Mario and Donkey Kong are now 40 years old!

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Jag85

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#1  Edited By Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts

Donkey Kong was first released on 9 July 1981. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong introduced two of Nintendo's most iconic characters: Mario and Donkey Kong.

Along with introducing the world to Mario and Donkey Kong, the original Donkey Kong also introduced two revolutionary game design concepts:

  • Platform game with jumping. While Space Panic had platforming before, it lacked jumping. Donkey Kong became the template for every platform game ever since, so much so that early platform games were called "Kong clones" or "Kong games" before eventually being called platform games.
  • Multiple distinct levels with cutscenes to progress a storyline. While multiple distinct levels existed before (such as the forgotten Heiankyo Alien) and cutscenes were also around (Space Invaders Part II, Sheriff and Pac-Man), Donkey Kong combined distinct levels with cutscenes to progress a storyline. This is how stories are told in action games to this day.

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davillain-

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#2  Edited By davillain-  Moderator
Member since 2014 • 48076 Posts

Donkey Kong was before my time, and sadly, I never found the original arcade game during the arcade era before it was dying out here in the west. But however, I did actually play the game in its former glory on Donkey Kong 64 during later in the game, players were given an opportunity to play the original arcade Kong game so that was nice of Rare to put it in DK64.

Fun fact: @Jag85 did you know that Donkey Kong arcade was originally designed to be a Popeye game? Shigeru Miyamoto designed the game with the player being Popeye, Bluto would be in place of DK, and Olive Oyl the person you had to rescue. They were refused the rights to a Popeye game and started to design their own original sprites and thus Jumpman aka Mario was born. Just think though, if they had been given the license, Mario/DK would not exist at all.

Edit: I actually watch all the Popeye cartoon shows growing up in the 90s lol.

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Archangel3371

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#3 Archangel3371
Member since 2004 • 35908 Posts

Happy 40th to Mario and Donkey Kong. I was 10 when that game came out. Yeah I’m old. 😅

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Jag85

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#4  Edited By Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts

@davillain-:

Yeah, I know about the Popeye connection. It was a blessing in disguise, as the denial of the Popeye license instead gave us Mario and Donkey Kong. Although Mario was called Jumpman at first, before Nintendo renamed him in honour of Nintendo of America's Italian-American landlord Mario Segale. Nintendo did eventually get that Popeye license though, and basically made a Donkey Kong clone with Popeye characters.

Another licensing issue that landed Nintendo in hot water: King Kong. Universal tried to sue Nintendo over it. And not just Nintendo, but Universal also tried to sue Donkey Kong clones too! In a twist of fate, the court ruled in Nintendo's favour, forcing Universal and the DK clone makers to all pay damages to Nintendo. The lawyer responsible for Nintendo's court victory was John Kirby... so Nintendo named another character in his honour.

I used to watch Popeye cartoons as a kid too... And as a little kid, I actually believed spinach gives you super strength! I wonder if that inspired Mario's mushrooms?

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GirlUSoCrazy

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#5 GirlUSoCrazy
Member since 2015 • 14743 Posts

Was Donkey Kong 64 the only time Nintendo has brought the arcade version of the game home? I know they retrofitted the NES game with a missing level, but the DK64 bonus seems to be the arcade version itself.

Happy 40th, I wonder how Nintendo will celebrate?

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ZmanBarzel

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#6 ZmanBarzel
Member since 2014 • 2770 Posts

@girlusocrazy: Technically, I believe you are correct as the Arcade Archives version -- which plays great vertically with the Flip Grip, I should say -- was actually done/published by Hamster, not Nintendo.

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strategyfn

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#7 strategyfn
Member since 2012 • 730 Posts

I owned the Popeye game back in the day. Too bad I forget how the game went, but spinach was involved. I remember liking it though, even over Donkey Kong as I didn’t own DK.

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VFighter

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#8 VFighter
Member since 2016 • 9560 Posts

This thread is making me feel old. :(

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R4gn4r0k

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#9  Edited By R4gn4r0k
Member since 2004 • 38334 Posts

True legends of gaming, and I truly miss the days where we had more animals being protagonists/antagonists of video games.

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Litchie

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#10 Litchie
Member since 2003 • 28856 Posts

Would've been cool if Nintendo did something with the IP for the Switch. But I can understand why they wouldn't, if they can just sell their old game again for full price.

Nintendo thinks people should get punished for buying a Wii U. Feels nice.

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#11 pmanden
Member since 2016 • 1805 Posts

@Archangel3371: I was 4 in 1981, so you are not the oldest gamer around here :). Ah the nostalgia. I played Donkey Kong on Atari 2600 consisting of only 2 levels and Donkey Kong himself looked horrible. But still a great game.

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onesiphorus

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#12 onesiphorus
Member since 2014 • 4183 Posts

Happy 40th birthday to Donkey Kong! I was six years old when the arcade game was released and I remembered playing the Atari 2600 version during the time of the video game crash in the U.S. That version was unlike the arcade version just like the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man. I also knew the arcade version of Popeye that was also developed by Nintendo and was a different game than Donkey Kong.

Gaming in the 1980s was a different experience due to the arcade scene and early consoles than it is now. I had much fond memories of gaming in the 1980s than in any other time in my 35+ years playing video games.

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Jag85

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#13 Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts
@Litchie said:

Would've been cool if Nintendo did something with the IP for the Switch. But I can understand why they wouldn't, if they can just sell their old game again for full price.

Nintendo thinks people should get punished for buying a Wii U. Feels nice.

Nintendo couldn't even be bothered to celebrate Donkey Kong's birthday! Donkey Kong is the most important game in Nintendo's history. Without DK, there wouldn't be Mario or the NES. Yet Nintendo is pretending as if DK doesn't exist.

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#14 locopatho
Member since 2003 • 24186 Posts

@R4gn4r0k said:

True legends of gaming, and I truly miss the days where we had more animals being protagonists/antagonists of video games.

Agreed, love the cavalcade of bears, monkeys, hedgehogs, dinosaurs and all the rest, usually (but not always!) starring in platformers.

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mojito1988

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#15 mojito1988
Member since 2006 • 4564 Posts

Ha! I'm one year older!

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PC_Rocks

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#16 PC_Rocks
Member since 2018 • 6081 Posts

Crazy times when games used to be fun and were games.

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#17  Edited By robert_sparkes
Member since 2018 • 5552 Posts

Had great memories with donkey kong country and mario all stars but I feel that I've outgrown nintendo games.

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#18 Djoffer123
Member since 2016 • 1273 Posts

Christ i was born two months before DK was released, I feel old now:/

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#20 davillain-  Moderator
Member since 2014 • 48076 Posts

@girlusocrazy said:

Was Donkey Kong 64 the only time Nintendo has brought the arcade version of the game home? I know they retrofitted the NES game with a missing level, but the DK64 bonus seems to be the arcade version itself.

Happy 40th, I wonder how Nintendo will celebrate?

The DK64 version looks and sounds like the original, but it was actually made from scratch and has a few subtle differences. For example, this version doesn't give players points for jumping over the cement trays in the second level, and the lives counter is on the upper right side of the screen instead of the upper left.

Supposedly, the reason why the arcade original was unavailable for Nintendo's home systems for so long (until the Arcade Archives release in 2018) is that there was a legal dispute between Nintendo and Ikegami-Tsushinki, the company the former hired to program Donkey Kong, over who owned the rights to the game's code.

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#21 GirlUSoCrazy
Member since 2015 • 14743 Posts

@davillain-: I never played that version of DK myself even though I own the cartridge. I knew there were differences but I thought maybe it might be from inaccurate emulation. Rare did other bonus retro games too like the ZX Spectrum Sabre Wulf in GoldenEye. I knew about the code rights but I wasn't sure if this was before the dispute was raised or maybe this flew under the radar, but I guess that's impossible at Nintendo! I guess the score thing is a dead giveaway. Thanks for the info!

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#22 PSP107
Member since 2007 • 18156 Posts

@Archangel3371 said:

Happy 40th to Mario and Donkey Kong. I was 10 when that game came out. Yeah I’m old. 😅

How old was Mario/DK in their game debut?

@strategyfn said:

but spinach was involved.

😂

@pmanden said:

@Archangel3371: I played Donkey Kong on Atari 2600 consisting of only 2 levels and Donkey Kong himself looked horrible. But still a great game.

lol@only 2 levels. Anyway, even at 4yrs old you thought DK looked horrible?

@pc_rocks said:

Crazy times when games used to be fun and were games.

PS2 was the last good era imo.

@Jag85 said:

@davillain-:

And as a little kid, I actually believed spinach gives you super strength! I wonder if that inspired Mario's mushrooms?

😂

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#23  Edited By getyeryayasout
Member since 2005 • 13555 Posts

I miss the days of walking into an arcade and being able to tell which games were there just by listening to the sounds.

The bass sounds of Asteroids and Battlezone cabinets were always a dead give away.

Good times.

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#24 navyguy21
Member since 2003 • 16178 Posts

Thanks OP for making me feel old lol.

I remember back then being so taken with gaming and technology even at a young (I refuse to say) age.

I also remember the older generation then not understanding gaming and those who love it......much like I don't understand people's infatuation with Fortnite lol

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#25 vl4d_l3nin
Member since 2013 • 3267 Posts

His name is Jumpman. Mario is his slave name.

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VFighter

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#26 VFighter
Member since 2016 • 9560 Posts

@pc_rocks: They still are, plus the oldies haven't gone anywhere so we get tot enjoy the best of all of them.

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#27 VFighter
Member since 2016 • 9560 Posts

@PSP107: I grew up playing the 2600 version and never got to play the arcade version (and NES) until I was much older. I still love the 2600 version, yeah it's incomplete but it has its own charm to it.

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#28 mrbojangles25  Online
Member since 2005 • 51216 Posts

Not old enough to have been around for its introduction, but I'm old enough to have seen one or two of them in arcades growing up.

I miss arcades.

@locopatho said:
@R4gn4r0k said:

True legends of gaming, and I truly miss the days where we had more animals being protagonists/antagonists of video games.

Agreed, love the cavalcade of bears, monkeys, hedgehogs, dinosaurs and all the rest, usually (but not always!) starring in platformers.

Yeah whatever happened to that?

A shame about Biomutant's lukewarm reception, one of the reasons I was looking forward to it was it animal-centric art direction.

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R4gn4r0k

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#29 R4gn4r0k
Member since 2004 • 38334 Posts

@mrbojangles25: Yeah there is definitely something wrong with the narrative in Biomutant.

Instead of all the animals having different personalties, like say Banjo and Kazooie have, they are instead all voiced by the same guy.

I played some 10 hours, I enjoyed myself. But the narration becomes boring after a while. Everything is called a googly-gook or a springly-sprang... And it doesn't even really add to the lore or anything. The narration isn't childish which leads to humor (Donkey Kong Country), it's just childish and tedious.

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#30  Edited By mrbojangles25  Online
Member since 2005 • 51216 Posts

@R4gn4r0k said:

@mrbojangles25: Yeah there is definitely something wrong with the narrative in Biomutant.

Instead of all the animals having different personalties, like say Banjo and Kazooie have, they are instead all voiced by the same guy.

I played some 10 hours, I enjoyed myself. But the narration becomes boring after a while. Everything is called a googly-gook or a springly-sprang... And it doesn't even really add to the lore or anything. The narration isn't childish which leads to humor (Donkey Kong Country), it's just childish and tedious.

Yeah. Not to generalize, but it seemed very kind of British child-humor to me. Like something you'd find in a Roald Dahl book or something. I suppose there's an audience for that but that stuff get's old after a while.

Have not tried it, though, so I might be getting the wrong idea. Would like to play it at some point.

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Archangel3371

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#31 Archangel3371
Member since 2004 • 35908 Posts

@PSP107: That’s something that you’d have ask Nintendo. 😅

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PC_Rocks

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#32 PC_Rocks
Member since 2018 • 6081 Posts

@PSP107 said:


@pc_rocks said:

Crazy times when games used to be fun and were games.

PS2 was the last good era imo.

True. 7th gen was the start of the downfall.

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PSP107

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#33 PSP107
Member since 2007 • 18156 Posts

@Archangel3371: "That’s something that you’d have ask Nintendo. "😅

I'm guessing Mario was in his 40s and DK was probably a teen.

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#34 pmanden
Member since 2016 • 1805 Posts

@PSP107: Mario looked fine, but Donkey Kong himself looked horrible, like a lego project gone wrong. I am sure the Atari 2600 could produce better graphics than those. Check out Donkey Kong here : https://youtu.be/IzI1RBdK2_g

Ugly isn't it?

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#35 St_Monica
Member since 2020 • 584 Posts

@Jag85 said:

Nintendo couldn't even be bothered to celebrate Donkey Kong's birthday! Donkey Kong is the most important game in Nintendo's history. Without DK, there wouldn't be Mario or the NES. Yet Nintendo is pretending as if DK doesn't exist.

Yeah, Nintendo seems to be focusing only on Zelda's 35th anniversary this year. That said, they certainly celebrated the legend that Jumpman saved Lady from DK at Mario Odyssey's New Donk City Festival, so I guess DK is still important for them.

I know you're far more familiar with this topic, but Ultima and Wizardry, which had a big influence on the birth of JRPGs, are also marking their 40th anniversary this year, right? I wasn't really aware of that until now, but 1981 seems to be very important as the platformer that later led to Mario and Sonic and the RPGs that later led to FF and DQ were established in the same year.

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Jag85

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#36 Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts

@st_monica said:
@Jag85 said:

Nintendo couldn't even be bothered to celebrate Donkey Kong's birthday! Donkey Kong is the most important game in Nintendo's history. Without DK, there wouldn't be Mario or the NES. Yet Nintendo is pretending as if DK doesn't exist.

Yeah, Nintendo seems to be focusing only on Zelda's 35th anniversary this year. That said, they certainly celebrated the legend that Jumpman saved Lady from DK at Mario Odyssey's New Donk City Festival, so I guess DK is still important for them.

I know you're far more familiar with this topic, but Ultima and Wizardry, which had a big influence on the birth of JRPGs, are also marking their 40th anniversary this year, right? I wasn't really aware of that until now, but 1981 seems to be very important as the platformer that later led to Mario and Sonic and the RPGs that later led to FF and DQ were established in the same year.

Who knows? Maybe they might have a surprise planned later this year. But it was weird that they couldn't at least tweet happy birthday to Donkey Kong.

A number of important games came out in 1981:

  • Donkey Kong (arcade) - The year's most important game. Set the template for platformers, introduced jumping mechanics, and established the standard game design format for action games (e.g. level design, cutscenes, linear story progression).
  • Wizardry and Ultima (computers) - The most important RPGs since D&D. Influenced nearly every JRPG and WRPG since then.
  • Defender and Scramble (arcade) - Evolved the shoot 'em up genre with side-scrolling.
  • Jump Bug (arcade) - Following the heels of Donkey Kong, evolved the platform genre with scrolling. Also introduced parallax scrolling.
  • Turbo (arcade) - Introduced a full-colour pseudo-3D perspective to racing games.

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PSP107

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#37 PSP107
Member since 2007 • 18156 Posts

@pmanden: "https://youtu.be/IzI1RBdK2_g"

😂. That does look horrible. He doesn't look like a monkey in that link.

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#38 Ibacai
Member since 2006 • 14177 Posts

Wow, this makes me feel old. Glad that DK and Mario are still going strong though.

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Jag85

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#39 Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts

@pmanden: I forgot what the Atari version looked like until now... The game should've been called Gingerbread Man!

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#40 pmanden
Member since 2016 • 1805 Posts

@Jag85: Haha. Absolutely. The gameplay was still fun though. Even with gingerbread.

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#41 GoldenElementXL
Member since 2016 • 6275 Posts

At 37, (38 in Nov) I’m not too far behind… Where did the time go?

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#42 onesiphorus
Member since 2014 • 4183 Posts

@PSP107 said:

@pmanden: "https://youtu.be/IzI1RBdK2_g"

😂. That does look horrible. He doesn't look like a monkey in that link.

Look at the Donkey Kong ports through the years:

Loading Video...

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Jag85

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#43 Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts
@pmanden said:

@Jag85: Haha. Absolutely. The gameplay was still fun though. Even with gingerbread.

Don't forget the cookies that Mario ate up along the way... No wonder Mario put on weight!

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#44 madsnakehhh
Member since 2007 • 17386 Posts

The biggest shock for me is when someone says ... 20 years ago Mario looked like this and they show a Mario Sunshine pic ...

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Jag85

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#45 Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15978 Posts

While Nintendo forgot to celebrate the 40th birthday of Mario and Donkey Kong, there were at least plenty of Italy fans celebrating Mario's 40th birthday at the Euro Cup finals in Wembley...

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#46 dabear
Member since 2002 • 4371 Posts

@Jag85: Lost a lot of quarters to Donkey Kong back in the day...

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#47 ZeroTheHero
Member since 2021 • 791 Posts

I still remember playing Donkey Kong Jr. on Atari 2600 great game.