Donkey Kong © 1981 Nintendo.
Donkey Kong is a legendary arcade platform game in which the player takes on the role of "Jumpman", who would later be renamed "Mario" and would go on to become Nintendo's mascot and a gaming legend. In this game, he must battle his way to the top of each level to rescue his beloved Pauline; who has been kidnapped by the giant ape, Donkey Kong.
Jumpman is controlled with a joystick and a single JUMP button and must avoid the rolling Barrels thrown at him by Donkey Kong, as well as other enemies, including Fireballs, Cement Pies, Springs, and Firefoxes. Screens are negotiated with the use of ladders, ramps, conveyor belts and elevators.
For additional points, players can collect umbrellas, hats, purses and other bonus items that Pauline has dropped on her way to the top of the building. Jumpman can also grab a hammer to smash Barrels, Beams, Fireballs, Cement Pies, and Firefoxes to earn additional bonus points. The hammer can only be used for a limited time, however, and Jumpman cannot jump or climb ladders while in possession of the hammer.
On the Ramp, Elevator and Conveyor Belt stages, whenever Jumpman reaches Pauline, Donkey Kong will grab her and carry her off to the next level. (Exception: On the Conveyor Belt stage, Jumpman only needs to reach Donkey Kong's platform to clear the stage.)
On the Rivet stage, Jumpman must remove eight rivets by running or jumping over them. After all eight rivets are removed, Donkey Kong will fall head first onto a stack of girders, knocking him out, and Jumpman and Pauline will finally be reunited.
The game then starts over again with an increased level of difficulty.
- CAST OF CHARACTERS -
Jumpman (aka Mario) - This is the one and only Mario who will go on to become one of the biggest video game stars of all time. This is the game that started it all for him. His given profession in Donkey Kong is that of a carpenter, instead of a plumber.
Pauline - Jumpman's girlfriend and damsel in distress. She is stuck at the top of each screen awaiting rescue from the clutches of Donkey Kong. (When the arcade version of the game was first released, she did not have an official name and was just referred to as "Lady"; she was renamed "Pauline" about the same time Jumpman was renamed "Mario".)
Donkey Kong - The most well-known video game ape and only character to retain his original name in future games. Donkey Kong has kidnapped Pauline and carried her up to the top of the construction site that Jumpman is working at.
Hammer - Except for the Elevator stage, two hammers can be found on each stage. Jump to grab the hammer and use it to smash nearby dangers for points. It only lasts for a short time and Mario cannot climb ladders while he is holding the hammer.
Barrel - Donkey Kong throws these at Jumpman on the Ramp stage. Many of them roll down the ramps and randomly drop down ladders that they pass. Sometimes Kong throws them directly down the building.
Beam - These are the blue Barrels that Kong throws. The only difference between them and the Barrels is that Beams will turn into Fireballs when they reach the burning can of oil at the bottom.
Fireball - These appear on every stage except the Rivet stage. They move about randomly and can be jumped, but it's dangerous to try because they change directions frequently.
Cement Pie - These appear on the Conveyor Belt stage only. They passively travel along the conveyor belt and are harmful to touch. The only danger they pose is when the conveyor belt suddenly changes directions.
Spring - These bounce along the roof of the Elevator stage before falling down to the bottom of the screen creating a dangerous but predictable obstacle to avoid.
Firefox - The fire enemies that roam around the Rivet stage. They are even harder to jump over and they seem to track Mario a little more closely.
Prizes - Except on the Ramp stage, some of Pauline's dropped items (namely her purse, hat and umbrella) litter the construction site and can be retrieved by Jumpman for bonus points.
Main CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 3.072 Mhz), I8035 (@ 400 Khz)
Sound Chips : Discrete circuitry
Control: 4-way joystick
Buttons: 1 (JUMP)
Donkey Kong was released in July 1981 in Japan.
The game was originally going to be called 'Monkey Kong' but a mistake during the translation process from Japanese to English resulted in the now legendary name. The game's creator, the equally-legendary Shigeru Miyamoto denies this story to this day - claiming that the naming is deliberate as he wanted an animal name that would capture the 'stubborn' nature of the Kong character (as in 'stubborn as a mule'). Few within the industry believe this explanation, however.
The Japanese word for 'stupid' or 'foolish' literally means 'donkey-like'. So Donkey Kong can be interpreted as 'Stupid Kong'. However, since the Japanese language has no obscenities, translators usually use the same word when an obscene adjective is needed. So Donkey Kong can also be interpreted as 'F---ing Kong'.
Mario was originally called 'Jumpman' when the arcade version of the game was first released. He wasn't officially renamed Mario until "Donkey Kong Jr.", but several home conversions of Donkey Kong, especially the NES/Famicom ports, have given him the Mario name. Likewise, Pauline was originally called "Lady". Her name changed about the same time Mario's name was changed.
Nintendo was sued by Universal Studios who said the Donkey Kong character infringed on the King Kong copyright. Nintendo's legal counsel, John Kirby of Latham & Watkins LLP, recalled an old case were the RKO Pictures sued Universal Studio for the same reason. At this time, Universal Studio had argued that King Kong was in the public domain. So, Universal Studio lost and had to pay Nintendo $1.8 million in damages. To thank John Kirby, Nintendo created a personage with the name of Kirby (originally called Popopo).
Donkey Kong introduced a number of wholly original game-play ideas to the platform genre. It was the first ever game to feature multiple play-fields, for example. It was also the first game that allowed players to jump over objects. Its creation came about due to the commercial failure of another game called "Radar Scope". A consequence of which was an excess of redundant arcade cabinets. In an attempt to limit their losses, Nintendo commissioned Donkey Kong and history was made.
Originally both the US and Japanese versions asked us 'How High Can You Try?'. This was quickly grammatically corrected to ask the familiar 'How High Can You Get?'.
The game does end, as it has a 'kill screen'! The timer in L-22 expires so quickly that the 25m stage cannot be completed.
There is this text in one of the roms of the Japanese version :
CONGRATULATION !IF YOU ANALYSE DIFFICULT THIS PROGRAM, WE WOULD TEACH YOU.*****TEL.TOKYO-JAPAN 044(244)2151 EXTENTION 304 SYSTEM DESIGN IKEGAMI CO. LIM.
The logo for Ikegami Tsushinki Co., Ltd. (ITC) can be found on the title graphics, but it's never used. ITC both developed the hardware and wrote the program code for Donkey Kong.
The Barrel appears as an item in Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64)
The Elevator stage is used as an unlockable stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii.
Robbie Lakeman holds the official record for this game with 1,144,800 points, which he achieved on December 1st, 2014.
A 'speed-up' kit was released in Japan disallowing barrels coming down the ladder if you were at the top of it (SEE TIP BELOW).
The game was featured as an unlockable extra in "Donkey Kong 64" for the Nintendo 64.
Jumping over Barrels, Beams, Fireballs, Cement Pies, or Firefoxes : 100 points
* Sometimes scoring can occur when objects are next to or behind the player when jumping (especially the Springs on the Elevator Stage).
On the Ramp Stage only :
Two items jumped : 300 points
Three or more items jumped : 500 points
* Due to a bug in the program, jumping three or more items displays onscreen 800 points but actually awards only 500 points.
* Sometimes jumping over one or more objects scores no points.
Destroying objects with the hammer :
Barrels : 300 points
Beams, Fireballs, Cement Pies, and Firefoxes : 300, 500 or 800 points
Picking up Pauline's purse, hat, or umbrella :
L-01 : 300 points
L-02 : 500 points
L-03 onward : 800 points
On the Rivet Stage only :
Removing a rivet : 100 points
Jumping close to Kong : 100 points
When a stage is completed, the player receives the points shown in the bonus box.
Starting bonus points :
L-01 : 5,000 points
L-02 : 6,000 points
L-03 : 7,000 points
L-04 through L-21 : 8,000 points
L-22 (kill screen) : 4,000 points
* The timer on L-22 behaves strangely. When the stage first comes onscreen, the timer reads 100. Then it changes to 4,000 when Mario appears. It then counts down to 3,700 and stays there for a few seconds, until Mario dies due to the bug in the game's timer code.
* When you start the game, Jumpman will start at the oil can on the bottom floor of the Ramp Stage. Your job is to navigate him to the top so that he can progress to the next stages. Here are some strategies for each stage...
* RAMP STAGE : This is the first stage of each level.
1) On L-01, the Ramp Stage pretty easy. Donkey Kong will start the show by dropping a Beam into the oil can, igniting it. After a couple of seconds, a Fireball will jump out and dance about. Afterwards, every eighth Barrel released by Donkey Kong will be a Beam. In the later levels, Donkey Kong will throw the first Beam diagonally toward the lower right corner. If you are running toward that ladder, you and the Beam may have an unexpected encounter. On the later levels, it's better to hesitate briefly, then start running so you can jump the Beam.
2) Donkey Kong releases a Barrel about every 2 seconds. This does not mean, however, that the Barrels will all come at you at a uniform rate. Some Barrels will fall down the ladders, whether they are broken or not, before reaching the end of a platform. This can cause the Barrels to bunch up in twos, threes, and even fours. Be wary when attempting to jump too many Barrels since you don't have the horizontal range to jump too many.
3) Also remember to have enough overhead clearance when jumping Barrels. If Jumpman's head goes above the platform above, he may hit a Barrel rolling down that platform. This problem is especially true at the ends of the platforms.
4) In the later levels, the Barrels seem to go for Jumpman. To offset this a bit, go just a little past a ladder. The Barrel may drop giving you an opening at a ladder farther down the platform.
5) The Hammer can be either your greatest friend or your worst hindrance. It lasts anywhere from 5-7 seconds. Here are some hammering tips :
a) Remember, you cannot jump or climb ladders when you have the Hammer.
b) Be wary of trying to hammer Barrels that are close together. You will take out the first Barrel, but the second Barrel will get you when Jumpman is swinging the Hammer up. It's better to do a quick back and forth jog so that you can get the second Barrel.
c) If Jumpman stands at the end of a platform so the one above is right above his head, he can destroy Barrels before they drop to his level. Again, watch out for how much hammering time you have or a Barrel may drop on you right when your hammer goes away.
6) If there is a Barrel coming down the platform above and you are about ready to climb a ladder, wait for a moment. If you are on the ladder, the Barrel may decide to take a short cut and land on your head. This becomes more prevalent in the higher levels. NOTE: On the Japanese version, a Barrel cannot drop down a ladder while Jumpman is on it.
7) As you proceed into the higher levels, Donkey Kong does not always play fair. He has a tendency to throw Barrels diagonally or even to drop them to the next platform. Be ready to expect the unexpected at the later levels.
8) Although the Fireballs on this stage are rather sedate, they still can pose a danger. If you take too long on the level, the Fireballs will eventually climb the ladders to higher platforms so it is important to move up quickly and safely.
9) On this and all stages, Jumpman can only survive falls at a distance no greater than his height.
* CONVEYOR BELT STAGE : A relatively easy stage. You just have to watch out for Fireballs, Cement Pies, and conveyor belts...
1) The conveyor belts have a tendency to change direction very quickly. So if you are just under a ladder, you may find yourself being moved in the wrong direction. You may want to jump toward the ladder to reduce this chance.
2) Watch out for the Cement Pies. They come up randomly and Mario will lose the battle if a Cement Pie hits him. The same goes for the Fireballs that are born from the oil can.
3) If Jumpman goes off the edge of the screen on a conveyor belt he will lose that battle.
4) Any platforms that have circles on one or both of the ends are conveyor belts. That means the very bottom and third platforms are not conveyor belts. Plan your strategy accordingly.
5) Once you get up to the fourth platform, depending on what side you are on, you must make it to the telescoping ladders. You can hang on the ladder when it is retracted to avoid the Cement Pies. Just make sure there aren't any Fireballs around to harass you. Once the ladder extends to the next platform, climb it.
6) On this stage, you don't have to climb the ladder to the platform Pauline is on. All you have to do is make it to the platform that Donkey Kong is on.
* ELEVATOR STAGE : Probably the hardest stage in the game. It's the one that players have the most trouble with.
1) Jumpman will start out on the bottom of the leftmost girder. This level has a few hazards you must negotiate :
a) The gaps between the girders. A sure hand and jump at the right place will prevent tragedy.
b) If you take the lower route, you will have to cross the path of the Springs twice. Once while travelling on the first set of girders and again when you cross over on the second set of girders.
c) The Springs themselves are a hazard. If your timing is off, be prepared to have Jumpman squashed by a wayward Spring.
2) There are two routes you can travel to get to the top : The upper and lower routes. All veteran Donkey Kong players know that the upper route is the best route but it takes a little skill. The reasons for the upper route are :
a) You don't have as many jumps to make.
b) If you take the lower route, you will have to cross the path of the Springs twice. Once while traveling on the first set of girders and again when you cross over on the second set of girders.
c) These factors create a higher risk for Jumpman to not make it.
3) To navigate the top route, do the following :
a) Get on the first elevator (it is going up). When you almost get even with the top of the next girder to the right, jump onto it. If a Fireball is in the way, jump back to the top of the girder on the left (and pick up the Umbrella if you haven't done so yet).
b) From the top of that girder, get ready to jump on the next elevator (it is going down). When the elevator is slightly higher then the girder Jumpman is standing on, jump onto it. Without breaking stride (in other words, keep running), jump again to the third set of girders. Jumpman will have a pretty good arc since you ran him constantly. You should land on the top or second level of that girder.
4) Climb the ladder onto the girder that Donkey Kong is standing on and don't move. Jumpman will be right on the edge of that girder. The Springs will get very close to Jumpman (basically shaving his nose) but they won't hit him.
5) When a Spring basically scrapes Jumpman's nose, take off running toward the ladder to the platform with Pauline. This trick will require some timing. Run a little past that ladder then immediately turn around and go up the ladder. If this trick is done correctly, Jumpman will follow the Spring that just bounced over him and beat the Spring right behind it. This trick works on the later levels even when the Springs are 'double-jumping'.
6) This stage requires practice to perfect your techniques. Fortunately, in the US version, there is only one Elevator Stage per level after L-03 (100m from L-04 onward). Remember, Jumpman cannot survive long falls.
* RIVET STAGE : This is final stage of each level. However, it is probably one of the easiest stages to go through.
1) There is no real pattern to taking out the rivets holding the girders. What you must really be wary of are the Firefoxes. At the later levels, the Firefoxes move quite a bit faster and they become more aggressive.
2) One tactic is to get on one side of the rivet. Just as a Firefox gets right next to Jumpman, jump backward over the rivet. You will gain 100 points and remove the rivet. Firefoxes cannot cross the gap created by the missing rivet.
3) Make sure you don't accidentally jump into Donkey Kong when you are on the upper platform. This will lead to a premature end for Jumpman really quickly.
4) You can jump into the side walls away from the girders and they will bounce you back onto the girder you were on. This move is usually for if you are surrounded by Firefoxes and there is nowhere left to go.
NOTE: For ports released in North America, please see the North American upright version entry.
[EU] Atari 2600 (1982) "Donkey Kong [Model 4L2274]"
[EU] Mattel Intellivision (1983) "Donkey Kong [Model 7625-7A]"
[JP] Nintendo Famicom (jul.15, 1983) "Donkey Kong [Model HVC-DK]"
[EU] Nintendo NES (oct.15, 1983) "Donkey Kong [Model NES-DK-EEC]"
[BR] DynaVision "Donkey Kong"
[JP] Nintendo Famicom Disk (apr.8, 1988) "Donkey Kong [Model FMC-DKD]"
[JP] Nintendo Game Boy (june.14, 1994) "Donkey Kong [Model DMG-QDA]"
[EU] Nintendo Game Boy (sept.24, 1994) "Donkey Kong [Model DMG-QD-NOE]"
[EU] Commodore C64 (1983)
[EU] BBC B (1984) "Killer Gorilla"
[EU] Acorn Electron (1984) "Killer Gorilla"
[EU] Amstrad PCW (198?) "Climb It"
[EU] Anstrad CPC (1986)
[FR] Amstrad CPC [Disk] (1986)
[FR] Amstrad CPC [Tape] (1986)
[DE] Amstrad CPC [Disk] (1986)
[DE] Amstrad CPC [Tape] (1986)
[SP] Amstrad CPC [Disk] (1986)
[SP] Amstrad CPC [Tape] (1987)
[EU] Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1983) "Kong"
[EU] Sinclair ZX-Spectrum (1986)
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc