Smash 4: Art of Donkey Kong


*AAAH!* Donkey Kong is a straightforward character
with notable strengths and clear weaknesses. His weight, reach, damage, speed,
and killing power are all above average. Once he holds the middle stage, it can be really difficult
to reclaim it without risking getting grabbed. Let him grab you,
and he will dish out a ton of damage and keep you juggled for another possible grab
or get you offstage, only to hold the middle stage away from you. His offstage game is pretty strong, too, having deadly spikes, lingering aerials,
and solid ledge trumping game. And, despite having a poor vertical recovery, DK can still go surprisingly deep to intercept and
deny recovery attempts and make it back. He’s also unique in that he is also a heavy hitter who also has a bunch of weaker hits
that combo and frame trap. In exchange for these gifts,
DK has one of the worst disadvantage states: he struggles to land once launched and has as much of a problem
getting back to stage from the ledge. Generally, his best option to escape from juggles
is to retreat to the ledge, but with his poor get-up attack, exceptionally poor ledge roll, easily countered regular get-up, and even easier to counter ledge stall, his best option from the ledge
is to double jump in with air dodge and either back air or Headbutt. And, another interesting ledge option
is double jump to footstool. He might feel a little wild and use other aerials,
but they’re pretty slow and punishable. Or, ledge jump,
which creates a disadvantage state that loops into itself, and his only hope is for the opponent to screw up or fail to clutch out a kill because of his weight. And so, the general game plan is to overpower them
during the grab phase and outlast them. Few characters can trade with DK
and come out ahead, so taking a few extra hits is usually not a big deal, as long as you’ve mastered the percentage
for the Ding Dong, with and without rage. To start off, DK will be fishing for
as many grabs as possible. Doing this will mainly make opponents
jump and space you out, cross you up, or grab DK themselves once the shield is conditioned. Since challenging safely spaced aerials is a bad idea, DK needs to instead play around
what the opponent does either after a spaced move or before he gets spaced out. And so, observing what options
the opponent does after a spaced aerial
is key to finding an opening. And, using anti-airs before they space you out,
like back airs, up airs, up tilts or whatever else, would work depending on the positioning
to simply put an opponent into disadvantage state, and then look for a grab as they need to land. Another general rule you should follow is that if you’re standing still with shield, you will most likely not find a punish
when playing against a capable player, as they’ve had too much time to space
against a standing target. However, if you are shield dashing,
you are actually pushing yourself in with shield into the opponent’s space and will be
much more successful in finding a punish. Walking to shield can be better than shield dashing, as DK has a really good walk and will allow the shield to come out quicker
than if you shield dash. This means that good movement in general,
well-timed spot dodges, and smart rolls behind opponents
are also very important, or in other words,
as little whiffed shield grabs as possible. One of the biggest things for DK is that One of the biggest things for DK is that
he can get a lot work done he can get a lot work done he can get a lot work done
by actually not using certain actions by actually not using certain actions by actually not using certain actions
and instead letting the threat of those actions and instead letting the threat of those actions and instead letting the threat of those actions
do the work for him. do the work for him. The threat of dash grab can allow DK
to punish spot dodges… …or escapes. The threat of dash attack, forward tilt, down tilt, or Giant Punch
can condition a shield, which can be grabbed or broken. Same thing for the threat of back air. The threat of Ding Dong can condition opponents
into continuously walling DK out with aerials, which can be countered by Giant Punch. The first jab is a quick disruptive poke. It’s safe against shield at max range
in most matchups and has a knuckle hitbox that can lead into a grab. This is basically a true combo
against normals and heavyweights. Against floaty characters, it’s a bit harder to get
until very high percentage and if DK has rage, as they can double jump out
and potentially even footstool. It’s unreliable against fast fallers
as they will always be able to spot dodge or jab — unless they have really high percentage
and DK has rage, making it a bit more reliable. Few characters can also
quickly throw out an aerial or up B, which can be risky if DK baits it out and shields. Jab to up tilt becomes a kill confirm at high percents
and will work against these characters. At low to mid-percentage,
the second jab will pretty much launch opponents into an awkward spot where they have to
immediately double jump or attack. Dash attack is basically for closing gaps. It’s an approach that punishes landings, short hops,
or even spot dodges from a distance. It can also be good for covering regular get-up or aggressive double jumps. [Follow-ups from dash attack] [Narration continues with next move at 5:49] Forward tilt has really good range, is disjointed,
and is used for zoning the opponent out and punishing short hops if angled upwards. Angling it downwards can cause a trip, and you can punish 2-Frames. Up tilt is a quick disjointed anti-air
that covers a lot of space. There’s a sweet spot on DK’s shoulder
that’s almost as strong as down smash. Down tilt is a safe disjointed poke. You’ll always want to space this move at max range, as doing it at close range
is pointless and punishable on hit. It will only really combo at lower to mid-percentage
if you manage to trip the opponent. It’ll force at tech situation
on most characters around 100%. Tilts are a really quick and easy way
for DK to ledge trap, as down tilt can safely punish
aggressive double jumps back, while forward tilt is really good at denying ledge jump and also covering double jumps, leaving opponents with roll, get-up attack, and regular get-up,
which can easily be reacted to and grabbed. This also could work with up tilt, having the potential
to cover ledge jump and double jump as it lingers for quite a while. Rolls are covered by a simple grab. Same for regular get-up or get-up attack. Forward smash is a very powerful punish. It has good range and a disjoint
on his arms and head. It can also be really hard to punish
if spaced or slightly charged. Up smash is a powerful disjointed anti-air
and is great against attacks that are directly above you. It’s a hard commitment against ledge jumps. Down smash is his quickest smash and is also really good at covering all ledge options
with individual timing and spacing. Neutral air is a very interesting move
with many crazy applications. A simple application is using it
as a landing option as you space away to push the opponent away. It’s still not really safe
unless you actually auto-cancel with the move, as it has a bit of landing lag otherwise. The move can be auto-cancelled at any frame
where the hitbox isn’t active, meaning that it can be used as an A-cancel
just before the hitbox comes out, to immediately land and shield during tumble. Of course, using tech out of tumble
becomes equally as important as it grants you invincibility
and can also allow you to get a punish. You can short hop, buffer neutral air, and fast fall
to auto-cancel the move. Once you connect with the late hit before landing,
it has amazing combo potential — and even more so if you reverse the aerial. [Here are 10 more neutral air combos] [Narration continues at 9:03] Because of its high hitbox,
it’s hard to land this move in the neutral and can be extremely punishable of whiff. It’s still amazing at punishing short hops, however. It makes for amazing and safe platform pressure, as well as it can induce the opponent
to slip off a platform for crazy setups. If you are recovering
and you notice that the opponent
has thrown out a very punishable option, you can double jump back in and neutral air to have it auto-cancel and
have it set up for a tech chase scenario. The main use of this move, however, should be for option coverage
during the advantage state, as it’s extremely good at covering
horizontal air dodges for frame traps or for simply punishing the air dodge,
as it lasts for so long. It can condition double jumps, which can still be followed
for more juggles or a grab. And, finally, it’s amazing offstage
as it covers a ton of space
and will also greatly reward you. Up air is one of the most amazing
juggling tools in the game, as it has intangibility on his head
from Frame 1 to 10, meaning it beats out most attacks from above at the same time as you can
short hop, buffer up air, and fast fall
to auto-cancel the move. It combos into itself and will keep
opponents above DK for more juggling. If you air dodge it,
you will get frame trapped and up tilted,
only to continue getting juggled. Up air is amazing for punishing ledge jump if you miss [the chance] to directly cover the option
and they’re already above you, as even if they ledge jump and air dodge,
you’ll frame trap into up tilt. Other than that,
it can be a potential landing option, combo breaker, or to pressure opponents
close to the ledge before you recover. Forward air is basically just for offstage usage, to try spiking opponents recovering offstage or try punishing opponents for trying
to edgeguard YOU offstage before you recover. Only the late hit spikes opponents, while the earlier hitbox launches them. Down air is for spiking opponents offstage and contesting aggression from below to try your best in getting the opponent off of you
and conditioning a bit more shield as you land. He can also use it through platforms, and if the opponent misses the tech,
it can lead into a grab, some up airs, or an up smash. It has really good range, so it can be used to try punishing recoveries
before they snap onto the ledge… …or punishing a 2-Frame with good timing. Back air is one of the best back airs in the game,
as it’s strong and has both good reach and speed. It’s a long-lasting hitbox, making it
an amazing edgeguarding tool — or ledge trapping tool,
as it can be thrown out twice in a short hop
and can be safe if spaced. Keep in mind, though, that if you
land with back air at relatively close range, it can still be punished,
as it has a good amount of landing lag. You can cross up with back airs if you hit the front of the opponent’s shield
while facing them as a mix-up. Because of the range,
it’s an amazing anti-air tool and will usually win against other aerials
that aren’t highly disjointed. If they air dodge and are in range,
you can punish with down air. If you connect sweet-spot back air at mid-percent,
it can set up for a tech chase, and the sour spot will start doing the same
at higher percentage. Giant Punch can be wound up to entice approaches. Pressing “Grab” or “Shield” will make DK stop. However, there’s a bit of lag to it. The only immediate defensive option is ________. The only immediate defensive option is rolling. You can turnaround special and immediately
cancel it without air dodge coming out to turn yourself around offstage
and threaten with back airs. You cannot B-reverse the windup;
however, you can B-reverse the Punch. It can be wound up ten times. The fully charged Punch
provides 10 super armor frames
on DK’s entire body on the ground and 4 in the air. The startup of the Punch is incredibly fast, and if whiffed, the endlag is very short,
making it barely punishable. It’s also safe on block. It has a bunch of sour spots
and is weaker than the seventh wind-up. Except for this, it can be used
as a very scary ledge get-up option or as an unpunishable landing option,
especially since it’s safe on block. [The so-called “9-Wind Punch”]
If you wind it up nine times, it will be at its strongest and will generally be his strongest attack. It’s much slower and laggier, making it really risky as it can be
reacted to and punished if shielded. It also means that you won’t connect it off a combo
and is only meant for hard reads, while the fully charged one can be used in combos. Not having it fully charged means that
you can use the wind-up as a turnaround and cancel it before it fully charges,
as the first wind-up never counts. Punching in the air makes it
his longest reaching aerial, but it will put DK in free fall animation. This will also happen if you are standing at the very
edge of a stage and Punch a shield. The back hit of all Punches that are not full charged
will always have the strongest hitbox while the fully charged [one] has
a really weak back hit. However, the front hit can be combined with back air
to break a shield. Headbutt has some neat applications,
the most obvious application being breaking shields. Another application is using it
to snap onto the ledge quicker
after an up air, back air, or air dodge, as every single frame of Headbutt
can be cancelled by snapping the ledge. And so, you can run off, B-reverse the Headbutt,
and immediately grab the ledge. Another application is that it can extend a lock,
even after three resets. Hitting it offstage will spike opponents.
However, it’s a very weak spike. Hitting it onstage will bury opponents, which can lead into
a ton of combos and kill confirms, as buried opponents receive less knockback
from the first hit. Hand Slap is very unique in that
it only punishes grounded opponents. It has massive range, both in front and behind. Press down B once, and DK will slap twice. Mash the B Button, and he will keep slapping. If the opponent shields, it becomes impossible
to jump out or roll out after the very first slap. But, it can be rolled out of and possibly
jumped out of after the second slap. It’ll break a shield once you tank three hits, so usually it’s worth just taking the hit,
as it’s actually not that strong. It can be used in mid-range footsies where
the opponent keeps staying grounded and rolling or if someone is cornered and shielding
to condition them into jumping more in the neutral. Doing it in the air will spike opponents. It can also be B-reversed, and so, it can be used
in some interesting ways and areas. Grounded Spinning Kong provides super armor
at Frame 8 to 17, meaning it can be
a very situational out-of-shield option. It can be used to counter
predictable approaches or well-spaced disjoints. It’s best used at really low percents, as a that point,
it will always force a tech situation
rather than just launch someone offstage. Aerial Spinning Kong
provides intangibility at Frame 3 to 6
while the hitbox comes out at Frame 4. And so, it’s incredible
at beating certain recoveries, even those with a hitbox if timed correctly. Mastering when and where to use
the aerial Spin offstage as an edgeguard can be key to beating a bunch of matchups,
as it can lead into kills or rack up a bunch of damage, especially if you hold down during the spin. The horizontal mobility is excellent, so you can linger for quite a while
before getting the ledge to mix-up your timing and make it
harder on the opponent trying to edgeguard you. One thing to remember is that it can be B-reversed, which gives DK momentum back to stage
if he’s far out offstage facing the blast zone. It can be used as a surprise option off the ledge to hit opponents while trying to land
on a platform or landing onstage. And, finally, it can be a good option
to break out of strings,
to trade for a good amount of damage. [Slight increase in volume incoming] DK has arguably the best grab game
out of any character,
as even his combo starting throw does 10%. His pivot grab has an amazing range, so it can be used
to punish a ton of characters’ whiffed moves. The only downside is that his standing grab is Frame 8, meaning his close-range out-of-shield options
can sometimes be stuffed out by extremely quick moves. To start off, up throw and down throw aren’t very effective. Back throw is one of DK’s main kill throws, and it’s recommended to immediately throw
instead of pummel, as the animation is really fast,
meaning the opponent might miss their DI. Using forward throw will basically allow DK
to carry you around [like “Cargo”] and even jump. During this state,
he gains a different forward throw,
back throw, up throw, and down throw. Cargo forward throw doesn’t really have
any real uses, unless you find yourself
on the Smashville platform. Cargo back throw can possibly lead to a kill
at very high percentage. Cargo down throw has three uses, the first one being running offstage,
inputting the opposite way before you fall off,
and down throw to stage spike. This could be really hard to tech. However, if the tech is successful,
you can punish DK. This can also work with
Cargo back throw and forward throw. The timing for teching is different,
making it even harder on the opponent, BUT it’s a risk since they do tech, you end up below them
and might get hard punished. The [second] use for Cargo down throw
is for platform tech chase. If you get a grab around mid-percentage,
you can jump and down throw to put them onto a platform
and try getting another grab. And lastly, it can be used to throw opponents
offstage to try edgeguarding them. And now for the pinnacle of DK’s grab game: And now for the pinnacle of DK’s grab game:
the Cargo up throw. The general bread-and-butter combos are… …grounded Cargo up throw to up smash
at starting percents, which only works on a few characters —
and, if It doesn’t work, you can Cargo up throw to up air
and try juggling them, which should force a double jump
for you to try chasing down; aerial Cargo up throw to back airs; aerial Cargo up throw to forward air; and aerial Cargo up throw to up air.
[This last one is the informally named “Ding Dong”] For clarification, to pull this off perfectly,
you need to jump while buffering the Cargo up throw, immediately double jump,
and delay the aerial slightly. Something really important to remember is that even
during or after the Ding Dong percentage, DK can still do a grounded Cargo up throw
to a full hop and double jump up air as either a true combo or a 50/50, so (heh) don’t expect to be out of trouble
as soon as you seem to be out of the Ding Dong setup. Something else you can do is
Cargo up throw to Spinning Kong
or back air to Spinning Kong, which deals a ton of damage
but will most likely put you in disadvantage. It’s very important to remember that
he specializes in grappling BUT has a good complimentary brawling kit to be able to fight opponents
without relying too much on grabbing. Usually, it’s not worth trying to air dodge
as it’s a true combo anyway, and if you do air dodge,
you might get extremely punished
by a 9-Wind Punch or regrab on platforms. Neutral air can of course be used,
but it’s weaker and less effective than back airs, as neutral can be punished. It’s instead only used to launch opponents
perfectly onto platforms for a regrab. Except for this, there are some specific combos
that can be done against fast fallers. Against Fox at 14%, you have this combo. Against Falcon, Bayonetta, and others at 14%,
you have this combo if they DI in. And then, you might also be able to get
short hop Cargo up throw into double-jump buffered weak-hit back air
into footstool on these characters, or even an aerial Cargo up throw
to footstool onto a platform,
fall down with down air, and get a regrab. At the end of the day, it’s important to know
the exact Ding Dong percent for each character. For that,
you have either the document below or a website called Anyways, if you want to decide
what character should be next in the series,
make sure to check the link below to vote! And if you can, I’d highly appreciate it
if you can help me out on Patreon. Thank you! Credit goes to Big O, Gurpinder, DKWill, Kite, Konga, Poke, Proctavia, and Shadels.


100 Responses

  1. Chase Williams

    February 11, 2018 9:25 pm

    I've been maining DK for a solid Half a year I would say and have been waiting SO LONG FOR THIS VIDEO

  2. Ethan Lowe

    February 13, 2018 4:50 am

    I was so impressed by how much time and effort was put into this! I'm so glad this was in my recommended!

  3. Koji Kondo

    February 19, 2018 8:37 pm

    Does DK's hitbox get really big when he does side B? Because I have this replay from awhile ago where I grabbed him from soo far away.

  4. Mike Sangoy

    February 21, 2018 8:10 am

    May you please do Art of Game & Watch? I picked him up yesterday and I want to know how to use him properly. Thanks ;3;

  5. D kiky

    February 22, 2018 3:27 am

    Izaw, can you PLEASE surprise everybody and do a Art of Jigglypuff? There really is not a lot of god resources for her.

  6. Al Squeezy

    February 24, 2018 10:39 am

    You, honest to God, deserve a PhD in Smash. Every tutorial you make can get somebody to EVO single-handedly if studied well enough.

  7. CMDR Alvin H. Davenport

    February 25, 2018 2:04 am

    Art of ZSS eventually? 😉

    I just recently started trying to learn her but I have no idea how to use her.

  8. owlflame

    February 25, 2018 5:43 pm

    I'm really mad about all these morons who think an art of sonic would be a good video.

    It's going to be 10 minutes long at most about how to do something you already know how to do because you only need to see it once.

    Ryu was winning by $70 and now sonic suddenly has $450.

    You're all stupid.

  9. Thijmen

    March 1, 2018 9:12 pm

    art of duck hunt next? i need this cuz he is my main and i want to see what i dind't know about him

  10. Andrew Hannesson-Keil

    March 2, 2018 3:17 am

    I truly believe smash tutorials, especially HQ ones like this influence a lot of what the better players know on for glory. I know a lot of my game has come from the advice of Izaw and ZeRo

  11. Dreadlash

    March 4, 2018 2:19 pm

    I'm the only one to have landing lag when I'm doing the double jump airdodge from the ledge, it seems there is not enough time to do the bair, what I'm doing wrong? Please explain me how to do it right, thanks !

  12. Stoobie Joobie

    March 6, 2018 6:18 am

    Other thing to add. Dair on most fast fallers around 10% is a really small bounce that can lead into a jab lock. Especially if you bait an attack with the first jump.

  13. Nicholas Pitti

    May 6, 2018 2:41 pm

    4:50 how come i cant do it when i start with dk facing to the right? Fix: In training i had to put mario up to 124%. You cant use dks shoulder so its weaker. Falco seems to be an exception to this. I gotta keep experimenting.


    May 10, 2018 8:15 am

    I'm a fox main, but playing with DK was the most fun I've had in smash… DK is a great character!

  15. Navi

    June 8, 2018 9:06 pm

    This is too complex for me… i think i'll stick to watching vids rather than actually playing the game

  16. Burnsy

    October 9, 2018 8:57 pm

    Smash 4 DK easily has the best design and tournament balance of all the heavyweight characters in Smash’s history. I hope they can do the same for characters like D3, K.Rool, and Bowser in Ultimate.

  17. Flailmorpho

    December 11, 2018 12:16 pm

    where's the guide that doesn't require me to have trained at a dojo hidden deep in the jungle for the last 5 years to be able to figure out what I'm being told

  18. Raymond Diaz

    January 4, 2019 11:15 am

    I'm a new smash player for ultimate and this guide has helped me so much with learning DK as my first main

  19. MWJ '90

    October 21, 2019 1:46 am

    when I see how horrible DK is in the Smash series, I'm sorry, DK deserves to be WAY better than what he is. Why is it that he is SO impotent and have absolutely NO projectiles to use at his disposal (heck, they even allowed Diddy Kong to at least have the bananas and the peanut gun, as well as give as well as give King K. Rool his crown throw, cannon gun, and boxing gloves.) DK should at LEAST have a variety of the different barrels from the DKC games, as wel as his coconut gun from DK 64, or SOMETHING. I'm just seems to me Nintendo is short changing DK big time.


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