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, although they are slightly less animalistic.
As the third heaviest character in the game - shared with King Dedede - Donkey Kong is unsurprisingly a super heavyweight. However, he is also one of the fastest heavyweights in the game in terms of both movement and attack speed, to the point that he defies the typical heavyweight archetype. He has 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. His large size also gives his attacks great physical range.
As expected, Donkey Kong's greatest asset is his power. In typical heavyweight fashion, Donkey Kong has a plethora of reliable KOing options (sweetspotted up tilt, all of his smash attacks, his forward, back, up and down aerials, his back throw, Giant Punch, and grounded Spinning Kong) and high endurance thanks to his high weight and fast falling speed. However, his aforementioned mobility and frame data (almost all of his attacks are faster than any other super heavyweight) gives him an effective approach and makes it easier to land his attacks, further complemented by his large reach. Conversely, his moves that lack KO potential are effective for set-ups, thanks to their high speed, low knockback, and favorable launch angles. Thanks to these attributes, Donkey Kong can rack up damage and KO his opponents not only quickly, but safely, compared to most heavyweights. Donkey Kong also has 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's grounded moveset is very useful; his neutral attack can be jab canceled for follow-ups, and can jab lock, as well as being able to set up into grab, his forward tilt is great for spacing, as it has long range and is intangible, his up tilt is a decent combo starter at low percentages, and his down tilt has incredible speed and can trip opponents, making it ideal for starting or extending combos. All of his smash attacks pack incredible power and have very long ranges, while not being particularly slow either. To complement his ground game, Donkey Kong's aerial game is extremely effective. His forward and down aerials can meteor smash and can effectively finish off his combos or his opponents, thanks to their high power. His neutral aerial is very quick and can lead into follow-ups, or it can be used to give Donkey Kong some space. His up aerial launches opponents upwards, making it great for combos and KOing. His back aerial is long-ranged, has a long-lasting hitbox, and can be used to edge-guard opponents. The last three aerials can also auto-cancel in a short hop, further demonstrating their utility. Finally, Donkey Kong's fast air speed allows him to easily pursue opponents in the air.
In addition, the aforementioned combo abilities pair well with his grab game. Donkey Kong's grab range is the second largest non-tether grab in the game (being surpassed only by Greninja's), while his grabs are decently fast, making them very easy to land. His pummel is fairly fast, making it great for racking up damage. While his up and down throws are rarely used because of their limited utility, his forward and back throws make up for that. His back throw is the tenth strongest in the game, making it a viable KO option.
Donkey Kong's forward throw is an all-purpose throw, as well as an excellent damage racker. Using it will open up four different throws, commonly known as the "cargo throws". Cargo down throw is a semi-spike and is great for edge-guarding. Cargo back throw deals 12% and can KO at very high percentages near the upper blast line. His most notable throw, however, is his cargo up throw, which can lead into any aerial at lower percents. Since it connects directly into his powerful up aerial at most percentages, this combo can be used to KO opponents at specific percentages, and has since been nicknamed the "Ding Dong".
Donkey Kong's special moveset has a lot of utility. Giant Punch is a deadly KO move, and a fully charged one has super armor, making it difficult to interrupt. Headbutt can bury opponents, leaving them exposed to any move. It also does strong shield damage, threatening attempts to block the move, and it has super armor from the startup, making it one of DK's potent KO setups. Hand Slap has very long range and allows for stage control, but since it is a quake move, it has no effect on aerial opponents when it is performed on the ground. However, an aerial Hand Slap is now capable of meteor smashing and is not only fairly easy to land, but it is an effective one as well.
Finally, Spinning Kong can be used as an out of shield option, thanks to its super armor and high damage output. As a recovery, it lets Donkey Kong move horizontally quickly and for a long time, giving him a very long horizontal recovery. As in Smash 4, Spinning Kong also retains its ability from Brawl to completely negate all momentum, against both horizontal and vertical knockback however, this is considered impractical and nearly impossible to utilize due to the changes to hitstun canceling.
Despite these advantages, Donkey Kong has noticeable flaws. His most notable flaw is his poor defensive game. Although his large size gives him high reach, it also makes him very easy to hit. While his out of shield game is strong, Donkey Kong's shield itself is rather poor, due to it being unusually small for a character of his size (like Ganondorf), making him heavily vulnerable to shield stabbing. His rolls and edge recovery options are also very slow. With all of this working against him, Donkey Kong is heavily vulnerable to combos and juggling, worsened by his lack of combo breakers (due to his polarizing aerials) and lack of good dodging options outside of aerial maneuvering.
Despite being very fast in terms of start-up, Donkey Kong's moveset is slow in regard to ending lag, making him susceptible to punishment without careful spacing. Finally, his vertical recovery is almost nonexistent, due to Spinning Kong's vertical distance being considerably low. This also makes it extremely difficult for him to survive even the weakest meteor smashes. In addition, Spinning Kong's animation has been sped up and as a consequence, it doesn't travel as far as it did in Brawl and Smash 4.
Overall, Donkey Kong is a potent character; with speed, power, range, endurance, and easy-to-use combos, there are very few matchups he cannot overcome. As a result, DK is, alongside Bowser and King Dedede, one of the most effective super heavyweights in the game. This, in turn, is reflected in his presence in the competitive scene, as he has average tournament representation and above average results, the latter of which has been thanks to the likes of HIKARU, Tweek, Konga and DKwill.
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 insane 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 up-throw variant of his cargo up throw now has more knockback which, while having great kill potential, severely hampers DK's 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 it’s much less safer 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. It’s currently unknown how these changes will ultimately affect Donkey Kong. 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 mid-tier character, according to some professionals like ZeRo and VoiD. However, a few professionals paint Donkey Kong as a low-tier character, 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
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.
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