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Donkey Kong Celebrates 37th Birthday

The arcade game that spawned a generation of players and score chasers has reached its 37th birthday, with the community celebrating the event.

It’s rare that a game is played for a long time after its launch, with many highly anticipated games ending up stuck in the back of a draw or a box in the attic somewhere. That is not the case for Donkey Kong, one of the first games to really ignite a spark in the community. We reached out to the DK and Twin Galaxies community to get their thoughts on the game and its longevity.

William "Datagod" McEvoy spoke up on the official Twin Galaxies Forums first. “I played Crazy Kong as a kid," he said. "We discovered the floor glitch (jump off ladder at bottom of barrel board to go through to next level, collecting a good bonus) and loved to the sound Jumpman would make. The first time I played a Donkey Kong it sounded weird and that barrel level just kept coming up! The games are the same, yet so different. Now I play Radar Scope, which is the hardware that was re-purposed for Donkey Kong. Shooting aliens is fun, hearing the Donkey Kong sounds while doing it is bizarre!”

“Never in my life," he continued, "have I had so much fun as watching people chase a killscreen and being able to brag about L=22 (reaching the killscreen on the 22nd level)… It is still a huge deal and incredible when somebody actually achieves it.”

The first impression of the game for many people came from Arcade machines such as this
The first impression of the game for many people came from Arcade machines such as this

“If there's one thing I love," Sam Tuff added in, on the Twin Galaxies forums, "it's the idea of leaving a high score and, possibly a legacy, on display in the cabinet screen for all to see, as well as Twin Galaxies; Donkey Kong has been no exception. It's always been a treat going to yearly conventions and a familiar stall has their cabinets at the ready, Donkey Kong being one of those cabinets, where both younger and nostalgic players experience what was one of 80's gamers' most popular arcade games. I always found it a blessing, being given a first name with three letters, to fit it into the scoreboard."

"I've played the game a good few times on Nintendo Switch's E-shop," Tuff continued, "and managed to, eventually, reach Top 100 on High Score mode. A small feat to some, but I'm satisfied with it. Tetris is a bit more my forte, though. On that note, Happy Birthday, you crazy, barrel-chucking fuzzball!”

The King Of Kong Sings Praises

In addition to those talking on the Twin Galaxies forums, Robbie Lakeman, the current King of Kong and world record holder for Donkey Kong spoke about the game to Twin Galaxies and how it's affected his life.

“For the past six years," Lakeman happily said, "I have had the honor, and privilege to be able to learn, and play the game of Donkey Kong to the best of my abilities. To be able to hold the title for even a day is an amazing feeling, and I have been fortunate enough to have gotten to know the entire community in the process. I am thankful every day for my experiences from playing the game, the people I have met, and may meet one day.

He talked about some of his favorite memories and said there's just "so many" to choose and so "hard to pick one", taking a moment to think.

"Probably my favorite moment was attending Kong Off 2," he reminisced. "That was my first Kong Off, and I got to meet all the top players including the stars of King of Kong and Chasing Ghosts. I got to meet other aspiring players in the community, and we have all been friends since. Every Kong Off is special, because there are always opportunities to meet new players. It’s one of the rare times that all of us are in a live setting, and that’s really important to our community as a whole.

He remembered another memory about DK that made him smile. "The other time would be taking the record back six hours after I lost it. It was during an online tournament, and watched Wes’ record game live. It was a trying time for me as a competitor, and that occurrence will likely never happen again. I was just happy things fortunately went my way that week, and Wes really helped me accelerate my potential from there on out.”

Robbie Lakeman and Wes Copeland, two fierce competitors challenge the top spot in high scores
Robbie Lakeman and Wes Copeland, two fierce competitors challenge the top spot in high scores

“Honestly, I'm a bit younger than a lot of you (on the Twin Galaxies forums)," Jesse Collins, Head of Editorial for Twin Galaxies started. "So arcades were a little less common in places I grew up. But, in high school (in the early 2000s), I used to frequent an arcade called the Treasure Island Fun Center (in Florida). I found my love of the classic Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong there. I probably spent way more tokens on those 2 than most other machines,” spoke Twin Galaxies Head of Editorial Jesse Collins. “But, as a kid, I grew up playing Donkey Kong Country. I remember it being tough and I probably said some of my earliest curse words during the mine cart level. It was no Battletoads in difficulty, but it kept me coming back for more bananas each time.”

So, 37 years down for a wonderful game that captured our hearts and continues to keep our interest. Here’s to another 37 years to one of the pioneers of the games industry as a whole.

datagod -
Great article, thanks!
Ben Way -
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