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, which introduced Diddy Kong to the Mario universe, as well as Mario Power Tennis, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, Mario Superstar Baseball and Super Mario Strikers. He made his last playable appearance in the Mario Party series in Mario Party 4 before being relegated to an incidental character on the game board. He was also featured on the Game & Watch Gallery handheld series. Most Donkey Kong games are now developed by the relatively new private video game company Paon.
Nintendo's first Donkey Kong title for the Game Boy Advance after Rare left was Mario vs. Donkey Kong, a return to the earlier arcade-style games. While its style was that of other games, the Rare design for Donkey Kong carried over. Donkey Kong, originally a villain, returns to this role in the game: wanting a Mini Mario clockwork toy, he finds that they are sold out at a local toy store. Enraged, he terrifies the Toads at the factory and steals the toys. This sets up the game's plot, where Mario chases Donkey Kong until he can take the Mini Marios back from Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong then starred in DK King of Swing, which features gameplay similar to Clu Clu Land. Here, the player must navigate levels using only the GBA's left and right shoulder buttons.
Donkey Kong made his first appearance on the Wii within the title Mario Strikers Charged as a playable soccer captain. He made an appearance within Mario Party 8, once again as an incidental character on the game board. On October 10, 2007, Donkey Kong's first title role on the system was released in the form of Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, a title originally in development for the GameCube. He also appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a playable character, along with Diddy Kong. In addition, all three of the Donkey Kong Country and arcade games for the SNES have been made available on the Wii's Virtual Console. He also appears in Mario Kart Wii, where he is a heavyweight character. His latest appearance is Mario Super Sluggers, appearing as a captain again. As of Nintendo's conference at October 2, 2008, a New Play Control! remake of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was ported to the Wii; it was released in Japan on December 11, 2008. In May 2009, Donkey Kong appeared as a secret unlockable opponent in the release of Punch-Out!. Donkey Kong Country Returns was developed for the Wii by Retro Studios and was released in 2010.
Donkey Kong has appeared in various Nintendo DS games in either cameos or side-character roles. He can be found in Diddy Kong Racing DS, Mario Kart DS, Tetris DS, Mario Party DS, Mario Hoops 3-on-3, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again on DSiWare, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, and Yoshi's Island DS. In Yoshi's Island DS, Donkey Kong appears as "Baby DK", a younger version of himself, similar to Baby Mario. First appearing in World 2–1, most of his gameplay reflects Donkey Kong Jr., even featuring the Snapjaw enemies from the game. DK Jungle Climber, a sequel to the GBA game DK King of Swing, is Donkey Kong's first title role on the system.
During the seventh generation of video games, there were two arcade Donkey Kong titles released in Japan. The first was Donkey Kong Jungle Fever, a medal game released in 2005, and the second was a sequel, Donkey Kong Banana Kingdom (released on November 16, 2006). Both games were developed by Capcom and published by Nintendo on the Triforce arcade system board. As of 2011[update], neither title has been released outside of Japan.
Donkey Kong appeared in Super Smash Bros. as the first character from the Donkey Kong series. He had a stage called "Kongo Jungle" which was based on Donkey Kong Country. In the second game, Super Smash Bros. Melee, he returned with his stage. In this game he had two new stages called "Jungle Japes" and "Kongo Jungle", a version of the "DK Rap" from Donkey Kong 64 serves as stage music for Kongo Jungle (the one difference in the lyrics being the word "heck" substituted from the word "hell"). He appeared once more in Super Smash Bros. Brawl along with his sidekick Diddy Kong, and three stages – "Jungle Japes" from Melee, "Rumble Falls" from Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, and "75m" from the original Donkey Kong game from 1981. Donkey Kong has been seen in the audience of some games in the Punch-Out!! series. He also serves as the hidden opponent in Punch-Out!! on the Wii. During Rare's time, references were seen throughout Rare's games. In Banjo-Tooie, Bottle's daughter Goggles is seen holding a Donkey Kong plush doll. Also in worker's quarters in Grunty's Industries on the fridge is seen the DK logo.