Donkey Kong Oddities

A 30th anniversary celebration of the arcade game the world went ape over.

Posted by  | Sunday, July 10, 2011

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Thirty years ago this month, Nintendo released Donkey Kong to arcades across the United States. The game’s American version went on to sell tens of thousands of units, saving the then-struggling US branch of the company and paving the way for Nintendo’s future success on Western shores.

Without Donkey Kong, we would have no Mario, and without Mario, it’s hard to imagine what Nintendo would look like today. That makes Donkey Kong, above all others, the most pivotally important video game Nintendo has ever released.

So it’s time to celebrate–which I did by rounding up a bunch of weird, odd, and interesting stuff about this beloved game.



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Slides: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

35 Comments For This Post

  1. Arnum Says:

    Oh Man, this is my favorite game, at least it was in 1982. At the age of twelve I would go to our local arcade (a gas station) and play Crazy Kong on a table top for 20 cents a game. I lived in trhe country, so we were behind the times, as The first games (also tabletop) were asteroid and space invaders. Next to the Crazy Kong table we had Frogger and Jungle Boy. Crazy Kong is the game I sunk most of mu cash into. I held the town record for a while too. How did I not get bored with that game?

  2. Greg Says:

    The artwork on the “Donkey Kong on Acid” actually looks like “Mr. Do’s Castle” to me, the juxtaposition with the DK name makes a certain sense if you played them both!

  3. Forrest Says:

    The Screenshot of the IBM PC port on slide 13 looks very similar to the version that I grew up playing, I don't recall what type of computer it was, just that we were running Window's 3.0 and that I had to work very hard and be on my best behavior to earn time playing the game. Ironically, now that I am married I have to do the same exact thing to play my current video games.

  4. Guppy06 Says:

    Did the Intellivision box artist go on to produce the art for Mega Man?

  5. Dan Says:

    This is why I will never give up my old stand-up Donky Kong that's in the basement now. My dad got it at an auction back in '87, then after floating around the family for years, I snatched it up at the first opportunity!

    Wife hates it! But I'm taking it to the grave!

    Dan.

  6. Jason Says:

    May I recommend this excellent documentary on competitive Donkey Kong players:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King_of_Kong:_A_

    You couldn't make this stuff up.

  7. Rex Says:

    The "troll" look of Donkey Kong on the PC is mostly due to the weird palette limitations of CGA graphics which were the only (or at least most common) color video adapters at the time.

  8. tony Says:

    I was technican with a company which distributed DK machines. Had a service call on a Sunday afternoon to a site where "couldn't insert coins". Arrived to find there was so many coins in the bin that thay had overflowed and then stacked inside the machine right up to the bottom of the coin acceptor. Those machines MINTED cash.

    On a tech POV – the DK Motherboard was the first one I ever saw equipped with ECL (emitter coupled logic) RAM. This stuff, which was used in Cray supercomputers, drew so much current and hence ran really hot that it was mounted on a stand-off daughter board. I guess that the speed the barrel sprites moved required it?

  9. And The Says:

    No mention of the “Pac-Kong” game for the Atari 2600?!

  10. @Apogalacticon Says:

    Oh man, who doesn't remember the old donkey kong and mario bros games? They will never again make games as simple and adictive as back then.
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  11. @Pseudofossils Says:

    I was just explaining to my young kids how I played this growing up. The kept asking me why I only got to play as Mario when the game was called Donkey Kong. It reminded me of Patrick Stewart explaining that he thought "Star Trek" was the name of the ship when he auditioned for ST:TNG.
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  12. Eric Says:

    What a great read, I'm really glad that I stumbled upon this.
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  14. adam Says:

    Oh wow, I remember this game. I was so hooked! :D
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  15. jones123peter Says:

    I am very impressed. I do have a couple questions for you personally however. Do you think you’re thinking about doing a follow-up posting about this? Will you be going to keep bringing up-to-date
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  16. jones123peter Says:

    this game is a 10/10 , if it had been called "mario country returns" it would have recieved a 10. This is possibly the best game in the wii and yes i have put that above galaxy and bros. i pulled out my old snes and played dkc and 2 and 3 next to this , this new dkc is the most faithful remake with added modernism i have ever seen! astroloji

  17. jones123peter Says:

    this is my favorite game that i want to play.I'll be play this game soon .thanks for giving us these kind of information.thanks for it.
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  18. Deendid Says:

    I don't recall what type of computer it was, just that we were running Window's 3.0 and that I had to work very hard and be on my best behavior to earn time playing the game. Ironically, now that I am married I have to do the same exact thing to play my current video games.
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  19. jones123peter Says:

    Thirty years ago this month, Nintendo released Donkey Kong to arcades across the United States. The games American version went on to sell tens of thousands of units, saving the then-struggling US branch of the company and paving the way for Nintendos future success on Western shores.
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  20. Prix des Timbres Says:

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    Cheers on a great post, I’ve bookmarked and I look forward to future postings.

  21. TomPeris Says:

    Oh man, who doesn't remember the old donkey kong and mario bros games? They will never again make games as simple and adictive as back then. cheap textbooks

  22. Wedding Photography Says:

    I can't believe this is 30 years old!!! I played this as a kid in San Diego California. I was at a wedding last year and the bride and groom had this as an arcade game at there reception. Good things are always good I guess.

  23. Mike R Says:

    What cool little feature. I also have in my possession some Donkey Kong oddities. I have a series of animation cells of Donkey Kong and Mario from a little short that The Tennessee Valley Authority produced. I'd be happy to try to dig those up and provide scans if you are interested.

  24. jones123peter Says:

    The game is definitely difficult, that's not in question. There is cheapness and some unpredictability that's maddening, but the worst and most *unacceptable* problem of the game is that when you die, you lose TWO lives instead of one. So not fair.gold coins

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  26. Roger Randor Says:

    A classic that we never forget! Badly that it starts again after you have rescued the princess … But it doesn't bother me so much … billig seo

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  28. Brandon Na Says:

    Another interesting titbit of trivia is that Mario made one of his first appearances in a game as a villain in Donkey Kong. However, he went on to become the world famous mascot, more famous than the game's protagonist itself. Nevertheless, the cultural impact of Donkey kong is undeniable.

  29. jones Says:

    I’m kinda curious that in write-ups like this, no one ever brings up the unusual idea of a “donkey” versus a “monkey”. (Maybe it’s on Wikipedia, I haven’t looked) but as I was told, the title of the game got lost in translation between the Japanese developers and the Americans. Change one letter in the title and it goes from Donkey Kong to Monkey Kong. Seeing as “King Kong” was a notable monster at that time a la Godzilla, Mothra, and all the others, the idea made sense since King Kong scaled buildings and took the woman (Fay Wray)at the top of the building. So the game was initially meant to be titled “Monkey Kong”.

    At least as I was told. And to me, that makes a little more sense than the Popeye reference. Although I see how the two ideas could’ve been combined.

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  30. Mia Says:

    Memories! Donkey Kong, Mario. WOW, this bring me back in childhood. Thanks!
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  31. Cat insurance Says:

    It took me just under 41 hours to get 101% of everything in the game and beat the final boss. I encountered a strange glitch before I actually got everything. I went to the large Banana Fairy after photographing all the smaller ones in the game. She gave me the 201st banana (the one with the Rareware sticker), and my percentage total showed "101%"…but the thing is, I was still missing a banana from the Crystal Caves level at the time! My rating should have only been 100%. When I finally got that missing banana, my total stayed at 101%.

  32. Office design Says:

    Nintendo of America was struggling in 1980 and 1981. As the video game craze swept the country, none of Nintendo's game titles managed to make an impact in the booming industry. Space Firebird did modest business, but was licensed stateside to Sega/Gremlin, leaving Nintendo-labelled titles such as Sheriff and Heli-Fire to flounder.

  33. interpoker review Says:

    What a great post, I am now 29 years-old but can recall this nice video game which I played quite a few years back now! Nintendo even released it on Super Nintendo at some point, it was a superb game with better graphics than the very first one obviously! It brings back very good memories to me, thanks! interpoker review

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  35. Floor Tiles Sydney Says:

    I always loved Donkey Kong. FAv game