"The Kremlings will pay! I'll hunt them down through every corner of my island, until I have every last banana from my horde back!!"
Circa 1981, Nintendo employee Shigeru Miyamoto was entrusted with the task of making an arcade game fit for the American market. In doing so he created a long-lasting character as well as one of the first games with a 'save the damsel in distress' storyline. In Donkey Kong, the player controlled the character Jumpman (who later turned out to be the famous Mario), attempting to save his girlfriend Pauline from the clutches of a giant ape named Donkey Kong — called 'Kong' for being an ape and 'Donkey' for his slow, stubborn nature. The game went on to be remembered as the first platformer, and its namesake as the first platform game nemesis.
Two sequels to Donkey Kong were made. Donkey Kong Junior had the player controlling DK's son in an effort to save the ape from Mario. Donkey Kong 3 involved a spat in a greenhouse between DK and a character called Stanley the Bugman. From this time forward Nintendo decided to focus on Mario, so Donkey Kong was laid aside for a while.
Near the end of the SNES era Donkey Kong returned in a big way: as the protagonist of Donkey Kong Country. This game and its sequels, developed by Rare, established a whole new context for the character, creating a new world with new sidekicks and adversaries. In it, Donkey Kong and his pal Diddy Kong set out on a journey to recover their banana hoard, which was stolen by the evil King K. Rool. Donkey Kong in this game is in fact not the same one from the original series but rather his grandson. The passing of time saw the original DK become an old, senile gorilla who spends his time complaining about how the video games of his generation were much better than modern games and that kids these days have it easy. Rare's unique humour spread across two more sequels. In each, Donkey Kong is captured as part of the plot and is therefore not playable.
The Nintendo 64 title Donkey Kong 64 was also made by Rare, and it transferred Donkey Kong to a 3D environment in a style much like that of Super Mario 64 and Rare's own Banjo-Kazooie. According to many fans, the emphasis on item-collecting made the game pale in comparison to the Country series. During this era DK starred in games such as Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros. A racing game called Donkey Kong Racing was planned for the GameCube, but it was ultimately scrapped after Rare was bought by Microsoft. The Donkey Kong name has since been used in a variety of titles such as the Donkey Konga series, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and Mario spin-off titles. The Country series has also seen a re-release on the Game Boy Advance.
Selected game appearances
- Donkey Kong (1981)
- Donkey Kong Junior (1982)
- Donkey Kong 3 (1983)
- Donkey Kong Country (1994)
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (1995)
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (1996)
- Mario Kart 64 (1996)
- Super Smash Bros. (1999)
- Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
- Mario Party 2 (1999)
- Mario Party 3 (2000)
Game Boy Color
- Mario Golf (1999)
- Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003)
- Donkey Konga (2003)
- Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (2004)
- Mario Kart DS (2005)
Game Boy Advance
- Donkey Kong Country 3 (2005)
- Mario Kart 7 (2011)
- Super Mario Odyssey (2017)