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Donkey Kong: Thirty Strange Years!

What’s the most significant arcade game of all time? Pac-Man, probably. But you could also make the case for Donkey Kong–a game that celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this month. It was wildly popular in its day. It remains iconic. And it was the breakout hit that put both Nintendo and Mario on the map–a team-up of game company and character that’s as important today as ever.

And then there are all the weird little Donkey Kong footnotes. Such as the fact it was almost about Popeye and Bluto. And the odd spinoffs (Donkey Kong hockey?). Gaming historian Benj Edwards has rounded up a bunch of them for Donkey Kong Oddities, our tribute to video gaming’s greatest ape.


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Donkey Kong Oddities

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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