Year Of Release: 1981
Donkey Kong is one of the most important arcade games of all time. While this was not the first game, Nintendo had produced it was the first game of theirs to crack the US market and really make them a name to be remembered. Nintendo and general gaming legend, Shigeru Miyamoto took inspiration from things such as Popeye when he came up with the concept of Donkey Kong. As a matter of fact many stories over the years have said that Donkey Kong was created as Nintendo could not get the rights to make a game based on Popeye. It’s crazy to imagine how different the world of gaming would be had Nintendo been allowed to make their Popeye game.
In another twist of fate in the Donkey Kong story, Nintendo developed another game called Radar Scope which was something of a failure and as a result the head of the company wanted a game to be made that could be put into the vast amount of unsold Radar Scope arcade cabinets they had…… Donkey Kong would be this game.
The plot of Donkey Kong is very interesting in that it is one of the earliest arcade games to have a story actually play out right in front of the gamers eyes. The story sees, Donkey Kong who is the pet of a man simply known as Jump Man, get sick of the way he is treated so one day he escapes and kidnaps a young lady by the name of Pauline who is Jump Man’s girlfriend. The story is very simple, but at the time it was rather ground breaking in the fact that you had a clear goal to achieve and you also had some for lack of a better term, cut scenes that moved the story along.
As well as introducing the world to Donkey Kong the game also gave us Jump Man who as most people know would go on to be called Mario and become the biggest icon in the world of video games! But before he was Super Mario he was just simply Jump Man in Donkey Kong.
The game play of Donkey Kong is best described as a platform game. Playing as Jump Man you need to beat four different screens in order to save Pauline. The first screen is a construction site level where you need to make it to the top while avoiding barrels and fire balls. Screen 2 sees you needing to climb up a series of conveyer belts this level is often referred to as the “pie factory” and is notable as it is missing from the majority of the home ports of the game. Screen 3 is the elevator stage where you need to avoid a variety objects as you make your way to the top. The last stage sees you needing to remove rivets in order to make Donkey Kong fall. Once you beat the game you get to play it all over again.
To say Donkey Kong was a huge success is an understatement. It is not an exaggeration to say that it changed gaming forever. Nintendo had created a pop culture icon who had a wide range of merchandise made in his image. And he even was the star of his own Saturday morning cartoon. Donkey Kong was such a huge success that the ColecoVision console paid to have the game as a pack in title. This was a huge coup and it was far more arcade faithful than any of the other versions of the game. Donkey Kong would prove to be a system seller for the ColecoVision, but even Donkey Kong could not stop the video game crash of 83.
Current High Score: 1,138,600 by Hank Chien
Donkey Kong would go on to spawn many sequels. Donkey Kong Junior and Donkey Kong 3 would make their way to the arcades, but as well as this, Donkey Kong would be re-launched in the 1990’s on the Super Nintendo in the Donkey Kong Country series of platform games. A series of games that is still going to this day. By far Donkey Kong is one of the most well-known and beloved characters in all of gaming he appears in pretty much every Nintendo mash up game such as Mario Kart, Mario Party, Smash Bros and many more. He also has a ton of merchandise in various toy and gaming stores all around the world.
Thanks to the movie King Of Kong A Fistful Of Quarters, the original arcade version of Donkey Kong saw a huge rise in popularity with gamers all over the world trying to beat the high score.