6 Interesting Donkey Kong Facts


Gamers may easily mistake Bowser as being Mario’s original rival in gaming, but it was actually Donkey Kong! Donkey Kong made his debut in the arcades back in 1981, and there have since been several games in the series, including the very popular Donkey Kong Country series of games from the 1990s. Not only that, but the Donkey Kong character himself has been a recurring character in several of Nintendo’s more popular franchises, including the Mario Kart and Mario Party series of games.

Here are several interesting facts that you might not know about Donkey Kong:

    1. It was in the 1981 release of ‘Donkey Kong’ that we first saw Mario, although he had a different name. (source) When Donkey Kong hit the arcades back in 1981, Mario was actually known as ‘Jumpman.’ Nintendo and rookie game designer Shigeru Miyamoto chose the name from both the Walkman and Pac-Man, which were both very popular in culture in the early 1980s. Jumpman still had the signature red and blue outfit that we know Mario to have today, but his video game debut came in ‘Donkey Kong,’ not 1985’s hit ‘Super Mario Bros.’ like many may believe.
    1. Donkey Kong 64 holds the world record for having the most in-game collectibles with 3,821. (source) Gamers love collecting items in open world games, and Donkey Kong’s debut on the Nintendo 64 took that concept to a whole new level. With 3,821 in-game collectibles to find, it’s a record that still stands today. Donkey Kong 64 became Nintendo’s top seller during the 1999 holiday season, having sold 2.3 million units in North America and receiving the award for ‘Best Platformer’ at the E3 1999 Game Critics Awards.
    1. Cranky Kong is actually the original Donkey Kong from the classic arcade game. (source) Cranky Kong was first seen in the 1994 release of Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), however he wasn’t exactly a new character. In Donkey Kong Country, the main playable characters are Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, who playfully interact with the sarcastic Cranky Kong throughout the game. However, going back to the original arcade games of Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., players may be interested to learn that in the 1994 classic, Cranky Kong is actually the original Donkey Kong, whereas the game’s Donkey Kong is actually the original Donkey Kong Jr.
    1. Nintendo actually trademarked the phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” (source) This popular phrase is actually owned by Nintendo, and the company owns the trademark of anything with the name Donkey Kong in it.
    1. Donkey Kong was originally pitched as a boxing game. (source) The original Donkey Kong was nearly set to become a boxing game, however Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo went in the direction that we came to know as the 1981 arcade classic. Nintendo would later see much success in the boxing realm with the 1984 arcade release of Punch-Out!!, followed by the even more successful release of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987. In 2009, Nintendo would release a new version of Punch-Out!! for the Nintendo Wii, and Donkey Kong was featured as a secret opponent in the game.
    1. Donkey Kong and Mario were inspired by Popeye and Bluto. (source) Popeye is much more popular in Japan than it is in the United States, and it was that popularity that led to the creation of the rivals known as Mario and Donkey Kong. The idea for the game that was Bluto would throw barrels down at Popeye, who would be attempting to save Olive Oyl. However, when Nintendo was unable to gain the rights to use the characters from Popeye, they created their own.

Donkey Kong is one of the oldest and most successful characters and franchises in Nintendo’s storied history. What’s your favorite Donkey Kong game?


Featured image photo credit: SobControllers, 2010. Originally found on Flickr.com. Image was resized and cropped. Creative Commons 2.0.

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