How Much Do You Know About the Origin of Donkey Kong?

The Donkey Kong game is unquestionably one of the most popular and recognizable offerings of all time. With titles spanning more than three decades and a successful merchandising industry, this is one of the few old games that has surpassed the arcade and become an enduring, beloved pop culture icon. However, not many of its fans are aware of how it was accidentally created, or where its name comes from. Let's take a look at some of the interesting facts and history surrounding the origin of Donkey Kong.

Back in 1980, Nintendo's first arcade title, Radarscope, was released to a very poor reception. It was such a disaster that they scrambled to try to turn it into something a little more palatable to the United States audience in order to save themselves. With the help of some new creators, it morphed into a story of Jumpman the carpenter who tried to save his girlfriend from a giant, threatening gorilla. This was the original Donkey Kong; a classic 'platformer' where you could run, jump and avoid obstacles on five levels. The first sequel was released in 1982, with the titled Donkey Kong Jr. as the protagonist this time. These games got a little more popular both in the arcade and on home computers. The most well-received home version, released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, sold millions of copies.

The series took a break for nearly a decade before returning in 1994 to Super Nintendo. The new title, Donkey Kong Country, introduced new primate family members who could be played as characters. Also in 1994, the Gameboy got its own version of the original arcade title. The most recent title, Donkey Kong Country Returns, was released for the Wii in 2010 to a favorable reception. There are numerous theories out there as to the origin of the name "donkey", the most circulated of which claims that it must be a mistranslated "monkey". However, the creators insist that it was intentional, as the animal is typically associated with stubbornness. In any case, the name stuck. Nintendo's first foray into the arcade world was almost a complete failure, but with the nearly accidental birth of the Donkey Kong game, they were placed on the path to becoming a huge name in the gaming industry.