Donkey Kong Wiki
For other uses, see Donkey Kong (disambiguation).
Donkey Kong
Promotional North American arcade flyer for the game Donkey Kong.
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1[1],
Ikegami Tsushinki[2]
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Main Development Staff Director:
Shigeru Miyamoto

Gunpei Yokoi[3]

Gunpei Yokoi
Shigeru Miyamoto

Programmers (Arcade):
Hirohisa Komanome
Minoru Iinuma
Mitsuhiro Nishida
Yasuhiro Murata

ROM Creation (Arcade):
Kenzou Sekiguchi
Shigeru Kudou

Shigeru Miyamoto

Yukio Kaneoka

Sound Effects:
Hirokazu Tanaka[4]
Platform(s) Arcade,
Game & Watch[5],
Atari 2600[6],
Family Computer/Nintendo Entertainment System,
Game Boy Advance,
Nintendo Wii,
Nintendo 3DS,
Nintendo Wii U
Release Date(s) Arcade
Japan July 9, 1981
USA July 31, 1981
Europe November 1981

Japan July 15, 1983
USA June 1, 1986
Europe October 15, 1986

Game Boy Advance
Japan February 14, 2004
USA June 2, 2004
Europe July 9, 2004

Nintendo Wii Virtual Console (Famicom/NES version)
USA November 19, 2006
Japan December 2, 2006
Europe December 8, 2006

Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console (Famicom/NES version)
Japan October 17, 2012
USA August 15, 2013
Europe November 21, 2013

Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console (Famicom/NES version)
Japan July 15, 2013
USA July 15, 2013
Europe July 15, 2013
Genre(s) Platformer
Ratings N/A
Mode(s) Single player,
Media(s) Arcade Board,
Famicom/NES ROM Cartridge[8]
Input(s) Arcade Controller,
Famicom/NES Controller

Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkī Kongu in Japan) is a platformer game developed by Nintendo R&D1[1] and Ikegami Tsushinki[2], and released by Nintendo for the Arcade machines in 1981. It marked the first appearances of the characters Mario (known as Jumpman, a carpenter), Pauline (known as Lady, Jumpman's girlfriend) and Donkey Kong. The game was Nintendo's first big hit in North America.

The game sold well in the United States. It is one of four games to be inducted into the Nintendo Hall of Fame. The original arcade version has four screen stages, but the Family Computer/Nintendo Entertainment System version only has three (50m was cut from this version). The Atari 2600[6] version is the home version to have all four stages in it.


Following the events of the game Donkey Kong Circus, Jumpman unintentionally laughs at a local circus animal, known as Donkey Kong (Sr.), who escapes and kidnaps Jumpman's girlfriend Lady for revenge, and runs to the top of a construction site. Jumpman must climb to the top, save Lady, and defeat Donkey Kong.


Donkey Kong is an early example of the platform genre (it is sometimes said to be the first platform game, although it was preceded by Space Panic[9] and Apple Panic[10]). Competitive video gamers and referees stress the game's high level of difficulty compared to other classic arcade games. Winning the game requires patience and the ability to accurately time Jumpman's ascent. In addition to presenting the goal of saving the Lady, the game also gives the player a score. Points are awarded for finishing screens, leaping over obstacles, destroying objects with a hammer power-up, collecting items such as hats, parasols, and purses (presumably belonging to Lady), and completing other tasks. The player receives three lives with a 1-up awarded for the first 7,000 points.

The game is divided into four different one-screen stages. Each represents 25 meters of the structure Donkey Kong has climbed, one stage being 25 meters higher than the previous. The final screen occurs at 100 meters. Later ports[11] of the game omit or change the sequence of the screens. The original arcade version includes:

  • Screen 1 (25m) - Jumpman must scale a seven-story construction site made of crooked girders and ladders while jumping over or hammering barrels and oil barrels tossed by Donkey Kong. The hero must also avoid flaming balls, which generate when an oil barrel collides with an oil drum. Players routinely call this screen "Barrels".
  • Screen 2 (50m) - Jumpman must climb a five-story structure of conveyor belts, each of which transports pans of cement. The fireballs also make another appearance. This screen is sometimes referred to as the "Factory", "Cement Factory" or "Pie Factory", due to the resemblance of the cement pans to pies.
  • Screen 3 (75m) - Jumpman rides up and down elevators while avoiding fireballs and bouncing objects, presumably spring-weights. The bouncing weights (the hero's greatest danger in this screen) emerge on the top level and drop near the rightmost elevator. The screen's common name is "Elevators".
  • Screen 4 (100m) - Jumpman must remove eight rivets, which support Donkey Kong. The fireballs remain the primary obstacle. Removing the final rivet causes Donkey Kong to fall and the hero to be reunited with the Lady. This is the final screen of each level. Players refer to this screen as "Rivets".

These screens combine to form stages, which become progressively harder. For example, Donkey Kong begins to hurl barrels more rapidly and sometimes diagonally, and fireballs get quicker. The victory music alternates between stages 1 and 2. The 22nd level is unofficially known as the kill Screen due to an error in the game's programming that kills Jumpman after a few seconds, effectively ending the game. With its four unique stages, Donkey Kong was the most complex video game at the time of its release, and only the second game to feature multiple stages.


Development History and Impact[]

Donkey Kong was created when Shigeru Miyamoto was assigned by Nintendo to convert Radar Scope[12], a poorly selling arcade game in the U.S., into a game that would have more appeal to Americans. The result was a major breakthrough for Nintendo and for the video game industry. Sales of the machine were brisk, with the game becoming the best-selling arcade machine of all time in its era. The gameplay itself was the first of its time. With the growing base of arcades to sell to, the game was able to gain huge distribution. A little well-known fact is that Donkey Kong was the first appearance of Nintendo's world-famous Mario character - known as Jumpman in this game. The machine was Nintendo's first worldwide success.

In 1982, Universal Studios[13] sued Nintendo, claiming that Donkey Kong infringed on Universal Studios' intellectual property rights to the film King Kong[14]. Howard Lincoln[15], attorney and future president of Nintendo of America, decided to fight the case, and hired seasoned attorney John Kirby[16] to represent Nintendo. When Kirby showed that not only was Nintendo not in violation of any copyrights, but also that Universal Studios themselves had sued RKO Pictures[17] in 1975 to prove that the plot of King Kong was in fact in the public domain, Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled in Nintendo's favor, ordering Universal to pay Nintendo $1.8 million in legal fees. In an ironic twist, Judge Sweet also ruled that Tigervision's King Kong video game[18], licensed by Universal, infringed on Donkey Kong. After the victory, Nintendo awarded John Kirby with a $30,000 sailboat, christened the Donkey Kong, and gave him exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats.

Due to the huge success of Donkey Kong, Nintendo of America was able to grow and release many more games in succeeding years and had the resources necessary to release the Nintendo Entertainment System in the USA.


Home console ports[]

The arcade version of the game Donkey Kong was first ported for the Game & Watch[5] in Japan on June 3, 1982.

Coleco[19] did not offer the game cartridge of Donkey Kong stand-alone but instead bundled it with their ColecoVision[7]. The units went on sale in July 1982. Coleco's version is a more accurate port than earlier games that had been done.

Donkey Kong was also released on the Atari 2600 in North America in July 1982. This release has lower-quality graphics and sound but retains the same gameplay mechanics.

The game Donkey Kong was eventually ported for the Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan on July 15, 1983, being one of the three launch games for the system. It released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in North America on June 1, 1986, and in Europe on October 15, 1986. These versions omit the second stage (50m) and lack some cutscenes due to the small memory size of earlier ROM cartridges[8].

Donkey Kong Classics[]

Both NES versions of the games Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. were re–released on the NES's 1988 Donkey Kong Classics compilation.

Donkey Kong for Game Boy[]

Donkey Kong for Game Boy, also known as Donkey Kong '94, is a semi-remake for the original Donkey Kong game, and also the latest game in the classic series. The game starts by Donkey Kong kidnapping Pauline again and taking her to a construction site. Mario goes to save her by advancing throughout the four main stages of the original game. After these stages are cleared, Donkey Kong escapes again, and Mario pursues him by traversing 9 worlds containing a total of 97 new stages. The game also features Mario's new abilities, new enemies, and Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong 64[]

In Donkey Kong 64, Donkey Kong can activate an arcade machine with the original Donkey Kong game in the "Frantic Factory" level. The arcade game is fully playable and includes all four stages, unlike most other ports. After clearing all stages once, Donkey Kong is rewarded with a Golden Banana. Spending two yellow Banana Coins lets the player play through the game a second time to receive a Nintendo Coin.

After capturing six Banana Fairys, "DK Bonus" will be unlocked in the "Mystery" option in the game's main menu screen. Here the player can play Donkey Kong for arcade (called "DK Arcade") alongside other score mini-games for free, such as Jetpac, Rambi the Rhinoceros Arena and Enguarde the Swordfish Arena.

Animal Crossing[]

Fifteen games for Famicom/NES, including Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong Jr. Math, and Donkey Kong 3, can be unlocked as items in the game Animal Crossing for Nintendo GameCube. In the North American version, the game Donkey Kong can be obtained by visiting Tom Nook's store, speaking to the owner, Tom Nook, picking the options "Other things" and "Say code", and inputting "2n5@N%8JUjE5fj ljcGr4%ync5EUp". A few in-game days later, the player will receive a letter from the character and a present attached to it. The present box contains a NES console and the game cartridge for Donkey Kong, which can be played after the item is set on the ground.

Donkey Kong for NES is also randomly awarded in Tom Nook's Lottery, a purchasable item appearing at Crazy Redd's store, or a buried item by other Villagers.

e-Reader and Classic NES Series[]

The Famicom/NES version of the game Donkey Kong was re-released as a card for the e-Reader[20] device for the Game Boy Advance in 2002.

Later, the same game version was also released on the Game Boy Advance as part of Nintendo's "Classic NES Series" ports of popular Famicom/NES games, in Japan on February 14, 2004, in North America on June 2, 2004, and in Europe on July 9, 2004. It is a relatively unchanged, faithful port of the original Famicom/NES version.

Virtual Console[]

The Famicom/NES version of the game Donkey Kong was released on the Virtual Console for Nintendo Wii in North America on November 19, 2006, in Japan on December 2, 2006, and in Europe on December 8, 2006. However, the service was discontinued for Wii in January 2019.

The same game version was later released on the Virtual Console for Nintendo 3DS in Japan on October 17, 2012, in North America on August 15, 2013, and in Europe on November 21, 2013. The game was also available on the Virtual Console for Nintendo Wii U in Japan, North America and Europe on July 15, 2013.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl[]

The game Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Nintendo Wii also has the Famicom/NES version of the game Donkey Kong as an unlockable masterpiece. Instead of starting from the beginning stage, players will start at the second stage. To unlock it, the player must play the game for ten hours. There is also an unlockable battle stage, 75m that is based on the third stage of the game.

Donkey Kong: Original Edition[]

A modified port of the Famicom/NES version of the game Donkey Kong, called Donkey Kong: Original Edition, was first released in Europe on October 29, 2010 as a preinstalled game onto a limited-edition red Nintendo Wii. The special console bundle celebrates the 25th anniversary of the game Super Mario Bros. This version of Donkey Kong: Original Edition restores the second stage (50m) and some missing animations when compared to the Arcade version (see Videos section below). A rendition of the Donkey Kong Country Main Theme[21] was added to the main title screen of the game, which also plays during the demo gameplay cutscene.

Donkey Kong: Original Edition was later available in Japan on the Nintendo eShop[22] for Nintendo 3DS and exclusively for users who purchased the game New Super Mario Bros. 2 or Brain Age: Concentration Training[23] between July 28, 2012 and September 2, 2012. In North America, the same game version was also available for Nintendo 3DS via the Nintendo eShop exclusively for users who purchased the game Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone![24] or Crosswords Plus[25] between October 1, 2012 and January 6, 2013. And in Europe, Donkey Kong: Original Edition was released on the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS on September 18, 2014.




To hear the soundtrack for Donkey Kong, see Donkey Kong (game)/Soundtrack.

Original Soundtrack[]


Donkey kong arcade ost

Donkey kong arcade music


  • The current highest recorded score in the game Donkey Kong for Arcade was set by Robbie Lakeman[26] on June 8, 2021. He achieved 1,272,800 points.
  • In the game WarioWare Gold for Nintendo 3DS, one of the 9-Volt's microgames is called "Donkey Kong"[27]. During the minigame, the player must protect Mario from barrels thrown by Donkey Kong Sr. at the stage 25m by using the 3DS touch screen.

External Links[]