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Help Mario Rescue the Beautiful Princess in the Awesome, Fantastic Donkey Kong 1981 Arcade – A fun and entertaining game!

Donkey Kong 1981 Arcade – Game Overview

Donkey Kong 1981 arcade is a video game developed and published by Nintendo. As Jumpman, the player runs and jumps on platforms and climbs ladders to ascend a construction site and rescue Pauline from a giant gorilla named Donkey Kong. It is the first game in the Donkey Kong series as well as Mario’s first appearance in a video game.

Donkey Kong is the product of Nintendo’s efforts to develop a hit to rival Pac-Man (1980) and break into the North American market. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s president at the time, assigned the project to first-time video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Drawing from inspirations including Beauty and the Beast as well as 1930s American classics such as Popeye and King Kong, Miyamoto developed the scenario and designed the game alongside chief engineer Gunpei Yokoi. They broke new ground by using graphics as a means of characterization, including cutscenes to advance the game’s plot and integrating multiple stages into the gameplay.

Although Nintendo’s American staff was initially apprehensive, Donkey Kong succeeded commercially and critically in Japan and North America, where it became the highest-grossing game of 1981 and 1982. It was ported to the Game & Watch, selling 8 million units, while Nintendo licensed the game to Coleco, a developer of arcade conversions for home consoles, selling 6 million cartridges; the game’s various ports sold more than 15 million units worldwide. Other companies cloned the game and avoided royalties altogether. Miyamoto’s characters were mass marketed in multitudes of products, including breakfast cereal, toys, and television cartoons. Universal City Studios filed a lawsuit alleging Donkey Kong violated its trademark of King Kong, ultimately failing.

The success of Donkey Kong positioned the company for market dominance from 1981 through the late 1990s. The game debuts Mario, who became Nintendo’s mascot and one of the world’s most recognizable characters. Donkey Kong pioneered the platform game genre before the term existed; it is one of the most important games from the golden age of arcade video games and one of the most popular arcade games of all time.

Donkey Kong 1981 Arcade – Game Summary

It is an early example of the platform game genre, as the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles. In the game, Jumpman (since renamed Mario) must rescue a damsel in distress, Lady (now named Pauline), from a giant ape named Donkey Kong (who would later become Cranky Kong).

The hero and ape later became two of Nintendo’s most popular and recognizable characters. Donkey Kong is one of the most important titles from the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games, and became one of the most popular arcade games of all time.

Following 1980’s Space Panic, Donkey Kong 1981 Arcade is one of the earliest examples of the platform game genre even prior to the term being coined; the U.S. gaming press used climbing game for games with platforms and ladders.

As the first platform game to feature jumping, Donkey Kong 1981 Arcade requires the player to jump between gaps and over obstacles or approaching enemies, setting the template for the future of the genre. With its four unique stages, Donkey Kong is the most complex arcade game of the time, and one of the first arcade games with multiple stages, following games such as 1980’s Phoenix and 1981’s Gorf and Scramble. 

In addition to the goal of saving Pauline, the player has a score. Points are awarded for the following: leaping over obstacles; destroying objects with a hammer power-up; collecting items such as hats, parasols, and purses (presumably belonging to Pauline); removing rivets from platforms; and completing each stage according to a steadily decreasing bonus counter. The player starts with three lives with a bonus life awarded at 7,000 points, adjustable via DIP switches. A life is lost when Mario touches Donkey Kong or any enemy object, falls too far, or lets the bonus counter reach zero. The game ends when all lives are lost.

Each of the four single-screen stages represents 25 meters of the structure Donkey Kong has climbed: 25, 50, 75, and 100 meters. Stage one involves Mario scaling a construction site made of crooked girders and ladders while jumping over or hammering barrels and oil drums tossed by Donkey Kong. Stage two involves climbing a five-story structure of conveyor belts, each of which transport cement pans. The third stage involves the player riding elevators while avoiding bouncing springs. The final stage requires Mario to remove eight rivets from the platforms supporting Donkey Kong; this causes Donkey Kong to fall and the hero to be reunited with Pauline. These four stages combine to form one level.

After each level, the stages repeat with increased difficulty. For example, Donkey Kong begins to hurl barrels faster and sometimes diagonally, and fireballs speed up. The victory music alternates between levels 1 and 2. The fourth level consists of 5 stages with the final stage at 125 meters. The 22nd level is colloquially known as the kill screen, due to a programming error that kills Mario after a few seconds, effectively ending the game. However, in the Japanese Version 1, the player can complete all the stages up to 100 meters. 100 meters in level 22 is the true kill screen of this version.

Donkey Kong (NES) – online game |

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