Donkey Kong (game)

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Donkey Kong is an arcade game that was released by Nintendo in 1981. It is an early example of the platform genre, as the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of platforms while dodging obstacles. Donkey Kong is notable for being the debut appearance of Mario and the titular villain, Donkey Kong.


The game opens with the first level, where Donkey Kong climbs a pair of ladders to the top of a construction site. He puts Pauline down and stomps on the girders, making them slightly crooked, while moving to the left. After reaching the left end of the platform, Donkey Kong sneers, and the game starts.

Mario's goal is to get to the top of the level. The game has a score, which Mario can earn points for in several ways: finishing a screen, leaping over obstacles, destroying objects with a hammer, and collecting Pauline's dropped items. For the first 7,000 points, Mario is given three lives with a bonus.

When Mario reaches the end of a level, a brief cutscene is shown. A heart appears between Mario and Pauline, but Donkey Kong then grabs her and climbs up another pair of ladders, causing the heart to break. When Mario completes the final level, 100m, he and Pauline are reunited, and the game ends. After the player finishes the game, it restarts but at a higher difficulty level.


Image Name Description
25m Jumpman must scale a seven-story construction site made of crooked girders and ladders while jumping over or hammering barrels and oil barrels tossed by Donkey Kong. The hero must also avoid flaming balls, which generate when an oil barrel collides with an oil drum. Players routinely call this screen "Barrels."
50m Jumpman must climb a five-story structure of conveyor belts, each of which transports pans of cement. The fireballs also make another appearance. This screen is sometimes referred to as the "Factory" or "Pie Factory" due to the resemblance of the cement pans to pies.
75m Jumpman rides up and down elevators while avoiding fireballs and bouncing objects, presumably spring-weights. The bouncing weights (the hero's greatest danger in this screen) emerge on the top level and drop near the rightmost elevator. The screen's common name is "Elevators."
100m Jumpman must remove eight rivets, which support Donkey Kong. The fireballs remain the primary obstacle. Removing the final rivet causes Donkey Kong to fall and the hero to be reunited with the Lady. This is the final screen of each level. Players refer to this screen as "Rivets."

Development and history[edit]

The game was the latest in a series of efforts by Nintendo to break into the North American market. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo's president at the time, assigned the project to a first-time game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations, including Popeye and King Kong, Miyamoto developed the scenario and designed the game alongside Nintendo's chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi. When Donkey Kong was released, it became instantly popular, and it was noteworthy for using graphics as a means of characterization, including within the game's short cutscenes.

At the time when Mario was being designed, Nintendo encountered some problems with graphical limitations. They struggled to design Mario with him a mouth, so he got a mustache. Nintendo could not design hair for Mario, so he was given a cap instead. To make his arm movements visible, Mario was given red overalls over his blue shirt. Pauline has a pink dress and long blonde hair, and she constantly screams "HELP!".

Despite initial misgivings on the part of Nintendo's American staff, Donkey Kong was a success in North America and Japan. Nintendo licensed the game to Coleco, who developed home console versions for numerous platforms. Other companies cloned Nintendo's hit and avoided royalties altogether. Mario, Pauline, and Donkey Kong appeared on cereal boxes, television cartoons, and dozens of other places. A court suit brought on by Universal City Studios, alleging Donkey Kong violated their trademark of King Kong, ultimately failed. The success of Donkey Kong allowed Nintendo to dominate the video game market for years to come.


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Donkey Kong (game).