Donkey Kong Turns 35! A History and Appreciation of the Donkey Kong Franchise


35 years ago Donkey Kong appeared in
arcades the year was nineteen eighty-one Mario didn’t even have a name yet his
creator called him mr. video and then later jumpman players maneuver this
character across platforms and up ladders chasing down the titular Donkey
Kong who had kidnapped a woman named Pauline this hero hunts villain story
made the original Donkey Kong one of the first video games to have a complete
narrative simple as it was it was also really hard it took patience and extremely accurate
timing to beat the game in nineteen eighty-two Donkey Kong Jr. came out for
the NES and in arcades it was a direct sequel to the original
Donkey Kong except this time and for the only time in history Mario was the villain you played as
Donkey Kong Jr. trying to rescue your dad from the cage he was locked in by
Mario after the events of the original Donkey Kong gameplay was different DK Junior could climb vines as well as
hop across platforms he can also hold two vines at once
allowing him to climb faster meanwhile Mario was up there talking
birds and alligators have him come on man get it together Donkey Kong three came out in 1983 and
changed up the DK formula again it was a side-scrolling shooter that
feature Donkey Kong is an enemy it was also the first game to have the
modern DK logo the player is Stanley an exterminator who sprays donkey kong with
bug spray his goals are to kill bugs and force DK to climb up those vines and go
away the game only had three levels and was
criticized for being pretty repetitive fast forward to 1994 the Donkey Kong
series returns to platforming with Donkey Kong Country y for the Super Nes
this time we’re on Donkey Kong Island and Donkey Kong is a hero he and his nephew Diddy Kong are taking
back a horde of stolen bananas from the villain King K Rool yeah this was the first DK game to be
developed by Rare and it was the second best selling Super NES Game of all time it introduced popular DK mechanics like
launching out of barrel cannons swinging from vines riding in mine carts and
swimming as well as collecting bananas and kong letters Rare also introduced side characters
flushing out the DK universe Donkey Kong Country also set the
standards for the character that we recognize his Donkey Kong today basically it laid the groundwork for
modern DK games as we know them the second Rare developed Donkey Kong
game was Donkey Kong Country 2 Diddy’s Kong quest released in 1995 this time
diddy kong was joined by his girlfriend Dixie Kong and no i don’t know why they
have the same last name Dixie Kong can jump higher than Diddy Kong and uses her ponytail to float the game maintained the same style as the
first DK Country but introduced new side characters like Wrinkly Kong Donkey Kong’s grandmother as well as
gameplay elements like honey which made a sticky obstacle 1996 saw dixie kong
take over the title role in Donkey Kong Country 3 Dixie Kong’s double trouble another rare
game this platformer had Dixie teaming up with her cousin Kiddy to rescue DK
and diddy from king k rule that is a mouthful it was the last DK game that rare
released for the super nes and that might have contributed to its low sales
the nintendo 64 was also released that same year 1997’s diddy
kong racing didn’t even have donkey kong in it lots of other DK characters were
playable though as well as other bear characters like Conker the squirrel and
Banjo-Kazooie at the time reviewers praised the game’s audio and graphics it was the sixth best-selling N 64
game of all time and actually beat out mario kart 64 for the console racing
game of the year in 1999 the DK series returned to platforming with Donkey Kong
64 the format was similar to the donkey kong country games with water stages
mine carts and of course vine swinging King K Rool is back yes again and this time he kidnaps
Diddy, Tiny, Lanky, and Chunky Kong and steals a bunch of bananas some people never learn most importantly
Donkey Kong 64 introduced the world to the DK rap which is something that we
may never recover from Donkey Kong 64 was the last donkey kong
game developed by rare in 2002 rare was bought by microsoft and then donkey kong
disappeared the franchise didn’t resurface until 2003 with the first Donkey Konga rhythm game from Namco in 2004
Nintendo resurrected a rivalry with Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy
Advance 2004 also saw the release of the second Donkey Konga game and Donkey Kong
jungle beat the donkey konga games had introduced DK bongo drums which
totally makes sense for a rhythm game these bongos were also used to control
Donkey Kong in jungle beat which was a platformer people loved the game they
just hated beating those bongos for hours to move DK around when the Wii
release included more traditional controls jungle beat was elevated to an
all-time classic DK game the Donkey Kong series wouldn’t return
to the classic 3d platformer style until 2010’s Donkey Kong Country
Returns in the interim years we saw two more handheld games DK King of Swing for the game boy
advance and DK Jungle Climber for the Nintendo DS both were platformers where DK and Diddy
Kong swing on pegs to get through the levels Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 March of the
Minis came out for the Nintendo DS in 2006 and another racing game Donkey Kong
Barrel Blast was released for the Wii in 2007 so back to DK Country Returns in 2010 this was the first Donkey Kong Country
game without rare on board as a developer Retro Studios took the helm
instead all of the classic elements are here Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong collect
golden kong letters and swing on vines as they hunt down their stolen bananas the game came out on the Wii and used
motion controls for the ground pound move evidently the people were thirsty for a
good Donkey Kong Country game because the game rates in high scores on sites
like metacritic as well as awards from press outlets like IGN and Game Informer Greg Harris at IGN called it an incredibly challenging old school
throwback next Donkey Kong moved to the nintendo
3ds with Mario and Donkey Kong Minis on the Move which built on the same
gameplay as the previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games like March of the Minis
it also had a level creation mode the latest game in the Donkey Kong series is
2014’s Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze,
tropical freeze followed in the footsteps of the other Donkey Kong
Country games and was the first DK country title for the Wii U this time Donkey Kong and crew are up against the
Snow Mads who are trying to bring eternal winter – donkey kong island here
at Polygon we praised the game’s incredible level design breakneck pace
and heaps of Donkey Kong nostalgia Tropical Freeze brought Donkey Kong to
the latest generation of consoles while building off what the earlier games did
well so now after 35 years we’ve seen Donkey
Kong grow from a lady stealing villain to a banana chomping hero he has been a leading ape and of
course a playable character in tons of other Nintendo games including the Mario
Kart series Mario Tennis and Super Smash Brothers to
date Donkey Kong has headlined seven different series there’s the original the mario vs.
Donkey Kong games, Donkey Konga, a handheld series called Donkey Kong Land,
Donkey Kong Racing, the DK series and of course Donkey Kong Country that is a lot of
history for one simple ape happy 35th birthday Donkey Kong


14 Responses

  1. TopSpot123

    July 16, 2016 9:28 pm

    0:34 "In 1982 Donkey Kong Jr came out for the NES and arcades…" Might want to fact check that.

  2. defmedia

    July 17, 2016 10:43 am

    Omitting DK 94 on the Game Boy which was where DK's tie actually appeared first and marked his first handheld appearance is a baffling decision. Seriously. Otherwise neat overview.

  3. LordTchernobog

    July 17, 2016 6:35 pm

    The video does not mention that the one DK who serves as protagonist actually the 2nd Donkey Kong, as the 1st is Cranky Kong


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