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Franchise: Donkey Kong

For the 1981 arcade game, go here

Donkey Kong is a franchise of video games centered around the eponymous necktie-wearing gorilla Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong made his debut in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong. The premise of the game was that a gorilla named Donkey Kong kidnapped the girlfriend of a carpenter nicknamed Jumpman and escaped into a construction zone. Jumpman then had to brave the game's four levels, each one with many obstacles, in order to rescue his girlfriend. Donkey Kong was the Ur Example of the genre known as the Platform Game. The game was the Breakthrough Hit of Nintendo as a video game company, paving the way for their later success in the industry.

DK later returned in the game's sequel: Donkey Kong Jr In this game, however, DK was made a Distressed Dude by Jumpman, newly rechristened as Mario, in revenge for kidnapping Pauline. DK had to be rescued by his son, Donkey Kong Jr., from Mario, who kept DK in a cage and summoned many creatures to stop DK Jr. from rescuing his father.

After DK Jr., Mario would later go on to establish his own franchise separate from DK. First, he would star in Mario Bros., where he and his brother Luigi (who made his debut there) had to deal with the creatures in the Brooklyn sewers. Afterwards, he and Luigi starred in the landmark Super Mario Bros., which codified the standards for the Platform Game genre and made Mario the mascot of Nintendo and the centerpiece of their gaming empire.

Donkey Kong wasn't done yet, though. He once again appeared in Donkey Kong 3, which was very different from either of its predecessors, being more like a 2D shooter instead of a simple Platform Game. In this game, Donkey Kong terrorized a gardener named Stanley, and Stanley had to defend his greenhouse from the swarms of bees DK sent at him.

Donkey Kong was completely reinvented by the British studio Rare with the Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The trilogy breathed a new life for the Donkey Kong character, giving him a supporting cast of other Kongs such as Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong as well as giving him an established group of enemies to fight called the Kremlings, an army of anthropomorphic crocodilians lead by a constantly name-changing king called King K. Rool. It was also established that the Donkey Kong of the arcade games was now old and retired, going by the name of Cranky Kong, while the playable Donkey Kong was either his son (and therefore the old Donkey Kong Jr.) or his grandson. These games were massively popular for their highly detailed digitized graphics that took full advantage of the SNES' color rendering capabilities. It also paved the way for Rare to become one of Nintendo's most acclaimed development studios. Rare also produced Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo64, often thought to be a Self Plagiarism of their own Banjo-Kazooie.

Rare was later bought out by Microsoft, leaving the franchise in a state of limbo. Nintendo still kept the rights to all elements of the DKC games introduced by Rare. During this period, they collaborated with Namco to produce the Donkey Konga series of Rhythm Games, which used elements of the DKC trilogy, and the platform game Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, which was set outside the continuity and used no elements from the Rare games. The franchise was eventually given to Paon, who produced DK King of Swing and DK Jungle Climber, two games reminiscient of Clu Clu Land set in the Rare continuity, as well as the Racing Game Donkey Kong Barrel Blast. The American subsidiary Nintendo Software Technology also produced Mario vs. Donkey Kong, which reunited Mario with his former rival (or probably the son/grandson of his former rival). The limbo came to an end when Retro Studios released Donkey Kong Country Returns, which marked a return to the 2D platforming style.

Throughout its life, the Donkey Kong franchise has maintained a connection to its daughter franchise, Mario. DK himself appeared in several Mario spinoffs like the Mario Kart series, Mario Tennis series, and the Mario Party series. For a while, Nintendo was reluctant to incorporate the elements from the Rare games with the extended Mario universe, as they were unsure if they could use those elements. The DKC elements were finally integrated into the extended Mario universe with Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, which featured Diddy Kong as a playable character. Since then, other DKC characters have made appearances in the Mario spinoffs, among them Funky Kong and the Kremlings. Donkey Kong is also a perennial playable character of the Super Smash Bros. series of Fighting Games, which, unlike the Mario spinoffs, has incorporated DKC elements from the very beginning. Diddy Kong later joined in Brawl.

Games


Tropes displayed by the Donkey Kong Franchise

  • Artistic License - Biology: A quirky detail that people like to point out are Diddy and Dixie's eyes: They never blink with their eyelids but instead "squish" their irises to create the illusion of blinking. And the way that their face is designed makes it look like their eyeballs are connected to each other. So by definition, Diddy and Dixie are double-irised one-eyed monkeys.
  • Digitized Sprites: The Donkey Kong Country series popularized it for 16-bit consoles. The Mario vs. Donkey Kong series also uses this.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys
  • Exiled from Continuity: The Rare-created characters used to be forbidden from the extended Mario universe due to slightly unjustified legal fears, but this has been overturned as of now.
  • Outside-Context Villain: Both of the villains from the Retro-created "Returns" series have been entirely new and unrelated to the Kremlings.
  • Shared Universe: Has a loosely defined shared universe with the Mario series.
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: A few of the Kremlings, especially Klubba and Kudgel from Donkey Kong Country 2.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Collecting bananas is a major part of the franchise.
  • Useless Accessory: DK's necktie, Diddy's Nintendo hat, etc.

DizzyVideo Games of the 1980sDonkey Kong
Digimon World DSUsefulNotes/The Seventh Generation of Console Video GamesDonkey Kong Country Returns
Dig DugUsefulNotes/The 8 -bit Era of Console Video GamesDonkey Kong
Castlevania: Dracula XUsefulNotes/The 16 -bit Era of Console Video GamesDonkey Kong Country
Disaster: Day of CrisisCreator/NintendoDonkey Kong
DeceptionUsefulNotes/The Eighth Generation of Console Video GamesDonkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
DishonoredVideo Games of the 2010sDonkey Kong Country Returns
Cool BoardersRacing GameExcite
Mario vs. Donkey KongFranchise/Super Mario Bros.Mario Bros.

alternative title(s): Donkey Kong
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