Donkey Kong arcade game — Jump, smash and roll! - Gamestate

Donkey Kong arcade game — Jump, smash and roll!

In the early 1980s, video games were just starting to take shape. The arcade scene was booming, and games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders took the world by storm. But one game, in particular, stood out from the rest: Donkey Kong. 

This arcade game was the first to feature one of video gaming's most iconic characters and has become a staple in the industry.

In this article, we'll look at the history of the Donkey Kong arcade game and how it has evolved over the years.

The birth of the Kong Arcade

The Donkey Kong arcade game was first released in 1981 by Nintendo. It was designed by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who would go on to create many of Nintendo's most popular franchises, including Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. 

Donkey Kong arcade game follows the story of a carpenter, Mario (who would later become known as the beloved character of the Super Mario franchise). Mario is trying to save his girlfriend, Pauline, who has been kidnapped by a mischievous gorilla named Donkey Kong. 

The game is set on a construction site, and players must climb ladders and jump over barrels as they make their way to the top of the level. The game's four levels increase in difficulty, with the fourth being the showdown between Mario and Donkey Kong. The game's success led to numerous sequels and spin-offs, including Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong Country.


The gameplay of Donkey Kong arcade game is simple yet challenging. The player controls Mario as he tries to make his way up the construction site, through the elevators, and across the moving platforms to reach Donkey Kong at the top. 

The game is controlled by a joystick and a single button, which is used to make Mario jump. The player must time Mario's jumps carefully to avoid obstacles such as barrels and fireballs and to collect items such as hammers that can destroy obstacles in Mario's path. The game also features a timer, which adds challenge as the player must complete each stage before the time runs out.

Donkey Kong sequels

There have been several sequels to the original Donkey Kong arcade game, each with unique gameplay and plot.

Donkey Kong Jr. was released in 1982 as a direct sequel to the original game. The game follows the story of Donkey Kong's son, who must rescue his father from Mario, who has imprisoned him in a cage. The gameplay of Donkey Kong Jr. is quite different from the original game, with players controlling Donkey Kong Jr. as he climbs vines and chains while avoiding enemies such as birds and electric shocks. The game was also notable for its darker plot, as players essentially play as the antagonist from the original game.

Donkey Kong 3 was released in 1983 and featured a completely different gameplay style from the first two games. Players control a character named Stanley, who must protect his greenhouse from Donkey Kong, who has invaded and is causing trouble by shooting bugs at Stanley. The gameplay involves spraying Donkey Kong with insecticide while avoiding his attacks and the bugs he's shooting.

In addition to these direct sequels, there have been many other games in the Donkey Kong franchise, including spin-offs and crossover games, much like  Donkey Kong Country.

Donkey Kong on Atari consoles

The success of the arcade version of Donkey Kong led to several home console versions being released, including ones for the Atari 2600 and Atari 7800. 

These versions featured similar gameplay to the arcade version but with some limitations due to the consoles' hardware. The Atari 2600 version, in particular, was criticized for its poor graphics and sound quality.

The evolution of Donkey Kong

Over the years, Donkey Kong has continued to evolve, with new games released on various consoles and handheld devices. 

One of the most significant developments in the series was the release of Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994. This game introduced pre-rendered 3D graphics and was a huge success, selling over 9 million copies worldwide. It also introduced new characters, such as Diddy Kong and Cranky Kong, who have since become staples in the series.

Since then, numerous other games in the Donkey Kong series have been released, including Donkey Kong 64, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. These games have introduced new gameplay mechanics and features while staying true to the series' roots.

Donkey Kong in the modern era

In recent years, Donkey Kong has grown in popularity, thanks partly to the character's inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. series of games. The character has also been featured in various mobile games, such as the endless runner game Donkey Kong Jungle Run.

The Donkey Kong arcade game has also been re-released in various forms over the years. In 2018, the game was included in the Nintendo Switch's Arcade Archives collection, allowing players to experience it in its original form. 

The game has also been included in various compilations, such as the Nintendo Switch's SNES Online library and the NES Classic Edition.

The legacy of Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong's impact on the video game industry cannot be overstated. The game was one of the first to feature a narrative and characters, and its success paved the way for many other popular franchises. 

The character of Donkey Kong has become an icon in his own right, appearing in various forms of media, including cartoons and merchandise.

The game's popularity also led to the creation of numerous spin-offs and sequels, including the Mario franchise, which began with the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1985. Many of the elements from the Donkey Kong arcade game, such as the character of Mario and the gameplay mechanics, have become staples in the Mario series and have contributed to its continued success.

A game that shaped an industry

It's without question that the Donkey Kong arcade game has become one of the most iconic and beloved games in the history of the video game industry. The game simply introduced a narrative, characters, and unique gameplay that set it apart from its peers.

Over the years, Donkey Kong has continued to evolve, with sequels and spin-offs that introduced new gameplay mechanics and characters. Today, Donkey Kong remains a beloved character. Its legacy inspires future game designers to create new and innovative experiences.

Donkey Kong's impact on the video game industry cannot be overstated, and the game remains a testament to the creativity and innovation that continues to define the industry.

Ready to experience the iconic Donkey Kong arcade game and other classic and modern games? Head over to Gamestate for an unforgettable gaming experience. 

With various games available, you'll surely find something you'll love. So, grab your friends and family and come down to Gamestate arcade for a fun-filled day of gaming!