|First game||Donkey Kong (1981)|
|Created by||Shigeru Miyamoto|
|Voiced by (English)||Soupy Sales (Saturday Supercade)|
Gary Chalk (Captain N: The Game Master)
Richard Yearwood (TV series)
Kevin Bayliss (1999 only)Issac Marshall
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Takashi Nagasako (2004–present)|
Kōichi Yamadera (TV series)
Donkey Kong is a fictional ape in his video game series, created by video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Donkey Kong first appeared in Nintendo's popular 1981 video game of the same name. Since then he has appeared in over 20 games in his own series, as well as in some games in the Mario series. He debuted at the same time as him in the original Donkey Kong game, before moving on to the more complex Donkey Kong Country platformers for the Super Nintendo. He still spars with Mario on occasion, appearing as a playable character in Mario Kart, appearing as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. series and the primary antagonist in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games.
In 1981, Nintendo was pursuing a license to make a game based on the Popeye comic strip. When this fell through, Nintendo decided that it would take the opportunity to create new characters that could then be marketed and used in later games. Miyamoto came up with many characters and plot concepts, but he eventually settled on a gorilla/carpenter/girlfriend love triangle that mirrored the rivalry between Bluto and Popeye for Olive Oyl. Bluto became an ape, which Miyamoto said was "nothing too evil or repulsive", and the pet of the main character. Miyamoto has also named "Beauty and the Beast" and the 1933 film King Kong as influences for the character.
Shigeru believed "donkey" meant "stupid" in English, and assumed the name Donkey Kong would convey the sense "stupid ape" to an American audience. When he suggested this name to Nintendo of America, he was laughed at, but the name stuck.
Donkey Kong made his first appearance as the titular character of the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong alongside protagonist Mario (then known as "Jumpman") and damsel in distress, the Lady (later renamed Pauline). As Jumpman, the player must reach Donkey Kong at the top of each stage, where he is holding the Lady captive. Donkey Kong attempts to hinder the player's progress by throwing barrels, springs, and other objects towards Jumpman. The ape reappeared the following year in the sequel Donkey Kong Junior, where Donkey Kong is taken captive and locked in a cage by the re-named Mario, while Donkey Kong Junior sets out to rescue him. Donkey Kong resumed his antagonistic role in Donkey Kong 3, this time the character Stanley The Bugman taking Mario's place as the protagonist. Stanley fights Donkey Kong's attempts to invade a greenhouse along with a horde of killer bees.
After Donkey Kong, Mario went on to become Nintendo's primary mascot, while Donkey Kong and his son were relegated to supporting roles and cameos such as in the arcade version of Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Kart, and the Virtual Boy game Mario's Tennis. The 1994 Game Boy version of Donkey Kong marked his re-emergence as a major character. He was redesigned, appearing with a red necktie, which sometimes bears his initials, "DK".
The 1994 Super Nintendo Entertainment System game Donkey Kong Country, developed by British game developer Rare, marked a turning point for Donkey Kong by creating a new setting, Donkey Kong Island, and backstory for the character. While retaining the red necktie, he also donned a distinct physical appearance featuring heavy brows and a peaked lock of hair on top of his head. This would become the standard look for Donkey Kong still used over a decade later.
The new Donkey Kong introduced in Donkey Kong Country was initially characterized as the grandson of the original Donkey Kong, who appears in the game as an elderly ape named Cranky Kong, however later sources following the release of Donkey Kong 64 states that the current Donkey Kong was actually meant to be Cranky Kong's son, which would imply that he is a grown-up version of Donkey Kong Jr. However in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Otacon informs Solid Snake that Donkey Kong is the grandson of Cranky Kong.
The modern Donkey Kong is portrayed as a powerful yet lazy and laid-back ape, who is interested mainly in his banana hoard. The series introduced Diddy Kong as Donkey's sidekick, and King K. Rool as his nemesis who steals the banana hoard. Despite his name being in the titles of both games, DK only makes guest appearances (non-playable) in the sequels Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!. where he is captured by K. Rool, while the player controls different Kongs who have set out to rescue him. The Donkey Kong Country series also inspired the Donkey Kong Land trilogy and a television series.
DK also appears in Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64 and the Mario Kart series from Mario Kart 64. With this, he became a regular playable character in the Mario sports series and other spin-offs such as Mario Party and Super Smash Bros..
Following Rare's departure from the series, Nintendo co-produced a trilogy of rhythm games with Namco for the Nintendo GameCube known as the Donkey Konga series, which were based on Namco's own Taiko: Drum Master, though only two of the series' games made it to America. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released on March 14, 2005 in North America for the GameCube. It depicted DK as being more violent than his original image and also used the bongo controllers. In October 2007, Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast was released in North America for the Wii.
On handheld consoles, Donkey Kong was reunited with his former rival Mario in the 2004 Game Boy Advance game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong. A throwback to the Donkey Kong game for the Game Boy, Donkey Kong resumed his antagonist role from his earlier games by taking over the Mario Toy Company, upset over the lack of Mini-Mario toys available for purchase. The game was followed by a 2006 sequel titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, where Donkey Kong, who is infatuated with Pauline, kidnaps her and takes her to the roof of the Super Mini-Mario World amusement park when she ignores a Mini Donkey Kong toy in favor of a Mini-Mario. He also once again appeared as the antagonist in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again. Aside from those, Donkey Kong appeared in DK King of Swing on the GBA around the time of Jungle Beat, and in its sequel, DK Jungle Climber, for the Nintendo DS, which was released in North America on September 10, 2007. Jungle Climber took the gameplay of its predecessor, King of Swing, and mixed it with the style, locations, and items of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy.
Baby DK is a baby version of Donkey Kong. He first appeared in Yoshi's Island DS and then in Mario Super Sluggers. He is not to be confused with Donkey Kong Junior, who is the young version of the second generation in the Donkey Kong family. Even as an infant, he possessed quite powerful strength; being able to support both Yoshi and himself by swinging on vines in order to navigate the area.
In 1999, he was one of the first to appear in the successful game and eventually series Super Smash Bros. He also returned in the sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and his latest appearance in the series, on Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In all of the games thus far, he has been classed as a heavyweight, a character with great strength and weight, good speed, surprising agility, and low jump. His B attacks are Giant Punch, Head Butt, Spinning Kong, and Hand Slap. His final smash is Konga Beat, which lets him bring out his drums and start playing. If you time this right, you could K.O the opponent.
Donkey Kong is a playable character in most Mario Party games, until Mario Party 5, in which he becomes in charge of Donkey Kong spaces. In Mario Party 5 these bring a Donkey Kong related minigame, but in Mario Party 8, landing on a Donkey Kong space gives an advantage (i.e. a chance for a free star).
Donkey Kong appears in Mario Super Sluggers and Mario Kart Wii, both games released for the Wii in 2008. Donkey Kong is also one of the playable team captains in the Wii soccer game Mario Strikers Charged. He also appears as a superboss in the Wii game, Punch-Out!!. He was notably absent in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, but made a playable appearance in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games.
While not officially Donkey Kong, two minor enemies in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars bear a striking resemblance to him. One of the enemies, named "Guerrilla", says "Don't confuse me with someone else." referring to DK, while the other is named the "Chained Kong."
In the 1980s Donkey Kong has his own breakfast cereal. In Clint Eastwood's movie Tightrope a box of the cereal can be seen in the background as Clint's real life daughter Alison Eastwood is making breakfast.