Donkey Kong

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Donkey Kong
Logo from 2010 to 2018
Creator(s)Shigeru Miyamoto
Composer(s)David Wise
First releaseDonkey Kong
July 9, 1981
Latest releaseDonkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
May 3, 2018

Donkey Kong[a] is a Japanese video game series created by Shigeru Miyamoto. It stars an ape named Donkey Kong who, along with his clan of other apes and monkeys defeats a variety of anthropomorphic enemies. Mainly against the Kremlings, a clan of crocodiles led by King K. Rool that usually steals their banana hoard.[1] The franchise consists mainly of platforming games, as well as spin-offs of various genres.

The first game was the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, who featured the homonymous character as the main antagonist in an industrial construction setting. The title was a massive success and was followed by two sequels released in 1982 and 1983. It was also where the characters of both Donkey Kong and Mario debuted. The franchise is mainly a series of side-scrolling platform games, while the original arcade titles are single-screen platform action puzzle. Games outside these two genres include rhythm games such as Donkey Konga, racing games such as Diddy Kong Racing, and edutainment such as Donkey Kong Jr. Math.

An icon of the Donkey Kong franchise is barrels, which the Kongs use as weapons, vehicles, furniture, and lodging.

As of March 2021, the Donkey Kong franchise has sold over a total of 65 million copies worldwide.


Donkey Kong debuted in the arcade game Donkey Kong on July 9, 1981 as the computer-controlled antagonist and opponent. He became the player character in later games. Donkey Kong Jr. debuted in the arcade style game Donkey Kong Jr. released in 1982, to save his father from Mario. Cranky Kong is the original Donkey Kong and is the modern DK's grandfather.[2] 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 games such as the Super Smash Bros. and the Mario Kart series.

History and development[edit]

Release timeline
1981Donkey Kong
1982Donkey Kong Jr.
1983Donkey Kong II
Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Jr. Math
1984Donkey Kong Circus
Donkey Kong Hockey
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
2004Donkey Konga 2
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
2005DK: King of Swing
Donkey Konga 3
2007Donkey Kong Barrel Blast
DK: Jungle Climber
2010Donkey Kong Country Returns
2014Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Origins (1981–1984)[edit]

Arcade series[edit]

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

Developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released in July 1981, The original Donkey Kong arcade 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 (renamed Mario) must ascend a construction site while avoiding obstacles such as barrels and fireballs to rescue his girlfriend Pauline from Donkey Kong. Miyamoto created a greatly simplified version for the Game & Watch multiscreen. Other conversions 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 converted to the Family Computer in 1983 as one of the system's three launch games and re-released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Both Donkey Kong and its sequel, Donkey Kong Jr., are in the 1988 NES compilation Donkey Kong Classics. The NES version was re-released as an unlockable game in Animal Crossing for the GameCube[citation needed] and on the Wii's Virtual Console.[3] The original arcade version appears in the Nintendo 64 game Donkey Kong 64. The NES version was re-released on the e-Reader in 2002 and for the Game Boy Advance Classic NES series in 2004. It was re-released for Wii, Wii U, and 3DS in 2013 and 2014, as Donkey Kong Original Edition.

The success of the original game spawned several ports, and a sequel, Donkey Kong Jr. which was also developed by Shigeru Miyamoto. 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.[4] In the arcade version, Donkey Kong Jr. has to climb chains to push keys to the top screen, while avoiding danger such as electrical wires.

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 was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released in September 1983, instead of Mario, the player controls Stanley the bug exterminator. Donkey Kong has taken refuge in his greenhouse and stirs up any insects that will soon destroy the flowers that Stanley must save by spraying his bug spray on Donkey Kong.

Miscellaneous genres[edit]

Donkey Kong Circus is a Game & Watch Panorama series game released in 1984.[4] 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 is an edutainment game 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. One player enters arithmetic answers for points, or two players race to create a math formula to reach the number shown by Donkey Kong, incorporating platform gameplay.

Donkey Kong Hockey was developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released in 1984 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.

Absence and remake (1984–1994)[edit]

Cancelled NES game[edit]

Return of Donkey Kong was a proposed Nintendo Entertainment System game announced in 1987 and to be developed by Nintendo.[5] The player would have controlled Donkey Kong himself. No such game was ultimately released for NES.

SNES prototype[edit]

A prototype game, Super Donkey, was discovered in 2020 to have been in development for the SNES. It was a platform game featuring similar graphics to the Nintendo game Yoshi's Island. It features a new protagonist wearing a pilot suit, and sprites of Donkey Kong alongside a barrel. The name suggests it may have been considered as a new Donkey Kong game before being repurposed for Yoshi.[6]

Donkey Kong for Game Boy[edit]

In June 1994, after ten years with no new games in the series, Donkey Kong, a remake of the original arcade title was released for the Game Boy, adding 96 new levels. Another decade later, Nintendo would revive this style of gameplay with the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series.

Rare era (1994–2002)[edit]

Original Donkey Kong Country series[edit]

Rare founders Tim and Chris Stamper in 2015
The "DK" emblem on Donkey Kong's necktie

Donkey Kong Country was the first wholly new entry in the series for ten years. Released in November 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and developed by British game developer Rare, The game took the Donkey Kong series in a new direction, becoming a showcase title to show off then-revolutionary Computer-generated imagery graphics. It was released mere months after the original game's Game Boy remake, which introduced the red tie worn by Donkey Kong. 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. It is an action side-scrolling game similar to the Mario series 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.[7][8] 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.[8] 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.[9] There are also many secret passages that can lead to bonus games where the player can earn additional lives or other items.[10]

In several levels, players can gain assistance from various animals, who are found by breaking open crates. These "Animal Buddies" 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.[11][12] Animal friends can sometimes give players access to otherwise inaccessible bonus games, examples being Rambi and Enguarde busting through walls.[13]

Donkey Kong Land series[edit]

The Donkey Kong Land games are 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.

Diddy Kong Racing[edit]

Diddy Kong Racing is 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 debuts Banjo the Bear and Conker the Squirrel, who appeared later in their own franchise games.

Donkey Kong 64[edit]

Front and back views of a black, plastic cartridge with a red top.
Donkey Kong 64 is the first game to require the Nintendo 64's Expansion Pak memory upgrade.

A Nintendo 64 sequel to Rare's Donkey Kong Country games, was released in November 1999 as Donkey Kong 64 a 3D platform game in the style of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, where Donkey Kong and his DK crew must save the Donkey Kong Island from being destroyed by King K. Rool. The playable characters are Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and the newly introduced Lanky Kong, Tiny Kong, and Chunky Kong. 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 series, DK64 features a unique banana yellow cartridge, and is only playable with the included Expansion Pak.

In development prior to Rare acquisition[edit]

Donkey Kong Racing was a demo for a GameCube racing game, shown at Space World 2001. It showed various characters, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Taj the Genie of Diddy Kong Racing racing each other while riding Rambi, Enguarde, Expresso, Ellie, Zinger, Necky, Army, and Chomps Jr., animals introduced in previous Donkey Kong games. Rare later reworked the game into Sabreman Stampede, which incorporates many of the same ideas without the racing aspect, but this was also later cancelled.

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.[14]

Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers was a puzzle game prototype developed by Rare for the Game Boy Advance. Similar to Donkey Kong Racing and Diddy Kong Pilot, the game was canceled 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.

Post-Rare buyout (2003–2008)[edit]

Handheld remakes by Rare[edit]

Following the sale of Nintendo's 49% stake in Rare to Microsoft in 2002, Rare announced concentration on Xbox games. The company continued to support Nintendo's portable consoles, the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Rare developed new versions of its Country games for Game Boy Advance that were released between 2003 and 2005. 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.

Diddy Kong Racing Adventure prototype[edit]

Diddy Kong Racing Adventure is a rejected pitch made by the Climax Group for a Diddy Kong Racing sequel on the GameCube around 2004. The project was never announced to the public and only became known after an amateur video game archivist acquired the prototype and published a video about it in November 2016.[15]

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat[edit]

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released in Japan in December 2004 and elsewhere in early 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 Nunchuk to control Donkey Kong instead of tapping on the DK Bongos.

Two arcade games were 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,[16] 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.

Donkey Kong Barrel Blast[edit]

Donkey Kong Barrel Blast is Donkey Kong's first title role on the Wii, but originally developed for the GameCube. It was to make use of the DK Bongos peripheral introduced alongside Donkey Konga. Due to the declining sales of the GameCube, development shifted to Wii with motion controls.

Donkey Konga series[edit]

The Donkey Konga series relied upon use of the DK Bongos accessory.

Donkey Konga on the GameCube in 2004, started the Donkey Konga series. Created by Namco, this musical rhythm action game relies upon use of the DK Bongos accessory 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 year.

DK series[edit]

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. 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.

Retro Studios era (2010–2018)[edit]

Donkey Kong Country series logo, as of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong riding in a mine cart in Donkey Kong Country Returns. These iconic levels are known for their difficulty.[17]

Donkey Kong Country Returns[edit]

In Donkey Kong Country Returns, a Wii game that succeeded the original Country trilogy, new gameplay elements were added such as levels in which the characters and foreground environments appear as silhouettes, spawning several new gameplay mechanics.[18] Collecting K-O-N-G letters will not award any lives to the player, but instead unlock various bonuses and hidden levels. Additionally, collecting puzzle pieces unlocks artwork. 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. 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.[13] A port of the game was released for Nintendo 3DS.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze[edit]

Tropical Freeze for Wii U marked the debut of Dixie Kong and Cranky 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.[19] 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.[20][21] 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.[22]


Mario franchise[edit]

After appearing in the original Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., the Mario character would star in his own franchise, beginning with the Mario Bros. arcade game, and followed by Super Mario Bros. With the success of the succeeding Super Mario series, Mario would go on to be become Nintendo's mascot. In addition to the Super Mario series, the Mario franchise would spawn other spin-offs, including Mario Kart and Mario Party. Donkey Kong would appear as a playable character in the vast majority of the spin-offs.

The roots of the Mario franchise in Donkey Kong would be further acknowledged in Super Mario Odyssey, with many elements of the DK franchise featured in the New Donk City level. DK and Diddy Kong have their own Amiibo figures as part of the Super Mario line.[23]

Banjo-Kazooie series[edit]

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[edit]

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; Conker's Pocket Tales and Conker's Bad Fur Day were self-published by Rare.


Mario Kart series[edit]

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 is 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[edit]

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[edit]

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 is Donkey Kong Jr. in Mario's Tennis. Diddy Kong is also featured as a playable character in many games, and additional characters from the Donkey Kong series, such as Dixie Kong, Funky Kong, Tiny Kong and Baby Donkey Kong, but also Kritter and King K. Rool, have made sporadic appearances. Donkey Kong appears as a 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.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong series[edit]

Nintendo's first Donkey Kong game 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.

Super Smash Bros. series[edit]

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 is 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 Rare games' boss fights. 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 is 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 the 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 mid-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, chronicles the competitive following for the arcade version of Donkey Kong.[24]

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

Donkey Kong is set to appear in an animated Mario film, scheduled to be released in late 2022. He will be voiced by Seth Rogen.[26]


Sales and aggregate review scores
Game Year Units sold
(in millions)
GameRankings Metacritic
Donkey Kong 1981 9.6[27][28][29][n 1] 78 (Arcade)[30]
64% (GBA)[31]
82% (Arcade)[32]
58 (GBA)[33]
Donkey Kong Jr. 1982 2.7[27][n 2] — (Arcade)
— (NES)
— (Arcade)
— (NES)
Donkey Kong 3 1983 — (Arcade)
— (NES)
— (Arcade)
— (NES)
Donkey Kong Jr. Math 1983 32%[34]
Donkey Kong 1994 3.1[27] 85%[35]
Donkey Kong Country 1994 13.31[27][n 3] 89% (SNES)[36]
90% (GBC)[37]
79% (GBA)[38]
— (SNES)
— (GBC)
78 (GBA)[39]
Donkey Kong Land 1995 3.9[27] 75%[40]
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest 1995 6.28[27][n 4] 90% (SNES)[41]
81% (GBA)[42]
— (SNES)
80 (GBA)[43]
Donkey Kong Land 2 1996 2.3[27] 79%[44]
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! 1996 4.28[27][n 5] 83% (SNES)[45]
75% (GBA)[46]
— (SNES)
77 (GBA)[47]
Donkey Kong Land III 1997 1.4[27] 81%[48] (GB)
— (GBC)
— (GB)
— (GBC)
Diddy Kong Racing 1997 6.39[27][n 6] 89% (N64)[49]
67% (DS)[50]
88 (N64)[51]
63 (DS)[52]
Donkey Kong 64 1999 5.27[27] 87%[53] 90[54]
Donkey Konga 2003 1.18[27] 78%[55] 76[56]
Donkey Konga 2 2004 71%[57] 69[58]
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat 2004 1.8[27] 82% (NGC)[59]
81% (Wii)[60]
80 (NGC)[61]
78 (Wii)[62]
DK: King of Swing 2005 72%[63] 70[64]
Donkey Konga 3 2005
Donkey Kong Barrel Blast 2007 44%[65] 46[66]
DK: Jungle Climber 2007 77%[67] 77[68]
Donkey Kong Country Returns 2010 9.29[27][n 7] 88% (Wii)[69]
84% (3DS)[70]
87 (Wii)[71]
83 (3DS)[72]
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze 2014 4.26[27][n 8] 84% (Wii U)[73]
87% (NS)[74]
83 (Wii U)[75]
86 (NS) [76]

The Donkey Kong franchise has generally received positive critical reception, despite some spin-offs received more mixed 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,[77][78][79] and the latter for its "groundbreaking" usage of pre-rendered 3D graphics and atmospheric music.[80][81][82] 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."[83] In the 2017 book the 100 Greatest Video Game Franchises, Donkey Kong is characterized as "a symbol, representing both the timelessness and timeliness of video games".[84]


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.[85]

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.[86]

"It's on like Donkey Kong" is an expression used in pop culture that is inspired by the original game. Nintendo requested a trademark on the phrase with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in November 2010.[87][88]

The original game is 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.[89] 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]
  1. ^ Donkey Kong sales breakdown:
    • Arcade version: 0.132 million
    • ColecoVision version: 2 million
    • Atari 2600 version: 4 million
    • NES version: 1.13 million
    • Donkey Kong Classics: 1.56 million
  2. ^ Donkey Kong Jr. sales breakdown:
    • Arcade version: 0.03 million
    • NES version: 1.11 million
    • Donkey Kong Classics: 1.56 million
  3. ^ Donkey Kong Country sales breakdown:
    • SNES version: 9.3 million
    • GBC version: 2.19 million
    • GBA version: 1.82 million
  4. ^ Donkey Kong Country 2 sales breakdown:
    • SNES version: 5.15 million
    • GBA version: 1.23 million
  5. ^ Donkey Kong Country 3 sales breakdown:
    • SNES version: 3.51 million
    • GBA version: 0.77 million
  6. ^ Diddy Kong Racing sales breakdown:
    • N64 version: 4.8
    • DS version: 1.59
  7. ^ Donkey Kong Country Returns sales breakdown:
    • Wii version: 6.53 million
    • 3DS version: 2.76 million
  8. ^ Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze sales breakdown:
    • Wii U version: 2.01 million
    • NS version: 2.25 million


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