Donkey Kong’s Anniversary and Why You Should Care

On July 9, 1981, Nintendo dropped what is the equivalent of the “fire mixtape” in arcades: Donkey Kong. Still, on it’s 34th anniversary, it is considered an all-time classic, and pretty much anyone who’s familiar with Nintendo knows this game, and for good reason.

Everything about the game gives off “fun”. Whether it’s the idea of saving your girlfriend from the King Kong of video games, or it’s the challenge of jumping barrels, or even the famous end screen(as seen below), everything about this game brings out your inner arcade geek, although arcades are hardly what they used to be.

Besides the image of Donkey Kong landing on his head and most likely breaking his neck, this end screen is pretty sweet.

Besides the image of Donkey Kong landing on his head and most likely breaking his neck, this end screen is pretty sweet.

It was Nintendo’s first claim to fame, and even though “Jumpman” was the main character, it didn’t take long for Mario to get his universally known name in the sequel, Donkey Kong Jr.

Essentially, this game set up what would become Nintendo’s strongest asset.

But we’re not here to talk about Mario. The Italian plumber is important, sure, but it’s time to talk about the true hero of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong himself. The chest-banging, barrel-throwing gorilla o’ terror deserved his name as the title, and here’s why:

  • He won’t hesitate to whoop your sorry ass to kingdom come.
  • Infinite barrels.
  • Finally, his son is so dedicated to the cause of stealing Mario/Jumpman’s girlfriend, he runs the show in the sequel. That’s a dynasty right there.

All of these are not to mention in the ways that Donkey Kong created a whole flurry of games across the decades that are just solely based in DK’s world. No, I’m not talking about Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast. I’m talking about the Country series that remain relevant and respected to this day, or Donkey Kong 64, which became the primary reason I would go over to friends’ houses and play N64 with them.

This is not to mention how awesome some of the characters that spawned like Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong(albeit, Cranky Kong’s rep dropped off a bit thanks to Nintendo announcing him for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze at VGX 2013 instead announcing a new IP or something big like that.)


An original flier released by Nintendo to promote the first release of Donkey Kong.

All in all, Donkey Kong’s universe has become a vital part of Nintendo’s and they have the original Donkey Kong from 1981 to thank. It’s one of the games that can be considered one of the biggest steps for Nintendo, and also a big step for video games.

Donkey Kong is honestly one of my favorite arcade games, and getting to play it, the little I did, growing up really established that Nintendo isn’t just something made for me, but something that was made for my parents too.

This isn’t a love fest for Nintendo, but it is a shoutout. Donkey Kong is one of the first major platformers and it’s great music, design and gameplay is one of the first example of how complete a game can be.

Evan Reier is a contributor to Dual Follow Evan on Twitter and on Twitch.

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Evan Reier

Evan Reier

Evan Reier is a student at the University of Alabama studying Journalism. He writes for Bleacher Report covering the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars as well as contributing to Dual Pixels. Follow Evan on Twitch and Twitter.