Donkey Kong (SSBU)
Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkey Kong) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was confirmed on June 12th, 2018. Donkey Kong is classified as fighter #02.
Donkey Kong retains his realistic gorilla grunts from Super Smash Bros. 4.
Donkey Kong is unsurprisingly a large super heavyweight, having the same weight value as King Dedede, and is the third-heaviest character in the game behind Bowser and King K. Rool. Despite this, he is one of the faster heavyweights in the game: his ground speed, aerial movement and attack speed are relatively fast, having the 9th fastest walking speed and the 27th fastest dashing speed, above average falling speed and gravity, and the 16th fastest air speed, but below average air acceleration.
A typical heavyweight is expected to possess moves with much power, and Donkey Kong is no exception to this and is possibly his greatest attribute. Donkey Kong has no problem with setting up into KOs with moves that have both high power and decent range at worst: his smash attacks, aerials, back throw, and Giant Punch are his primary examples. His ability to take stocks due to powerful attacks is made easier with his decent approach. His aforementioned mobility and large size gives him an effective grounded approach and allow longer range for a character of his size, combined allows him to have a easier time to fight in close range and land his attacks on opponents. Another common trait that his archetype grants him is very solid survivability, with his aforementioned high weight and above-average falling speed. This allows Donkey Kong to have the second best vertical and horizontal endurance in the game, being surpassed by only King Dedede vertically and Bowser and King K. Rool horizontally.
Donkey Kong works well with his grounded moveset: His neutral attack has decent damage and startup. Forward tilt's long range makes it one of his main spacing tools and works better with its intangibility. Up tilt is a safe move to interrupt his opponents, with the move covering Donkey Kong's entire body, act as an anti-air, and hits through low platforms such as the ones on Battlefield. Down tilt allows him to have a long range crouching option and has a chance to trip opponents. Dash attack being a combo starter and a KO option at low and high percents, respectively. All of his smash attacks are notoriously strong and aren't very slow, mainly his option for KOs or hard reads. His grounded options having their own utility can also be said for his aerial game. His forward and down aerials are some of his best edgeguarding tools due to it meteor smashing. His neutral aerial is his fastest aerial, hard to interrupt and help him break out of combos. His up aerial works as a vertical KO option if the certain situation he's in allows for it, and is safe as his head is intangible during the attack. His back aerial is up there with his forward tilt for his most effective spacing tool and is debatably even better, being fast, long-ranged, and has a sex kick-like hitbox having a long duration. His air speed allows his aerial moves to be used at their fullest potential and, with the exception of forward aerial, are all decently fast. Another part of his playstyle which is very well-known is his grab game, allowing set-ups into his moveset and has above-average range. Although his down throw has little to no usage, everything else suffices: His pummel is slower compared to many others in the cast, but deals decent damage, up throw allows some combo potential into his moves, back throw is his primary throw to close out stocks, but his forward throw is easily his most useful one and possibly the most unique part of the character. During his forward throw, Donkey Kong can move, jump and walk off the stage while having the opponent in his hands, acting like he usually would outside of a typical grab (with the exception of being able to use his other moves and having a double jump). Forward throw also gives Donkey Kong different types of throws for the certain direction basically giving him eight throws, these ones are commonly known as the "cargo throws". Cargo forward and down throw work as niche edgeguarding options, with cargo down throw even being a semi-spike. Cargo back throw has a large damage output and can KO at very high percentages if Donkey Kong is near the upper blast line. It also has its utility as a stage spike unless his opponent is able to properly tech the throw. Finally, cargo up throw allows more combo potential than his vanilla Up throw being able to combo into his aerials at low percents.
Donkey Kong's special moves are also helpful for his gameplan. Giant Punch is his surprise KO and punish move, be used to pressure the opponent, and if fully charged has super armor upon using it. Headbutt can bury opponents which can allow him to setup into KOs, and spikes in the air. It has super armor during the move's startup and also does deceptively shield damage, allowing him to have a shield pressure option or call out poor shield positioning. Grounded Hand Slap has very long range and allows for stage control, but has no usage for aerial opponents as it leaves Donkey Kong immobile on the ground and its hitbox only deals damage on the ground. The aerial Hand Slap is his last move which can meteor smash and is fast, making it an effective and easy one to land. His final special move, Spinning Kong, acts similar to Bowser's Whirling Fortress as his primary out of shield option, it's hard to disrupt and is a multi-hit with high damage. In the air, it works as a incredibly fast horizontal recovery option and deals a lot of damage if all the hits connect.
However despite his versatile moveset and high power, Donkey Kong falls into a plethora of problems. His defensive game is rather poor and unfortunately common for a character of his size. While his large size and weight gives him very high endurance and the reason his range is better when compared to other characters like Mario and Squirtle, it becomes a problem when having to dodge attacks which is hard for he is a very large target. Funnily enough, just like those two previously mentioned fighters, he commonly has trouble dealing with characters that have disjoints mainly due to his lack of projectiles, mainly swordfighters such as Shulk and Ike, hitboxes on moves such as Mewtwo's up and back aerials, or fast multi-hits such as Palutena's neutral air. Donkey Kong's large size also causes him to be vulnerable to combos and juggling, worsened by his lack of combo breakers (outside of neutral aerial) and the reintroduction of directional air dodges makes his aerial defense even more linear, having it made worse with its higher ending lag for all characters, but it debatably hurts a character such as Donkey Kong the most.
In spite of having fast startup in many moves, Donkey Kong's moveset is made much slower by its ending lag. This forces him to be more careful with the moves he used as he can be drastically punished for just putting out one attack, and this is made harder to stop due to his aforementioned limited defense. A lot of his moves are also limited despite their strengths: his smash attacks are slow and have very linear hitboxes, throws outside of the ones that are his "cargo throws" don't have much usage, Giant Punch forces Donkey Kong to get up-close to the opponent to land the attack and needs to be charged for it to even be effective, Headbutt and Hand Slap are both slow causing them to be very hard moves to use for their initial purpose, and Spinning Kong, while having long horizontal recovery distance gets little to no recovery distance vertically, and is prone to edgeguarding with moves such as Captain Falcon and Falco's down air.
Overall, Donkey Kong is a character that excels in power and pressure, but has a hard time working well in his matchups if the opponent finds just one opening. His approach and speed are far from being fundamentally awful, but is hard to give credit when he looks sluggish in comparison to characters who work better in both regards. In the current state of Ultimate's metagame, Donkey Kong's representation is nearly nonexistent and has drastically dropped from Smash 4, with many players dropping him or being inactive. His most noticeable player, Konga, hasn't attended many events and gathered somewhat lackluster placements after Don't Park on the Grass 2018. So far, he's considered a unviable character and outclassed by many other heavyweights.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Donkey Kong received a mix of buffs and nerfs in his transition to Ultimate, but was generally nerfed overall.
One notable buff is that his Giant Punch no longer makes him helpless when used in air, giving him a new edgeguarding option, as well as improvements to his forward throw give him a lot more options out of a grab. Donkey Kong's already-impressive KO power got buffed, as most of his moves do more knockback. Donkey Kong also benefits from the universal changes, as his already great mobility has improved from faster walking and dashing speeds. Donkey Kong also benefits from the universal 3-frame jumpsquat change, as it allows for more combo opportunities.
However Donkey Kong has also received some notable nerfs. Like Bowser, Donkey Kong's biggest nerf is that his cargo up throw now has more knockback which, while having great kill potential, severely hampers his infamous "Ding Dong" kill confirm of cargo up throw to up aerial. This, along with the nerfs to rage, worsens Donkey Kong's ability to KO at earlier percents. To make matters worse for the nerf to Ding Dong, Donkey Kong is one of the characters who suffers the most from the universal nerfing of grabs. This means that it is less safe for him to use a grab for combos, and Donkey Kong will need to find a way to be unpredictable with combos.
In the end, Donkey Kong's nerfs outweigh his buffs, making him fare worse than in Smash 4. His overall perception has been negative, while he was initially believed to be improved from already his good standing from SSB4, with Donkey Kong doing exceptionally well in tournaments during the first few weeks of Ultimate. This made many professionals believe that Donkey Kong is potentially a top 15-20 character. However, as Ultimate's metagame evolved, his tournament representation went down significantly to the point where his overall representation in tournaments is rather poor, unlike his strong representation in SSB4. Currently the general consensus is that he is a low-tier character, with a few professionals such as ESAM and Mew2King, both of whom consider him a bottom 10 contender. Until further notice, Donkey Kong’s tier placement remains debatable.
Throws and other attacks
Donkey Kong has been buffed in game updates, although mostly just for fixing inconsistencies like forward aerial not autocanceling properly, an issue that had been present since Melee, and Giant Punch missing opponents point-blank due to the hitbox shifting in the Z-axis.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
Bursts out of a DK Barrel, rolls thrice, lands and strikes a flexing pose.
In competitive play
Donkey Kong was met in the E3 demo build with a degree of cautious optimism. Although the "Ding Dong" combo was removed from the game along with other similar throw-based kill confirms from Smash 4, DK players were willing to do away with this in favor of better frame data, damage, and hitboxes, most notably on his tilts and Dash Attack. His improved speed, on top of all of this, had players even more excited and hopeful that he would have a different play style from Bowser. Even if he was perceived in the demo to be one of the worst heavyweights available (perceived to be only marginally better than Ridley, players were excited for this new Donkey Kong and had wondered how he would fare in competitive play.
When the game actually came out, however, DK fell out of favor very quickly, for a lot of reasons, the big one being his low-percent safety. A lot of Donkey Kong's moves being punishable on hit at early percents made neutral rather egregious, especially in a meta favoring speed and punish games. Although Donkey Kong has been buffed in patches, none of Donkey Kong's biggest flaws were addressed. As a result, in the current metagame, he sees use as an occasional counterpick, but not much more beyond that; however, some players have been able to come to terms with his flaws and get impressive results nonetheless, namely Erikumu and Doctor A Ness.
Classic Mode: Journey to New Donk City
Donkey Kong's path chronicles Donkey Kong traveling from his home to New Donk City via plane. After defeating Diddy Kong, he becomes Donkey Kong's partner for the rest of the mode, referencing the original Donkey Kong Country.
Credits roll after completing Classic Mode. Completing it as Donkey Kong has Donkey Kong Country Returns (Vocals) accompany the credits.
Note: Every stage until Round 6 plays a track from the Donkey Kong universe, no matter what universe the stage originates from.
Character unlock tree
Donkey Kong's Classic Mode character unlock tree includes the following characters in order:
Each character can be unlocked by clearing Donkey Kong's Classic Mode, or the Classic Mode of any preceding character, if all preceding characters have been unlocked. Once all the above characters are unlocked, clearing Classic Mode with any of them will default to Mario's character unlock tree, starting with Sonic.
Role in World of Light
Donkey Kong was among the fighters that were summoned to fight against the army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, Donkey Kong was present on the cliffside when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. Galeem's light beams vaporized Donkey Kong offscreen, placing him under Galeem's imprisonment along with the other fighters, excluding Kirby.
He can be rescued in a jungle segment of the Light Realm, on a space that looks like the treehouse where he lives on his series.
Donkey Kong's Fighter Spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Donkey Kong in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a Fighter Spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
Additionally, Donkey Kong makes an appearance in a few Primary and Support Spirits.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Character Showcase video