Donkey Kong

This article is about the video game franchise. For the first game in the series, see Donkey Kong (video game). For the character, see Donkey Kong (character). For other uses, see Donkey Kong (disambiguation).
Donkey Kong

The most common logo in the franchise.
Genres Platformer
Developers Nintendo
Rare (1994-2007)
Namco (2003-2005)
Paon (2005-2007)
Retro Studios (2010-Present)
Publishers Nintendo
Creators Shigeru Miyamoto
Platforms Arcade, Game & Watch, Intellivision, ColecoVision, Atari 2600, TRS-80 CoCo, Atari 8-bit Computer, TI-99/4a, IBM PC Booter, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, BBC Micro, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari 7800, Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom Disk System, Game Boy, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, e-Reader, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Platform of origin Arcade
Year of inception 1981
First release Donkey Kong
July 9, 1981
Latest release Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
February 14, 2014
Spin-offs Mario
Donkey Kong Country
Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング Donkī Kongu, [dõŋ.kiː kõŋ.ɡu͍]) is a series of video games featuring the adventures of a gorilla character called Donkey Kong, conceived by Shigeru Miyamoto in 1981. The franchise mainly comprises two different game genres, plus spin-off titles of various genres.

The games of the first genre are mostly single-screen platform/action puzzle types, featuring Donkey Kong as the opponent in an industrial construction setting. Donkey Kong first made his appearance in the 1981 arcade machine called Donkey Kong, in which he faced Mario, now Nintendo's flagship character. This game was also the first appearance of Mario, pre-dating the well-known Super Mario Bros. by four years. In 1994, the series was revived as the Donkey Kong Country series, featuring Donkey Kong and his clan as protagonists in their native jungle setting versus a variety of anthropomorphic enemies, usually against the Kremlings, a clan of crocodiles, and their leader King K. Rool. These are side-scrolling platform games. Titles outside these two genres have included rhythm games (Donkey Konga), racing games (Diddy Kong Racing), and edutainment (Donkey Kong Jr. Math).

A hallmark of the Donkey Kong series are barrels, which the Kongs use as weapons, vehicles, furniture, and lodging. The Donkey Kong character is highly recognizable and very popular; the franchise has sold over 40 million units worldwide.[1]

Donkey Kong arcade machine from the 1980s
The original Donkey Kong video game running on the Nintendo Entertainment System.


Donkey Kong first appeared in the eponymous arcade game in 1981 as an antagonist. He would become a protagonist in later games. Donkey Kong Jr. first appeared in the arcade style game Donkey Kong Jr. released in 1982. The plot was that Donkey Kong Jr. saves his father, Donkey Kong, from Mario (initially known as Jumpman in the Japanese arcade version of Donkey Kong). Cranky Kong is the original Donkey Kong who has alternately been called the modern DK's grandfather and father.[2] He is elderly and frequently berates the younger generation of heroes. Diddy Kong was first introduced in Donkey Kong Country and is featured in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest as the main character. Dixie Kong first appeared in Donkey Kong Country 2 as a sidekick to Diddy Kong and has been referred to as his girlfriend. She later starred in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble alongside Kiddy Kong. Other notable members of the Kong family include Funky Kong, Candy Kong, Wrinkly Kong, Tiny Kong, and Lanky Kong. King K. Rool is the main antagonist of the Donkey Kong Country series, though additional villains have appeared as well, including Wizpig (Diddy Kong Racing), Ghastly King (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat), the Tiki Tak Tribe, and the Snowmads.

Characters from the Donkey Kong series have appeared in Nintendo's crossover titles such as the Super Smash Bros. and the Mario Kart series.


The player moves along the girders of a construction site, avoiding barrels.


Timeline of release years
1981Donkey Kong
1982Donkey Kong Jr.
1983Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Jr. Math
1994Donkey Kong (GB)
Donkey Kong Country
1995Donkey Kong Land
Donkey Kong Country 2
1996Donkey Kong Land 2
Donkey Kong Country 3
1997Donkey Kong Land III
Diddy Kong Racing
1999Donkey Kong 64
2003Donkey Konga
2004Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Donkey Konga 2
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
2005DK King of Swing
2006Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
2007Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
DK Jungle Climber
2009Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
2010Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!
Donkey Kong Country Returns
2013Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
2014Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Original series

Donkey Kong
The original arcade game 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 the game, 'Jumpman' (the character would later become Mario) must ascend a construction site while avoiding obstacles such as barrels and fireballs to rescue Pauline, his girlfriend, from Donkey Kong. Miyamoto created a greatly simplified version for the Game & Watch multiscreen. Other ports include the Atari 2600, Colecovision, Amiga 500, Apple II, Atari 7800, Intellivision, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, Famicom Disk System, IBM PC booter, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Atari 8-bit family and Mini-Arcade versions. The game was ported to the Family Computer in 1983 as one of the system's three launch titles; the same version was a launch title for the Famicom's North American version, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Both Donkey Kong and its sequel, Donkey Kong Jr., are included in the 1988 NES compilation Donkey Kong Classics. The NES version was re-released as an unlockable game in Animal Crossing for the GameCube and as an item for purchase on the Wii's Virtual Console. The original arcade version of the game appears in the Nintendo 64 game Donkey Kong 64. Nintendo released the NES version on the e-Reader and for the Game Boy Advance Classic NES series in 2002 and 2004, respectively.[3] The game was once more ported to Nintendo consoles Wii, WiiU and 3DS in 2013 and 2014, under the name Donkey Kong Original Edition.
Donkey Kong Jr.
The success of the original game spawned several ports, and a sequel, Donkey Kong Jr. In this game, Donkey Kong Junior is trying to rescue his father Donkey Kong, who has been imprisoned. Donkey Kong's cage is guarded by Mario, in his only appearance as a villain in a video game. The game was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released as part of the Game & Watch Multi Screen series, featuring two LCD screens. It was released in 1983.[4] Donkey Kong Jr. has to touch a key, then it moves up to the top screen. Donkey Kong Jr. has to climb to the top screen while avoiding things such as electrical wires. When he gets to the top screen, Donkey Kong Jr. will have to touch the key again, and it will move to the keyhole of one of the chains. Donkey Kong Jr. has to climb up the rope below the keyhole, while avoiding birds. When he gets to the top of the rope, one of the chains will unlock. He has to do this 4 times until he saves Donkey Kong. After that, the game will start over, at a somewhat faster pace.
Donkey Kong II
Donkey Kong 3
It did not feature Mario. Its protagonist, Stanley, is a bugman. Donkey Kong has taken refuge in his greenhouse and it is now up to him to stop the ape from stirring up any more insects that will soon destroy his flowers. Stanley saves the flowers by spraying bug spray on Donkey Kong.
Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
In 1994, a homonymous remake of the original game was released for the Game Boy, adding 96 new levels. This game was also the first game released with Super Game Boy enhancements, to help sell the new SNES peripheral. Later, Nintendo would revamp this style of gameplay into the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games.

Donkey Kong Country series

Released in 1994, Donkey Kong Country (in Japan, Super Donkey Kong) was an entirely new DK series 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 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. All three of the Donkey Kong Country games for the SNES have been made available on the Wii's Virtual Console. 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. Tim Stamper stated that an SNES emulator was used to rip the graphics and port it to GBA, and that the GBA versions were coded from scratch.[5]

Donkey Kong Country Returns was developed for the Wii by Retro Studios and was released in 2010. In this adventure, Donkey and Diddy Kong must retrieve the Banana Hoard and save the island from the Tiki Tak Tribe with their leader, Tiki Tong. The 3DS edition of the game was released on May 24, 2013 under the name Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D with Monster Games as the developer and it includes a secret ninth world, extra items and new stages. A new title was revealed at E3 2013 and which would be called Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The game was released for the Wii U in February 2014.

Donkey Kong Land series

The Donkey Kong Land trilogy for the Game Boy were smaller handheld counterparts of the Country games and were presented in yellow cartridges instead of the typical grey ones.

Donkey Kong Land
The first game was released in 1995.
Donkey Kong Land 2
The second game was released in 1996.
Donkey Kong Land III
The third game was released in 1997.

Donkey Kong 64

A successful Nintendo 64 sequel to Rare's Donkey Kong Country games 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 and his Kremling Krew in a fully 3D adventure. The game allows you to play as each of the six members of the DK Crew. It also features multiplayer arena-battle modes. This game features a unique yellow cartridge and is only playable with the included Expansion Pak.

Racing games

Diddy Kong Racing
A 1997 racing game for the Nintendo 64 developed by Rareware. It is the first game to spin off from the Donkey Kong Country series. It currently stands as the Nintendo 64's sixth-most best selling game. A racing game like Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing also has a distinctive adventure mode. Some of the playable characters would later appear in their own franchise titles. Donkey Kong can also be found in Diddy Kong Racing DS, an enhanced remake for the Nintendo DS released on February 7, 2007.
Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
Donkey Kong's first title role on the Wii was released in the form of Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, a racing title originally in development for the GameCube.

Donkey Konga series

Donkey Konga
The first game in the Donkey Konga series 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
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. 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.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong series

Main article: Mario vs. Donkey Kong

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 that incorporated many elements from the Game Boy version. 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. The game was followed by March of the Minis for the Nintendo DS, Minis March Again on DSiWare, Mini-Land Mayhem in 2010 for the DS, Minis on the Move for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013 and Tipping Stars for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U in 2014.

DK series

DK King of Swing
Developed by Paon, this spin-off game features gameplay similar to Clu Clu Land. Here, the player must navigate levels using only the GBA's left and right shoulder buttons.
DK Jungle Climber
A sequel to the aforementioned game, and Donkey Kong's first title role on the Nintendo DS. It features improved visuals, better play control, and dual screen gameplay.

Miscellaneous genres

Donkey Kong Circus
A Game & Watch Panorama series game released in 1984.[4] In this game, the player controls Donkey Kong, who is placed on a barrel while juggling pineapples and avoiding flames. This game is very similar to Mario the Juggler, the last Game & Watch game, as they both involve a character juggling while avoiding objects.
Donkey Kong Jr. Math
An edutainment game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), wherein players must solve math problems in order to win. It is the only game in the "Education Series" of NES games in North America. The game features one and two player modes, both of which are single screen. In the first mode, the objective is to enter math answers in order to receive points. These questions include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the two player mode, two players control two characters as they race to create a math formula to reach the number shown by Donkey Kong, incorporating platform gameplay. Donkey Kong Jr. Math was made available in the video game Animal Crossing, along with several other NES titles. It has also been released on the Wii Virtual Console in Europe, Australia, Japan, and North America.
Donkey Kong Hockey
It was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released in 1985 as part of the Game & Watch Micro Vs. series. The game features one LCD screen and two attached control pads. The hockey features Donkey Kong as one of the players and Mario as the other.

Cancelled games

Return of Donkey Kong
A Nintendo Entertainment System game announced in the Official Nintendo Player's Guide in 1987. Not much is known about the title; whether it was cancelled or a working title for a game released under a different name is unknown.
Donkey Kong Racing
A demo for a racing game on the GameCube, Nintendo's sixth generation console, was shown at SpaceWorld 2001. It showed various characters, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Taj the Genie racing on Ellie, Expresso, Rambi, Enguarde, and Zinger, 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 had continued to support Nintendo's portable consoles, the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, the game was cancelled.
Diddy Kong Pilot
A planned sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, but with flying as the only means of transport. However, Nintendo found the game substandard (one of the point of criticism provided was "There's no point in flying up and down on flat levels") and did not want to publish it. After Rare was sold to Microsoft, which caused the company to lose the rights to Donkey Kong characters, Diddy Kong Pilot was converted into the game Banjo-Pilot in 2005. However, on November 5, 2011, a collector who had purchased a prototype cartridge leaked its ROM onto the internet.
Diddy Kong Racing Adventure
is a rejected pitch made by the Climax Group for a Diddy Kong Racing sequel on the Nintendo GameCube around 2004. The project was never announced to the public in any capacity and only became known after an amateur video game archivist acquired the prototype and published a video about it in November 2016.
Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers
Originally going to be a puzzle game for the Game Boy Advance that was developed by Rare, Ltd.. However, the game was cancelled because in 2002, Rare was sold to Microsoft, which caused Rare to lose the rights to Donkey Kong characters, before development of the game was complete. The game was eventually reworked into It's Mr. Pants, and was released on December 7, 2004.


Mario franchise
After appearing in the original Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., Mario would star in the arcade game Mario Bros. and the resulting Super Mario series, becoming Nintendo's mascot in the process. The Super Mario series would have its own spin-offs including Mario Kart and Mario Party.
Conker series
After Conker the Squirrel's appearance in Diddy Kong Racing, he went on to star in Conker's Pocket Tales, leading to the Conker series.
Banjo-Kazooie series
After Banjo's appearance in Diddy Kong Racing, he went on to star in Banjo-Kazooie, leading to the Banjo-Kazooie series.


Mario Kart series
The DK series has been represented in every Mario Kart game, with the younger Donkey Kong playable in each one. He appears racing alongside characters from the Super Mario, Wario, Yoshi, Pac-Man, The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing series. Diddy Kong appears as a playable character in Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Kart Wii, and Funky Kong appears as playable character in Mario Kart Wii. Additionally, the Mario Kart series features several DK themed tracks, most notably DK Jungle from Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, which is based on the world of Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Mario Party series
Donkey Kong debuted as a playable character in Mario Party for the Nintendo 64, a role he kept until Mario Party 5. Here, he was given a space on the board maps as a foil to Bowser. He returned as a playable character in Mario Party 10 for the Wii U and Mario Party: Star Rush for the Nintendo 3DS. Diddy Kong makes cameo appearances in Mario Party DS and Mario Party 9.
Mario sports series
Donkey Kong has appeared as a playable character in almost every Mario sports game since the Nintendo 64 era, including Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Super Mario Strikers, and Mario Superstar Baseball. Diddy Kong is also featured as a playable character in many titles, while additional characters from the Donkey Kong Country series, such as Dixie Kong, Funky Kong, and King K. Rool, have made rare appearances. Donkey Kong appears as playable character in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and every game in the Mario & Sonic series thereafter. Diddy Kong was introduced to the series in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Super Smash Bros. series
Donkey Kong has appeared as a playable character in every Super Smash Bros. game, first appearing as one of eight characters in the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. He was the first heavy fighter in the series, and featured many slow but powerful attacks. Diddy Kong was later introduced as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as an agile fighter. There have been many stages based on games in the Donkey Kong series, including Congo Jungle in Super Smash Bros., Kongo Jungle and Jungle Japes in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Rumble Falls and 75m in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Jungle Hijinx in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Other characters, like King K. Rool and Dixie Kong, have appeared in trophy form throughout the series.

Other media

Television series

The Saturday Supercade was the character's first role in a television series. In it, Donkey Kong (voiced by Soupy Sales) has escaped from the circus and Mario (voiced by Peter Cullen) and Pauline (voiced by Judy Strangis) are chasing the ape. As with the original game, Donkey Kong will often grab Pauline, and Mario has to save her.

Donkey Kong also had its own television series called Donkey Kong Country, which is based on the SNES game of the same name. Aired in France in 1997 and in the USA in 1998, the series lasted 2 seasons with 40 total episodes featuring exclusive characters including Bluster Kong, Eddie the Mean Old Yeti and Kaptain Scurvy.


The original arcade iteration of Donkey Kong is the main antagonist of the 2015 film Pixels.[6]

Medal games

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,[7] 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. Neither title has been released outside Japan.


Critical response

Since his debut in Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong has received mainly positive reviews from critics.

Impact and legacy

After the first Donkey Kong was released, Universal Studios sued Nintendo, alleging that the video game was a trademark infringement of King Kong, the plot and characters of which Universal claimed for their own. In the case, Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., a United States District Court ruled that Universal had acted in bad faith, and that it had no right over the name King Kong or the characters and story. The court further held that there was no possibility for consumers to confuse Nintendo's game and characters with the King Kong films and their characters. The case was an enormous victory for Nintendo, which was still a newcomer to the U.S. market. The case established the company as a major player in the industry and arguably gave the company the confidence that it could compete with the giants of American media.[8]

The success of the Donkey Kong series has resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series with 7 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. The records include: "First Use of Visual Storytelling in a Video Game" for the rudimentary cut scenes featured in the original Donkey Kong arcade game, and "Most Collectible Items in a Platform Game" for Donkey Kong 64.

"It's on like Donkey Kong" is an expression used in pop culture that is inspired by the game. Nintendo requested a trademark on the phrase with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in November 2010.[9][10]

The original game was the focus of the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.

In 2007, the USHRA Monster Jam racing series licensed Donkey Kong's appearance for a monster truck. The truck is driven by Frank Krmel, and is owned by Feld Motorsports. The truck is decorated to look like the character and has Donkey Kong's tie on the front. The truck made its debut in the Monster Jam event at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US on December 8, 2007.[11] It went to the Monster Jam World Finals 9, as well as World Finals 10, where it was the fastest qualifier.

External links


  1. Error Encountered
  2. Donkey Kong Country instruction manual
  3. Parish.
  4. 1 2 "Obscure Pixels - Nintendo Game&Watch". Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  5. "DK Vine: Stamped Out".
  6. "Classic video game characters unite via film 'Pixels'". Philstar. July 23, 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  7. CAPCOM ARCADE GAME | カプコン アーケードゲーム
  8. Sheff, David (1999). Game Over: Press Start to Continue: The Maturing of Mario. Wilton, Connecticut: GamePress. p. 127.
  9. "Nintendo seeks to trademark 'On like Donkey Kong' -". CNN. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  10. The Application for trademark was filed on 11/09/2010, the serial number is 85173084.
  11. "Wild New Donkey Kong Truck Swings Into Monster Jam". Nintendo. Nintendo of America Inc. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
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