Donkey Kong

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Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong series logo
Creator(s)Shigeru Miyamoto
Composer(s)David Wise
First releaseDonkey Kong
July 9, 1981
Latest releaseDonkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
May 3, 2018



Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong[note 1] is a series of video games featuring the adventures of an ape-like character called Donkey Kong, conceived by Shigeru Miyamoto in 1981.[1] The franchise consists mainly of two game genres, but also includes additional 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 Jumpman (Mario). This game was also the first appearance of Mario, pre-dating the iconic video game Super Mario Bros. by four years and Mario's first non-Donkey Kong game (Mario Bros.) by two. In 1994, the series was revived as the Donkey Kong Country series, featuring Donkey Kong and his clan of other apes 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 franchise is 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.[2]


Donkey Kong first appeared in the eponymous arcade game in 1981 as the opponent. He was originally going to be called "Donkey Kong's monster", and Mario was going to be "Donkey Kong". He became the player character 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.[3] 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 series, though additional villains have appeared as well, including Wizpig (Diddy Kong Racing), Ghastly King (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat), the Tiki Tak Tribe (Donkey Kong Country Returns) and the Snowmads (Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze).

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


Release timeline
1981Donkey Kong
1982Donkey Kong Jr.
1983Donkey Kong II
Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Jr. Math
1988Donkey Kong Classics (NES)
1994Donkey Kong (GB)
Donkey Kong Country
1995Donkey Kong Land
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
1996Donkey Kong Land 2
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
1997Donkey Kong Land III
Diddy Kong Racing
1999Donkey Kong 64
2003Donkey Konga
2004Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Donkey Konga 2
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
2005Donkey Konga 3
DK: King of Swing
2006Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
2007Diddy Kong Racing DS
Donkey 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
2015Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

Original series[edit]

Donkey Kong[edit]

The original Donkey Kong video game running on the Nintendo Entertainment System

The original arcade Donkey Kong 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 alongside Pac-Man and Galaga. 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 later became 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, 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 Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64, Animal Crossing for the GameCube[citation needed] and as an item for purchase on the Wii's Virtual Console.[4] 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. The game was once more ported to Nintendo consoles Wii, Wii U and 3DS in 2013 and 2014, under the name Donkey Kong Original Edition.

Donkey Kong Jr.[edit]

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 in August 1982.[5] In the arcade version, 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[edit]

Donkey Kong II was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and was released in 1983, as part of the Game & Watch Multi Screen series.

Donkey Kong 3[edit]

Donkey Kong 3 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 for Game Boy[edit]

In 1994, Donkey Kong, 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 revamped this style of gameplay into the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games.

Donkey Kong Country series[edit]

Donkey Kong Country series logo, as seen in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Rare era (1994–2002)[edit]

Released in November 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and developed by British game developer Rare, Donkey Kong Country took the Donkey Kong series in a new direction, becoming a showcase title to show off then-revolutionary Computer-generated imagery graphics. In Donkey Kong Country, the original Donkey Kong's grandson, also called Donkey Kong, is the hero and he and his sidekick Diddy Kong have 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, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest involves Diddy and his girlfriend Dixie Kong embarking on a journey to Crocodile Isle to rescue DK from the clutches of K. Rool. In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! both DK and Diddy are captured again by a mysterious robot named KAOS⁠—who is, in actuality, being operated by K. Rool⁠—and Dixie and her cousin Kiddy Kong have to venture to the Northern Kremisphere to save them in the final game of the series for the SNES.

The Donkey Kong Country SNES trilogy games are primarily platforming games in which players complete side-scrolling levels to progress forward.[6][7] Each game contains approximately 6 to 8 different 'worlds,' each of which contains 5 or 6 levels and a boss character battle which advances the player to the succeeding world. Each world is uniquely themed and levels consist of tasks such as swimming, riding in mine carts, launching out of barrel cannons, or swinging from vine to vine.[7] Each game also includes two main playable Kong characters; if both Kongs are together, one follows the other (which the player controls), and the player can switch between them as needed. If the lead Kong then gets hit by an enemy, he runs off the screen and the player will take control of the other Kong until they can later free the first one from a barrel. If the Kong is hit by an enemy when traveling alone, the player loses a life. To defeat an enemy, players can either execute a roll, jump or ground slam which can also unveil secret items. However, some enemies cannot be taken down like this, so the player must either throw a barrel or use the assistance of a friendly animal. The player can gain additional lives by collecting items scattered throughout the levels, including 100 bananas; all four golden letters that spell out K–O–N–G; extra life balloons; and golden animal tokens that lead to bonus levels.[8] There are also many secret passages that can lead to bonus games where the player can earn additional lives or other items.[9]

In several levels, players can gain assistance from various animals, who are found by breaking open crates. These "animal friends" include Rambi the rhino, Expresso the ostrich, Enguarde the swordfish, Winky the frog, and Squawks the parrot, among others. These animals have certain unique abilities that the player can use such as Rambi's ability to charge at enemies.[10][11] Animal friends can sometimes give players access to otherwise inaccessible bonus games, examples being Rambi and Enguarde busting through walls.[12]

Retro Studios era (2010–present)[edit]

Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong riding in a mine cart in Donkey Kong Country Returns. These iconic levels are known for their difficulty.[13]

In the newer games that succeed the original trilogy, new gameplay elements were added such as levels in which the characters and foreground environments appear as silhouettes, spawning several new gameplay mechanics.[14] In Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, collecting K-O-N-G letters will not award any lives to the player, but instead unlock various bonuses and hidden levels. Additionally, in these games collecting puzzle pieces unlocks artwork from the games. In Tropical Freeze, the Kongs are able to pluck items from the ground and pick up and throw stunned enemies. Additionally, filling up a 'Kong-POW' meter allows Donkey Kong and his partner to perform a special move which defeats all on-screen enemies and converts them into items depending on the partner.[15][16]

In the original trilogy, the player can switch between characters if they are both on the screen. This is changed in the Retro Studios games, where the player has to choose character(s) before each level. Starting with Donkey Kong Country Returns, each character has their own specific characteristics: Donkey is the larger and stronger of the two, and can defeat enemies more easily, while Diddy is faster and more agile, but not as powerful, and can use his barrel jetpack to glide the air over short distances and his peanut gun to stun enemies.[12] Tropical Freeze marked the debut of Dixie Kong, Cranky Kong, and Funky Kong as playable characters in the Retro Studios era. Dixie, returning from Donkey Kong Country 3, can spin her ponytail into a propeller and slowly descend through the air, with an initial boost in height at the start, allowing her and Donkey Kong to fly up out-of-reach platforms or items, and can also use her candy gun to stun enemies. Cranky, in a similar mechanic to the DuckTales video game, can use his cane to bounce on dangerous surfaces such as spiky thorns and reach higher areas and defeat certain enemies the other Kongs cannot.[17] Funky is featured as a playable character in the Nintendo Switch port of Tropical Freeze, functioning similarly to Donkey Kong but with additional hit points, an extra jump, and the ability to stand on spikes.[18]

Donkey Kong Land series[edit]

The Donkey Kong Land games were handheld counterparts of the Country games adapted to the hardware of the Game Boy. Donkey Kong Land was released in 1995, Donkey Kong Land 2 in 1996 and Donkey Kong Land III in 1997. They were presented in distinctive yellow cartridges instead of the typical grey ones.

Donkey Kong 64[edit]

A successful Nintendo 64 sequel to Rare's Donkey Kong Country games was also developed. In Donkey Kong 64, Donkey Kong once again has the starring role as he joins forces with the DK crew to save Donkey Kong Island from destruction at the hands of King K. Rool. The playable characters include Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and the newly introduced Lanky Kong, Tiny Kong and Chunky Kong. Donkey Kong 64 is a 3D platform game in the same vein as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie; players must navigate 3D environments while collecting Golden Bananas and other items as they advance through the game. It also features multiplayer arena-battle modes for up to four players. Like the Donkey Kong Land titles, this game features a unique banana yellow cartridge, and is only playable with the included Expansion Pak.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat[edit]

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released in Japan in December 2004 and elsewhere in 2005, this platform game used the 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. A New Play Control! remake of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released for Wii in Japan on December 11, 2008, and in North America and Europe the following year. The bongo controls were replaced with a more traditional control scheme; players use the Wii Remote and Nunchuck to control Donkey Kong instead of tapping on the DK Bongos.

There were two arcade titles released exclusively in Japan based on Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. The first was Donkey Kong Jungle Fever, a medal game released in 2005, and the second was a sequel,[19] Donkey Kong Banana Kingdom (released on November 16, 2006). Both games were developed and published by Capcom on the Triforce arcade system board. Neither title has been released outside Japan.

Other games[edit]

Racing games[edit]

Diddy Kong Racing
Diddy Kong Racing was a 1997 racing game for the Nintendo 64 developed by Rare. 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 and allows players to choose between three different vehicle types; cars, planes, and hovercraft. This game notably features the debut of Banjo the Bear and Conker the Squirrel, who appeared later in their own franchise titles. Banjo and Conker were replaced by Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong in Diddy Kong Racing DS, an enhanced remake for the Nintendo DS released in 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. It was to make use of the DK Bongos peripheral that was introduced alongside Donkey Konga. Due to the declining sales of the GameCube, development shifted to the Wii console where the Bongo control scheme was replaced by motion controls.

Donkey Konga series[edit]

The first game in the Donkey Konga series, Donkey Konga, 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, including the Super Smash Bros. Melee version of the DK Rap. Its sequel, Donkey Konga 2, was released in 2005, and Japan got Donkey Konga 3 exclusively that same year.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong series[edit]

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.

Miscellaneous genres[edit]

Donkey Kong Circus
Donkey Kong Circus was a Game & Watch Panorama series game released in 1984.[5] 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
Donkey Kong Jr. Math was 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.
DK series[edit]
DK: King of Swing
DK: King of Swing is a puzzle-platform game developed by Paon that 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, DK: Jungle Climber is Donkey Kong's only title role on the Nintendo DS. It features pseudo-3D visuals that more closely resemble the Donkey Kong Country games, dual screen gameplay, and a team-up mechanic with Diddy Kong.

Cancelled games[edit]

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.
Super Donkey
In 2020, a prototype for a platform game featuring similar graphics to the Nintendo game Yoshi's Island was discovered, featuring a new protagonist wearing a pilot suit. The name, Super Donkey, suggests it may have been considered as a new Donkey Kong game before being repurposed for Yoshi.[20]
Donkey Kong Racing
A demo for a racing game on the GameCube, Nintendo's sixth generation console, was shown at Space World 2001. It showed various characters, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Taj the Genie of Diddy Kong Racing fame racing on Rambi, Enguarde, Expresso, and Ellie, and Zinger, Necky, Army, and Chomps Jr. that had been introduced in previous Donkey Kong games. Following the sale of Nintendo's 49% stake in 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. Rare later reworked the game into Sabreman Stampede, which incorporated a lot of the same ideas without the racing aspect, but was also later cancelled.
Diddy Kong Pilot
Diddy Kong Pilot was a planned sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, but with flying as the only means of transportation. After Rare was sold to Microsoft, which caused the company to lose the rights to the 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.[21]
Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers
Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers was a puzzle game for the Game Boy Advance that was being developed by Rare. Similar to Donkey Kong Racing and Diddy Kong Pilot, the game was cancelled in 2002 due to Microsoft's acquisition of Rare. The game was eventually reworked into It's Mr. Pants, and was released on December 7, 2004.
Diddy Kong Racing Adventure
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.[22]


Mario franchise
After appearing in the original Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., Mario starred in the Mario franchise, beginning with the arcade game Mario Bros. and resulting in the Super Mario series—becoming Nintendo's mascot in the process. The Super Mario series had its own spin-offs, including Mario Kart and Mario Party. Donkey Kong appears as a playable character in the vast majority of these spin-offs. The roots of the Mario franchise in Donkey Kong are further acknowledged in Super Mario Odyssey, with many elements of the DK franchise featured in the New Donk City level. DK and Diddy have their own Amiibo figures as part of the Super Mario line.[23]
Banjo-Kazooie series
Following his appearance in Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo went on to star in Banjo-Kazooie, leading to the Banjo-Kazooie series. Although originally owned by Nintendo, Microsoft is the current owner of the Banjo-Kazooie series due to their acquisition of Rare in 2002.
Conker series
Following his appearance in Diddy Kong Racing, Conker the Squirrel went on to star in Conker's Pocket Tales, leading to the Conker series. Unlike Banjo, Conker was never under the ownership of Nintendo.


Mario Kart series
The Donkey Kong series has been represented in every game of the Mario Kart series. Donkey Kong appears racing alongside characters from Mario and other franchises. The first character from the Donkey Kong series to appear as a playable character in the Mario Kart series was Donkey Kong Jr. in Super Mario Kart. The adult Donkey Kong first appears in Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong appears in Mario Kart: Double Dash, Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart Tour, Funky Kong appears in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart Tour, and Dixie Kong appears in Mario Kart Tour. Additionally, the Mario Kart series features several Donkey Kong 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
In the 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, and is an unlockable character in Mario Party: Star Rush and Super Mario Party.
Mario sports series
Donkey Kong has appeared as a playable character in almost every game of the Mario sports series since the Nintendo 64 era, including Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Super Mario Strikers, and Mario Superstar Baseball. The first character from the Donkey Kong series that appear as a playable character in the Mario sports series was Donkey Kong Jr. in Mario's Tennis. Diddy Kong is also featured as a playable character in many titles, while additional characters from the Donkey Kong series, such as Dixie Kong, Funky Kong, Tiny Kong, Baby Donkey Kong, but also Kritter and King K. Rool, have made sporadic 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 game of the Super Smash Bros. series 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. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, King K. Rool was introduced as a playable character, bringing with him an arsenal of his attacks from the Donkey Kong Country and Land series. Banjo and Kazooie were revealed as part of the first Fighter Pass for Ultimate in 2019 in a trailer set at Donkey Kong's treehouse, acknowledging Banjo's origins in the Kongs' world. Other characters, like Cranky Kong and Dixie Kong, have appeared throughout the series as collectible trophies. There have been many stages based on games in the Donkey Kong series, including Congo (Kongo) 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. Kongo Jungle from Super Smash Bros. Melee, renamed Kongo Falls, returns in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, along with the N64 Kongo Jungle, Jungle Japes, and 75m.

Other media[edit]

Television series[edit]

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.

The Donkey Kong Country television series was developed based on game of the same name. Airing in France in 1997 and in the US in 1998, the series lasted two seasons with 40 total episodes featuring exclusive characters including Bluster Kong, Eddie the Mean Old Yeti and Kaptain Scurvy.

The Planet of Donkey Kong, later was broadcast in France from September 4, 1996 to September 1, 2001. It was presented by Mélanie Angélie and Donkey Kong, voiced by Nicolas Bienvenu. After the departure of Angélie, the program continued without a host and was renamed on July 1, 2000. The show had several variations, especially during the summer, including "Diddy's Holidays", airing on Saturdays and Sundays around 7 am during the summer of 1997, and "Donkey Kong Beach" at 9:30 on Saturday mornings in the same year.


A 2007 documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, chronicled the competitive following for the arcade version of Donkey Kong.[24]

The original arcade iteration of Donkey Kong is the final villain of the 2015 film Pixels.[25]


Sales and aggregate review scores
As of December 16, 2019.
Game Year Units sold
(in millions)
GameRankings Metacritic
Donkey Kong Country 1994 13.31[26][n 1] 89% (SNES)[27]
90% (GBC)[28]
79% (GBA)[29]
— (SNES)
— (GBC)
78 (GBA)[30]
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest 1995 6.28[26][n 2] 90% (SNES)[31]
81% (GBA)[32]
— (SNES)
80 (GBA)[33]
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! 1996 4.28[26][n 3] 83% (SNES)[34]
75% (GBA)[35]
— (SNES)
77 (GBA)[36]
Donkey Kong 64 1999 5.27[26] 87%[37] 90[38]
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat 2004 82% (GCN)[39]
81% (Wii)[40]
80 (GCN)[41]
78 (Wii)[42]
Donkey Kong Country Returns 2010 9.29[26][n 4] 87% (Wii)[43]
83% (3DS)[44]
87 (Wii)[45]
83 (3DS)[46]
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze 2014 4.26[26][n 5] 84% (Wii U)[47]
87% (NS)[48]
83 (Wii U)[49]
86 (NS) [50]

Critical response[edit]

The Donkey Kong series has received a positive critical reception. Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Country are frequently cited as two of the best video games of all time; the former for its impact on the golden age of arcade video games,[51][52][53] and the latter for its "groundbreaking" usage of pre-rendered 3D graphics and atmospheric music.[54][55][56] Maxim included Donkey Kong Country at number 14 on their list of 'The 30 Best Video Game Franchises of All Time,' describing the series as "some of the best platforming games on Nintendo’s consoles."[57] In the 2017 book the 100 Greatest Video Game Franchises, Donkey Kong was characterized as "a symbol, representing both the timelessness and timeliness of video games."[58]

Impact and legacy[edit]

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.[59]

The success of the Donkey Kong series has resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series with seven 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.[60]

"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.[61][62]

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.[63] It went to the Monster Jam World Finals 9, as well as World Finals 10, where it was the fastest qualifier.


  1. ^ Japanese: ドンキーコング, Hepburn: Donkī Kongu, [doŋ.kiː koŋ.ɡɯ]
Group n
  1. ^ Donkey Kong Country sales breakdown:
    • SNES version: 9.3 million
    • GBC version: 2.19 million
    • GBA version: 1.82 million
  2. ^ Donkey Kong Country 2 sales breakdown:
    • SNES version: 5.15 million
    • GBA version: 1.23 million
  3. ^ Donkey Kong Country 3 sales breakdown:
    • SNES version: 3.51 million
    • GBA version: 0.77 million
  4. ^ Donkey Kong Country Returns sales breakdown:
    • Wii version: 6.53 million
    • 3DS version: 2.76 million
  5. ^ Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze sales breakdown:
    • Wii U version: 2.01 million
    • NS version: 2.25 million


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External links[edit]