Donkey Kong (SSBM)

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This article is about Donkey Kong's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For the character in other contexts, see Donkey Kong.
Donkey Kong
in Super Smash Bros. Melee
Donkey Kong SSBM.jpg
Universe Donkey Kong
Other Smash Bros. appearances in SSB
in Brawl
in SSB4
in Ultimate
Availability Starter
Tier E (17) (North America)
F (17) (Europe)
An ape with overwhelming girth and power.
Melee's instruction Manual

Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkey Kong), shortened as DK on the victory screen and character select screen, is a default character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. He returns from the original Super Smash Bros., but with faster moves and agility, as well as an improved recovery.

Like Bowser, Donkey Kong has no voice actor and instead uses realistic gorilla grunts, similarly to his sounds in Super Smash Bros.

He is currently 17th out of 26 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. This is a slight improvement to his previous placement in Smash 64 where he was ranked 9th out of 12. Donkey Kong, true to being a heavyweight, is difficult to KO, and this is aided by his fast falling speed. Donkey Kong also has powerful attacks, and he has excellent range to boot. Despite his weight and size, Donkey Kong is very agile; most of his attacks are executed swiftly, he has a high air speed, and his jumping prowess is solid. His mobility facilitates combos, and this is further aided by his remarkable grab. However, Donkey Kong himself is vulnerable to combos due to his large size, and his recovery, while covering a significant amount of horizontal distance, struggles in terms of vertical distance. Due to these traits, Donkey Kong is seen as a situational character.


Contrary to what his archetype might suggest, Donkey Kong has surprisingly high speed for a character of his power and weight class. In raw characteristics, Donkey Kong owns a fast walking speed, an above-average running speed, a high air speed, and a high falling speed (though unlike other high-fallers, Donkey Kong's gravity is average as opposed to above-average, with him having the lowest gravity value amongst the high-fallers; he shares the same fall speed as the significantly lighter Roy), aspects that lead to a short wavedash, but an average SHFFL, and long, safe dash dance.

Owing to his relatively high speed, Donkey Kong owns a flexible, powerful comboing game. On the ground, Donkey Kong's various tilts are all fast and can be used to start aerial combos, and in the air, Donkey Kong's fast, low-lag neutral, up, and back aerial attacks can allow him to continue attacking enemies with little penalty against him; adding to this, his high air speed can allow him to pursue enemies that have been popped up into the air. Arguably his most important combo tool, however, consists of his throwing game; despite a below-average grab range, Donkey Kong's various throws have low-knockback and low ending lag, making them excellent combo starting tools. His forward throw, known as the "cargo throw" or "cradle", is especially useful, due to its ability to easily combo into his practical air options. While carrying his opponent, Donkey Kong is free to move around the stage, allowing him to move to areas where he can more easily combo his opponents without interference from platforms or other hazards. He can also use this feature of the cargo throw to either perform a sacrificial KO by walking off the edge of the stage after cradling an enemy or throwing the enemy underneath the stage to stage spike them.

As expected for a character of his weight class, Donkey Kong also has a plethora of powerful attack options in addition to his faster, weaker offerings. All of his smash attacks can cover significant distances away from him, as well as packing significant power in order to KO opponents. Three of his aerials (back, down and forward) can be potent finishers to complement his aerial game, and his Giant Punch can easily be one of the most powerful attacks in the game if landed, though it does require a particularly good read or combo in order to be most effective.

Due to being a heavyweight with a high falling speed, Donkey Kong owns a below-average recovery. While these traits make Donkey Kong highly resilient to the upper blast line, Donkey Kong's survivability on all other blast lines is poor. Spinning Kong grants above average horizontal distance, but poor vertical distance, making meteor smashes and spikes extremely powerful against Donkey Kong. Owing to a lack of other options concerning his recovery, this also means that he has very poor recovery options compared to other characters; none of his specials can reduce his falling speed, and he cannot wall-jump or use any other tactics in conjunction with Spinning Kong, and as such, the character is simple to edgeguard.

Much like fellow heavyweight Bowser, Donkey Kong's various attributes also make him very easy to combo. In addition to having among the largest raw hurtbox sizes in the game, Donkey Kong's high falling speed and weight make it easy for characters to chain throw him, as well as combo him in the air. Compounding this is Donkey Kong's poor defensive game; a large hurtbox causes him to have a small shield that can easily make him vulnerable to shield stabbing, and his lack of a projectile can prevent him from easily approaching enemies that own one.

Changes from Smash 64 to Melee[edit]

Donkey Kong has received a large mix of buffs and nerfs in his transition from SSB64 to Melee. However, whether he was buffed or nerfed overall is debatable since the nerfs and buffs he receieved were both significant. While he has lost his previously abusable grab release, the generally faster falling speeds have given DK a new type of chaingrab against fast-falling opponents, particularly with his newly buffed cargo throw, and his new up and down throws. However, his reach has been reduced (though it remains among the best) and his power is lower as well, but many of his attacks are faster to execute. He is also more vulnerable to combos due to his faster falling speed and his overall endurance is much worse due to him being much lighter.

Regardless, Donkey Kong ranks better relative to the cast in Melee than he does in SSB64, now ranking 17th out of 26 characters rather than 9th out of 12 although he struggles even more against the higher tiered characters resulting in him being considered an unviable pick for competitive play.


  • Change Donkey Kong's hair color on his default costume is now a darker shade of brown.
  • Change His other costumes have different ties to them (black has blue; red has a slightly darker blue than the black costume; blue has purple; and green has a red tie that is very similar to the original costume, but is a little darker).
  • Change The voice clips when Donkey Kong taunts and is KO'd in SSB are switched in Melee. His voice clips are also retained from the previous game, though with better quality.
  • Change Donkey Kong always faces the screen when he taunts, regardless of which direction he is currently facing.
  • Change Donkey Kong's green alternate costume is now available for Free-for-all, instead of being exclusive to Team Battle. The costume also uses his normal skin color, as opposed to being green like in SSB.
  • Change Donkey Kong has a new helpless animation.


  • Buff Donkey Kong's air speed is faster (30 → 1), going from average in Smash 64 to among the faster air speeds in Melee.
  • Buff Donkey Kong can throw heavy items (Crates, Barrels, Barrel Cannons and Party Balls) above and below him, which he could not do in Smash 64. He also walks slightly faster and gains small amounts of armor when carrying them.
  • Buff Donkey Kong walks significantly faster (0.32 → 1.2), going from the 3rd slowest in SSB to the 6th fastest in Melee.
  • Buff Donkey Kong dashes faster (48 → 1.6), now having the 10th fastest dashing speed in Melee.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong is catastrophically lighter (141 → 114), which drastically hinders his endurance, while still being just as vulnerable to combos as before due to his increased falling speed.
  • Nerf His attacks are generally weaker, such as his forward smash.
  • Buff Donkey Kong's falling speed has significantly increased (56 → 2.4). With the introduction of the SHFFL technique, he can make strong use of the technique due to his falling speed.
  • Nerf His falling speed also makes him considerably more vulnerable to combos and worsens his already poor vertical recovery. Considering that Donkey Kong's vertical endurance hasn't significantly improved from Smash 64 due to his significantly lighter weight in Melee, this falling speed increase does more harm than good.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong can no longer avoid projectiles from hitting his head by taunting.
  • Buff Donkey Kong's new ground release animation is 9 frames shorter compared to the rest of the cast, giving him more time to counterattack.
  • Change Donkey Kong's short hop is lower.
  • Buff Donkey Kong can now glide toss although his glide toss is fairly short.

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Neutral attack:
    • Buff Neutral attack now has a wider hitbox. The second hit also has less startup lag and a longer duration (frames 6-11 → 5-11) and does 2% more damage (4% → 6%).
    • Nerf The first hit of neutral attack has a shorter duration (frames 5-8 → 5-7). The second hit has slightly higher ending lag (frame 34 → 35).
  • Forward tilt:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new forward tilt: an open outward hand swat that can be angled. It has less startup (frame 12 → 8) and ending lag (frame 43 → 34).
    • Nerf New forward tilt deals less damage regardless of tilt direction (12% → 11% (angled up), 10% (default), 9% (angled down), hindering its KO potential. It also has a shorter duration (frames 12-17 → 8-11).
  • Up tilt:
    • Buff Up tilt has significantly less ending lag (60 frames → 40).
    • Nerf Up tilt has more startup lag and a much shorter duration (frames 4-23 → 6-11). It also deals less damage (13% → 9%).
  • Down tilt:
    • Buff Down tilt has less startup (frame 11 → 6).
    • Nerf Down tilt has a shorter duration (frames 11-16 → 6-9) and has more ending lag (frame 22 → 24). It also deals less damage (8% → 7%).
  • Dash attack:
    • Buff Dash attack has less ending lag (frame 71 → 55).
    • Nerf Dash attack has more startup lag and a shorter duration (frames 3-26 → 9-20). It also deals less damage (12% → 11% (clean), 9% (late).
  • Forward smash:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new forward smash: Donkey Kong performs a powerful clap in front of him. It has less startup (frame 27 → 22) and ending lag (frame 60 → 55).
    • Nerf New forward smash has less reach, knockback (20 (base), 100 (scaling) → 22/90) and has a shorter duration (frames 27-32 → 22-23).
  • Up smash:
    • Buff Up smash is faster in both startup (frame 16 → 14) and ending lag (frame 60 → 54).
    • Nerf Up smash can no longer hit grounded opponents when standing on a flat surface and it deals less damage (21% → 18%) and has decreased knockback scaling (100 → 93) hindering its reliability and KO potential.
  • Down smash:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new down smash: He holds up his arms and punches downwards in a 90° angle, with a sweetspot hitbox located in his hands. It has less startup (frame 12 → 10) and ending lag (frame 70 → 56) and has more base knockback (30 → 35) than his old down smash.
    • Nerf New down smash has a much shorter duration (frames 12-31 → 10-13), now has sourspots and deals less damage (19% → 16%/14%).

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Nerf Neutral, forward and down aerials all auto-cancel later (frame 29 → 39 (neutral), frame 35 → N/A (forward), frame 29 → 50 (down)) and can no longer auto-cancel in a short hop.
    • Buff Back and up aerials auto-cancel earlier (frame 35 → 20 (back), frame 20 → 13 (up)).
  • Neutral aerial:
    • Buff Neutral aerial has less ending lag (60 frames → 39).
    • Nerf Neutral aerial has more startup lag and a shorter duration (frames 4-29 → 10-26). It also deals less damage (15% → 12% (clean), 12% → 10% (late)) hindering its KO potential.
  • Forward aerial:
    • Buff Forward aerial's sweetspot has more base knockback (0 → 30) making it more effective at lower percents.
    • Nerf Forward aerial has significantly more start-up (frame 8 → 25), ending lag (frame 50 → 60) and decreased knockback scaling (100 → 85).
      • Nerf Forward aerial also has more landing lag, and is not fully compensated by L-canceling. Additionally, the altered angle (-70° → 270°) and the introduction of meteor canceling hinders its reliability.
  • Back aerial:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new back aerial, he kicks backwards with his right foot. It has slightly faster startup (frame 8 → 7), and much less ending lag (60 frames → 32). It also deals more damage on both the clean and late hits (12% → 13% (clean hit), 8% → 9% (late hit).
    • Nerf Back aerial's hitbox length has been slightly shortened. It also has a much shorter duration (frames 8-35 → 7-15).
  • Up aerial:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new up aerial: a swinging headbutt similar to Ness' up aerial. This new up aerial has less ending lag (60 frames → 38) and has better combo and KO ability due to hitting above him sooner and deals 2% more damage (12% → 14%) and has increased knockback (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 30/90).
    • Nerf His new up aerial has less reach, more startup lag and a much shorter hitbox duration than his old up aerial (frames 3-20 → 6-8).
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new down aerial: he slams down his right foot. Down aerial deals 3% more damage (13% (clean), 10% (late) → 16%/13%), has increased base knockback (15 → 38/20), more range and has a consistently powerful hitbox, due to the removal of the late hit. It also has less ending lag (60 frames → 55).
    • Nerf Down aerial has a lot more start-up (frame 6 → 18) and a decreased hitbox duration. Additionally, the altered knockback angle (-90° → 270°) and meteor canceling hinders its reliability.
    • Nerf Down aerial has a much shorter duration due to no longer having a late hit (frames 6-29 → 18-23). Despite the removal of the late hit, down aerial still has a weaker sourspot which is situated on Donkey Kong's body.

Throws/other attacks[edit]

  • Nerf His grab range was reduced, going from the longest non-tether grab in Smash 64 to below average in Melee. His grabs have more startup lag (frame 6 → 8 (standing), 10 (dash)) and ending lag (frame 16 → 31 (standing), 41 (dash)).
  • Buff As with all returning veterans, DK now has a pummel, up throw and down throw giving him more options out of a grab.
  • Forward throw:
    • Buff Cargo forward throw can now throw up and down, giving DK more options to combo or KO.
    • Nerf Donkey Kong will take 10% damage if the opponent escapes from his forward throw.
    • Change Cargo forward throw no longer deals damage when lifting the opponent, but the opponent will take 4% more damage if they break free from Donkey Kong's forward throw (6% → 10%).
    • Buff Cargo forward and back throw deal more damage (6% → 8% for (Cargo forward throw), 7% → 8% for (Cargo back throw).
    • Nerf Cargo forward and back throw deal less knockback (70 (base), 80 (scaling) → 80/50).
  • Back throw:
    • Nerf Back throw deals less damage (18% → 10%) and knockback (80 (base), 70 (scaling) → 60/65) drastically hindering its KO potential (no longer being the strongest back throw).
  • Edge attacks:
    • Buff Under 100% edge attack has a new animation. This animation decreases its ending lag (frame 60 → 55) and allows the move to hit opponents that are standing directly near the ledge.
    • Buff Under 100% edge attack deals 2% more damage (6% → 8%).
    • Nerf Under 100% edge attack has less intangibility (frames 1-10 → 1-5), a shorter duration (frames 9-18 → 9-16) and slightly less range.
    • Buff Over 100% edge attack has less startup lag with a longer duration (frames 49-54 → 37-50), less ending lag (frame 90 → 70), more range and deals 4% more damage (6% → 10%).
    • Nerf Over 100% edge attack has less intangibility (frames 1-50 → 1-34).

Special moves[edit]

  • Giant Punch:
    • Buff Giant Punch charges faster (139 frames → 127), has a new hitbox behind his arm which deals vertical knockback and has less startup (frame 23 → 17) and has much less ending lag (frame 94 → 47). Its uncharged variant also has higher base knockback (0 → 15) which compensates for each charge level dealing 2% less damage. The 10th charge level now deals the same amount of damage as fully charged Giant Punch and it has higher knockback than its fully charged variant.
    • Nerf Giant Punch has less reach, deals less damage (12%-32% → 10%-30% (uncharged) 36% → 30% (grounded fully charged), 27% (aerial fully charged), and its fully charged variant deals lower knockback (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 10/90). It now also leaves him helpless when used in the air, which, combined with his poor vertical recovery and the move's lower power, weakens its offstage utility. Fully charged Giant Punch also no longer deals extra shield damage and its back hit is drastically weaker than the front hit.
    • Change Giant Punch now has a new animation: Donkey Kong winds up his fist back instead of merely behind himself, and now performs the attack with his left arm.
  • Headbutt:
    • Buff Donkey Kong now has a side special: Headbutt. It can bury grounded opponents, meteor smash aerial opponents and also does very high amounts of shield damage.
  • Spinning Kong:
    • Buff Spinning Kong now goes a slightly longer distance and the grounded version can now KO due to no longer having set knockback. It also has less ending lag (frame 100 → 85). When Donkey Kong is spinning during the move in midair, he can also grab ledges from behind, which he could not do in Smash 64 which significantly improves his recovery. The move also does 21% more damage when used in the air (12% → 33%) and has less startup lag (frame 3 → 2).
    • Nerf Spinning Kong has less intangibility (frames 1-5 (both) → 3-5 (grounded), 2-5 (aerial)) and aerial spinning Kong has less invincibility (frames 9-48 → 11-42). Additionally if he is hit out of Spinning Kong, he will now lose the charge for his Giant Punch.
  • Hand Slap:
    • Buff Hand Slap deals 1% more damage (10% → 11%), has slightly more power, slightly higher range and less start-up.
    • Nerf Hand Slap has 20 frames of ending lag as opposed to being lagless in Smash 64.
    • Change Hand Slap has a new animation: Donkey Kong now alternates slapping the ground with each hand without hopping, instead of slightly hopping and successively slapping both hands onto the ground as he did in SSB.

PAL differences[edit]

Like some other characters, Donkey Kong was slightly altered in the PAL version of Melee. Donkey Kong received one beneficial change although it is not enough to drastically improve his competitive viability.

  • Buff If Donkey Kong is hit of of Spinning Kong, he will no longer lose the charge for his Giant Punch.


For a gallery of Donkey Kong's hitboxes, see here.

Donkey Kong's aerial attacks
  Name Damage Description
Neutral attack   4% Performs a quick cross punch followed by an uppercut.
Forward tilt   11% Quickly swats his outstretched hand. A good move for spacing. Can be aimed up or down.
Up tilt   9-11% Quickly swipes his hand in the air. A decent juggling move.
Down tilt Slouch Slap 7% Quickly swats his hand across the ground. Very fast with long range.
Dash attack   11% (clean), 9% (late) Skids to a halt and does a side-kick. Has high ending lag and surprisingly short range.
Forward smash   20% (hands), 21% (arms), 19% (upper body), 18% (lower body) Performs a very forceful clap that deals high knockback. Somewhat fast.
Up smash   18% Claps both his hands above his head, dealing good knockback. Somewhat slow, not to mention this will not hit a grounded foe at all. DK's head and both of his arms are intangible while the hitboxes are active.
Down smash   16% (hands), 14% (arms) Does a double back-handed punch by bringing both his fists down 90˚ at both sides. Very fast and deals great vertical knockback.
Neutral aerial   12% (clean), 10% (late) Quickly spins in the air with both of his arms extended. Has quick startup and small ending lag.
Forward aerial   16% Puts his fists together above his head, then does a powerful ax-handle swing downwards. This move can meteor smash opponents the moment Donkey Kong swings his hands in front of his face. Resembles his midair attack from Donkey Kong 64.
Back aerial   13% (clean), 9% (late) Performs a quick kick directed behind him that lingers briefly. A good edgeguarding move.
Up aerial   14% Performs a quick headbutt upwards. Combos into another up aerial. Has a large autocancel window.
Down aerial   16% (foot), 13% (body) Performs a downward stomp whilst holding his arms up in a macho pose. A meteor smash.
Pummel   3% Karate chops the foe.
Forward throw Kong Karry 10% (breakout), 8% (forward/backward), 7% (up), 6% (down) Regardless of the opponent's size, DK heaves the opponent onto his back. Then, he can perform any of the following throws listed below. One side note is that Donkey Kong will receive 10% damage if the opponents breaks free of his grab by button mashing.

Forward: Tosses opponent forward.
Back: Tosses opponent behind him.
Up: Tosses opponent upwards. Can chain grab fastfallers.
Down: Tosses opponent like a bowling ball.

Back throw   11% Swings his arm back and throws the opponent behind him.
Up throw   9% Throws foe upwards with one hand. Can chaingrab fastfallers, much like his cargo up throw.
Down throw   7% Violently slams the opponent into the ground with one hand. Can chaingrab.
Floor attack (front)   6% Gets up and swats both sides of himself.
Floor attack (back)   6% Jumps on both his hands and kicks backwards then forwards while getting up.
Edge attack (fast)   8% Throws his rear at the opponent. Has huge range for a ledge attack.
Edge attack (slow)   10% Climbs onto the stage and swats forward.
Neutral special Giant Punch 12% (uncharged), 18%/30% (fully charged ground), 16%/27% (fully charged air) Donkey Kong winds up and thrusts out his arm as a potentially powerful attack. He can swing his arm up to 11 times, with each swing adding 2% damage. The attack itself has good range and decent speed. Donkey Kong will become helpless whenever he unleashes the punch in the air.
Side special Headbutt 5% (ground), 10% (air) Donkey Kong slams his head downward. When performed on the ground, the opponent is buried and will remain submerged the more damage the opponent has taken. When performed in the air, this attack becomes a meteor smash. This attack can also be used to quickly break shields.
Up special Spinning Kong Ground: 12% (startup), 8% (loop early), 3% (loop late)
Air: 10% (startup), 4-5% (loop early), 2% (loop late)
Donkey Kong twirls around like a helicopter, hitting multiple times. Has great horizontal coverage, lacking vertical distance. DK's arms are intangible during the first half of the move when used in the air.
Down special Hand Slap 11% Donkey Kong delivers an earth-shaking blow to the ground, sending nearby enemies skyward. It has considerable power, consistent and repetitive damage, and a large quake hitbox. This attack has transcendent priority and will only hit grounded opponents.


  • Looks at the camera, shrugs his shoulders, and then makes a confused noise.

Idle pose[edit]

  • Rocks body.
Donkey Kong Idle Pose SSBM.gif

Crowd cheer[edit]

English Japanese
Description Don-key Kong! Don-key Kong!
Pitch Female Female

Victory poses[edit]

A flourish originating from Donkey Kong Country that played whenever a Kong defeated a boss or completed a bonus level.
  • Does a backflip, flexes his biceps and roars.
  • Waves his hands in a fist over his head.
  • Beats his chest and grunts.
DK-Victory1-SSBM.gif DK-Victory2-SSBM.gif DK-Victory3-SSBM.gif

In Competitive play[edit]


Super Smash Bros. Melee Character Matchups
  FoxHeadSSBM.png FalcoHeadSSBM.png MarthHeadSSBM.png SheikHeadSSBM.png JigglypuffHeadSSBM.png PeachHeadSSBM.png IceClimbersHeadSSBM.png CaptainFalconHeadSSBM.png PikachuHeadSSBM.png SamusHeadSSBM.png DrMarioHeadSSBM.png YoshiHeadSSBM.png LuigiHeadSSBM.png GanondorfHeadSSBM.png MarioHeadSSBM.png YoungLinkHeadSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadSSBM.png LinkHeadSSBM.png MrGame&WatchHeadSSBM.png RoyHeadSSBM.png MewtwoHeadSSBM.png ZeldaHeadSSBM.png NessHeadSSBM.png PichuHeadSSBM.png BowserHeadSSBM.png KirbyHeadSSBM.png Avg.
DonkeyKongHeadSSBM.png -2 -2 -2 -2 -2 -1 -1 -1 ±0 +1 ±0 +1 +1 -1 ±0 +1 Mirror match ±0 +1 +2 -1 +2 +2 +2 +2 +2 ±0

Donkey Kong has an above-average matchup spread for his tier. He is countered by 5 characters, soft-countered by 5 (including Mewtwo, who is ranked lower than DK), has 4 even matchups, counters 6, and soft-counters 5. Donkey Kong does rather well against characters who can be comboed with ease, such as Bowser and Roy, and characters who have poor range/survivability, like Zelda and Pichu. However, DK struggles against characters who can abuse his large size and weight with chaingrabs and zero-to-death combos, and exploit his poor recovery, such as Fox, Falco, Sheik, and even Ganondorf. He particularly struggles against characters who can completely shut him down in the neutral game, which the aforementioned Falco and Sheik excel at.

Although DK has a decent matchup spread across the rest of the cast, his heavy struggle against some of the most commonly-played top tiers makes him very situational at tournament levels, which is reflected in his low tournament representation and mediocre results.

Current metagame[edit]

Top Donkey Kong players have argued that the Marth and Jigglypuff matchups are better than once perceived. Although DK has inferior frame data to Marth, his sheer range and solid dash dance allow him to actually match Marth in the neutral game. Due to DK's weight, he can crouch cancel many of Marth's combo starters at lower percentages, making it difficult to rack up damage against him. On the other hand, Marth cannot escape from DK's juggling or cargo throw combos once DK manages to find an opening. Marth still maintains advantages in his superior edgeguarding and hitbox placement, but the matchup is much more difficult for him than what was initially perceived. DK also does reasonably well against Jigglypuff for similar reasons; he is also one of the only characters in the game to have true KO setups on it.

DK's other matchups, however, have not improved, and he still struggles too greatly against Fox, Falco and Sheik to be a consistent tournament threat.

Notable players[edit]

See also: Category:Donkey Kong professionals (SSBM)



Tier placement and history[edit]

Donkey Kong is currently ranked as 17th on the tier list in the E tier, making him a situational character in high-level tournament play. This tier placing, however, is significantly better than his initial tier placings; Donkey Kong was initially viewed as a low-to-bottom tiered character in the early Melee metagame, placing at 20th/21st with Roy on the first tier list. In future tier lists, Donkey Kong would frequently appear at this rank, with his lowest ranking being 22nd on the sixth tier list. Much like Bowser, Donkey Kong was often derided for his large hurtbox and high falling speed, making him an easy target for combos and attacks in general, and despite his slightly better base speed than Bowser, he was regarded as too slow to keep up with many characters that were higher-tiered than him.

Devoted Donkey Kong mains, however, began to immediately improve Donkey Kong's metagame, notably by demonstrating that Donkey Kong's supposed speed issues were incorrect; it was demonstrated that Donkey Kong had a surprisingly fast and powerful aerial game, and that his dash-dance was also effective, especially when compounded with his throwing game. As a result of these improvements, Donkey Kong immediately jumped to the 16th place on the seventh tier list, and he ultimately peaked at the 13th position on the ninth tier list. His tier ranking, however, slightly fell following this, leading to his current tier placing. Donkey Kong's few active mains, namely Phish-It and Green Ranger, perform excellently at local tournaments, but suffer lower placements in majors.

In 1-P Mode[edit]

Classic Mode[edit]

Donkey Kong appears in a one-on-one, as an ally, on a team with Fox, in a giant battle, in a multi-man battle, or in the metal battle. Donkey Kong appears in Kongo Jungle or Jungle Japes except the metal battle, where he appears in Battlefield instead.

Adventure Mode[edit]

Donkey Kong appears in Stage 2 of Melee's Adventure Mode, Kongo Jungle, in two parts. In the first part, the player battles two tiny Donkey Kongs on Kongo Jungle stage and after they are beaten, the player will battle a giant Donkey Kong on Jungle Japes.

All-Star Mode[edit]

Donkey Kong and his allies are fought on Kongo Jungle.

Event Matches[edit]

Donkey Kong is featured in the following event matches:

  • Event 2: Lord of the Jungle: As a giant DK, the player must defeat a tiny DK in a two-stock match on Kongo Jungle.
  • Event 10: All-Star Match 1: Donkey Kong is the second opponent to be fought in this series of staged battles. The player battles him on Jungle Japes, which will transition to the next stage if Donkey Kong gets defeated. With a timer of four minutes, the player must defeat him along with Mario, Yoshi, Peach, and Bowser.
  • Event 13: Yoshi's Egg: As Yoshi, the player must protect a Yoshi Egg from Fox, Pikachu, and Donkey Kong for 55 seconds on Rainbow Cruise. If the egg breaks, the match will result in a failure.
  • Event 25: Gargantuans: A scenario designed as a homage to kaiju movies and their various tropes. On the Fourside stage with unlimited time, the player plays as a giant-sized Bowser (symbolically representing Godzilla, a movie monster from Japan) with 1 stock against a giant-sized Donkey Kong (symbolically representing King Kong, a movie monster from the United States) with two stock. Two other characters on the match are a tiny Mario and a tiny Peach, who can be KOed within seconds by either Donkey Kong or Bowser.

Ending Images[edit]


In addition to the normal trophy about Donkey Kong as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing both Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Donkey Kong on any difficulty:

Donkey Kong
While he now prefers the laid-back jungle lifestyle to construction site mischief, DK is often forced back into action by the Kremling Krew. The great ape is quite fast despite his burly physique, and he keeps his strength up with a steady diet of his favorite food: bananas. His one extravagance (and only piece of clothing) is a monogrammed necktie.
  • Donkey Kong Arcade 1981
Donkey Kong [Smash]
Donkey Kong is a huge target in a fight, so he hates crowds. When he's in the fray, his Giant Punch deals serious damage to multiple opponents. The big ape's Headbutt hits so hard that it temporarily buries opponent's in the ground. DK is a lot faster than he looks, and he's lethal in the hands of a master.
  • B: Giant Punch
  • Smash B: Headbutt
Donkey Kong [Smash]
Being the strongest simian around, DK has the upper hand once he grabs an opponent. He can even lift his foe up and make him or her an unwilling traveling companion; if DK grabs you, shake your Control Stick as fast as you can to break his grip. His Spinning Kong covers more lateral distance than vertical, so use it quickly to recover.
  • Up & B: Spinning Kong
  • Down & B: Hand Slap

Alternate costumes[edit]

Donkey Kong Palette (SSBM).png
DonkeyKongHeadSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadBlackSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadRedSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadBlueSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadGreenSSBM.png



Donkey Kong abusing Pikachu's AI.
  • DK has a hurtbox attached to his necktie, which may have been placed to prevent thin projectiles or other similar attacks from missing hits due to their chances of slipping between DK's arms and ending in the empty space of his standing animation. However, it also artificially inflates his overall hurtbox in many other animations.
  • Donkey Kong is the only character in the game to have an aerial attack that cannot be auto-canceled, being his forward aerial (auto-cancels on frame 85, but only has 60 frames in its entire attack duration). However, the coding of the move shows that it was intended to be able to, but it cannot due to a minor error caused by using the wrong type of timing function. Likewise, his up smash was supposed to interrupt on frame 40, but due to using the wrong type of timing function, it lacks IASA frames. Both of these errors were carried over in Brawl and SSB4, though in SSB4, his up smash now has IASA frames (interrupts on frame 50).
  • Donkey Kong's Headbutt and the Poké Ball Pokémon Togepi's Magnitude are the only attacks in Melee that can bury opponents.
  • Donkey Kong has 3 meteor smashes so is tied with Roy and Falco for most spikes and meteors in Melee.
  • Donkey Kong and Peach are the only characters in Melee who cannot use their down special in the air.
  • Whenever Donkey Kong enters the stage on certain modes in 1-P Mode (excluding Classic Mode, Adventure Mode, Event matches, and the first stage in All-Star Mode), he can be seen briefly in his bind pose position.
  • If the damage ratio of a match is 0.5, and DK grabs, throws, and quickly re-grabs, and cargo carries a CPU before it touches the ground, the CPU will never break free by itself, even if it becomes invincible; they can only break free when DK decides to throw them or the CPU is affected by something (getting attacked, changing size, and so on).
  • Melee marks the final game that Donkey Kong is the sole representative of the Donkey Kong universe.
  • Melee is the first game where the Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong Country has visible teeth in his 3D model in-game.