Donkey Kong

Year: 1986
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Platform

As a wise man once said, “Everything is better with monkeys.” By “wise” of course, I mean “drunk,” and by “said” I mean “imagined,” but the principle still holds true: EVERYONE loves monkeys, with the possible exception of people who give them Xanax.

But how could they have anticipated that using potent drugs to remove a violent xenophobic predator's inhibitions could possibly have negative repercussions?
But how could they have anticipated that using potent drugs to remove a violent xenophobic predator’s inhibitions could possibly have negative repercussions?

Now, unless you were born slightly less than a week ago, you’re probably aware that “Donkey Kong” is based on King Kong, who has a significantly less silly name. What you probably don’t realize is that, in “knowing” that, you’re completely wrong!

Everything you know about Donkey Kong is a lie!
Everything you know about Donkey Kong is a lie!

You see, Donkey Kong was actually the first draft of a game meant to star Popeye, Olive Oyle and Bluto. Unfortunately, despite having already worked on the gameplay, Nintendo was unable to obtain the license. Undaunted, repeat accidental character creator Shigeru Miyamoto decided that it was about time to create another hit character! Since he already had a game where someone who was bigger than someone else threw barrels at them, Miyamoto figured he would make it a gorilla because, hey! That’s something gorillas do, right? Then, he named the ape “Donkey Kong” out of the mistaken belief that “Donkey” was an English word for “stupid” and “Kong” was an English word for “great ape.” Then he made the other guy Mario because Mario is awesome and also was a character he already made. Two down, one to go! I don’t know how that blonde chick that mario is supposed to be saving is, but she’s a palette swap of Olive Oyle. More on that in another entry. I think her name is Pauline?

Mario's nondescript damsel-in-distress.
Mario’s nondescript damsel-in-distress.

Anyways, it’s important in any review to, you know, review the game, so let’s get onto it. First of all, I like this game more than it will ever deserve to be liked. It’s a throwback to my childhood. I’m not exaggerating when I say that some of my first cognitive memories involve playing Donkey Kong. Not on a Nintendo, mind you, but the gameplay was basically the same, save that on some of the less sophisticated systems, the scene between the part with the barrels and the part with the girders is omitted (which threw me for a loop when I first played the nintendo version).

Gameplay isn’t really that amazing. You walk, you climb ladders that aren’t broken, you fail to climb broken ladders, you risk your life to collect the girl’s personal effects.Everything else tries to kill you.

Kind of does look like a burning waterfowl, though.
Kind of does look like a burning waterfowl, though.

In two of the three screens, there’s a hammer you can grab to break barrels, but it’s mostly useless. This is primarily because you never ever ever get the option to drop it before it runs its course, which is something that would be useful roughly 100% of the time given that you cannot climb ladders while holding it. In fact, given the option, it would be ideal to pick up the hammer, smash exactly 1 or 2 barrels with it, then throw it away and keep going. Also the hammer breaks fire. As a child, I was convinced all the fire in the game was comprised of something I dubbed a “fireduck” which, in my mind, made the hammer breaking them a logical (and unfavorable, as they were ducks) option.

But I digress. It’s not a bad game. It’s fun, it’s playable – although repetitive it’s challenging. It’s a classic, and it earned that title as yet another testament to Nintendo’s ability to accidentally make characters that will go on to have huge franchises and make them millions and millions of dollars.

John’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0, but Stupid Monkey gets special consideration from me for its nostalgia value. I will note here, as a partial justification of my rating, that the above three in-game screencaps constitute the entire game – that’s literally everything there is to it.

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