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 and roars from Super Smash Bros. 4, instead of using his voice actor, Takashi Nagasako.
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 all quite fast, as he has the 9th fastest walking speed and the 28th fastest dashing speed, above average falling speed and gravity, and is tied with Mario, Sonic, Little Mac, and Inkling for the 12th fastest air speed, but in contrast has 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 an 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 specific 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 having 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 high 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 very poor, a commonality for a character of his size. While his massive 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. His tie hurtbox is also extremely large, exasperating the issue. 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 extremely 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 and most of his moves not safe to hit with at low percents. This forces him to be more careful with the moves he used as he can be heavily punished for just putting out one attack, and this is made even harder to stop due to his aforementioned limited defense. A lot of his moves are also rather limited despite their strengths: his smash attacks are slow and have very linear hitboxes, a chunk of his throws despite their variety don't have much utility, 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 decently long horizontal recovery distance, gets almost no recovery distance vertically, and is prone to edgeguarding with moves such as Captain Falcon and Falco's down air.
Donkey Kong's mixture of good speed, long range, high weight, decent combo potential, and high KOing power make him somewhat adept and flexible in many different situations, but KOing and pressuring opponents stand out as his biggest strengths. Despite this, DK's high weight, large hurtbox and lack of a good escape tool make him vulnerable to many combos; his recovery is extremely poor, and his moveset is moderately punishable due to its overall ending lag. As such, Donkey Kong has to capitalize upon his powerful and ranged moveset to limit opponents' approaches and win matches.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Donkey Kong received a mix of buffs and nerfs in his transition from SSB4 to Ultimate. However, despite receiving more buffs than nerfs, the latter are more prominent than the former, as they either weakened or removed the traits that he had in the previous game. Because of this, Donkey Kong has been significantly nerfed overall.
Donkey Kong received several useful buffs, especially to his special moves. Giant Punch no longer leaves him helpless when used in the air, giving him a new edgeguarding option. Headbutt now grants him super armor before the hit comes, and moves deal their full damage when opponents are buried, which improves the moves' versatility. Aerial Spinning Kong is now a proper multi-hitting move with a finishing hit, making it more safe. Hand Slap is generally faster and the aerial version has reduced landing lag, which gives Donkey Kong an excellent combo starter and allows it to confirm into KOs at high percentages.
Other improvements include those to his forward throw, which now grants him more options and turns it into his most versatile throw. His dash attack also has less ending lag, giving him another combo starter if the late hit is landed. Donkey Kong's already impressive KO power has been further increased, as most of his moves do more knockback. Finally, Donkey Kong also benefits to some of the universal changes, as his already great mobility has improved from faster walking and dashing speeds, the universal 3-frame jumpsquat change allows him for with combo opportunities, and the increased shieldstun makes his attacks even safer on shield.
However, the few nerfs Donkey Kong received are severe enough to eclipse his buffs. Like Bowser, his biggest nerf is that his cargo up throw now has more knockback, which severely hampers both its combo ability (now mostly limiting it to up aerial) and its infamous "Ding Dong" KO confirm at high percentages. Although his grab game was overall buffed, Donkey Kong is one of the characters who suffers the most from the universal nerfing of grabs, making them less safe for him to use. His pummel was also nerfed as well, making it less reliable for racking up damage. Thus, this makes it less feasible to use a grab as his main way to rack up damage, forcing Donkey Kong to use other methods to rack up damage. Other nerfs include his up aerial having shorter range, which hinders its versatility, and Spinning Kong gaining less horizontal distance and no longer granting intangibility on startup, overall worsening his already poor recovery. Many of his attacks no longer have disproportionately long intangibility, now only matching the hitbox duration of attacks such as his tilts and his up aerial.
Although he has gained some notable benefits from them, the universal changes to gameplay mechanics hamper Donkey Kong more than they help him overall. While the universal increase in mobility, faster jumpsquat and reduced landing lag on aerials improve his own mobility and combo game, it also means opponents are more likely to close in the distance on Donkey Kong and allow for more combo opportunities on him. The increased shieldstun, reduced landing lag and the universal nerfing of grabs also make it harder for Donkey Kong to react to a shielded attack, hindering his out of shield game. The universal nerfing of grabs is harmful, as it one of his key points to his gameplan, which is hurt with the universal changes. Lastly, the changes to air dodging also worsen his recovery, as they give him less protection and make him easier to edgeguard. Overall, all of these changes worsen Donkey Kong's defensive game, which is further notable since the game's engine prioritizes more aggressive playstyles than defensive ones, and thus forces him not only to approach more, but to be more unpredictable at doing so.
In the end, Donkey Kong has potentially received more options for racking up damage and be less predictable, but the worsening of his KO confirm and grabs means Donkey Kong can no longer close out stocks as early as before. While both his strengths and weaknesses are more defined than before, the gameplay mechanics also accentuate more his weaknesses compared to his strengths, which has subsequently caused his nerfs to overshadow his buffs. As a result, Donkey Kong fares noticeably worse in Ultimate than in Smash 4, and is one of the characters to be nerfed the most in the transition, alongside Bayonetta, Cloud, Corrin, Diddy Kong (during the initial release), the Ice Climbers, Little Mac, Mewtwo, Rosalina & Luma and Sheik.
Donkey Kong's overall perception in competitive play has been negative; while he was initially believed to be improved from his already good standing from Smash 4 (doing exceptionally well in early tournaments), as the metagame has evolved, his tournament representation went down significantly to the point in which it is rather poor. Many of his players have either dropped him or become inactive, with his most noticeable player, Konga, gathering average to somewhat lackluster placements in tournaments, and temporarily quit competitive play. Most of his other notable players, such as HIKARU, have also dropped him (though he would pick him back up as a co-main at the start of 2020), while Tweek no longer uses him as a secondary. Currently, top players see Donkey Kong as a low tier character, with some players considering him to be potentially one of the worst characters in the game. Nevertheless, he has seen success from players such as DKwill, Runes, and YMCA, which is further compounded with the buffs he received in 6.0.0. Until further notice, Donkey Kong's tier placement remains debatable.
Throws and other attacks
Donkey Kong has been buffed via game updates. Initially, his most noteworthy buffs were to inconsistencies of two moves: forward aerial now autocancels properly (an issue that had been present since Melee) and Giant Punch's hitbox no longer shifts into the Z-axis, which would result in it missing opponents at point-blank range. Donkey Kong also benefits from the universal nerf on projectiles dealing less shield damage in 3.0.0.
After only receiving minor buffs for the first few game patches, update 6.0.0 gave Donkey Kong more noticeable buffs. His forward tilt deals significantly more knockback to the point of becoming a viable KO move, his neutral aerial deals more damage and knockback and has more range, and his Giant Punch reaches the maximum charge even faster than before and deals slightly more knockback. Spinning Kong was also improved, as the move's super armor starts three frames faster, it connects more reliably against airborne opponents, and the last hit deals more knockback. Finally, Hand Slap on the ground has less startup and less ending lag.
Overall, Donkey Kong has improved by a decent margin compared to how he fared during Ultimate's initial release. However, in comparison to the buffs gained by other lukewarmly received characters, Donkey Kong's buffs are fairly minor, so how much he has benefited from these changes is debatable.
For a gallery of Donkey Kong's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
Bursts out of a DK Barrel, frontflips 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 players could no longer easily perform the "Ding Dong" combo (now requiring much more precise timing), along with similar throw-based kill confirms from Smash 4, Donkey Kong players were willing to do away with this in favor of better frame data, speed, damage, and hitboxes, most notably on his tilts and dash attack, and hoped that he would play differently from Bowser. Though DK was considered one of the worst heavyweights from the demo, thought to be only marginally better than Ridley, players were excited for this new Donkey Kong's opportunities in competitive play.
Upon the game's release, however, DK fell out of favor very quickly, for a number of reasons. The biggest issue is his low-percent safety: many of Donkey Kong's moves are punishable on hit at early percents, making his neutral rather egregious 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 beyond that; however, some players have been able to come to terms with his flaws and get impressive results nonetheless, namely YMCA, ShiNe, Sou, 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