Gaming

25 things you didn’t know about Donkey Kong

The iconic, game-changing, era-defining Donkey Kong arcade game turns 35 this month, and instead of sitting around feeling sad and old, we decided to celebrate with some little-known Donkey Kong facts. 

Read on to hear about the game's origins, an easter egg that no one will ever find, and Mario's long lost cousin, Stanley. 

  • 25 things you didn’t know about Donkey Kong

    1.

    Mario - who had his debut as Jumpman in the game - was originally going to be called "Mr Video". Super Mr Video Galaxy doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? 

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    25.

    Mario and Luigi have a cousin called Stanley, who appeared in Donkey Kong 3. After this game, he was never heard from or seen ever again... 

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    2.

    In 2010, a few select GAME and Gamestation stores allowed their first 20 customers to trade a bunch of bananas for Donkey Kong Country Returns.

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    3.

    Universal Studios sued Nintendo over the name, which they felt infringed on King Kong. Universal lost, meaning that Nintendo won £1.3m in costs. 

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    4.

    Despite myths and legends to the contrary, Donkey Kong was not an accidental mistranslation of "Monkey Kong". The game was always supposed to be called Donkey Kong, as this was meant to signify that the character is stubborn. 

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    5.

    Nintendo trademarked the lyric "It's on like Donkey Kong" after Ice Cube sang it in 'Now I Gotta Wet'Cha'. They now use the phrase in adverts, although unsurprisingly don't choose to include the next lyrics, "you wanted that fast buck, now I gotta light that ass up". 

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    6.

    Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest throws shade at Sonic, as the character's shoes are featured next to a "No hopers" sign. 

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    7.

    The damsel in distress that Mario rescues isn't Princess Peach, but some wannabe named Pauline. We'd pay anything to have exclusive access to that break-up story. 

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    8.

    During its early stages, Donkey Kong was originally intended to be a Popeye game, as Nintendo held the character licencing rights. This fell through, however, so Shigeru Miyamoto had to come up with his own characters. 

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    9.

    The original Atari 400 version has an easter egg that no one will ever find, because Landon Dyer, the programmer that designed it, has forgotten how to get to it. 

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    10.

     Miyamoto hated Donkey Kong Country and said publicly that the game "proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as the art is good." He later apologised when the game sold over a million copies. 

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    11.

    Donkey Kong was originally pitched as a boxing game, and later revisited these roots when 15 years later, he appeared as an unlockable opponent in Punch Out!! 

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    12.

    If you stand around for too long in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Donkey Kong will sit down and play with a Nintendo DS, which the sounds from the original arcade game emanate from. 

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    13.

    Donkey Kong's movements were based on those of horses, not gorillas. This is because after the creators went to watch gorillas at the zoo for inspiration, they felt their movements wouldn't translate well to a video game. 

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    14.

    There were no water levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns because those in the past games were considered "too slow". 

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    15.

    The Japanese NES had a game called Donkey Kong Jr. Math, in which, yes, you guessed it, kids were invited to solve maths questions. 

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    16.

    The character Cranky Kong is meant to be the original Donkey Kong who appeared in the arcade games. 

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    17.

    The Kremlings were originally meant to star in their own original game, but were chosen to feature in Donkey Kong Country after plans for that game were cancelled. 

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    18.

    A special Donkey Kong Country cartridge with a score counter was created for competitions. There were only 2,500 copies made, and they're now worth nearly £1,000 each.

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    19.

    The highest score ever achieved on the classic 1981 arcade game was 1,218,000 - a score so huge it didn't fit on the high score table. The gamer in question, Wes Copeland, spent three hours and 17 minutes playing to set the record. 

     

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    20.

    In 1994, Donkey Kong Country became the best selling Nintendo game ever. It went on to sell over nine million. 

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    21.

    As you progress through Donkey Kong Country, the ship gets nearer and nearer the island on the map screen. Which is kind of awesome. 

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    22.

    The Donkey Kong Country TV series was one of the earliest shows to be entirely computer-animated with motion capture, and all the episodes can still be viewed on YouTube here

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    23.

    A board game was released in 1982, where the objective is exactly the same as the arcade game. According to Reddit, the game was "not much fun at all" and "made no sense". 

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    24.

    The original "hammer music" was based on the trumpet tune used in military battles to signify that soldiers should charge. Which is kind of sinister.