Donkey Kong (SSBB)
Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkey Kong) is a character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He was first shown very briefly at the E3 2007 press conference. Donkey Kong now uses a new set of gorilla sound effects as opposed to reusing his voice from SSB and Melee.
Donkey Kong is currently ranked 21st out of 38 on the tier list in the Mid tier. This is an improvement over his ranking in Melee, where he is ranked 17th out of 26 in the lower mid tier. Donkey Kong possesses a combination of incredible power with many great finishers (especially in his smash attacks), and incredible reach in his attacks. Along with this power and reach combination, Donkey Kong possesses above average movement with remarkably good mobility for a character of his size, and many fast attacks (such as his back aerial and tilts). Additionally, Donkey Kong possesses by far the greatest horizontal endurance with his great weight and Spinning Kong momentum cancelling, as well as one of the strongest vertical endurances, and a recovery that gains great horizontal distance while protecting Donkey Kong, making Donkey Kong one of the hardest characters to KO. Donkey Kong's incredible weight is a double-edged sword, however; while it makes him incredibly difficult to KO, it also makes him incredibly easy to combo, juggle, and chain throw, including making him vulnerable to infinite and zero to death chain throws (most notoriously from King Dedede). Additional problems of Donkey Kong include most of his attacks having heavy ending lag (making it easy to punish most of his attacks if he misses), being very vulnerable to meteor smash gimps due to his recovery gaining much less vertical distance, his shield being too small for a character of his size leaving him heavily vulnerable to shield stabbing, and lacking a projectile, which when combined with his very large size and aforementioned shield issues, gives Donkey Kong severe issues dealing with camping. While his rolls and air dodge are about average, his sidestep is the second slowest, after Bowser. Overall, Donkey Kong has decidedly poor matchups while being countered by the majority of top and high tier (and is also hard countered by two, but Donkey Kong also hard counters three), and has achieved average tournament results.
Donkey Kong is a very heavy character with very powerful attacks, great attack range, and high knockback capabilities. Despite these pros, Donkey Kong lacks projectiles and a reliable way to deal with them, which makes his moveset and style of approach unvaried. He is one of the fastest heavyweight characters; his movement speed is above average: fast running, fast walking, fast air speed, and very high initial jump. Donkey Kong's weight helps him stay alive longer, though he is a big target and has very poor vertical recovery, but extremely long horizontal recovery. He can even use Spinning Kong to momentum cancel knockback from an attack that would even KO Bowser, Snake, or King Dedede. Despite his extremely long horizontal recovery, it is vulnerable to disjointed attacks and has poor vertical height which means even weak meteor smashes can be devastating, though it's hard to edge guard without a disjointed attack due its initial invincibility frames. Combining his impressive weight and good horizontal recovery with good directional influence, he will be extremely hard to KO.
Although he can take a lot of damage before being KOed, he gets hit very easily due to his large size. His large size and heavy weight also leaves him open to many chain grabs (e.g. King Dedede's infinite chain grab without a wall, which is truly problematic at such a high level), except Bowser's ground releases. Though given his attack range and speed, it can be difficult for characters with short-ranged grabs like the Ice Climbers to grab him to begin with. His Headbutt attack allows him to get a free attack on the opponent, as many of his follow-up attacks have low startup time, and it also does very high damage to shields. His fully charged Giant Punch also heavily damages shields, and the armor it grants may allow him to trade KO moves with an opponent and survive. Even his grounded Spinning Kong does high damage to opponents or shields. Having three high shield damage attacks he can give high shield pressure. Donkey Kong has numerous KO options and no problems doing so: all his smashes are powerful, with his up & down smashes coming out very fast; up aerial can compensate for a missed edge-guard, three reliable meteor smashes, back aerial & throw, Giant Punch (10 charges is actually more powerful than fully charged, but doesn't have armor) and the cargo stage spike.
He can counter any ground grab releases because of his unique extremely short grab release animation, making him escape from release lag 10 frames earlier than any other character does and being immune to Bowser's grab release game with the addition of only Snake and Yoshi being able to force him to jump break from grabs. Donkey Kong is unique to be able to carry crates, barrels and Bonsly without a reduction in speed, but small items have an unusually long end animation (though he has one of the best Glide Tosses in the game). DK also has a large grab range with powerful throws, and he is even able to chain-grab some characters, DK can infinite-Cargo release Lucas and Ness, he can KO characters in low damage percentages when using the Cargo stage-spike. Donkey Kong can also perform Kongocide, although it's not the most useful of the sacrificial KOs. Although Donkey Kong has his share of problems, he fares decently against the majority of the cast, and there are very few problems he can't overcome.
Changes from Melee to Brawl
In the transition from Melee to Brawl, Donkey Kong was heavily buffed overall. He has been improved in several aspects, including his mobility, endurance potential, power, recovery, and range.
One noticeable nerf he received was to his grounded Spinning Kong. The hitbox grounded Spinning Kong once possessed which came out on frame 2-5, had invincibility and could kill opponents under 100% was completely removed completely hindering grounded Spinning Kong's utility (although he does now have the "Invincicopter" to give his grounded Spinning Kong some new utility). Besides the change to his grounded Spinning Kong, Donkey Kong did not receive any other significant nerfs to his moveset.
Overall, DK is a stronger character than he was in Melee although he still struggles against much of the cast.
In competitive play
Donkey Kong has a fairly average matchup spread all around. He hard counters 3 (Ness, Lucas and Jigglypuff), counters 3, soft counters 5 and has 8 even matchups. He is soft countered by 6, countered by 9 and hard countered by 2 (Olimar and King Dedede). DK normally does good against characters he can generally outrange, such as Mario and Jigglypuff. He also boasts excellent matchups against Ness and Lucas due to possessing infinite grab releases on them. However, he has poor matchups against characters who can take advantage of his inability to oppose camping, like Olimar and Falco, or characters who can chaingrab him, like King Dedede, who can 0 to death him through his standing infinite. Donkey Kong poses a threat to characters lower than him, but does not make a significant impact against characters above him.
Tier placement and history
Donkey Kong was initially seen as a high tier character in Brawl, being ranked 10th on the first tier list. The buffs he received from his transition from Melee to Brawl made him a powerful character that could compete against a then inexperienced playerbase who didn't utilize much camping and chaingrabbing. As the metagame developed however, it became apparent that Donkey Kong's buffs were simply not enough to keep him as a high tier character, since he struggled to deal with projectile camping from the likes of Snake, Falco and Olimar and was heavily vulnerable to chaingrabbing, most notoriously from King Dedede.
Donkey Kong's decline started slowly, as he fell to 14th on the second tier list, and fell again to 18th on the third one, but he remained there on the fourth iteration. He slightly dropped to 20th out of 38 on the fifth tier list before going back to 18th on the sixth tier list. The seventh tier list marked Donkey Kong's lowest placing to date at 23rd out of 38, before rising to his current position of 21st out of 38 on the current tier list. While Donkey Kong struggles at high levels of play, his representation and results gathered by his playerbase have managed to secure his position as a mid tier character. In the mid tier and lower, there aren't many projectiles that heavily disrupt his approach and chaingrabbing is much less frequent, which allows him to fully take advantage of his great mobility, range and excellent endurance.
Role in the Subspace Emissary
The Koopa Troopas and Bowser steal Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard. As a Hammer Bro. drives off in a car which contains all the bananas, Donkey Kong watches him from a cliff. The Hammer Bro. and the Goomba aboard the car spot Donkey Kong and shoot Bullet Bills at him. However, Diddy Kong comes out from a bush and expertly shoots the Bullet Bills with his Peanut Popguns. Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong then follow the Hammer Bro. to retrieve the Banana Hoard. After following him, they see Bowser with a strange type of gun called a Dark Cannon, revealing that he is working for the Subspace Army. When Bowser charges the cannon, Donkey Kong quickly charges his Giant Punch and launches Diddy into the sky and out of the way, sacrificing himself. Bowser shoots Donkey Kong and turns him into a trophy. Later in the story, Diddy Kong, Fox and Falco see a ship which is carrying Donkey Kong as a trophy to a mysterious floating island. Falco then helps Diddy by following it with his Arwing and having the little Kong with him. Falco then does a barrel roll and drops Diddy out. Diddy fires up his Rocket Barrels and takes out his Popguns and shoots the ship. After seeing this, Captain Falcon and Olimar decide to help him and jump to the ship, where Diddy frees Donkey Kong. All four then fight the Primids and other enemies on the ship.
The ship takes them inside a factory producing Subspace Bombs, and encounter various R.O.B.s that happen to live on the island. They later meet up with Pikachu and Samus where they see the Ancient Minister and a whole lot of R.O.B.s. After Ganondorf controls the R.O.B.s into activating all of the Subspace Bombs, the Ancient Minister is shown to be R.O.B., the leader of all the lesser R.O.B.s who were forced to work for the Subspace Army. R.O.B. then fights with the others. When Diddy Kong points to leave, R.O.B just slumps and is so depressed that Donkey Kong has to carry him out. When trying to escape Captain Falcon calls for his Falcon Flyer and tries to leave the cave when Meta Ridley appears and they must fight him. After that they all meet up with the others.
Donkey Kong and the other heroes enter Subspace and meet Tabuu, who turns everyone into trophies with his Off Waves. However, King Dedede had anticipated this and created badges that revived certain fighters back into their original form. With his team consisting of Luigi and Ness, Dedede rescues Donkey Kong and most of the others, although some of them were rescued by Kirby. They also recruit Bowser, Ganondorf, and Wario when they learned about Tabuu. At the end of The Great Maze, Sonic shows up and helps weaken Tabuu's Off Waves so Donkey Kong and the others would be able to beat him and restore the World Of Trophies to normal (except the Isle Of The Ancients that was impossible to return due to the massive number of Subspace Bombs going off at once).
Donkey Kong's attacks are primarily punches. Arm stickers are effective, as they will cover all moves bar dash attack, neutral aerial, up aerial, back aerial, down aerial, ledge attack when under 100%, Headbutt, Spinning Kong and Hand Slap. A Leg sticker covers back aerial, dash attack and down aerial. Head stickers affect his up aerial and Headbutt. Spin stickers affects his neutral aerial and Spinning Kong. His ledge attack when under 100% is affected by body stickers but has next to no use otherwise and Hand Slap is boosted by Specials: Direct stickers. While this may seem situational, Hand Slap is a very effective move when dealing with multiple grounded enemies as well as grounded bosses.
These stickers can only be used by Donkey Kong or a select few including him.
In Event Matches