Donkey Kong is a video game originally released for the arcades by Nintendo in 1981, and subsequently ported to various home consoles and computers such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Intellivision, Atari 2600/7200, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64, among others, and variously re-released for newer systems since. One of the first platform games, it was a great success and launched the multi-million franchise of its protagonist, Mario, who has since become a recognizable video game icon. Donkey Kong can unofficially be classified as a Popeye game.
While the title appears to suggest "King Kong", this is simply due to the word "Kong" taken as synonymous to "ape". In fact, game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has admitted that his original idea was to create a Popeye video game. A deal between Nintendo and King Features Syndicate was not reached, however, causing Miyamoto to realize his game with original characters, although the influence of Popeye in his animated cartoon incarnation is still evident: the setting, that of a skyscraper under construction, is often seen in classic American cartoons such as Popeye's A Dream Walking; the action revolves around a "love triangle" between a protagonist such as Popeye (the player character, Jumpman, later known as Mario), a damsel in distress who is continually kidnapped akin to Olive Oyl (Lady, later known as Pauline) and a jealous, brutish antagonist like Bluto (the titular massive gorilla, Donkey Kong). The action is comical, with the protagonist sorting all types of obstacles, sometimes even using an item that temporarily empowers him (similar to spinach), in this case, a hammer.
Donkey Kong boasts four different screens, each making up a stage, that comprise the game's setting of a building under construction. In three of the four screens, the player has to guide the hero character as he makes his way towards the top platform where his beloved is held captive, by running, jumping and climbing ladders. He can however obtain an item (a hammer) that briefly allows him to wreak destruction upon the obstacles that that the enemy sends his way. The remaining screen requires the hero to retrieve the various bolts that support the platform his foe is standing on, causing him to fall and the lady's rescue to be complete. After that, a second "level" begins where the game starts again with increased difficulty, the cycle repeating endlessly.
- Two of the game's four existing screens prominently feature drums labeled "OIL", perhaps in a coincidental reference to one of the original intended characters's name.
- Following Donkey Kong's success, King Features Syndicate opened to the possibility of a Popeye game by Nintendo. The resulting game, while successful, never quite matched the popularity of its predecessor.
- Donkey Kong at GameFAQs