Mario Monday - Donkey Kong

Monday, January 05, 2009

It is no secret that I grew up, like many kids of the 80's and 90's, with Mario being one of my favorite characters. Honestly he may be my favorite fictional character to this day, which leads me to a new "feature" of my blog, Mario Mondays. Each Monday I will share with you something Mario related. Why? Because I'm a dork, that's why. To get things started we take a look at Mario's debut.

My introduction to Mario came through the Colecovision, which was out at the time of the Atari 2600. The game that came packaged with the Colecovision was a port of Donkey Kong. It was also the only game we ever owned for the system as we had gone the way of the Atari 2600. After doing a YouTube search I came across this commercial for the home version of Donkey Kong.

Wow. They sure don't make commercials the way they used too, do they?

Donkey Kong was the first game to feature Mario, who at the time of the arcade release was simply known as Jumpman, because all he did was climb ladders and jump barrels and gaps in the floor. Mario was originally cast as a carpenter as well before starting his own plumbing business I suppose. Jumpman was also known as "Mr Video Game" in Japan. While the early arcade cabinets had the name of Jumpman the name Mario was quickly added to the stumbly hero when Donkey Kong came to the United States. Nintendo of America had decided to apply a catchy name to the hero instead of the bland and generic Jumpman. The namesake came from the landlord of the Nintendo of America offices. Legend has it that Mario Segale would burst in to meeting rooms of the Nintendo offices demanding rent payments. Hard to believe today that Nintendo had trouble paying rent. The folks at Nintendo of America saw a resemblance between their latest video game character and their demanding land lord and it was settled.

By the time the home console versions made it to store shelves the name Mario had replaced Jumpman. While Donkey Kong's character survived the test of time, Mario's first girlfriend, Pauline, has not been heard from since shouting for help while held captive by the barrel throwing ape. Princess Toadstool replaced Pauline quickly. She is a princess afterall.

With today's technology you can find perfect ports or clones of the original arcade game but before the days of the NES it was pretty rough to find a quality port for some arcade games. Donkey Kong is a great example of that. Growing up I had played both the Colecovision version and the NES version. Naturally I scoffed at the Coleco once setting my eyes on the NES version, but today I know I should have appreciated what I had more than I did! In the above commercial Donkey Kong is advertised for the Colecovision, the Atari VCS and the Intellivision. Below you can see the difference in the three systems.


Atari VCS


Now the NES version...

Compare those with the actual arcade version...

I had no idea that the Colecovision port was that much better than the others that were available at the time! Boy am I glad the NES came along though...

Donkey Kong was not my favorite arcade game (that title belongs to Ms. Pac-Man) but I could probably play a game of Donkey Kong any day of the week if I could. No matter how many times I play though I can guarantee I would never be as good as Steve Wiebe or Billy Mitchell, the two guys who made a bitter rivalry out of attaining a high score in the game. The story was documented in King of Kong, which is worth a rental if you get a chance.

This concludes the initial installment of Mario Monday. Feel free to leave your Donkey Kong memories in the comments.

Blog Archive

Statistics Tracked By

  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009, modified by Kevin McGuire.

Back to TOP