Today is the 33rd anniversary of the release of Donkey Kong to arcades, and the world was never the same. Today we thought we'd look at some things about the game you might not have been aware of.
Mario is Actually the Bad Guy
You might have thought that Donkey was just a stand-in for King Kong, and you're partially right. In the same way that a capture ape was brought to America and thrust in from of an audience against his will, so was Donkey Kong a pet. In this case, he's Mario's pet, and according to the game manual and he only ran away because he was abused. In fact, in Donkey Kong Jr., his son is attempting to rescue him from a cage where Mario is keeping him in line by holding a whip!
It Was Supposed to be a Popeye Game Gamemaker Shigeru Miyamoto (Who you might know as the man that invented the concept of fun), originally wanted to make a Popeye game. However, since they were unable to secure the rights to Popeye they just took the basic character ideas and turned them from Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl to Mario, Donkey Kong, and Pauline. Did the Kong thing get them in trouble over King Kong? Welllllll...
It Caused a Ridiculous Lawsuit
Once Universal Pictures heard about Donkey Kong they immediately went apeshit (So sorry) and sued Nintendo for every yen of their sweet, ill-gotten, copyright-violating fortune. The only problem was... Universal had already won a court case against RKO Pictures proving that King Kong was a public domain character. Lawyer John Kirby pointed this out, saved Nintendo's bacon, and eventually (allegedly) got the most adorable hero ever programmed named after him.
Mario Originally Couldn't Jump
In the first version of Donkey Kong Mario didn't have the ability to jump... which is weird considering jumping is pretty much Mario's whole schtick outside of mushroom abuse. Miyamoto changed the game forever when he saw barrels heading towards the characters and asked "What would you do?"
It Has an Insanely Hard to Find Easter Egg Landon M. Dyer was the coder tasked with transporting Donkey Kong to the Atari 400, a thankless task that didn't pay well. He decided to hide his initials in the game and he did it so well that they stayed hidden for more than a quarter of a century. He did it so well he himself forgot how to unlock it. Luckily, an equally insane man named Don Hodges told Kotaku.
• Play a game, setting a new high score that is either 37,000, 73,000 or 77,000. The digits for hundred thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones may be anything.
• Kill off all of your remaining lives, but your last death must be by falling.
• Then set the game difficulty to 4 (press the option button 3 times.)
• Wait for the game to cycle through the demo screen where Kong jumps across the screen, then at the title screen, the programmer's initials, LMD, will appear. (Pictured above)
No wonder no one found it.
The Series Holds Eight Guinness World Records
In the 2008 video game edition of the Guinness World Records Donkey Kong racked up some pretty impressive honors. For instance, it was the first game to include storytelling via cut scenes, and Donkey Kong 64 had the most collectibles of any console game.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
It's Got a Wicked Trademark
Ever said the phrase, "It's on like Donkey Kong!"? Well, of you have then you may have violated Nintendo's trademark. They sought to trademark the phrase in 2010, though I haven't been able to see if they actually managed to do so. Considering it's now widely used by everyone from rappers to American politicians I'm betting they didn't make it. After all, Donkey Kong belongs to us all. Happy birthday, big guy!