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Donkey Kong

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Overview

The First Level
The First Level
The arcade classic Donkey Kong rose out of Nintendo's desire to crack into the US arcade market. The company's president back in 1981, Hiroshi Yamauchi, made the decision to take a Nintendo arcade release called Radar Scope and see if it could be easily retrofitted to play a different - and hopefully better - game. To accomplish this task, Yamauchi chose a young employee named Shigeru Miyamoto. The rest is, as they say, history.

Upon going to work, Miyamoto's first attempt was to make a game based on the then-popular Popeye character. That licensing deal fell through, though Nintendo would later secure the license and develop a popular Popeye arcade game. Miyamoto, however, had to retrofit his concept and develop three characters with similar relations to Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto. He came up with a little man with a mustache that was quickly named Jumpman, who had to save his girlfriend, Pauline, from the evil gorilla named Donkey Kong.

The Second Level
The Second Level
The basic story of the game is that Donkey Kong is Jumpman's pet. But Jumpman mistreats Donkey Kong, who snaps and kidnaps Pauline and, in a decidedly King Kong-like twist, takes her up to the top of buildings. Jumpman must navigate four different levels, climbing to the top to either force Donkey Kong to move on or, in the stunning final confrontation, bring the building's girders down to make the big monkey fall.

Donkey Kong was followed-up by Donkey Kong Jr., which puts the player in the role of Donkey Kong's son, who must attempt to rescue his father from the clutches of the evil Jumpman - who by then had already been renamed Mario.

Legacy

The Final Level
The Final Level
Donkey Kong helped to create the platformer genre, and also was one of the first to include a story.  Donkey Kong changed the way people played games; no longer was it just about high scores, gamers began to play the game to find out what would happen next. Not only that, but Donkey Kong became one of the most iconic video games of all-time. The game became a huge part of American pop culture, gaining mentions on countless television shows, songs, and movies. Donkey Kong also essentially launched Nintendo's biggest character of all-time, Mario. Though he wasn't called Mario just yet, Jumpman would eventually evolve into the most iconic video game character of all-time.

As a testament to the legacy of Donkey Kong, 26 years after the game was released, the film King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was released in 2007. The film was a documentary about gamer Steve Wiebe and his journey to defeat Billy Mitchell's high score in Donkey Kong, which had stood for 25 years. Read more about the documentary at the official site.

In July 2009, Donkey Kong made news yet again when a 26-year-old Easter egg, which did nothing more than display the initials of Landon M. Dyer, who worked to code the title, was uncovered after Dyer mentioned that he had forgotten how to display the initials and offered $75 to whomever can find the Easter egg first. The $75 was awarded to Don Hodges after he dug through the game's code and found the way to display the initials.