Donkey Kong Jr.

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Donkey Kong Jr.
North American arcade flier
Director(s)Shigeru Miyamoto
Producer(s)Gunpei Yokoi
Artist(s)Shigeru Miyamoto[4]
Yoshio Sakamoto[4]
Composer(s)Yukio Kaneoka[5]
Donkey Kong
  • List of re-releases
    • Famicom/NES:
      • JP: July 15, 1983
      • NA: June 1, 1986[3]
      • EU: June 15, 1987
    • Famicom Disk System:
      • JP: July 19, 1988
    • e-Reader:
      • NA: September 16, 2002
Mode(s)1-2 players alternating turns

Donkey Kong Jr.[a] is a 1982 arcade platform game that was released by Nintendo. It is the sequel to Donkey Kong, but with the roles reversed compared to its predecessor: Mario is now the villain and Donkey Kong Jr. is trying to save his kidnapped father. It first released in arcades and, over the course of the decade, was released for a variety of home platforms. The game's title is written out as Donkey Kong Junior in the North American arcade version and various conversions to non-Nintendo systems.

The game was principally designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and his coworker and the company's chief engineer Gunpei Yokoi.[6] Miyamoto also created the graphics for the title along with Yoshio Sakamoto.[4] As with its predecessor, the music for the game was composed by Yukio Kaneoka.[5]


Donkey Kong Jr. trying to rescue his father from the cage next to Mario

Like its predecessor, Donkey Kong Jr. is a platform game. There are a total of four stages, each with a unique theme. DK Jr. can run left and right, jump, and grab vines/chains/ropes to climb higher on the screen. He can slide down faster by holding only one vine, or climb faster by holding two. Enemies include "Snapjaws", which resemble bear traps with eyes; bird-like creatures called "Nitpickers", some of which can attack by dropping eggs; and "Sparks" which roam across the wiring in one of Mario's hideouts. DK Jr. can jump over these enemies while on platforms, switch from one vine/chain/rope to another to dodge them, or knock down pieces of fruit that will destroy every enemy they touch before falling off the bottom of the screen.

To pass the first three stages, DK Jr. must reach the key hanging next to his father's cage, whereupon Mario flees while pushing the cage off the screen. In the fourth stage, DK Jr. must push six keys into locks on the topmost platform to free Donkey Kong. After a brief cutscene, the player is taken back to the first stage at an increased difficulty. A bonus timer runs throughout each stage, and any points remaining on it are added to the player's score upon completion.

DK Jr. loses a life when he touches any enemy or projectile, falls too great a distance, touches the water and falls off the bottom of the screen or if the bonus timer counts down to zero. The game ends when the player loses all of their lives.


Donkey Kong has been defeated by Mario, who has put him in a cage in a forest. Donkey Kong's son, Donkey Kong Jr., follows Mario in an attempt to free his father. Mario transports Donkey Kong to his Hideout via helicopter, before Mario takes the keys to Donkey Kong's chains and places them around the building. Several enemies attack Donkey Kong Jr., but he escapes them and makes it to his father, releasing him from the chains as Mario falls to the ground. Donkey Kong Jr. saves Donkey Kong and the two set off together. Mario pursues the kongs, but flees after Donkey Kong knocks him back.


During Donkey Kong’s development in 1981, Shigeru Miyamoto's team had come up with several ideas and full complete levels that wouldn't really fit into the game due to the various constraints. His team eventually began fleshing out these concepts, and these designs evolved into something all their own. The process was so far along, with even entire stages conceived, that one of the team members suggested they start working on another video game. The conversation happened around the same time that Nintendo wanted another Donkey Kong coin-op to capitalize on the original's fame, giving Miyamoto the perfect opportunity to further explore his newly established franchise. Originally, Miyamoto wanted the new game to star Donkey Kong himself, but there were problems with the character's massive size. He wouldn't be maneuverable on the screen, so a new star was needed. The change brought about a new hero and drove the narrative in an entirely new direction. They ultimately came up with the idea to make a smaller Donkey Kong in place of Mario who would be the son of Donkey Kong. Since they still wanted a big Donkey Kong on top of the screen, they came up with the plot of Mario capturing him after the events of the first game.[7]


The order of the levels is different in different territories. In the Japanese version, the four levels appear in 1-2-3-4 sequence and then repeat, just as with the Japanese release of Donkey Kong. In the US version, the order is 1–4. 1–2–4, 1–3–4, 1-2-3-4 and then 1-2-3-4 from then on.

Kill screen[edit]

Donkey Kong Jr. has a kill screen at level 22. Due to the level counter only having one digit, the counter shows numbers 1 to 9 in levels 1 to 9, seven blanks in levels 10 to 16, and the letters A to F in the levels 17–22. The kill screen occurs the same way as in Donkey Kong, where an integer overflow occurs after too big a result is given after a multiplication problem in the computing. The timer counts as if there are 700 points, then kills Donkey Kong Jr. until all lives are gone.


New Wide Screen Game & Watch Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr. was made on the NES (for which it was one of three Japanese launch games[8]), Family Computer Disk System, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit computers, ColecoVision, Coleco Adam, and Intellivision. A BBC Micro conversion was made but unreleased. Three Game & Watch versions of the game were also made. Two black-and-white versions for the New Wide Screen and Multi Screen handheld series (later under the model name Donkey Kong II), and a color version for the Tabletop and Panorama series. In 2002 the NES version was rereleased on the GBA add-on, the e-Reader.


In Japan, the original arcade version was the eighth-highest-grossing arcade game of 1982.[9]

Raymond Dimetrosky of Video Games Player gave the ColecoVision version a positive review. He compared it favorably with another ColecoVision arcade conversion released at the same time, Sega's Space Fury, writing that Donkey Kong Jr. has better graphics and gameplay.[10] Computer Games magazine in 1984 reviewed the Coleco Adam version, calling it a "supergame adaptation" and the best conversion of the game.[11]

Donkey Kong Jr. received an award in the category of "1984 Best Videogame Audio-Visual Effects (16K or more ROM)" at the 5th annual Arkie Awards, where the judges described it as "great fun", and noted that the game was successful as a sequel–"extend[ing] the theme and present[ing] a radically different play-action" than its predecessor, Donkey Kong.[12]: 42 

Donkey Kong Jr. is regarded as one of the Top 100 Video Games by the Killer List of Videogames. It was selected to be among five arcade games chosen for history's first official video game world championship, which was filmed at Twin Galaxies in Ottumwa, Iowa by ABC-TV's That's Incredible! over the weekend of January 8–9, 1983.

Allgame gave a review score of 4 out of 5 stars praising the graphics and sound being "exceptionally arcade-like" and the controls and play mechanics being faithful to the arcade version.[13]



The NES version–along with its predecessor Donkey Kong–was re–released in 1988 in an NES compilation titled Donkey Kong Classics. This version was later released on the e-Reader and is available on the Virtual Console for the Wii.[14] The NES version is also a playable game on Animal Crossing, though a special password is needed from an official website which is now no longer available. Donkey Kong Jr. was made available for the Nintendo 3DS from the Nintendo eShop, released in Japan on April 18, 2012,[15] in North America on June 14,[16] and in Europe on August 23[17] and was given away free to the Ambassadors users before the full release. It was again released for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2014.[18] The arcade version of Donkey Kong Jr., featuring both the Japanese and American versions, was released by Hamster Corporation for the Nintendo Switch as part of the company's Arcade Archives series in December 2018.[19]

In 2004, Namco released an arcade cabinet which contained Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Mario Bros.

Competitive play[edit]

On August 10, 2008, Icarus Hall of Port Angeles, Washington, scored 1,033,000 points playing Donkey Kong Jr.[20]

On April 24, 2009, Steve Wiebe eclipsed Hall's score, finishing with 1,139,800 points.[21] On September 3, at 1984 Arcade in Springfield, Missouri, Mark L. Kiehl of Enid, Oklahoma surpassed Wiebe's record with a score of 1,147,800.[22][23] Steve Wiebe regained the record with a score of 1,190,400 on his home machine set on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.[23][24] Mark Kiehl has since eclipsed the previous world record with a score of 1,307,500.[citation needed] In November 2016, Kiehl improved the record with a score of 1,412,200.[25]

On July 3, 2023, Justin Elliott performed a score of 1,584,400 live on his Twitch channel to secure the World Record.[25] The score was independently verified by the Donkey Kong Forum as well as Twin Galaxies.[26]

In popular culture[edit]

The game spawned a cereal with fruit-flavored cereal pieces shaped like bananas and cherries.

The game was featured on numerous episodes of Starcade. Host Geoff Edwards noted that he had the arcade machine in his dressing room and found the game to be highly difficult.

Donkey Kong Jr. was a cartoon on Saturday Supercade (a series that aired on Saturday mornings from 1983 to 1985) with the title character voiced by Frank Welker.

Donkey Kong Jr. is one of the 8 playable characters in Super Mario Kart for the SNES. He is also a playable character in Mario's Tennis on Virtual Boy and Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64.

In the version of Super Mario Bros. 3 seen in Super Mario All-Stars, as well as the Game Boy Advance version, the king of World 4 was transformed into a young gorilla identical to Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr. is among the characters in Super Mario Maker that players can transform into by use of Mystery Mushrooms.


  1. ^ Japanese: ドンキーコングJR., Hepburn: Donkī Kongu Junia


  1. ^ "Monkeying Around With Mario: Donkey Kong Junior". Computer and Video Games. No. 14 (December 1982). November 16, 1982. p. 31.
  2. ^ "Donkey Kong Jr. International Releases". Giant Bomb.
  3. ^ a b c Kohler, Chris (April 7, 2010). "Q&A: Metroid Creator's Early 8-Bit Days at Nintendo". Wired: GameLife. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Famicom 20th Anniversary Original Sound Tracks Vol. 1 (Media notes). Scitron Digital Contents. 2004.
  5. ^ "Miyamoto Interview". Nintendo Official Magazine UK. EMAP. September 2003. Archived from the original on December 10, 2006.
  6. ^ Horowitz, Ken (2020). Beyond Donkey Kong. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 90–91.
  7. ^ Marley, Scott (December 2016). "SG-1000". Retro Gamer. No. 163. Future Publishing. pp. 56–61.
  8. ^ ""Pole Position" No. 1 Video Game: Game Machine's "The Year's Best Three AM Machines" Survey Results" (PDF). Game Machine. No. 207. Amusement Press, Inc. March 1, 1983. p. 30.
  9. ^ Dimetrosky, Raymond (September 1983). "Video Game Buyer's Guide: Donkey Kong Jr. (Coleco) vs. Space Fury (Coleco)". Video Games Player. Vol. 2, no. 1. United States: Carnegie Publications. p. 56.
  10. ^ "Conversion Capsules: Hit Games in New Formats". Computer Games. Vol. 3, no. 4. December 1984. pp. 62–3.
  11. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1984). "Arcade Alley: The Arcade Awards, Part 1". Video. 7 (10). Reese Communications: 40–42. ISSN 0147-8907.
  12. ^ Brett Alan Weiss. "Donkey Kong Jr. Review". allgame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  13. ^ Parish, Jeremy (October 31, 2006). "Wii Virtual Console Lineup Unveiled". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2006.
  14. ^ "ドンキーコングJr. | ニンテンドー3Ds | 任天堂".
  15. ^ "Nintendo - Official Site - Video Game Consoles, Games - Nintendo - Official Site". Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  16. ^ "Donkey Kong Jr".
  17. ^ "Donkey Kong Jr. Math for Wii U - Nintendo Game Details". Archived from the original on October 3, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  18. ^ "Arcade Archives DONKEY KONG JR. For Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details".
  19. ^ "Twin Galaxies' Donkey Kong, Jr. High Score Rankings". August 24, 2008. Archived from the original on March 28, 2008.
  20. ^ "Steve Wiebe Takes Donkey Kong Junior World Record With Score of 1,139,800". April 24, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  21. ^ Archived March 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ a b "1984". 1984.
  23. ^ "". Archived from the original on February 23, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  24. ^ a b "Donkey Kong Forum Donkey Kong Jr. High Score List". January 24, 2016.
  25. ^ "Twin Galaxies Arcade - Donkey Kong Junior - Points - 1,584,400". Retrieved July 10, 2023.

External links[edit]