Donkey Kong (universe)
The Donkey Kong universe (ドンキーコング, Donkey Kong) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that originate from the subset of Nintendo's Mario franchise that is focused on the character Donkey Kong. In this case, it is a series that was initially established by developer Rareware, then a second-party developer for Nintendo, to feature Donkey Kong alongside an extended simian cast, crocodilian enemies, and a setting separate from the primary Super Mario games. The Super Smash Bros. series therefore saw fit to categorize Donkey Kong and these related properties with its own series symbol, rather than the iconic image of a Super Mushroom assigned to the "main" Mario series - much like the other Mario sub-characters, Wario and Yoshi. The first two Smash Bros. games featured Donkey Kong as the series' only playable representative, but then would include Diddy Kong in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and subsequent Smash games, while King K. Rool would debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The character Donkey Kong was introduced to the fledgling video game industry at the same time as Mario, in the hugely successful 1981 coin-op arcade game named after him that defined Nintendo's future business as a video game company. The game was named after the de facto villain, a gorilla (which was named after the classic 1933 movie monster King Kong), instead of the player-character Mario (or "Jumpman", as he was named at the time), because designer Shigeru Miyamoto felt Donkey Kong had to be the strongest character in the love triangle displayed on-screen. The game used then-innovative techniques to tell the on-screen story of how the stubborn pet gorilla of "Jumpman" the carpenter steals away his girlfriend, Pauline, and it is up to the hero to save the damsel in distress. The success of the game prompted Nintendo to release two arcade follow-ups. The first, Donkey Kong Jr. in 1982, involves the gorilla's son Donkey Kong Jr. embarking on a similar quest to free his father from the cage that Mario (in his only truly "villainous" appearance) keeps him trapped inside. Donkey Kong 3, in 1983, sees Donkey Kong invade a greenhouse to eat vegetables and stir up flower-devouring insects in the process; a one-time protagonist, Stanley the Bugman, must shoot bug spray both at the bugs and Donkey Kong to protect the flowers and vegetables.
While Donkey Kong rivals Mario relatively closely as one of Nintendo's most popular characters today, what was essentially an eleven-year hiatus awaited the character following the release of Donkey Kong 3, as he never made a new "official" appearance in a release during that time period that was not some kind of port or compilation of the original games. Evidently, this was due to Nintendo's newfound focus on nurturing Mario's new NES-based franchise that exploded onto the public spotlight as a result of the world-famous, industry-defining Super Mario Bros. for the NES in 1985. Given that the seminal side-scrolling platformer had singlehandedly defined Nintendo's future styles and practices as a video game company more strongly and specifically than Donkey Kong had four years earlier, Donkey Kong was, for a time, treated as a relic of Nintendo's past; in fact, Super Mario Kart, a 1992 release for the SNES, features Donkey Kong Jr. as one of the eight playable racers rather than his father. The hiatus was only partially alleviated in June 1994 when a Game Boy game titled Donkey Kong was released; while technically a remake of the original coin-op, it retooled the gameplay and provided an enormous increase in stage count (from 4 to 100), making it a standalone title that is considered to be one of the greatest Game Boy games of all time.
The hiatus for Donkey Kong was definitively ended later that year, however, thanks to the efforts of the British developer Rare Ltd. Rare sought out a partnership with Nintendo as a second-party developer and appealed to them with their work at Silicon Graphics, Inc. in the field of pre-rendered three-dimensional graphics in animated sprite form, and Nintendo consented to Rare developing a new game centered on Donkey Kong using this technology. Rare adopted the trademark name "Rareware" and released Donkey Kong Country for the SNES in November 1994. The side-scrolling platformer received widespread critical acclaim and became the second best-selling SNES game in the system's lifespan, and was revolutionary for being one of the first games for a mainstream home video game console to use pre-rendered 3D graphics. Rareware debuted the familiar modern-day design of Donkey Kong with the game, which included his trademark red necktie (which was actually introduced in the aforementioned Game Boy Donkey Kong), and introduced a full supporting cast of side-characters and enemies that were owned by Rareware themselves during their affiliation with Nintendo. The most well-known of these new side characters is Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong's "little buddy". Originally intended to be a redesign of Donkey Kong Jr., the character came into his own after Nintendo expressed concern with how drastically different his design had become. (Donkey Kong Jr., oddly enough, was forever relegated to incredibly rare cameo appearances in future Mario games following this.)
Some retrospectives express doubt on whether the success of Donkey Kong Country necessarily reflected the actual quality of the gameplay itself, but Rareware released two sequels on the SNES: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, starring Diddy Kong and his newly introduced girlfriend Dixie Kong, and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!!, starring Dixie Kong and a gorilla toddler named Kiddy Kong, both of which were reviewed as improvements. Rareware then created the highly acclaimed and successful Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64 in 1997; the game would feature a host of original characters starring alongside Diddy Kong, some of which (such as Banjo the bear) would later headline their own video game series. Following this, Rareware released the 3D adventure-platformer Donkey Kong 64 in 1999, in a similar vein to their previous work on Banjo-Kazooie. Meanwhile, Donkey Kong's thoroughly established resurgence in the Nintendo lineup guaranteed he would forever appear in either starring or side-roles not only in future Mario games, but in the Nintendo crossover series Super Smash Bros.. However, in late 2002, Microsoft bought out 100% of Rareware's shares, turning Rare into a first-party developer for the Xbox line of consoles and leaving the Donkey Kong Country brand and related characters under Nintendo's ownership.
Donkey Kong remained a regular in Mario games as always, and his contributions have included the full Mario vs. Donkey Kong series of puzzle games that pay homage to the original Donkey Kong coin-op's scenario. The characters and setting originally introduced by Rareware and associated with the Donkey Kong Country brand have also made fairly regular appearances in games published by Nintendo, but are largely developed by a variety of second-party developers: the Paon Corporation developed the Game Boy Advance puzzle game DK: King of Swing and its Nintendo DS sequel DK: Jungle Climber, as well as the Wii racer Donkey Kong Barrel Blast; Namco, meanwhile, developed all three titles in the Donkey Konga series of GameCube rhythm games that use a unique bongo drum-themed peripheral for input (a peripheral also used as a controller for the Nintendo-developed GameCube platformer Donkey Kong Jungle Beat). Most recently, a return to the side-scrolling gameplay style of Donkey Kong Country was developed by Retro Studios for the 2010 Wii title Donkey Kong Country Returns. A sequel Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, was released for the Wii U in February 2014, and re-released for the Nintendo Switch in May 2018.
The modern-day Donkey Kong seen in all Mario and Donkey Kong games since Donkey Kong Country is said to be the grandson of the original "Donkey Kong" that was featured in the classic coin-op arcade games, who is currently depicted as an elderly curmudgeon named Cranky Kong. Donkey Kong's extended family and friends, all of them simians, are collectively referred to as the Kong Family, living on an island shaped like Donkey Kong's head named Donkey Kong Island. In many games focused around the Kong Family, they square off against a group of humanoid crocodilians known as the Kremling Krew. Under the leadership of their demented monarch, King K. Rool, the crew constantly plots to steal the Kong Family's enormous hoard of bananas for unspecified reasons, and to this end they have allies of different species, such as vultures and giant, spiked wasps. Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and many other Kong Family members embark on quests to defeat the Kremling Krew and protect their bananas, and the Kongs sometimes call on animal allies of their own.
At the time, the Donkey Kong Country series was very popular. As such, the Super Smash Bros. series treats Donkey Kong and his series of games as its own universe, separate from the Mario universe. This includes the three Donkey Kong arcade games, where Mario played a large role. The Donkey Kong universe is represented with one playable character, one stage, and one item.
While Melee features an abundance of new content in general, the Donkey Kong franchise is still only represented by one returning character. However, what stands out about the franchise's representation is that it has a total of three stages, two brand new, and one ported from the previous game. The franchise also has two items, gaining a new one from Smash 64.
Full Trophy List
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (Donkey Kong series)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl debuts the second representative character from the Donkey Kong series; these two characters occupy a column on the game's roster shared with the stars of the other two Mario subseries, Yoshi and Wario, which neighbors the column devoted to the core Mario series itself. A data package for a third playable character, Dixie Kong, was discovered by hackers following the game's release, suggesting that her inclusion in the roster was considered during development.
The Barrel Cannon is removed as a traditional item, despite a black, metallic variation on it now appearing as a common stage element in various levels of the Subspace Emissary adventure mode. Meanwhile, the Peanuts that Diddy Kong can create are not available as items that can be switched off or on in matches, but while the Banana Peels he creates are official items in and of themselves, they are counted as representative of the core Mario universe instead of Donkey Kong, representing the item from the Mario Kart series.
Main article: List of SSBB Music (Donkey Kong series)
Main article: List of SSBB trophies (Donkey Kong series)
Main article: List of stickers (Donkey Kong series)
The Donkey Kong franchise continues to be well represented within Super Smash Bros. 4. While there are no new characters, other content within the games has been updated to reflect such recent titles like Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Both Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong return.
Smash Tour items
for Nintendo 3DS
for Wii U
Main article: List of SSB4 Music (Donkey Kong series)
Nine of the nineteen tracks included are derivative of "DK Island Swing" from the original Donkey Kong Country, including three of the new music tracks.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Donkey Kong series)
Collectible trophies that appear in both the 3DS version and the Wii U version.
for Nintendo 3DS
for Wii U
Main article: Trophy Box
Main article: Masterpieces
Along with the return of both veterans, Ultimate introduced a new playable character and a new assist trophy.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Donkey Kong series)
Main article: List of spirits (Donkey Kong series)
The kanji aruji "主" denotes a Master Spirit.
Games with elements from or in the Super Smash Bros. series
Main article: Donkey Kong (game)