Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Donkey Kong

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chris-littlechild - June 9, 2012

There's a small minority indeed, gamer or otherwise, that is unfamiliar with Donkey Kong. Largely, these bemused souls dwell in solitary jungle regions, firing blow-darts at those monkeys with the bulbous red asses; or silently beseeching their obscure tree-god that a Boa constrictor won't coil itself around their nethers as they take a piss. (Penis-asphyxiation is an perpetual peril for these tribal guys. I know this to be ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE-FACT, because a drunken hobo in piss-stained pants I passed on the street once told me. He grasped my lapels and screamed it in my face as he shook me like an errant puppet, granted, but facts are facts.) As such, I'm taking a fresh look at Miyamoto's magnum opus, to investigate how it warrants the distinction of one of the most popular classic titles in gaming.

The concept, as we know, has been wantonly pummelled with the stick of bizarre. Pauline has been kidnapped by the eponymous ape, leaving her boyfriend/fuzzy-facial-follicled love slave Jumpman to mount a rescue attempt. To further bolster the subtle as a sledgehammer direct to the delicate squelchy eyeballKing Kong allusion, he's hiding at the top of a building like a big girl. A big, hairy girl with impressive musculature, who can gleefully HEFT LARGE BARRELS AT YOUR ACTUAL FACE with abandon as you platform-propel toward him. Reaching the summit will either see you advance to the next stage or drop the fat bastard on his head. (the skull-shattering impact, and resultant viscera-leaking-on-the-cold-metal-floor-in-a-grotesque-puddle-of-death animation was removed for subsequent releases. Nintendo, apparently, labour under the delusion that little Timmy doesn't want to see broken corpses with eviscerated, blood-leaking heads. To little Timmy, I say: "Grow yourself a nutsack, pitiful urchin! Kindergarten is a manly man's place, for children resembling Arnold Schwarzenegger! Today's lesson: origami.With steel paper.That's a couple of inches thick." But I digress. Habitually, it seems. I digress, therefore I am.)

As for why Donkey Kong is revered so, simply being Shigeru Miyamoto's maiden masterpiece is surely a factor. Nintendo's resident purveyor of lunacy has pioneered several of the industry's most prolific properties; Mario, Zelda and Star Fox are among his credits. For this first project, Popeye is famously cited as a chief inspiration. While I don't recall Bluto being quite as hairy as this fat bastard monkey, this is but a first example of the man's innovation; combining oddly disparate elements to marvellous effect. I would expect no less of the eccentric who would later pull Pikmin from his crazy, crazy brain; and offer it to us with delight akin to a dog flailing a freshly-fetched ball with pride. ("That was a tricky one. You threw it into the long grass on purpose, didn't you? I'm only a stumpy-legged Dachshund, youhuge bastard! There were snakes and mounds of rabbit shit and all kinds of Lovecraftian horrors in there! Got it though, because I'm awesome like that. Piss me off again, sunshine, it's a ball-biting for you. Twenty stitches in your nutsack equalsuber-pain, I'll wager.")

It's also remarkable just how many of the company's quintessential ingredients were firmly in place like Cameron Diaz's There's Something About Mary hair, from this first arcade release in 1981. Mario has been the proverbial Lancelot for distressing damsels his entire life, it transpires. Had this precedent not been set here, the guy could be plumbing for a living. As I've pondered before, the gaming genre marked turd-and-condom-blockage-expunging-simulator is surely niche at best. Quite apart from the axiomatic character debuts and the iconic hammer, we also see Nintendo's beloved eyeballs with everything philosophy here. The catastrophic barrel conflagration births a large angry fireball which wants to ravage you. This is acceptable. The fireball's eyes, alas, are completely inexplicable and unnecessary. Akin to the baseball cap and sunglasses I put on that lion at the zoo. He didn't appreciate the adornment at all.

My surviving testicle wasn't amused either.

So, in summary, we've learned two things here. Donkey Kong is excruciatingly archaic today, but remains beloved for its momentous significance for Mario's makers and for gaming. There are crazy guys right now attempting to outdo each other with an escalating series of impossible scores, which surely counts for something. Secondly, you do not want to break into the lion's enclosure and attempt to dress them. They take badly to all forms of apparel, even hilarious novelty t-shirts. I once saw one in a shop, emblazoned with the legend 'I think this guy's a dick'. There was an arrow beneath the words, enabling you to imply that -get this!- whoever you were currently standing in close proximity to is a dick!

And how, I ask you, could man or beast alike possibly object to that?


I'll leave those with fond memories of Donkey Kong to revel in these wonderful short Kong-clips:

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