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Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years

Donkey Kong has been a cult gaming sensation, selling more than 40 million units worldwide.

Updated
Tech and Auto
5 min read
Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
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(This article was first published on 9 July 2018. It has been updated and reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark the anniversary of Donkey Kong’s release.)

The most recognised ape among gamers turned 39 today. Donkey Kong is the main character of Nintendo’s video game series, Donkey Kong, that was first released on 9 July 1981. The game was developed by Shigeru Miyamoto. Since then, it has been a cult gaming sensation, with many editions, spin offs and crossovers - selling more than 40 million units worldwide.

The gameplay focuses on manoeuvring Donkey Kong across a series of platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles.

The Donkey Kong game also saw the first appearance of Nintendo’s Mario who was called ‘Jumpman’ in the game.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is a single-screen action puzzle, side-scrolling game where the main character, an ape, has to tackle 'Jumpman' (Mario). Gameplay progresses with the ape using barrels as weapons or props to jump on.

In 1994, the original Donkey Kong game was released for Nintendo’s handheld device, the Gameboy with 96 new levels.
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Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

As the first game was a massive success, it was followed by Donkey Kong Jr. in 1982. The plot of the game showed Mario as the main villain who had kept Donkey Kong imprisoned. Kong's son, Donkey Kong Jr. is on a mission to save his father from Mario's clutches. This is the only game where Mario is seen in a villain's avatar.

Donkey Kong III

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Donkey Kong 3, the third game in the Donkey Kong series was released in October 1983 and did not feature Mario. Instead, in this game the hero is Stanley - an exterminator. Donkey Kong takes refuge in his greenhouse and Stanley's goal is to stop the ape from stirring up more insects that will destroy his flowers.

Donkey Kong Country Series

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

After the third installment, the Donkey Kong country series, a series consisting of five games was developed with the help of British company Rare that took the game into a completely different scenario. The series was mostly considered as a spin-off to the Donkey Kong series.

The absence of Donkey Kong Jr. from the trilogy was also considered odd by the gamers at the time.

The first game, Donkey Kong Country was released in 1994. In the game, the players were supposed to control Donkey Kong's grandson (also called Donkey Kong) and his friends to complete a series of side-scrolling levels in order to defeat the villain King K. Rool who was a crocodile. The game was considered revolutionary in terms of its graphics and gameplay.

The second in the series, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest was released in 1995. In this one, Donkey Kong is kidnapped by King K. Rool. The mission is to save Donkey Kong, using Diddy Kong and his girlfriend Dixie Kong. This game was a bit more dark themed than traditional Donkey Kong games.

In many fan theories, Diddy Kong is seen as the nephew of Donkey Kong while in some he is just a replacement to Donkey Kong Jr.
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In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, both Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong get kidnapped by Baron K. Roolenstein (K. Rool's new avatar) and this time, Dixie and her cousin Kiddy Kong have to save them. The whole purpose of the Country series is to defeat K. Rool.

The country series was also made available for Nintendo’s handheld Gameboy consoles.

The Country series was picked up again in 2010 with the launch of Donkey Kong Country returns in 2010 for the Nintendo Wii console.

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

This one was developed by Retro Studios. In this version, Donkey Kong and Dixie Kong were to save their island from Tiki Tong's Tiki Tak Tribe. In 2014, the fifth title by the name Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was released for the Nintendo Wii U. The game sees Donkey Kong and his friends travelling through six different islands in order to defeat the Snowmads.

Donkey Kong Land

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

After the country series comes the Donkey Kong Land series. The Donkey Kong Land series was the handheld version of the Donkey Kong Country games for the Nintendo Game Boy. All three were released in 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively.

Donkey Konga Series

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Donkey Konga was a musical rhythm game series for the franchise, the first part of which was Donkey Konga. This game relied upon the use of another gaming accessory, the DK Bongos, to hit a beat in time with the tune. The first game was launched in 2004. The sequel, Donkey Konga 2 was launched in 2005.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Donkey Kong: How an Ape Evolved with Time in the Past 39 Years
(Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was another one of the rhythm games released in 2005. This also used the Bongo accessory as a controller. Tapping one drum made Donkey Kong run, tapping both at the same time made him jump, tapping both alternately made him attack, and clapping or blowing into the microphone caused an explosion.

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The famous ape was also a character in almost all of the Mario Sports games like Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Super Mario Strikers, and Mario Superstar Baseball. Diddy Kong was also present as a playable character in many titles. Donkey Kong has also been featured in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and later in the Mario and Sonic series thereafter. The latest development here was the inclusion of Diddy Kong to the Mario and Sonic series in 2016.

Donkey Kong is a key character in Nintendos gaming series, and looks like this ape will continue to evolve with the times.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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