In the early 1980s a video game company called Nintendo first tried to break into the American gaming market. Time and time again they tried with various offerings, but their efforts were in vain. The final straw seem to come with the disaster that was Radar Scope. In order to save face, the companies president a Mr Hiroshi Yamauchi decided he wanted to convert Radar Scope into something completely different.
He searched for a developer who could turn around the companies fortunes, and design a game that would break into the American market. His search ended when he came across a young designer who had been with the company since the late 70s. His name was Shigeru Miyamoto, and the game he would come to design would become a legend.
The game would involve moving the main character, then called “Jumpman” around various platforms while avoiding all obstacles in his way. His task being to save the damsel in distress from a huge gorilla. The character Jumpman changed his name to Mario, and the gorilla? Well, he was to become known as…Donkey Kong!
Donkey Kong: A History
The arcade version of Donkey Kong was first released by Nintendo in 1981, and it became an instant success selling over 65,000 units. All this despite the initial discontent of Nintendo staff in the United States. The game introduced graphical techniques that were previously unseen, and broke new ground. Cut scenes were introduced to heighten the excitement of the player and move the plot along, plus there were the multiple stages, each of progressing difficulty to contend with. These included; Ramps, Rivets, Elevators and The Pie Factory.
In 1982 the game was released on various other platforms such as, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, and an MS Dos version. Since then Donkey Kong has also appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Game Boy Advance.
The game has spawned many clones such as Crazy Kong, Monkey Kong and Donkey King to name but a few. But none of them reaching the status of the original, and rightly so. Donkey Kong was developed during the golden age of video gaming, and the programming behind it has to be admired. It’s game play still holds up even today for many an avid gamer seeking retro gaming action. In my humble opinion Donkey Kong deserves it’s status, long may it continue.