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This article is about the first game in the Donkey Kong series. For the character in general, see Donkey Kong. For other uses, see Donkey Kong (disambiguation).
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong (1981 video game).jpg
Donkey Kong symbol.svg Mario symbol.svg
Official poster art for Donkey Kong.
Developer(s) Nintendo Research & Development 1
Ikegami Tsushinki
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Series Donkey Kong, Mario
Director(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Producer(s) Gunpei Yokoi
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Gunpei Yokoi
Composer(s) Yukio Kaneoka
Release date July 9, 1981
JPJuly 9, 1981
EU 1981
Famicom / NES
JPJuly 15, 1983
NAJune 1, 1986
EUOctober 15, 1986
Game Boy Advance
NANovember 11, 2002
JPFebruary 14, 2004
NAJune 7, 2004
EUJuly 10, 2004
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single-player
Ratings E for Everyone
Platform(s) Amstrad CPC
Apple II
Atari 8-bit
Atari 2600
Atari 7800
PC booter
ZX Spectrum
Game Boy Advance
Nintendo GameCube (Animal Crossing game)
Wii (Virtual Console)
Wii U (Virtual Console)
Nintendo 3DS (Virtual Console)

Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング) is an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981. An early example of the platform game genre, the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles. In the game, Mario (originally named Mr. Video Game Himself and then Jumpman) must rescue a damsel in distress named Pauline (originally named Lady), from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. The hero and ape later became two of Nintendo's most popular and recognizable characters. Donkey Kong is one of the most important titles from the golden age of arcade video games, and is one of the most popular arcade games of all time.

The game was the latest in a series of efforts by Nintendo to break into the North American market. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo's president at the time, assigned the project to a first-time video game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations, including Popeye, Beauty and the Beast, and King Kong, Miyamoto developed the scenario and designed the game alongside Nintendo's chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi. The two men broke new ground by using graphics as a means of characterization, including cutscenes to advance the game's plot, and integrating multiple stages into the gameplay.

Donkey Kong is considered to be the earliest video game with a storyline that visually unfolds on screen. The eponymous Donkey Kong character is the game's de facto villain. The hero is a carpenter originally unnamed in the Japanese arcade release, later named Jumpman and then Mario. The ape kidnaps Mario's girlfriend, originally known as Lady, but later renamed Pauline. The player must take the role of Mario and rescue her. This is the first occurrence of the damsel in distress scenario that would provide the template for countless video games to come.

In the Super Smash Flash series


The titular ape Donkey Kong and his rival Mario, both of whom originate from this game, appear in the Super Smash Flash series as playable characters. Mario appears in both Super Smash Flash and Super Smash Flash 2, while Donkey Kong appears only in Super Smash Flash 2.


In SSF2, Mario's down taunt originates from this game. He spins in the air and then falls to the ground with his legs in the air, much like he does during his death animation in this game after getting hit or falling from a great height.

Additionally, Donkey Kong's Final Smash, Arcade, is a tribute to his role in this game. He leaps onto a red steel girder in the background throws barrels onto the stage to roll across it and attack opponents. The girder and effects of the barrels are directly inspired by this game, and the sound effects are ripped from the NES version of Donkey Kong.

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