Donkey Kong (arcade game)

From West Elmira Computers Museum

This article is about the arcade game. For the Game & Watch game, see Donkey Kong (Game & Watch).

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Donkey Kong
Developer Nintendo R&D1, Ikegami Tsushinki
Coleco (Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Intellivision)
Nintendo R&D2 (NES)
Publisher Nintendo
Systems Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit computers, ColecoVision, GameCube, Intellivision, iQue Player, NES Classic Edition, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 64, Nintendo e-Reader, Nintendo Switch, TI-99/4A, VIC-20, Wii, Wii U
Released Arcade JP: July 9, 1981
Arcade NA: July 31, 1981
Arcade EU: 1981
ColecoVision: 1982
Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit, Intelivision, TI-99/4A, VIC-20 NA: 1983
Famicom JP: July 15, 1983
NES NA: June 1, 1986
NES EU: October 15, 1986
Atari 7800: 1986
Nintendo 64 Animal Forest JP: April 14, 2001
GameCube Animal Forest+ JP: December 14, 2001
GameCube Animal Crossing NA: September 15, 2002
GameCube Animal Crossing EU: September 24, 2004
iQue Player Animal Forest HK: June 1, 2006
Wii Virtual Console NA: November 19, 2006
Wii Virtual Console JP: December 2, 2006
Wii Virtual Console AU: December 7, 2006
Wii Virtual Console EU: December 8, 2006
NES Original EU: October 29, 2010
NES Original JP: July 28, 2012
NES Original NA: October 1, 2012
GBA e-Reader WW: 2012
3DS Virtual Console JP: October 17, 2012
Wii U Virtual Console WW: July 15, 2013
3DS Virtual Console NA: August 15, 2013
3DS Virtual Console JP: November 21, 2013
Famicom Mini AU/JP: November 10, 2016
NES Classic EU/NA: November 11, 2016
Switch Arcade Archives NA: June 14, 2018
Switch Arcade Archives AU/EU/JP: June 15, 2018
Switch Online WW: September 18, 2018
Added to
GC (NES, Animal Crossing): January 20, 2003
NES CE (NES): June 22, 2017
Famicom Mini (Famicom): August 10, 2017
GBA (NES, e-Reader): January 20, 2018
Switch (Arcade, Arcade Archives): August 16, 2018
TI-99/4A: February 3, 2020
Donkey Kong marquee.jpg

Donkey Kong was first released for the arcade. It was developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1, with code development subcontracted to Ikegami Tsushinki, and was published by Nintendo in 1981. It was the first game in the Donkey Kong series. It was also the first game to feature Nintendo's mascot Mario. As such, it was brought to most of Nintendo's subsequent systems, either as ports or through emulation.


Donkey Kong NES screenshot.png

An Italian-American carpenter named Mario had a pet gorilla, Donkey Kong, that captured Mario's girlfriend Pauline.

Mario then chased down Donkey Kong to several construction sites.

Each time he rescued Pauline, Donkey Kong took her up to a higher level, and Mario followed.

Eventually, Mario manages to make the beams collapse with Donkey Kong on top of them.

Unfortunately, Donkey Kong just captured Pauline again, and Mario's chase continued.


Radar Scope was a hit in Japan when it was released in 1980, but when it released in North America, it sold poorly. Nintendo of America asked for a game that could be installed in the unsold Radar Scope cabinets.

Nintendo asked its designers for ideas, and Shigeru Miyamoto's idea was chosen.

Originally Miyamoto wanted to use Popeye characters, but Nintendo could not secure the rights.

The game was designed with original characters instead, and code development was subcontracted to Ikegami Tsushinki.

The resulting game was Donkey Kong, which was a worldwide success.

Versions of the game

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As the first game to feature Nintendo's mascot Mario, it has been released on many different systems, both through traditional game ports and through emulation. It was first released to arcades in 1981.

Coleco secured the rights to release the game to home video game consoles. Coleco published it on ColecoVision in 1982, Atari 2600 and Intellivision in 1983, and Atari 7800 in 1986.

Atari secured the rights to release the game to computers. Atari published it on Atari 8-bit computers, TI-99/4A, and VIC-20 in 1983.

Nintendo published the game themselves after this. Nintendo published it on Famicom in 1983 and NES in 1986. It was included as an unlockable game in Animal Forest on Nintendo 64 in Japan in 2001 and on GameCube on 2002. It was also released on the localized version, Animal Crossing, on GameCube in 2002 in North America and in Europe in 2004. The Nintendo subsidiary iQue released Animal Crossing for the iQue Player in 2006. This version included Donkey Kong as well.

It was released on Virtual Console for Wii in 2006, for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012 in Japan and Europe and North America in 2013, and for Wii U worldwide in 2013.

Donkey Kong Original Edition, a version for the NES was released for Wii in Europe in 2012, and on Nintendo 3DS in North America and Europe in 2012. It was also released as a five-card release for the Nintendo e-Reader in 2012.

It was released on the NES Classic Edition and Famicom Mini in 2016.

It was released for Nintendo Switch via Arcade Archives and for the Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online emulation service in 2018.