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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 playable appearances in SSB
in Brawl
in SSB4
in Ultimate
Availability Starter
Tier C- (16) (North America)
F (17) (Europe)

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.

Donkey Kong's voice consists of modified stock animal grunts and roars, similar to his sounds in Super Smash Bros. newcomer Bowser also uses stock sounds, but they are different from Donkey Kong's.

He is currently 16th out of 26 on the tier list, placing him in the C- tier. This is a moderate 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. For a heavyweight, Donkey Kong is unusually agile; most of his attacks are executed swiftly, he has high air speed, and his jumping prowess is solid. His mobility facilitates combos, and this is further aided by his remarkable grab range. However, Donkey Kong himself is vulnerable to combos due to his large size and high falling speed, and his recovery, while covering a significant amount of horizontal distance, fails to cover much height.


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 boasts a fast walking speed, above-average running speed, high air speed, and 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 possesses a decently versatile 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 height, making meteor smashes and spikes extremely powerful against him. 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, he 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 (including a tie hurtbox) causes him to have a small shield that can easily make him vulnerable to shield stabbing, and his lack of a projectile can discourage him from approaching enemies that own one.

Changes from Super Smash Bros.[edit]

Donkey Kong has received a large mix of buffs and nerfs in his transition from Smash 64 to Melee. However, whether he was buffed or nerfed overall is debatable since the nerfs and buffs he received 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 16th out of 26 characters rather than 9th out of 12. Due to the faster mechanics, however, other characters have been given buffs in varying degrees, which results in Donkey Kong still struggling to make a presence in high-level tournaments.


  • Change The graphical upgrades of the Nintendo GameCube give Donkey Kong a more proportionate build. His fur is more detailed and has a more pronounced muscular physique.
  • 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 Smash 64 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.
    • Nerf Donkey Kong does not move as far into the Z axis when taunting removing his head's ability to avoid projectiles.
  • 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 Smash 64.
  • Change Donkey Kong has a new helpless animation.


  • Buff Donkey Kong walks much faster (0.8533 (25.6) → 1.2), going from the 3rd slowest out of 12 characters to the 6th fastest out of 26.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong's initial dash is much slower (2 (60) → 1.6) and covers less distance.
  • Buff Donkey Kong's traction is higher (0.0567 (1.7) → 0.08), making it easier for him to punish out of shield.
  • Buff Donkey Kong's jumpsquat is shorter (6 frames → 5).
  • Buff Donkey Kong's air speed has been unchanged (1 (30) → 1). Compared with the returning veterans, however, his air speed is faster, going from the 5th slowest (JPN/US/EUR) / median (AUS) out of 12 characters to the 6th fastest out of 26.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong's air acceleration is lower (0.0667 (2) → 0.04), although no longer being the slowest.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong jumps significantly lower (46.1 (1383) → 37.8), although going from the 5th highest out of 12 characters to the 4th highest out of 26.
    • Change Donkey Kong's short hop is catastrophically lower (34.15533 (1024.66) → 13.6), improves his ability to hit opponents low on the ground with short hop aerials, as well as his ability to quickly land and continue aerial pressure, but also hinders his ability to auto-cancel his aerials.
  • Change Donkey Kong falls significantly faster (1.867 (56) → 2.4). This improves his vertical endurance and with the introduction of the SHFFL technique, he can make strong use of the technique due to his falling speed, but also makes him considerably more vulnerable to combos and worsens his already poor vertical recovery.
    • Nerf However, Donkey Kong's fast falling speed has been unchanged (2.967 (89) → 2.96). The difference between his falling speed and fast falling speed is much lower (increase: 58.9% → 23.3%), which makes it more predictable when landing and gives him fewer options in the air.
    • Nerf 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 hurts him overall.
  • Nerf Donkey Kong's landing animation is longer (4 frames → 5).
    • Buff However, his hard landing animation is shorter (8 frames → 5).
  • Nerf Donkey Kong is catastrophically lighter (138.095238 (0.84, JPN) / 140.963855 (0.83, NA/AUS/EUR) → 114), which drastically hinders his endurance, while still being just as vulnerable to combos as before due to his increased falling speed.
  • 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's new ground release animation is 10 frames shorter compared to the rest of the cast giving him a 10 frame advantage when being grab released on the ground.
  • Buff Donkey Kong can now glide toss although his glide toss is fairly short.

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Neutral attack:
    • Buff Both hits of neutral attack have gained an additional hitbox; increasing their range.
    • Buff The second hit has less startup lag with a longer duration (frames 6-11 → 5-11).
    • Buff The second hit deals more damage (4% → 6%).
    • Nerf The first hit of neutral attack has a shorter duration (frames 5-8 → 5-7).
    • Nerf The second hit has slightly higher ending lag (FAF 34 → 35).
  • Forward tilt:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new forward tilt: an open outward hand swat. It has less startup (frame 12 → 8) and ending lag (FAF 43 → 34) compared to the previous forward tilt.
    • Nerf Forward tilt deals less damage (13% (up)/12% (forward)/11% (down) → 11%/10%/9%) without full compensation on its base knockback (0 → 10) hindering its KO potential.
      • Buff The move's higher base knockback combined with its lower ending lag makes it slightly less punishable on hit at lower percents.
    • Nerf Forward tilt has a shorter duration (frames 12-17 → 8-11).
  • Up tilt:
    • Buff Up tilt has significantly reduced ending lag (FAF 60 → 40).
    • Nerf Up tilt has more startup lag with a much shorter duration (frames 4-23 → 6-11).
    • Nerf Up tilt deals less damage (13% → 11%/10%/9%) and knockback (10 (base), 130 (scaling) → 40/(105/110/115)).
      • Buff Up tilt's higher base knockback combined with its lower ending lag makes the move much safer on hit at lower percents no longer being dangerously punishable.
    • Nerf Up tilt has less range.
  • Down tilt:
    • Buff Down tilt has less startup lag (frame 11 → 6).
    • Nerf Down tilt has a shorter duration (frames 11-16 → 6-9).
    • Nerf Down tilt has more ending lag (FAF 22 → 23) now having 13 frames of cooldown (as opposed to 5).
    • Nerf Down tilt deals less damage (8% → 7%) and has decreased base knockback (30 → 10).
      • Nerf When combined with its increased ending lag (and the changes to shields), this means that the move no longer gives DK frame advantage on shield or even on hit at lower percents; making it more punishable and greatly hindering its setup potential.
  • Dash attack:
    • Buff Dash attack has less ending lag (FAF 71 → 55).
    • Buff Dash attack now has a clean hit and a late hit with the clean hit dealing more knockback (120 (set), 100 (scaling) → 115 (base)/15).
    • Nerf Dash attack has more startup lag with a shorter duration (frames 3-26 → 9-12 (clean)/13-20 (late)).
    • Nerf Dash attack 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 a shorter total duration (FAF 60 → 55) compared to the previous forward smash.
    • Change Forward smash no longer deals consistent damage (20% → 20%/21% (hands/arms), 19%/18% (body)).
      • Buff This makes the sweetspot on his arms slightly stronger.
      • Nerf However, this makes the near hitboxes weaker.
    • Nerf New forward smash has less range.
    • Nerf Forward smash deals less knockback (20 (base), 100 (scaling) → 22/94 (hands/arms), 18/100 (body)).
    • Nerf Forward smash has a shorter duration (frames 27-32 → 22-23) giving it more ending lag.
    • Nerf Forward smash can no longer be angled.
  • Up smash:
    • Buff Up smash has less startup lag (frame 16 → 14), ending lag (FAF 60 → 54) and DK's hands gain intangibility sooner (frame 14 → 12).
    • Nerf Up smash has less range.
    • Nerf Up smash deals less damage (21% → 18%) and has decreased knockback scaling (100 → 93) hindering its 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 (FAF 70 → 56) compared to his old down smash.
    • Buff Down smash sends opponents at a more favorable angle (60° → 115° (hands)/98° (arms)).
    • Nerf Down smash has a much shorter duration (frames 12-31 → 10-13).
    • Nerf Down smash deals less damage (19% → 16% (hands)/14% (arms) with only a slight increase to its base knockback (30 → 35).

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Nerf Neutral, forward and down aerials all auto-cancel later (frame 30 → 39 (neutral), frame 36 → 60 (forward), frame 30 → 50 (down)) and can no longer auto-cancel in a short hop.
    • Nerf When combined with the weakening of L-canceling and the changes to shields, this considerably hinders the combo and shield pressuring potential of all of DK's aerials.
  • Buff Back and up aerials auto-cancel earlier (frame 36 → 20 (back), frame 21 → 13 (up)).
  • Neutral aerial:
    • Buff Neutral aerial has less ending lag (FAF 60 → 39).
    • Nerf Neutral aerial has more startup lag with a shorter duration (frames 4-29 → 10-26).
    • Nerf Neutral aerial has more landing lag (16 frames → 20).
    • Nerf Neutral aerial deals less damage (15% → 12% (clean), 12% → 10% (late)) hindering its KO potential.
  • Forward aerial:
    • Change Forward aerial now has an early hit and a late hit. The early hit functions identically to the previous arm hitboxes while the late hit is a meteor smash like the previous hand hitbox albeit with some changes.
    • Buff The late hit has altered knockback compared to the previous meteor smash hitbox (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 50/80) making it stronger overall especially at lower percents.
    • Nerf Forward aerial has significantly increased startup lag with a shorter duration (frames 8-15 → 25-26 (clean)/27-29 (late)).
    • Nerf Forward aerial has a new animation which is longer than the previous one (49 frames → 59). This increases the move's total duration (FAF 50 → 60) as well as the amount of time the move cannot auto-cancel and the amount of time DK cannot grab the ledge after using the move.
      • Buff However, the move has less ending lag overall due to its increased startup lag (now having 30 frames of cooldown instead of 34).
    • Nerf Forward aerial has double the amount of landing lag (15 frames → 30).
    • Nerf Forward aerial no longer has an initial or a late auto-cancel window. As a result, the move will not auto-cancel until its animation has finished which removes the move's ability to auto-cancel while the hitboxes are out and generally makes the move much worse upon landing when combined with its higher landing lag.
    • Nerf Forward aerial has less range.
    • Nerf The late hit's angle has been altered, now sending opponents straight down (-70° → 270°). When combined with the aforementioned changes to its landing lag as well as the weakening of L-canceling and the introduction of meteor canceling; this significantly hinders the move's utility on stage as well as its reliability off stage.
  • Back aerial:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new back aerial, he kicks backwards with his right foot. It has slightly reduced startup lag (frame 8 → 7), and much less ending lag (FAF 60 → 32).
    • Nerf Back aerial has a much shorter duration (frames 8-13 (clean)/14-35 (late) → 7-8/9-15).
    • Nerf Back aerial has less range especially vertically.
    • Nerf Back aerial deals less damage (15% → 13% (clean), 10% → 9% (late)).
  • Up aerial:
    • Buff Donkey Kong has a new up aerial: a swinging headbutt. This new up aerial has less ending lag (FAF 60 → 38).
    • Buff Up aerial has less landing lag (41 frames → 25).
    • Buff Up aerial hits above DK sooner.
    • Buff Up aerial deals more damage (12% → 14%) and has increased knockback (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 32/90), making it much more useful at lower percents as well as improving its KO potential.
    • Change Up aerial's angle has been altered (110° → 90°).
      • Buff This improves its KO potential as well as its ability to lead into itself.
      • Nerf However, this hinders its combo potential into DK's horizontal moves as well as its set up potential.
    • Nerf Up aerial has significantly reduced range.
    • Nerf Up aerial has more startup lag with a much shorter duration (frames 3-20 → 6-8).
  • Down aerial:
    • Change Donkey Kong has a new down aerial: he slams down his right foot.
    • Buff Down aerial deals more damage (13% (clean), 10% (late) → 16% (foot), 13% (body)) and has increased base knockback (15 → 38/20).
    • Buff Down aerial has less ending lag (FAF 60 → 55) and landing lag (41 frames → 31).
    • Nerf Down aerial has significantly increased startup lag (frame 6 → 18).
      • Nerf Down aerial has a much shorter duration due to no longer having a late hit (frames 6-29 → 18-23).
      • Nerf Despite the removal of the late hit, down aerial still has a weaker sourspot which is situated on Donkey Kong's body.
    • Nerf Down aerial's angle has been altered (-90° → 270°) which along with the introduction of meteor-canceling; significantly hinders its reliability.
    • Nerf Down aerial has less range.

Throws/other attacks[edit]

  • Grabs:
    • Buff As with all returning veterans, DK now has a pummel, up throw and down throw giving him more options out of a grab.
    • Nerf DK's grab range was reduced, going from the longest non-tether grab in Smash 64 to below average in Melee. His grabs also have more startup lag (frame 6 → 8 (standing), 10 (dash)) and ending lag (FAF 16 → 31 (standing), 41 (dash)).
  • Forward throw (cargo throw):
    • Nerf DK's opponent will no longer take damage when he picks them up with forward throw (6% → 0%).
    • Buff DK's opponent will now take 10% if they escape from his forward throw.
      • Nerf However, Donkey Kong himself will also take 10% damage if the opponent escapes from his forward throw.
    • Nerf Due to DK's worse grab combined with the universally increased falling speeds, DK's Infinite throw trap has effectively been removed.
    • Buff DK has received a (separate) back throw, an up throw and a down throw from his forward throw, giving DK more options to combo or KO.
    • Nerf The introduction of wall teching has significantly hindered forward throw's stage spiking capabilities.
      • Nerf Additionally due to DK's increased falling speed and worse vertical recovery, he can no longer recover from stage spiking his opponent unless they hit him.
    • Cargo forward throw:
      • Change DK releases opponents earlier from Cargo forward throw (frame 18 → 15).
      • Nerf Cargo forward throw deals less knockback (70 (base), 80 (scaling) → 80/50) and sends opponents at a less favorable angle (45° → 55°).
  • Back throw:
    • Change Back throw is now weight dependent.
    • 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).
    • Nerf DK releases opponents later from back throw (frame 9 → 14) and it has much more ending lag (FAF 22 → 40).
  • Edge attacks:
    • Buff Under 100% edge attack has a new animation. This animation decreases its ending lag (FAF 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 (FAF 90 → 70), more range and deals 4% more damage (6% → 10%).
    • Nerf Over 100% edge attack has less intangibility (frames 1-50 → 1-34).
    • Nerf Edge attacks have less set knockback (100 → 90).

Special moves[edit]

  • Giant Punch:
    • 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 Giant Punch charges faster (139 frames → 127) as DK reaches full charge with one less wind.
    • Buff DK can now immediately perform uncharged Giant Punch without winding it up reducing its startup lag (frame 29 → 25).
    • Buff Giant Punch has a longer duration when uncharged (frames 10-12 → 17 (back hit)/18-21 (front hit)).
    • Change Uncharged Giant Punch has a new hitbox behind DK's arm which deals vertical knockback (361° → 80°).
    • Buff Giant Punch has much less ending lag regardless of charge (FAF 81 → 45).
    • Buff DK no longer has to windup his fully charged Giant Punch decreasing its startup lag (frame 23 → 17).
      • Nerf However, this means that DK can no longer shield before using his fully charged Giant Punch to protect himself and still maintain the charge.
    • Nerf Giant Punch has less range.
    • Nerf Uncharged Giant Punch has more startup lag when released (frame 10 → 17).
    • Nerf Giant Punch deals less damage when uncharged (14%-32% → 10%-30%) without full compensation on its base knockback (0 → 15).
    • Nerf Fully charged Giant Punch now has a vertical hitting sourspot (361° → 80°) behind DK's arm which deals drastically lower damage (36% → 18% (grounded), 16% (aerial), and its knockback was barely increased (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 40/90). This drastically hinders its KO potential.
    • Nerf Fully charged Giant Punch deals much less damage (36% → 30% (grounded), 27% (aerial), and knockback (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 10/90) hindering its KO potential to the point where DK's nine wind Punch is now stronger than the fully charged variant.
    • Nerf Fully charged Giant Punch no longer deals extra shield damage (12 → 0).
    • Nerf Fully charged Giant Punch has a shorter duration (frames 23-30 → 17 (early)/18-21 (clean)).
    • Nerf Giant Punch now leaves DK helpless when used in the air making it much riskier to use off stage despite its decreased ending lag.
  • Headbutt:
    • Change 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's grounded clean hit no longer has set knockback (100 (set), 120 (scaling) → 60 (base)/100) now being an effective KO move.
    • Buff Late grounded Spinning Kong has altered knockback (0 (base), 100 (scaling) → 10/90) making it connect slightly more reliably.
    • Buff Spinning Kong has less ending lag (FAF 100 → 85).
    • Buff Aerial Spinning Kong has less startup lag (frame 3 → 2).
    • Buff Donkey Kong can now grab ledges from behind after using Spinning Kong in the air.
    • Buff Spinning Kong has less landing lag once DK enters free fall (14 frames → 7).
    • Change Mid Spinning Kong has altered knockback (100 (set), 120 (scaling) → 50 (base)/70).
      • Buff This improves its ability to lead into the late hit.
      • Nerf However, this significantly hinders its edgeguarding potential unless at high percents and generally makes the move much more punishable if it connects.
    • Change Aerial Spinning Kong has altered knockback (100 (set), 120 (scaling) → 40 (base)/80).
      • Buff This improves its ability to lead into the late hit.
      • Nerf However, this significantly hinders its edgeguarding potential at lower percents and generally makes the move much more punishable if it connects.
    • Change Aerial Spinning Kong's mid hits deals much less knockback (100 (set), 120 (scaling) → 20 (base)/70) and it has received late hits which deals extremely low damage and knockback.
      • Buff This significantly increases aerial Spinning Kong's maximum damage potential (20% → 33%).
      • Nerf However, this significantly hinders its edgeguarding potential and the late hits can be escaped and punished very easily.
    • Nerf Spinning Kong travels less distance both horizontally and vertically.
    • Nerf Spinning Kong has less intangibility (frames 1-5 (both) → 3-5 (grounded), 2-5 (aerial)) and aerial Spinning Kong grants less intangibility to DK's arms (frames 9-48 → 11-42).
    • Nerf Aerial Spinning Kong deals less damage (12% (clean), 8% (late) → 10%/5%/2%).
    • Nerf Mid Spinning Kong has more startup lag (frame 9 → 19 (grounded), 11 (aerial)).
    • Nerf If DK is hit out of Spinning Kong, he will now lose the charge for his Giant Punch. This only applies in NTSC versions of the game.
  • Hand Slap:
    • 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 Smash 64.
    • Buff Hand Slap deals more damage (10% → 11%) and shield damage (-4 → 1).
    • Buff Hand Slap's first slap has less startup lag (frame 17 → 6) making the move loop significantly faster despite the loop starting later (frame 37 → 41).
      • Change However, the move's startup animation is longer (2 frames → 13), giving it the same amount of startup lag when initiated.
    • Change Hand Slap has altered knockback (0 (base), 150 (set), 100 (scaling) → 20/110/100 (hit 1), 30/110/100 (hit 2)).
    • Change Hand Slap's angle has been altered (90° → 84°).
    • Change There is a slightly longer gap between the two hand slaps (8 frames → 9).
    • Nerf Hand Slap has lost its intangibility frames during its startup animation.
    • Nerf Hand Slap has decreased range, especially behind DK.
    • Nerf Hand Slap has has a much longer ending animation (5 frames → 20) which along with it looping later, gives it much more ending lag (FAF 42 → 61).
      • Nerf When combined with the introduction of DI and the universal decrease to hitstun, this significantly hinders Hand Slap's combo potential, removing its ability to set up for easy and consistent KO confirms.

Version history[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 out 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 Swipe (スワイプ) / Uppercut (アッパーカット) 4% Performs a quick cross punch followed by an uppercut.
Forward tilt Backhand Slap (バックハンドスラップ) 11% Quickly swats his outstretched hand. A good move for spacing. Can be aimed up or down.
Up tilt Spider Web Swipe (蜘蛛の巣スワイプ) 9-11% Quickly swipes his hand in the air. A decent juggling move.
Down tilt Slouch Slap (ロースラップ, Low Slap) 7% Quickly swats his hand across the ground. Very fast with long range.
Dash attack Konga Kick (コンガキック) 11% (clean), 9% (late) Skids to a halt and does a side-kick. Has high ending lag and surprisingly short range.
Forward smash Kong Klap (コングクラップ) 20% (hands), 21% (arms), 19% (upper body), 18% (lower body) Performs a very forceful clap that deals high knockback. Somewhat fast.
Up smash Ape Applause (猿の拍手) 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 Twin Beat (ツインビート) 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 Kong Whirl (コングワール) 12% (clean), 10% (late) Quickly spins in the air with both of his arms extended. Has quick startup and small ending lag.
Forward aerial Hammer Knuckle (ハンマーナックル) 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 Back Kick (バックキック) 13% (clean), 9% (late) Performs a quick kick directed behind him that lingers briefly. A good edgeguarding move.
Up aerial Flying Headbutt (フライングヘッドバット) 14% Performs a quick headbutt upwards. Combos into another up aerial. Has a large autocancel window.
Down aerial Flying Stampede (フライングスタンピード) 16% (foot), 13% (body) Performs a downward stomp whilst holding his arms up in a macho pose. A meteor smash.
Grab Grab (つかみ)
Pummel Jungle Chop (ジャングルチョップ) 3% Karate chops the foe.
Forward throw Kong Karry (リフティング, Lifting) 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 Donkey Fling (ロバ・フリング) 11% Swings his arm back and throws the opponent behind him.
Up throw Coconut Toss (ココナッツトス) 9% Throws foe upwards with one hand. Can chaingrab fastfallers, much like his cargo up throw.
Down throw Simian Slam (シミアン・スラム) 7% Violently slams the opponent into the ground with one hand. Can chaingrab.
Forward roll
Back roll
Spot dodge
Air dodge
Floor attack (front)
Floor getups (front)
  6% Gets up and swats both sides of himself.
Floor attack (back)
Floor getups (back)
  6% Jumps on both his hands and kicks backwards then forwards while getting up.
Edge attack (fast)
Edge getups (fast)
  8% Throws his rear at the opponent. Has huge range for a ledge attack.
Edge attack (slow)
Edge getups (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 height. 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.



Stats Weight Dash speed Walk speed Traction Air friction Air speed Air acceleration Gravity Falling speed Jumpsquat Jump Height Double jump Height
Value 114 1.6 – Initial dash
1.6 – Run
1.2 0.08 0.02 1 0.02 – Base
0.02 – Additional
0.1 2.4 – Base
5 37.8 - Base
10.66 - Short hop


Stats Weight Dash speed Walk speed Traction Air friction Air speed Air acceleration Gravity Falling speed Jumpsquat Jump Height Double jump Height
Value 114 1.6 – Initial dash
1.6 – Run
1.2 0.08 0.02 1 0.02 – Base
0.02 – Additional
0.1 2.4 – Base
5 37.8 - Base
10.66 - Short hop

Announcer call[edit]


  • 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]

Most historically significant players[edit]

See also: Category:Donkey Kong players (SSBM)
  • USA Bum - Gathered notoriety as one of the first strong Donkey Kong players. His 4th place run at MLG Long Island 2007 marks the strongest placement for the character during the MLG era. At the same tournament, he also garnered multiple wins over Isai and ChuDat.
  • USA ckyulmiqnudaetr - Formerly a Fox and Ice Climbers player who switched to Donkey Kong. He eventually became the second Donkey Kong player to be on a global ranking, with 77th on the SSBMRank 2023. He placed 13th at Get On My Level X, tying Junebug for the best Donkey Kong placement at a supermajor, and 1st at BODIED 7 with wins over KJH, Zuppy and Ossify.
  • USA Green Ranger - Previously considered the best Donkey Kong player in the world. He placed 9th at Fight Pitt V while making an upset over Duck, and made decent placements at other tournaments, such as 25th at Super Nebulous 3 and 49th at Royal Flush.
  • USA Junebug - Mid-tier specialist and widely seen as the current best Donkey Kong player in the world. He has won several regionals with Donkey Kong, including Xanadu Legends 500 and Patchwork 2024, which stands as the largest tournaments won by a solo Donkey Kong, and has placed highly at several majors with Donkey Kong, including 13th at The Big House 11 and 17th at Collision 2023. These performances, his wins over top players such as Magi, Polish, and Ginger, and him becoming the first Donkey Kong player ranked top 50 in the world, most recently ranking 40th on the SSBMRank 2023, started a major discussion for Donkey Kong's true viability as a character.
  • Denmark Moe - One of the best Donkey Kong players in the world later in the game's lifespan. He has shown the best Donkey Kong placements in Europe, with 9th at Valhalla IV and 17th at Fête 3: By the Sea, where he notably defeated Frenzy 3-0 and went game 5 with Aklo. He has been the best player in Denmark for years, being ranked first in the country from 2019 to 2022.
  • USA Phish-It - Previously considered the best Donkey Kong player in the world during the early 2010s. He made great major placements such as 9th at Zenith 2014 and supermajor placements of 33rd at both EVO 2013 and The Big House 4, which were considered some of the best supermajor results of the character at the time.
  • USA Ringler - One of the best Donkey Kong players in the world. He came to prominence with his 25th at Mainstage with a notable upset over La Luna in his bracket. While he is more inactive in the post-Slippi era compared to other Donkey Kong players, he has maintained strong placements at national events he has attended, finishing 25th at both Mainstage 2021 and Pat's House 4, and 33rd at both Super Smash Con 2022 and Riptide 2023. He has beaten players such as KoDoRiN, Joshman, and Shroomed.

Tier placement and history[edit]

Donkey Kong is currently ranked as 16th on the tier list in the C- tier, making him a situational character in high-level tournament play at first glance. 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 the next few 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 superior base speed compared to Bowser, he was regarded as too slow to keep up with many characters that were higher-tiered than him.

However, devoted Donkey Kong mains began to improve the character’s metagame, notably by demonstrating that his supposed speed issues were inaccurate; players have demonstrated Donkey Kong had a surprisingly fast and powerful aerial game, and that his dash-dance was also effective, especially when compounded with his unforgiving punish and throwing game. Thanks to the efforts of players like Phish-It and Green Ranger, Donkey Kong would jump to 16th on the seventh tier list, formally entering the middle tiers, and would maintain similar rankings on future tier lists.

In 2022 and 2023, another “Donkey Kong renaissance” would occur thanks to a massive upswing in Donkey Kong's usage and a stronger level of consistency at higher level tournaments. 2023 saw the character’s strongest year yet; three Donkey Kong players placed in the top 100 of the 2023 SSBMRank, spearheaded by Junebug, who was ranked 40th due to performances such as his 13th-place finish at The Big House 11, the best Donkey Kong placement in over a decade. As a result of these considerable metagame developments, Donkey Kong has become a more respected presence in high-level play, and his current tier placement has become debatable.

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:

Classic Mode trophy
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)
Adventure Mode [Smash] trophy
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 opponents 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
All-Star Mode [Smash] trophy
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, 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 is the first game where the Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong Country has visible teeth in his 3D model in-game.
  • In the NTSC versions of the game, Donkey Kong is one of four characters (alongside Sheik, Samus, and Kirby) whose neutral special charge is lost if hit out of at least one specific special move.
    • Of these characters, only Donkey Kong received a fix addressing this issue in the PAL version.

External links[edit]