Donkey Kong (game)

This article is about the arcade game. For the Game Boy game of the same name, see Donkey Kong (Game Boy). For the Game & Watch game of the same name, see Donkey Kong (Game & Watch).
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong - cabinet side art
Art of the arcade cabinet
For alternate box art, see the game's gallery.
Developer Nintendo Research & Development 1
Nintendo Research & Development 2 (Famicom/NES port)[1]
Ikegami Tsushinki[2][3]
Coleco (ColecoVision, Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Coleco Adam ports)
Atari, Inc. (Atari 8-bit, Apple II, TI-99/4A, MS-DOS, Commodore VIC-20, and 1983 Commodore 64 ports)
Sentient Software Ltd (ZX Spectrum and MSX ports)
Arcana Software Design (Amstrad CPC and 1986 Commodore 64 ports)
ITDC (Atari 7800 port)
Hamster (Arcade Archives)
Publisher Nintendo
Coleco (ColecoVision, Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Coleco Adam ports)
Atari, Inc. (Atari 8-bit, Apple II, TI-99/4A, MS-DOS, Commodore VIC-20, and 1983 Commodore 64 ports)
Ocean Software (Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, MSX, and 1986 Commodore 64 ports)
Atari Corporation (Atari 7800 port)
Hamster (Arcade Archives)
Release date Arcade:
Japan July 9, 1981[citation needed]
USA July 31, 1981[citation needed]
Atari 2600:
USA July 1982[4]
Europe 1983[citation needed]
Australia 1983[citation needed]
USA July 1982[5]
Europe July 1983[citation needed]
Australia 1983[citation needed]
Coleco Tabletop:
USA August 1982[6]
USA October 1982[citation needed]
Europe 1983[citation needed]
Australia 1983[citation needed]
Atari 8-bit Computers:
USA June 1983[citation needed]
Europe 1983[citation needed]
Famicom/NES port:
Japan July 15, 1983[citation needed]
USA June 15, 1986[citation needed]
Europe October 15, 1986[citation needed]
USA November 1983[7]
USA November 1983[citation needed]
Apple II:
USA December 1983[citation needed]
Commodore VIC-20:
USA February 1984[8]
Commodore 64:
USA February 1984 (Atarisoft)[8]
Europe 1986 (Ocean Software)[citation needed]
Coleco Adam:
USA June 1984[citation needed]
Europe 1986[citation needed]
ZX Spectrum:
Europe 1986[citation needed]
Amstrad CPC:
Europe 1986[citation needed]
Family Computer Disk System:
Japan April 8, 1988[9]
Atari 7800:
USA November 1988[citation needed]
Europe 1988[citation needed]
USA November 11, 2002[10]
Game Boy Advance:
Japan February 14, 2004[citation needed]
USA June 7, 2004[citation needed]
Europe July 9, 2004[citation needed]
Virtual Console (Wii):
USA November 19, 2006[citation needed]
Japan December 2, 2006[citation needed]
Australia December 7, 2006[citation needed]
Europe December 8, 2006[citation needed]
Virtual Console (3DS):
Japan October 17, 2012[citation needed]
USA August 15, 2013[citation needed]
Europe November 21, 2013[citation needed]
Australia November 21, 2013[11]
Europe September 18, 2014 (Original Edition)[citation needed]
Australia September 19, 2014 (Original Edition)[citation needed]
South Korea March 2, 2016[citation needed]
Virtual Console (Wii U):
Japan July 15, 2013[citation needed]
USA July 15, 2013[citation needed]
Europe July 15, 2013[citation needed]
Australia July 15, 2013[citation needed]
NES Classic Edition/Famicom Mini:
Japan November 10, 2016[citation needed]
Australia November 10, 2016[citation needed]
USA November 11, 2016[citation needed]
Europe November 11, 2016[citation needed]
Nintendo Switch (Arcade Archives):
USA June 14, 2018[citation needed]
Japan June 15, 2018[citation needed]
Europe June 15, 2018[citation needed]
Australia June 15, 2018[citation needed]
Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online:
USA September 18, 2018[citation needed]
Japan September 19, 2018[citation needed]
Europe September 19, 2018[citation needed]
Australia September 19, 2018[citation needed]
HK April 23, 2019[citation needed]
South Korea April 23, 2019[citation needed]
Language(s) English (United States)
Genre Platformer
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Upright, cabaret, and cocktail
Monitor Raster, standard resolution 224 x 256 (Vertical) 256 Colors
Wiimote Sideways.png Wii Remote (Horizontal)
Wii U:
Wiimote Sideways.png Wii Remote (Horizontal)
Nintendo Switch:
Game Boy Advance:
Nintendo 3DS:
NES Classic Edition:

Donkey Kong is an arcade game that was Nintendo's first big hit in North America. It marked the beginning of the Super Mario and Donkey Kong franchises (and the series of the latter also named Donkey Kong) and introduced several of their earliest characters, including Mario himself (a carpenter rather than a plumber), the original Donkey Kong (who, in later games, would become Cranky Kong, the current Donkey Kong's grandfather[12]), and Lady (later renamed Pauline). A port of this game was one of the three launch titles for the Family Computer in 1983. This port was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System as part of the Arcade Classics Series in 1986. The game sold very well in the United States, becoming one of four games to be inducted into the Nintendo Hall of Fame. The original arcade version had four screen levels, but the Nintendo Entertainment System version only has three, with the stage 50 m cut. This game was also the first title to be released on Virtual Console. Donkey Kong was the second platforming game ever made; the 1980 game Space Panic was the first. However, Donkey Kong was the first to include jumping as an ability.


Donkey Kong has kidnapped the beautiful Lady and taken her to a dangerous construction site somewhere in New York.[13] Mario must climb to the top of the construction site and rescue her from the giant ape.

Official story quoted from Nintendo of AmericaEdit

"HELP! HELP!" cries the beautiful maiden as she is dragged up a labyrinth of structural beams by the ominous Donkey Kong. "SNORT. SNORT." Foreboding music warns of the eventual doom that awaits the poor girl, lest she somehow be miraculously rescued. "But wait! Fear not, fair maiden. Little Mario, the carpenter, is in hot pursuit of you this very moment."

Throwing fate to the wind, risking life and limb, or worse, little Mario tries desperately to climb the mighty fortress of steel, to save the lovely lady from the evil Mr. Kong. Little Mario must dodge all manner of obstacles- fireballs, plummeting beams, and a barrage of exploding barrels fired at him by Donkey Kong. Amidst the beautiful girl's constant pleas for help, your challenge is to maneuver little Mario up the steel structure, while helping him to avoid the rapid-fire succession of hazards that come his way.

As little Mario gallantly battles his way up the barriers, he is taunted and teased by Donkey Kong, who brazenly struts back and forth, beating his chest in joyful exuberance at the prospect of having the beautiful girl all to himself. It is your job to get little Mario to the top. For it is there, and only there, that he can send the mighty Donkey Kong to his mortal doom. Leaving Little Mario and the beautiful girl to live happily ever after. "SIGH. SIGH."

So, if you want the most exciting, most fun-filled, most talked about family video game on the market, don't monkey around with anything but the original Donkey Kong.


Screenshot of the first level, 25 m.

Donkey Kong stars Mario, who attempts to reach the top of a construction site where Lady is held captive. He can walk along platforms, jump, and climb ladders as well. In the process, Donkey Kong may attempt to hinder Mario from a higher location by sending obstacles at him. Mario has the ability to jump over these obstacles or obliterate them using a Hammer; in both cases, he obtains several points that are added to a score. However, if Mario ends up falling off the side of a platform and lands on one below him (or none), and the height difference is greater than Mario's, he loses a life. Each time Mario reaches Lady, Donkey Kong will carry her away on a pair of ladders to the next level until the fourth stage, where he is defeated upon completion.


Character Name Debut Information
  Mario 25 m A carpenter, Mario serves as the protagonist of the game, possessing the ability to jump over obstacles and wield hammers. Certain materials for the arcade version use the alternate name Jumpman.[14][15][16][17] The Arcade Archives release revives the Jumpman name in its manual.[18]
  Lady 25 m The damsel in distress, held by Donkey Kong at the end of every level. The MS-DOS and Apple II ports were the first titles to change her name to Pauline, followed by the Coleco Adam and then the Western NES release. Prior to these, she was named in licensed media and merchandise.
  Donkey Kong 25 m The main antagonist, Donkey Kong appears in every level at the end of each stage, throwing obstacles at Mario or guarding Lady. This particular Donkey Kong is later revealed to be a younger Cranky Kong.


Enemy Name Debut Information
Barrel 25 m Barrels are thrown by Donkey Kong throughout 25 m. Mario can easily jump over these barrels, or destroy them with a Hammer. Certain barrels appear to be blue, which will spawn a Fireball if they reach the Oil Drum at the beginning of the stage.
  Fireball 25 m Sentient flames that follow Mario, even climbing up ladders. They spawn from Oil Drums located amongst each stage and can easily be defeated with a Hammer.
  Cement tub 50 m Cement contained in blue tubs. They are moved along conveyor belts and defeat Mario if he touches them.
  Jack 75 m Spring-like obstacles that appear in 75 m. They bound from where Donkey Kong stands before falling straight down when it reaches an edge.
  Fire 100 m Fireballs that are larger than usual, making them harder to jump over. Multiple Fires spawn from the sides of the screen and can be fended off using a Hammer.


Item Name Effect
  Hammer Hammers can be used to defeat all enemies in the game. As soon as Mario grabs a hammer, he starts swinging the hammer back and forth repeatedly and strikes anything in his path. While holding the hammer, Mario cannot jump. After a certain time, the hammer disappears and cannot be used again until another one is picked up.
Parasol, Hat & Bag For each of these items Mario takes, he will gain a point bonus.


In the Japanese arcade versions, each of the 22 playable levels consist of these four screens:

  • 25 m
  • 50 m (removed in most ports)
  • 75 m (removed in some ports)
  • 100 m (removed in Game & Watch version)

After completing the fourth screen, 100 m, the player has reached the next level, which starts at 25 m again, but with increased difficulty like more frequent barrels and faster fireballs.

In the international arcade versions, the order of the screens is more complicated with the middle screens revealed in later levels and up to six screens per level from level 5 onward.

Kill screen in Level 22Edit

Although the game is intended to be playable indefinitely by not having a level cap, it is impossible to complete the first screen of level 22 (this is the 85th screen in the later Japanese versions and 117th screen in the international versions), due to a glitch within the process of calculating the time limit. Said time limit is calculated using the formula (10 × level number) + 40 and shown in hundreds as a bonus counter in the top-right edge of the screen. Because the calculated value is stored as an 8-Bit integer, which can only save 256 different values ranging from 0 to 255, and the formula results in a value of 260 for level 22, an integer overflow occurs and the value is saved modulo 256, which means 260 is saved as 4. This leads to a starting value of 400 for the timer of level 22 so that Mario dies a few seconds after starting the level, being unable to finish it.[19] In the first Japanese version, it is possible to get past the kill screen by exploiting another glitch which lets Mario warp to the top of the screen by jumping off the first girder and through the floor. However, the 88th screen cannot be beaten as there is not enough time to remove all the bolts.


Concept art for the scrapped Popeye game that developed into Donkey Kong (March 21, 1981)

Development of Donkey Kong began in March 1981 when Shigeru Miyamoto, under the supervision of the late Gunpei Yokoi, was assigned by Nintendo to convert Radar Scope, a poorly selling arcade game in North America, into a game that would have more appeal to more gamers. Shigeru Miyamoto later admitted that he did not focus on the story of the game, instead creating a basic plot with colorful characters and music that he himself penned[20]. He said that Mario and Lady were not intended to have a relationship, and he did not know where the idea came from, but he thought that it did not matter much.[citation needed] The game was also originally designed to have Mario escape from a maze, and jumping was not yet implemented, making platforming too difficult.[21] Originally, the four screens were supposed to be a single long stage, but this idea was scrapped due to the inability to implement vertical scrolling.[22] In a time where arcade games took around two to three months to build, Donkey Kong was built in four or five months and Shigeru Miyamoto was focused on developing it for a global market rather than just for Japan.[23] The working title during development was Table Kong Game until export manager Shinichi Todori came up with the name for both the game and the antagonist at the end of May.[24][25] Due to the late name change, the printed circuit boards (PCB) retain the "TKG" part numbering. The final version of the game was a major breakthrough for Nintendo and the video game industry, becoming one of the best selling arcade machines of its time. Its platforming gameplay also distinguished it from most other arcade games at the time.

Donkey Kong was heavily inspired by 1930s American media. It was originally conceived as a Popeye game, based on the 1930s comic and animation, with Bluto being in the role of Donkey Kong, Popeye being Mario, and Olive Oyl being Lady. The particular Popeye short that inspired Yokoi is A Dream Walking, which is set in a construction site.[26] Although Nintendo held the license to produce Popeye-branded products,[22] the characters ended up being changed for technical reasons.[25] A Popeye Game & Watch game was developed at the same time and was released only a few weeks after Donkey Kong. The Popeye arcade game came out a year later in 1982 and was followed by two more Popeye Game & Watch releases in 1983. The 1930s film King Kong would serve as another inspiration[27] and the setting of the game was New York City.[13] Coleco's American live-action commercials for Donkey Kong portrayed Mario in 1930s clothing with a fedoraMedia:Donkey Kong Commercial 1982.png, and Lady was given a period appropriate hairstyle to match.

Nintendo Research & Development 1 worked on Donkey Kong, multiple Game & Watch titles, and the arcade game Sky Skipper simultaneously. Like Donkey Kong, Sky Skipper is also about rescuing captives from gorillas. Miyamoto did cabinet artwork for both games.

Despite Mario originally being given the name Ossan (the Japanese term for "middle-aged man"),[28] Miyamoto envisioned Mario as a young man at around 24 or 26 years old, describing Donkey Kong as Mario's pet who escaped and kidnapped his girlfriend.[23]


Universal Studios lawsuitEdit

In 1982, around a year after the game's release, Universal Studios sued Nintendo, claiming that Donkey Kong infringed on Universal Studios's intellectual property rights to the film King Kong. Howard Lincoln, attorney and future president of Nintendo of America, decided to fight the case and hired seasoned attorney John Kirby to represent Nintendo. When Kirby showed that not only was Nintendo not likely in violation of any trademarks but also that Universal Studios themselves had sued RKO Pictures in 1975 to prove that the plot of King Kong was in fact in the public domain, Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled in Nintendo's favor, ordering Universal to pay Nintendo $1.8 million in legal fees. In an ironic twist, Judge Sweet also ruled that Tiger's King Kong video game, licensed by Universal, infringed on Donkey Kong. After the victory, Nintendo awarded John Kirby with a $30,000 sailboat, christened the Donkey Kong, and gave him "exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats."[29][30]

Crazy KongEdit

To meet the unexpectedly high demand for arcade machines, Nintendo licensed production to other companies.[31] Crazy Kong was an officially-licensed clone of Donkey Kong manufactured by Falcon. They were allowed to produce a certain amount of printed circuit boards (PCB) and were banned from exporting them. Falcon breached this agreement by producing more than 9000 excess units and also by exporting them to the US. On January 29, 1982, Nintendo terminated their license agreement. On June 1, Nintendo Japan filed for an injunction against Falcon in Kyoto District Court, which was granted on June 5. A countersuit by Falcon was won by Nintendo.[32] On October 13, Nintendo launched a lawsuit seeking damages against Falcon.[33] This experience led Nintendo to decide to produce all Donkey Kong Jr. machines by themselves.[34] Falcon's president was later arrested for unauthorized copying of Donkey Kong Jr. PCBs.[35]

On June 30, 1982, Nintendo of America filed a complaint toward Elcon Industries Inc., an arcade hardware manufacturer based in Michigan that sold Crazy Kong boards. The complaint alleged that the licensing agreement with Falcon explicitly forbade the manufacturing or export of Crazy Kong outside Japan. The case was taken to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, which quickly ruled in favor of Nintendo[36].

Ikegami TsushinkiEdit

As Nintendo's newly established video game division lacked programming manpower, the arcade version of Donkey Kong was programmed by Ikegami Tsushinki, a contractor that had worked for Nintendo for several of its arcade releases[2][3]. For Donkey Kong's development, the two companies signed a contract which gave Ikegami Tsushinki exclusive rights to the manufacturing of Donkey Kong arcade boards[2][3].

In 1983, Ikegami Tsushinki sued Nintendo on the ground that the company had violated the contract and produced around 80,000 arcade boards on its own[2][3]. Ikegami Tsushinki also sought compensation for the use of reverse-engineered Donkey Kong code in Donkey Kong Jr.[2][3] and claimed it owned the copyright on Donkey Kong's code (while the contract did not specify ownership of the code, a judgment relating to Space Invaders Part II set a precedent establishing computer code can be copyrighted[3]). In response, Nintendo claimed it owned Donkey Kong's code as Ikegami Tsushinki was hired as a sub-contractor[2][3].

The case went to the Tokyo District Court until March 26, 1990, at which point the two companies settled out of court[2][3].


The international arcade version of Donkey Kong was re-released by Namco as part of the compilation arcade system Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr./Mario Bros. in 2004 for the North American market.

Announced at E3 2018 for the Nintendo Switch and released as part of Hamster Corporation's Arcade Archives brand, an emulation of the original arcade game titled Arcade Archives: Donkey Kong was released through the eShop on June 14, 2018, marking the first official release of the full arcade version of Donkey Kong for a home console since its original release 37 years earlier. The player can choose between playing the original Japanese release, the later Japanese release, and the international release of the game.


By ColecoEdit

Coleco won the rights for the tabletop and home console ports, first as an oral agreement in November 1981, then formally on February 1, 1982.[30] All were published in 1982 except for the Coleco Adam port which was released in 1984.

ColecoVision port, considered the definitive console port until the NES release
  • Atari 2600
    • 50 m and 75 m have been cut out. Cutscenes are also absent.
    • The game has much simpler graphics.
    • In 25 m, only one Hammer appears instead of two. Donkey Kong does not throw the barrels, but they are automatically spawned. Fireballs and blue barrels do not appear.
    • In 100 m, four large Fires spawn automatically. Mario can destroy only the second highest Fire which does not re-spawn. They do not change colors when Mario holds the hammer. They glide from one edge of their platform to the other and they cannot climb ladders.
    • Shortly after its release, Coleco recalled this port due to it not working on original Atari 2600 models. [4]
  • ColecoVision (Pack-in game)
    • 50 m has been cut out. There are no cutscenes too.
    • 25 m lacks blue barrels and Fireballs. Due to a missing girder, Donkey Kong is found on the right.
    • 100 m is missing a girder, meaning that Mario only needs to remove six bolts.
    • 75 m comes after 100m. There is no jack on 75 m but there are three Fires (four later on).
  • Coleco Tabletop
    • Uses a vacuum fluorescent display (VFD)
    • 50 m and 75 m have been cut out.
    • There are no Fireballs in 25 m but they replace the Fires in 100 m.
    • There are ten bolts in 100 m.
    • Hammers only award points.
    • There is an electric fence under Donkey Kong. Mario can run through it but not jump over it.
  • Intellivision
    • 50 m and 75 m have been cut out. There are no cutscenes as well.
    • 25 m lacks blue barrels and Fireballs. Like the ColecoVision, Donkey Kong is on the right due to a missing girder.
    • 100 m is missing a girder so there are only six bolts. There are only two Fires and they do not change color when Mario wields a hammer.
    • Coleco missed their intended late August 1982 release date.[4][37] It came out in October instead.[38][39]
    • The game does not work on the Intellivision II due to an intentional cartridge lockout, meant to affect Coleco and other third-party cartridge producers. The Intellivision II checks that valid numeric values have been put in the addresses used by the Exec routine's "Mattel Electronics Presents" startup screen. Donkey Kong skips this routine in favor of a custom Coleco startup screen, thus failing to pass the subsequent later check of the data. Donkey Kong Jr. (and other 3rd party games) would later work around this by putting appropriate values in the copyright memory locations, even though they still did not use the Exec's startup screen.
    • The Intellivision staff were very angry about the release of this port, speculating that Coleco made the game intentionally look bad visually so the ColecoVision version would look superior. The more likely outcome is that Coleco simply did not have much experience programming for the Intellivision hardware.[40]
  • Coleco Adam
    • Unlike the ColecoVision port, Donkey Kong now throws blue barrels as well but 25 m still lacks Fireballs.
    • In 75 m, there are two Fires (three later on) instead of Fireballs but the jacks have been restored and they spawn out of Donkey Kong.
    • A prototype made its debut at the June 1983 Consumer Electronics Show and caused a dispute with Atari which held the rights for home computer releases. Atari canceled a nearly finished deal to distribute a localized version of the upcoming Family Computer in North America in retaliation on the mistaken belief that Nintendo gave its blessing to Coleco's port.[41] Coleco justified its existence in that the prototype used a ColecoVision cartridge as opposed to a cassette or floppy disk. Coleco agreed to not bundle this port as a pack-in game for the Adam so its release was pushed back to 1984, which by then the disastrous faults of the Adam had become well known. The released version, part of Coleco's Super Game series, uses a proprietary cassette. Nintendo awarded Atari the rights to publish Mario Bros. for both home consoles and computers outside of Japan one week after the CES.[42] These events, along with the video game crash of 1983, caused Nintendo to push back the development and release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America for two years.

By AtariEdit

Atari, Inc.Edit

Atari, Inc. won the rights for home computer ports for both Donkey Kong and its sequel in November 1982.[30][43] Atari, Inc. created the Atarisoft brand for titles published on competing computer systems. All were published in 1983 or 1984.

  • Atari 8-bit computers
    • Instead of Fireballs, Fires appear in all stages. They do not change colors when Mario holds a hammer.
    • 25 m is missing a girder so Donkey Kong appears on the right
    • A birthday cake replaces one of Pauline's items in 50 m and 75 m
    • 100 m is the only stage that has a cutscene
    • This port was released as a cartridge and came out months ahead of the Atarisoft ones below which were released for the Christmas shopping season but some failed to reach the market in time.
  • Texas Instruments TI-99/4A
    • There are no cutscenes. Donkey Kong and Pauline are not animated
    • No barrels are directly thrown at Mario in 25 m. Blue barrels set off the oil drum but does not spawn Fireballs.
    • There are no jacks in 75 m
    • Fires are absent, Fireballs take their place in 100 m. They do not change colors when Mario holds a hammer.
    • Released as a cartridge
  • MS-DOS (marketed for the IBM-PC)
    • 25 m is missing a girder so Donkey Kong appears on the right
    • A birthday cake replaces the purse in 75 m
    • Fires take the place of Fireballs in 75 m
    • Released as a floppy disk
  • Apple II
    • All the same gameplay issues as the MS-DOS port as both were by the same development team but graphics are slightly better
    • Released as a floppy disk
  • Commodore VIC-20
    • There is an attract mode scene when idle at the title screen
    • Mario can change direction mid-air
    • A birthday cake replaces one of Pauline's items in 50 m and 75 m
    • Fires are absent, Fireballs take their place in 100 m. They do not change colors when Mario holds a hammer.
    • 100 m is the only stage that has a cutscene
    • Released as a cartridge
  • Commodore 64 (This is the first official port and it is for the North American market.)
    • Visually faithful port but Donkey Kong does not beat his chest and Pauline does not do her kicks
    • Lacks the "How high can you get?" screen before stages
    • Fires are absent, Fireballs take their place in 100 m. Their colors flip inside out when Mario holds a hammer.
    • Released as a cartridge

Atari CorporationEdit

Atari, Inc. was partitioned in July 1984 with the home computer and console division becoming Atari Corporation. During the June 1988 Consumer Electronics Show, Atari Corporation announced that it would release Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Mario Bros. for the Atari 7800.[44]

  • Atari 7800
    • 50 m has been cut out. The only cutscene to remain happens after 100 m is beaten.
    • The graphics more closely resemble the original game than the Atari 2600 port as it was based on the NES port.
    • The same title song from the NES port appears on the title screen.
    • In 25 m, blue barrels do not appear and are instead replaced by barrels that go sideways.
    • Lady's hat does not appear in 75 m.

By Ocean SoftwareEdit

Ocean Software previously released a bootleg version for the ZX Spectrum in 1983 called Kong. All of the following were published as cassettes in 1986 for the European home computer market. They use the Japanese level progression.

  • Amstrad CPC
    • Very faithful port but sound is slightly off
    • Enemies do not turn blue when Mario holds a hammer
    • In 50 m, Donkey Kong is not moved by the conveyors
    • In 75 m, Donkey Kong is not animated
  • Commodore 64 (This is the second official port and it is for the European market.)
    • Very faithful port but sound is off
    • Enemies do not turn blue when Mario holds a hammer
    • In 50 m, Donkey Kong is not moved by the conveyors
  • MSX
    • Pauline is reduced to an inanimate stick figure. She does not appear in 100 m until the final cutscene in which she has a larger, more detailed sprite.
    • The girders of 25 m have very little sloping
    • In 50 m, Donkey Kong is not moved by the conveyors. There is no umbrella.
  • ZX Spectrum
    • Pauline is reduced to an inanimate stick figure. She does not appear in 100 m until the final cutscene in which she has a larger, more detailed sprite.
    • Enemies do not turn blue when Mario holds a hammer
    • The girders of 25 m have very little sloping
    • In 50 m, Donkey Kong is not moved by the conveyors

By NintendoEdit

Game & Watch versionEdit

Famicom / NES versionEdit

NES port

Donkey Kong Original EditionEdit

The restored level in Donkey Kong Original Edition
  • Virtual Console
    • The second port, entitled Donkey Kong Original Edition (ドンキーコング オリジナル・エディション), attempted to adhere to the arcade version and was pre-installed for the European release of the Mario 25th Anniversary limited edition red Wii in 2010. This version restored some missing animations and the level 50 m, which was cut from the NES version, although Donkey Kong mistakenly stands still in this level, and the graphics more closely resemble the arcade version, though still not quite identical to the latter. This port was made available on the Nintendo eShop in Japan when a Club Nintendo member purchased the download version of one of two games, one of which was New Super Mario Bros. 2[47], from July 28, 2012, to September 2, 2012.[48] A similar promotion took place in the US between October 1, 2012, and January 6, 2013, exclusively to members of Club Nintendo who have, within the aforementioned time frame, linked their systems to their Club Nintendo accounts and have purchased the downloadable version of one of five select 3DS titles (one of which was Paper Mario: Sticker Star). There are currently no plans for a wide release of this version in the U.S., although it was released in Europe for the 3DS eShop on September 18, 2014.

As a minigameEdit

It is featured as a minigame in the following titles:


Donkey Kong has two sequels and a remake:


Atari 8-bit computersEdit

  • First, the player has to achieve a score in the 37,000s, 73,000s, or 77,000s, then lose all of their remaining lives, with the last life lost by falling off a platform. After returning to the title screen, the player should set the game difficulty to level 4, then wait for the title screen to appear again after the demo. The initials "LMD", which stands for "Landon M. Dyer", the creator of the game, will appear at the bottom of the title screen.[49]

Apple IIEdit

  • Pressing 1 on the number pad gives the player extra lives.
  • Pressing 2 on the number pad makes the player invincible.


Main article: List of Donkey Kong staff

The arcade version was produced by Gunpei Yokoi, while Hiroshi Yamauchi received executive producer credit as courtesy of being Nintendo's president. Shigeru Miyamoto directed the game while an uncredited Ikegami Tsushinki did programming duties, later leading to a lawsuit over which company owned the arcade code's rights. An older version of Intelligent Systems' own website claims credit for developing the NES port for Nintendo, but the current version changes it to Donkey Kong 3.[50] The Iwata Ask interview released for New Super Mario Bros. Wii states the port was developed by Nintendo Research & Development 2[1]. Landon M. Dyer programmed the Atari 8-bit port which served as the basis for several Atarisoft ports.

Although Ikegami Tsushinki is uncredited, a 1996 article published in Bit Magazine and written by one of the programmers involved, Hirohisa Komanome, reveals the name of the programmers who worked on the game[51].

Nintendo eShop descriptionEdit

Nintendo 3DS Nintendo eShop

Donkey Kong has kidnapped Pauline, and it is up to Mario, the fearless carpenter, to come to her rescue. Throwing fate to the wind, Mario tries desperately to climb the labyrinth of structural beams from the top of which Donkey Kong taunts him. Help our hero ascend the metal structure by dodging an assortment of fireballs, steel beams, and exploding barrels the angry ape hurls at him. Prepare yourself for a never-ending adventure as Donkey Kong takes Pauline away to the next level every time Mario gets to the top. Based on the arcade game of the same name, this classic will keep hardcore and casual gamers entertained for hours.

Nintendo 3DS Nintendo eShop (Original Edition)

For the first time in North America, Donkey Kong Original Edition offers 4 different stages of platforming action--including the cement factory stage which was available in the original arcade! Donkey Kong™ has kidnapped Pauline, and it is up to Mario™, the fearless carpenter, to come to her rescue. Throwing fate to the wind, Mario tries desperately to climb the labyrinth of structural beams from the top of which Donkey Kong taunts him. Help our hero ascend the metal structure by dodging an assortment of fireballs, steel beams, and exploding barrels the angry ape hurls at him. Prepare yourself for a never-ending adventure as Donkey Kong takes Pauline away to the next level every time Mario gets to the top. Based on the arcade game of the same name, this classic will keep hardcore and casual gamers entertained for hours.

Wii U Nintendo eShop

Donkey Kong has kidnapped Pauline, and it is up to Mario, the fearless carpenter, to come to her rescue. Throwing fate to the wind, Mario tries desperately to climb the labyrinth of structural beams from the top of which Donkey Kong taunts him.

Help our hero ascend the metal structure by dodging an assortment of fireballs, steel beams, and exploding barrels the angry ape hurls at him. Prepare yourself for a never-ending adventure as Donkey Kong takes Pauline away to the next level every time Mario gets to the top.

Based on the arcade game of the same name, this classic will keep hardcore and casual gamers entertained for hours.


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


For a complete list of media for this subject, see List of Donkey Kong media.


  Opening - The opening cutscene theme.
File infoMedia:DK Arcade Opening Theme.oga
  How High Can You Get? - Music that plays when starting a level.
File infoMedia:DK Arcade How High Can You Get Theme.oga
  25 m - Music that plays in 25 m.
File infoMedia:DK Arcade 25m Theme.oga
  Lose a Life - Music that plays when killed, or running out of time.
File infoMedia:DK Arcade Lose a Life Theme.oga
  Hammer - Music that plays when using the hammer.
File infoMedia:DK Arcade Hammer Theme.oga
  Level Complete - Music when completing a level.
File infoMedia:DK Arcade Level Complete Theme.oga
Help:MediaHaving trouble playing?

Reception and legacyEdit

Donkey Kong was an immediate hit when released. In the US, the game was introduced through a test run at two Seattle bars at the end of July 1981. Nintendo of America sold its first machine on September 10.[52] Around 132,000 arcade machines were sold in Japan and North America, making it one of the most successful arcade games during the golden age of arcade video games.[53] In addition, Nintendo reaped millions of dollars from royalties through third-party ports. It was by far the most profitable game Nintendo had produced up till then and would not be surpassed until Super Mario Bros. One year from September 30, 1981, the sales of Nintendo of America went from $4.7 million to $111 million. Net revenues jumped from $64,000 to $22 million.[30]

Starting from 1982, Nintendo of America began licensing deals for Donkey Kong related merchandise and media. This led to the creation of Donkey Kong branded toys, food, a board gameMedia:DK board game.jpg, a card game, collectible stickers/cards, activity books, and other goods. This culminated in the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior segments of Saturday Supercade which ran from 1983 to 1984. Most of the licensed products used the character designs from the North American flyerMedia:DK Arcade Flyer Front.jpg illustrated by Zavier Leslie Cabarga.

As a part of The Strong National Museum of Play's 2023 expansion, a playable 20-foot recreation of the arcade cabinet was built.[54]

References in later mediaEdit

  • Super Mario Bros. 2: Clawgrip tosses down rocks and beats his chest in a similar manner to Donkey Kong in this game.
  • Donkey Kong (Game Boy): The four levels from the arcade version of this game are remade in this game. The Hammer and Pauline's dropped items also appear. The plot is also identical for the first four stages.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Cranky Kong, who is stated to be an elder version of the original Donkey Kong, uses a phonograph and plays the title song from the NES version of this game in the intro, on a structure made of girders resembling the ones from 25 m. The oil drums from Oil Drum Alley are the same as the ones in 25 m.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Cranky's line, "Whisking off maidens and chucking barrels seven days a week, I was!" is a direct reference to this game.
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: One of the challenge rooms in Bowser's Keep late in the game involves Mario having to dodge barrels thrown down by a Guerrilla.
  • Super Smash Bros.: The Hammer appears as an item in this game. Donkey Kong's red costume and Mario's blue costume in this game are based on their respective original sprites in Donkey Kong. In addition, although not in the game itself, the Nintendo Power ad for the game indirectly alludes to Mario and Donkey Kong's origins as rivals by mentioning off-handedly that Mario and Donkey Kong have not "duked it out" for more than a decade.
  • Mario Golf: One of Wario's alternate costumes is based on Mario's original outfit.
The arcade machine found in the Frantic Factory.
  • Donkey Kong 64: A direct port of the arcade game is playable by accessing an arcade machine in Frantic Factory. The song that plays in Creepy Castle is also a remade version of the music that plays when Donkey Kong is climbing up the construction site with Pauline. A red girder that looks similar to those from 75 m can also be seen inside DK's Tree House.
  • Paper Mario: The opening theme plays when confronting the Koopa Bros. in Koopa Bros. Fortress, followed by the Koopa Bros. theme. Also, Mario's pixel form colors are based on his colors from the game's artwork and sprite.
  • Donkey Konga: When choosing to display in 50hz or 60hz, Mario's sprite acts as the cursor; Donkey Kong's sprite can be seen to the left.
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!: There is a microgame based upon this game in which the player as Mario must jump over barrels.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: If Mario jumps when the Border Bros tell Luigi to jump, one of them says, "give the jumpman thing a rest", a reference to Mario's alternate name from the arcade version. Mario rescues Luigi at Woohoo Hooniversity by traversing a stage with rolling barrels. There is also a skeletal pirate named Bink who tosses barrels in the Barrel minigame.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: One of the badges in this game is the Jumpman badge. In addition, if the player returns to the Glitz Pit and reaches first place again, one audience member says, "JUMPMAN!!! Wait, who?"
  • Mario Power Tennis: The music that plays when Donkey Kong wins a trophy is the title theme from this game.
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat: During the fights with Ghastly King and Cactus King, a portion of their battle music consists of the music that plays when Donkey Kong takes Pauline up the construction site.
  • Donkey Konga 3 JP: One of the songs from this game is featured.
  • Mario Party 7: One of the DK minigames is called "Jump, Man", and requires navigating up a series of ramps and vines over a series of falling barrels. Toadsworth even notes the similarity to the gameplay of Donkey Kong.
  • Mario Hoops 3-on-3: Mario's baller name in this game is "The Jumpman".
  • Donkey Kong Barrel Blast: The theme of Cranky's flight school and part of Cosmic Highway feature this game's opening theme.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: 75 m appears as an unlockable stage in this game. The title theme appears as a cover version in this game, and the 25 m theme also appears in its original format. A demo of this game is also available as a Masterpiece. Mario's down taunt, in which he spins around in midair and falls on his back, is a reference to his dying animation in this game. Also, one of Wario's costumes is based on Mario's outfit from his first appearance, one of Donkey Kong's alternate costumes is based on his sprite from his first appearance and one of Peach's alternate costumes is based on Pauline's original appearance. Pauline and Donkey Kong also appear as a sticker, using their original artwork.
  • WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase: There is a microgame based upon this game in which the player must destroy a barrel rolling toward Mario by tapping it. The microgame's description also refers to Mario as Jumpman, which was changed when the microgame returned in WarioWare Gold.
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Broozers can knock around barrels, similar to Donkey Kong in this game.
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: The 25 m stage can be seen in the background of Foggy Fumes. A statue of the Donkey Kong sprite from this game holding up a Wii Remote can be seen in Wonky Waterway. Some of the secret temple stages feature paintings on pillars and platforms resembling the stages from this game.
  • Super Mario 3D Land: Part of the final battle with Bowser features Bowser moving from side to side and tossing barrels at Mario in a similar manner to Donkey Kong in this game.
  • NES Remix / Ultimate NES Remix: Several challenges are based on this game.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: Donkey Kong's sprite can be seen holding a Wii U GamePad at the end of Aqueduct Assault.
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker: The music played and animation when the player picks up a Super Pickaxe are identical to when Mario grabs a Hammer in this game. Also, the level Retro Ramp-Up is based on this game, but replacing Donkey Kong with a Spike throwing spiked balls.
  • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U: 75 m returns as a stage. This game is also once again featured as a Masterpiece. Pauline appears in the form of a trophy. In addition, the ending of Pac-Man's debut trailer, "Red, Blue, and Yellow", subtly referenced the game by showing Mario and Donkey Kong slightly off-screen with arrows pointing to them with the year "1981" on top while Pac-Man and Mr. Game & Watch were quarreling.
  • amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits: NES version included as a "highlight"; the player can play on 25 m, 75 m, and 100 m in three separate "scenes", each of which is 180 seconds long
  • Super Mario Odyssey: Pauline brings up the events of this game in a few lines of dialog, and stand-ins for her items appear as part of a quest to find her a gift. Mario's original outfit appears as the Classic Suit for Mario. Red girders appear in the Metro Kingdom (which is a reference to the Donkey Kong series) and are in a few parts of the city. Many of the billboards use art from the arcade cabinet, and Pauline and Donkey Kong's original designs appear as graffiti art on a building as well. The license plates for the taxi cabs also read "1981-ND", a reference to the year Donkey Kong was released. In an 8-bit segment using sprites from Donkey Kong in the Metro Kingdom, Mario must climb girders while avoiding barrels. Oil Drums also appear, along with coins spelling out "DK". The music for 25 m can be heard in "Jump Up, Super Star!", as well as during the ending cutscene variation of "Break Free (Lead the Way)". Also, the sound effect that plays when Mario jumps over a barrel can be heard in the aforementioned riff.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: The Phantom mentions Donkey Kong in his song. The Barrel Bonker references how Donkey Kong tries to hit Mario with barrels in this game. In an area of the Donkey Kong Adventure DLC, a stone structure resembling the 25 m stage can be seen, where a Rabbid is found jumping over barrels that another Rabbid is throwing while imitating Donkey Kong's movements and the 25 m theme plays in the background. Beep-0 remarks that the Rabbid would be lucky to get to 125 meters unless he finds a Hammer.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: 75 m returns as a stage yet again. Donkey Kong and Pauline (under her original name Lady) appear as a Legend-class spirit, using their original artwork.
  • Mario Kart Tour: Portions of this game can be seen on Times Square's screens in all variations of the New York Minute track. Mario (Classic) uses Mario's original outfit colors.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: In the fitness center, there is an exercise bike that gives Luigi a key. The tune that plays when Luigi gets the key from the bike is the Hammer theme.
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King: When Mario walks while the Retro Soundbox is equipped, he makes the walking sound effect from Donkey Kong.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Donkey Kong is referenced as an arcade game called Jump Man. A character named Giuseppe also resembles Mario's look from Donkey Kong and can be seen playing it in the movie. The boot up song when starting a new game is briefly heard when Mario defeats Donkey Kong in the Great Ring of Kong.
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Pauline's horn use an arrangement of the stage clear jingle.

Names in other languagesEdit

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ドンキーコング
Donkī Kongu
Donkey Kong


  • Even though Mario wears his signature red and blue clothing in the game, he wears blue and white clothing on the box art for the North American NES port.
  • Nintendo Power distributed an original Donkey Kong arcade cabinet as the grand prize for the Classic NES Series sweepstakes.
  • In 1982, Buckner and Garcia recorded a song titled "Do the Donkey Kong", using sound effects from the game, and released it on the album Pac-Man Fever.
  • A Europe-only slot machine was made in 1996 by Maygay, based on the game.
  • In 2007, a documentary film, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, directed by Seth Gordon was released. The film centers around high school teacher Steve Wiebe as he tries to achieve a world record for obtaining the highest score in the game, which was held by Billy Mitchell at the time.
  • This is the very first Nintendo game to feature anti-piracy measures. How this works is that if all but the first N in the Nintendo name on the title screen is altered, the game freezes up about four seconds into the gameplay, which is the length of time taken for the first blue barrel Donkey Kong throws to set off the oil drum at the bottom of 25m.[55]


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External linksEdit