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
DKSymbol(preBrawl).svg
Universe Donkey Kong
Other Smash Bros. appearances in SSB
in Brawl
in SSB4
Availability Starter
Tier E (17) (North America)
F (17) (Europe)
#default:
An ape with overwhelming girth and power.
Melee's instruction Manual

Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkey Kong) 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.

He is currently 17th out of 26 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. This is a marginal 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.

Attributes[edit]

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 fast-fallers, Donkey Kong's gravity is average as opposed to above-average, with him having the lowest gravity value amongst the fast-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 perform a sacrificial KO by walking off the edge of the stage after cradling an enemy.

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. Two of his aerials (back 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. It is debatable whether he was buffed or nerfed since both his buffs and nerfs are 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. He is also more vulnerable to combos due to his faster falling speed.

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.

Aesthetics[edit]

  • Change Donkey Kong's hair color on his default costume was darkened.
  • 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, which is no longer just a team battle costume, 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.

Attributes[edit]

  • 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 His attacks are generally faster.
  • Buff Donkey Kong can throw heavy items (crates, barrels and party balls) below him, which he could not do in Smash 64.
  • Buff Donkey Kong walks significantly faster (0.32 → 1.2), going from the 3rd slowest in SSB to the 6th fastest in Melee.
  • Change Donkey Kong is catastrophically lighter (141 → 114), which drastically hinders his endurance, but makes him much harder to combo.
  • 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 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.

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Buff Neutral combo now has a wider hitbox.
  • Buff New forward tilt: an open outward hand swat that can be angled (possibly based off of one of his slapping moves from Donkey Kong 64). Comes out faster than his original forward tilt. It also has less ending lag than his old forward tilt.
  • Buff New down smash: Holds up his arms and punches downwards in a 90° angle. Has slightly less startup than his old down smash and has more KO power. The sweetspot is on his hands.

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Buff New up aerial: a swinging headbutt similar to Ness' up aerial. It is faster and has better comboing and KO ability.
  • Nerf His new up aerial has less reach and a shorter duration than his old up aerial.
  • Nerf His forward aerial and down aerial have much slower start-up and the former move only meteor smashes when his hands are in front of him. Additionally, the latter's hitbox length was shortened, but it has more range and power.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong's back aerial's hitbox length has been slightly shortened.

Grabs and throws[edit]

  • Nerf His grab range was reduced, going from the longest non-tether grab in Smash 64 to below average in Melee.
  • Buff Forward throw can now throw up and down, giving DK more options to combo or KO.
  • Nerf Back throw does 8% less damage: 18% → 10%

Special moves[edit]

  • Buff Giant Punch charges faster and has less startup and ending lag.
  • Nerf Giant Punch has less reach, deals 6% less damage (36% → 30%), and lower knockback. 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.
  • 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.
  • Buff Donkey Kong now has a side special: Headbutt. It can bury opponents and also does very high amounts of shield damage.
  • Buff Spinning Kong now goes a slightly longer distance and no longer has set knockback when it first comes out (now can KO). It also has less ending lag. 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 improves his recovery.
  • Buff Hand Slap has a slightly more power and has slightly higher range. It also has less start-up.
  • Nerf Hand Slap has more ending lag as opposed to being lagless in Smash 64.

Moveset[edit]

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.
6%
Forward tilt   11% Quickly swats his outstretched hand. A good move for spacing. Can be aimed up or down.
10%
9%
Up tilt   9-11% Quickly swipes his hand in the air. A decent juggling move.
Down tilt   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.
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.
Down aerial   16% (foot), 13% (body) Performs a downward stomp whilst holding his arms up in a macho pose. A meteor smash.
Grab
Pummel   3% Karate chops the foe.
Forward throw   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.

Taunt[edit]

  • Looks at the camera, shrugs his shoulders, and then makes a confused noise.
DonkeyKong-Taunt-SSBM.gif

Idle pose[edit]

  • Rocks body.
Donkey Kong Idle Pose SSBM.gif

Crowd cheer[edit]

English Japanese
Cheer
Donkey Kong Cheer NTSC Melee.ogg
Donkey Kong Cheer JP Melee.ogg
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]

Matchups[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. DK does rather well against characters who can be comboed with ease, such as Bowser,or Samus, or characters who have poor range/survivability, like Zelda or Pichu. However, DK struggles against characters with powerful comboing tools, edgeguarding options, and characters who have access to chaingrabs against him(Sheik is very notorious in all 3 categories). Pretty much every character in the top/high tier have tools to compete with DK efficiently, which is a problem. Characters like Fox and Falco can easily combo and edgeguard DK into an almost guaranteed death, and others like Sheik and Ganondorf can chaingrab him to very high percents into a KO(sometimes Zero-to-death). In the end, DK has some decent advantages, but also notable disadvantages to mitigate the postitives, which results in DK being an overall situational character with low tournament representation and results(despite his above average matchups).

Notable players[edit]

See also: Category:Donkey Kong professionals (SSBM)

Active[edit]

Inactive[edit]

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 hitbox 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]

Trophy descriptions[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's alternate costumes in Melee.

Trivia[edit]

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 side special, Headbutt and Togepi's Magnitude are the only moves in Melee that can bury opponents.
  • Donkey Kong has 3 meteor smashes, more than any other character in Melee.
  • Donkey Kong and Peach are the only characters in Melee who cannot use their down special in the air.
  • When Melee was in development, Donkey Kong was planned to use voice clips from Donkey Kong 64 instead of reusing clips from the previous game.
  • 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).


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