[[caption-width-right:350:The ape may get [[AntagonistTitle top billing]], [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros but we all know who the real star of this game is.]][[note]]The screenshot is from the arcade version.[[/note]]]]

->''HOW HIGH CAN YOU GET ?'' [[note]]''HOW HIGH CAN YOU TRY ?'' in initial revision.[[/note]]

Classic 1980s arcade game from Creator/{{Nintendo}}. Introduced both Franchise/DonkeyKong and [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario]] as characters.

While not, as is commonly reported, the very first PlatformGame (that honor belongs to ''VideoGame/SpacePanic''), it was the very first to feature actual jumping. Didn't scroll at all, but involved a lot of jumping and climbing, and one level had moving platforms.

The storyline involved Jumpman (soon known as Mario) saving a Lady (later known as Pauline) from Donkey Kong, in an obvious reference to ''Film/KingKong''. Donkey Kong's main weapon seemed to be an endless supply of barrels, which Jumpman could, well...jump over.

The game is more-or-less single-handedly successful for saving the then-fledgling Nintendo of America. After having numerous arcade games tank, the then-president of Nintendo of Japan sent over circuit boards containing ''Donkey Kong''. They installed the game in an old ''Radar Scope'' arcade cabinet and set it up at a nearby bar, the Spot Tavern. The first day in, it made $30. The next day, it broke down too many quarters had caused a short circuit[[note]]Interestingly, the exact same thing happened when VideoGame/{{Pong}} was field tested.[[/note]]. Soon after that, Nintendo of America was assembling and shipping ''Donkey Kong'' machines all over the country, and the company was saved by this single game from Creator/ShigeruMiyamoto.

The Donkey Kong character's resemblance to ''King Kong'' led to Creator/{{Universal}} Studios filing suit against Nintendo, claiming trademark infringement. In an ironic twist, Nintendo's counsel, John Kirby, countered that Universal had itself argued in a previous case that ''King Kong'''s scenario and characters were in the public domain and the court agreed. Nintendo thanked Kirby by purchasing him a big sailboat, named Donkey Kong, with exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats.[[note]]Incidentally, Nintendo later gave rise to another character bearing the name Franchise/{{Kirby}}; Creator/MasahiroSakurai, his creator, claimed it was a coincidence.[[/note]]

In another ironic twist, Nintendo itself was [[ScrewedByTheLawyers found guilty of violating the copyright]] for the arcade game, and therefore could not sell the original version of ''Donkey Kong'' for its consoles. To summarize, the original arcade game was written by a company named Ikegami Tsushinki[[note]]A maker of professional broadcasting equipment, including video cameras.[[/note]] on assignment. Either that, or Nintendo made the game themselves using hardware made by Ikegami, [[OrSoIheard depending on who's telling the story]]. Either way, the contract did not include ownership rights to the code. When ''Donkey Kong'' became a hit, Nintendo either tried to make more boards themselves or simply used the code (illegally, according to Ikegami) to create ''Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, VideoGame/MarioBros, VideoGame/{{Popeye}}'', and possibly other games. In any case, they got sued for copyright violation as a result. A detailed report is [[http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134790/the_secret_history_of_donkey_kong.php?print=1 available here.]]. However, this finally changed with the release of the arcade version on UsefulNotes/NintendoSwitch. [[note]]As part of Hamster's Arcade Archives series.[[/note]]

The name itself resulted from Miyamoto's minimal knowledge of English at the time. He wanted to call the game "Stubborn Gorilla", (another name given, according to the "Mario Mania" player's guide, was "Stupid Monkey") to convey that the villain was not acting out of malice or with premeditation. With a pocket-sized Japanese/English dictionary, he latched on to "donkey" (as in the phrase "stubborn as a donkey"), and assumed from ''King Kong'' that "kong" meant gorilla. The name did [[UrbanLegendOfZelda give rise to a number of theories]] which attempted to explain its origin. One, which appeared on some of the cabinet labels, stated that Jumpman was in fact the title's Donkey. Regarding the other two characters: the [=NoA=] team named the hero after their then-landlord, Mario Segale, and eventually named the heroine after an employee's wife, Polly James.

The game's sequel, ''Donkey Kong Junior''[[note]]later shortened to ''Donkey Kong Jr.'' in revised arcade releases and certain home ports[[/note]], inverted the villain/hero roles; Donkey Kong Jr. had to rescue his father from Mario's clutches. The lesser-known ''Donkey Kong 3'' had an exterminator named Stanley trying to chase Donkey Kong away from his greenhouse with insect repellent.

After these sequels, Donkey Kong faded into the background; while the arcade games were ported to personal computers and Nintendo's own [[UsefulNotes/NintendoEntertainmentSystem NES]], he didn't appear in a major role again until 1994, with the release of two new games. One, also titled ''Donkey Kong'' but referred to by many fans as ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong94'', featured a shift to puzzle-platforming gameplay and inspired the later ''VideoGame/MarioVsDonkeyKong'' series. The other, ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' by British game developer Creator/{{Rare}}, was far more successful and revitalized the character for modern audiences.

''Donkey Kong'' also features prominently in the documentary ''Film/TheKingOfKong''.
!!Tropes in this game include:
* AlternateCompanyEquivalent: The Creator/{{Sega}} arcade game ''VideoGame/CongoBongo'' (aka ''Tip Top'') is often considered to be a rip-off of ''Donkey Kong''. In reality, Ikegami ended up also developing this game[[note]]Along with VideoGame/{{Zaxxon}}, which uses the same hardware.[[/note]] for Sega, foreshadowing the future rivalry between Nintendo and Sega.
* AmericanKirbyIsHardcore: The [[http://www.platypuscomix.net/interactive/fiercekong.jpg boxart]] for the UsefulNotes/{{Intellivision}} port of the game turned the cartoonish Donkey Kong into a downright scary looking monster with glowing eyes and a macho buzzcut. Mario looks like a circus strongman holding a golden [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Mjolnir.]]
* AnimatedAdaptation: The ''WesternAnimation/SaturdaySupercade'' show, featuring none other than Creator/PeterCullen as the voice of Mario, plus Frank Welker as Donkey Kong Junior in his own segment.
* AntagonistTitle: The first and third games. The second game had Mario as the villain, with the [[ProtagonistTitle titular Donkey Kong Jr.]] as the protagonist.
* ArcadePerfectPort: Averted. Most of the ports are faithful to the arcade version, but leave out [=50m=] due to memory limitations. Some ports play it straighter, such as "''Donkey Kong: Original Edition''" and ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong94'', but even then there are graphical and audio differences. This is because Nintendo does not own the rights to ''Donkey Kong'''s source code, as explained above. The only truly arcade-perfect port is the one included in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong64''[[note]]Which is just an emulated version of the arcade original.[[/note]].
* BigBad: The title character in ''Donkey Kong'' and ''Donkey Kong 3'', and Mario in ''Donkey Kong Junior''.
* BreakoutCharacter: Donkey Kong and Jumpman, who later became Mario. Pauline, not so much (well, [[VideoGame/SuperMarioOdyssey at the time]]).
* CanonImmigrant: The originally unnamed "lady" was first called Pauline[[note]]Which is likely a reference to the old silent movie serial, Film/ThePerilsOfPauline.[[/note]] in the previously mentioned animated adaptation from Saturday Supercade. Her name was made official when it appeared in the manual for the North American NES release.[[note]]The Japanese manual still refers to her as the "lady".[[/note]]
* CaptainObvious: The original instruction card combines this with DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment, but was unintentional in both cases:
--> "Jump button makes Jumpman jump."
* CharacterisationMarchesOn: ''Donkey Kong Jr'' not only portrays the ever altruistic Mario as a borderline villain who cages and whips Donkey Kong, and [[YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle continuously isolates him from his son]], but the original arcade version even conveys him as a DirtyCoward, sprinting away terrified after the escaped Kong kicks him to the other side of the screen.
* DamselInDistress: The (originally) unnamed "lady" (Pauline[[note]]She was first called by this name in the instruction manual for the North American NES release.[[/note]]) fills this role.
* DependingOnTheWriter: Most of the time it's official that the Donkey Kong of this game became Cranky Kong later, but rarely they "forget" this and act like the "present" DK was there all along. There's also the matter of whether Cranky is the current Kong's father or grandfather.
* DerivativeDifferentiation: The original arcade game was born out of this kind of serendipity; Nintendo, still trying to get their foot in the American game market in 1981, tried releasing a standard ''VideoGame/SpaceInvaders'' clone called Radarscope in the arcades; while it did well overseas, it completely flopped in the US and left them stuck with thousands of unsold cabinets. This prompted them to place Shigeru Miyamoto in charge of improvising another game to replace Radarscope (while converting the unsold cabinets into new games) and, instead of making another cookie cutter maze or shoot em up, created one of the earliest [[note]] but not the first; ''Space Panic'' from 1980, is generally considered the first platformer game [[/note]] and certainly one of the most important platformer games in history.
* DistressedDude: Donkey Kong in the second game, who was captured by Mario (making this the only game where he is the BigBad so far).
* DropTheHammer: The only way to break hazards or beat enemies; otherwise you must avoid them.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: The damsel was Pauline instead of Peach, the antagonist was DK instead of Bowser, and, in DKJR, Mario (as Jumpman) was the BigBad. The third game doesn't even have Mario at all; the protagonist is Stanley.
* ExcusePlot: The ever popular "Guy chases after other guy who kidnapped his girl".
* {{Expy}}: Initially conceived as a ''{{Popeye}}'' game until Nintendo was unable to secure the rights from Kings Features, the three central characters were instead made into new ones, Popeye becoming Jumpman, Bluto becoming Donkey Kong, and Olive Oyl becoming Lady. A ''Popeye'' arcade game did get made some time later. The Jumpman/Mario in [[http://video-game-ephemera.com/image/045e395.jpg the illustration artwork for this game]] still bears a vestigial resemblance to Popeye (in particular the nose, chin and squinty eyes) that would vanish when Mario got his more familiar redesign.
* EndlessGame: It's four different levels, done in various sequences, over and over. To most players, the goal was to beat your previous high score.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: While only mentioned in [[AllThereInTheManual the instructions]] Pauline was this originally, only being called "the lady" until the NES version was released in North America.
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: Or maybe everything's worse with an ape.[[note]]Monkeys have tails, while apes don't.[[/note]]
* FaceHeelTurn: Mario is the villain(!) in ''Donkey Kong Jr.''
* FanSequel: Has one in the form of ''Donkey Kong II: Jumpman Returns'', abbreviated [=D2K=].
* FallingDamage: [[OlderThanTheNES A very early example.]] If Jumpman falls through a hole in the floor, goes over the edge of a platform, or falls too far before hitting a surface while jumping onto or off of an elevator in Screen 3, he dies upon impact.
* {{Fireballs}}: Some of the first enemies of the entire series!
* GameMod: ''Donkey Kong: Original Edition'' has been confirmed to essentially be an official example of this. Nintendo essentially took a ROM of the NES version and programmed in a few missing elements of the arcade version.
* GenderFlip: An amateur programmer created a ROM hack ''[[https://archive.org/details/arcade_pauline Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition]]'' for his 3-year-old daughter.
* GratuitousEnglish: Not in the game itself, but on the arcade version's instruction card:
-->"If Jumpman reaches top, Donkey Kong takes the lady higher up, and structure changes shape."
-->"When a certain structures have been cleared, Jumpman saves the lady."
-->"Extra Jumpman when you gain a certain points."
* InconvenientlyPlacedConveyorBelt: An early example exists in the 50m "Cement Factory" level (cut from most ports). The conveyor belts carry cement piles (which resemble pies, hence the level's long time nickname of the "Pie Factory") which Jumpman must avoid.
* InvincibilityPowerUp: The hammer, which lets you smash oncoming barrels and fireballs. Not quite invincible, though, as bad timing can lead to you getting hit while your hammer's in the wrong position or if you fall off an edge.
* JumpPhysics: Jumpman's jumping ability is rather weak compared to later games, and you can die if you fall above your jumping height. This also applies to ''Donkey Kong Junior'' in the sequel.
* JustFriends: While some [[AllThereInTheManual home port manuals]] unofficially described them as romantically involved, Mario and Pauline are actually said to be this in arcade materials and all subsequent appearances, likely due to [[VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1 Princess Peach]] taking her place as the primary love interest.
* KillScreen: [[http://donhodges.com/how_high_can_you_get.htm Level 22]]; the timer is set so low that it is impossible to finish the level. Interestingly, the devteam ''did'' think to {{cap}} the level counter at 99, so how did that oversight make it into the game?
* {{Mascot}}: What Mario would eventually become for Nintendo, starting with this game. Donkey Kong also enjoyed a big role in the limelight.
* NamedByTheAdaptation: Or in this case, named by the port. The DamselInDistress wasn't called Pauline until the NES version was released. She was originally an unnamed "lady".
* NoOSHACompliance:
** It's understandable that a giant ape could cause a few collapsed walkways and broken ladders in a construction site, but who's responsible for letting him get up there in the first place?
** Forget the barrels and jacks, what kind of oil spawns ''living fire monsters''?
* OneHitPointWonder: Jumpman himself.
* PaletteSwap: Blue barrels[[note]]Which are likely meant to be steel kegs, but appear blue because of technical limitations.[[/note]] will spawn fireballs.
* ProtagonistTitle: ''Donkey Kong Junior''.
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: A variation of Johann Sebastian Bach's ''Toccata and Fugue in D Minor'' plays in the beginning of ''Donkey Kong Junior''.
* PuzzleBoss: Defeating Donkey Kong isn't as straightforward as jumping onto him (of course, the GoombaStomp hadn't been formulated quite yet anyway).
* SphereEyes: Visible on Donkey Kong, even with his low-res sprite. They're more prominent on the cabinet artwork.
* ShoddyKnockoffProduct: ''Many'', but most notably, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRn-ti2Vnjo Crazy Kong]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bvk9_0FMz4 Crazy Kong Part II]].
* ShoutOut:
** Donkey Kong is named after ''[[Film/KingKong1933 King Kong]]''.
** Pauline is named after the famous DamselInDistress from the FilmSerial ''Film/ThePerilsOfPauline''.
* SuddenSequelHeelSyndrome: Mario/Jumpan in ''Donkey Kong Jr.''.
* ThrowABarrelAtIt: Donkey Kong's main, and only, method of attack.
* TimedMission: You gotta finish each level before the timer runs out. Notably, in stage 22 of the original, the timer is set so low that it's [[KillScreen outright impossible to finish the stage]].
* UnexpectedGameplayChange: ''Donkey Kong 3'' was a shooter game rather than a platformer, and starred an exterminator named Stanley rather than Mario. For this reason, [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks it wasn't as popular as its predecessors]].
* UpdatedRerelease: The "''Original Edition''" designed for the 30th anniversary is a version of the game's NES release with [=50m=] and the intermission cutscenes (originally removed due to space issues) added back in.
-->'''[[WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}} Fry]]:''' Wait a second, I know that monkey, his name is Donkey!
-->'''Professor Farnsworth:''' Monkeys aren't donkeys. Quit messing with my head!