This article is about Donkey Kong's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For the character in other contexts, see Donkey Kong.
An ape with overwhelming girth and power.
—Description from Melee's manual.

Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング, Donkey Kong) is a starter character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. He returns from the original Super Smash Bros., but was given faster moves and agility, as well as an improved recovery.

He is currently 16th on the tier list due to his good reach, powerful attacks, and above average speed along his speed being a property usually lacking in heavyweight characters. On the downside, he lacks projectiles and has poor vertical recovery.


Donkey Kong SSBM.png

Donkey Kong is the 2nd heaviest character in the game (second only to Bowser), as well as a large target. His attacks are very strong, but many of them also have long startup times. Donkey Kong is faster than one would expect. He has slightly above average dash speed, very fast air speed, fast falling speed, and a high initial jump.

On the downside, he has a small shield which invites shield stabbing. Donkey Kong has very high range, but he lacks projectiles, as well as a sufficient defense against them. Donkey Kong's Up Special Move, Spinning Kong, serves as his recovery move, covering great horizontal distance, but poor vertical distance. This leaves Donkey Kong vulnerable to Meteor Smashes and Spikes. Donkey Kong has a great dashdance, but he has a poor Wavedash.

When it comes to comboing, Donkey Kong can combo certain characters to high percents with his grab to Cargo Throw to Up Throw to Up Aerial juggle combo. He also has good combo finishing moves, such as his charged Giant Punch, Back Aerial, and Forward Aerial. On the downside, Donkey Kong's very heavy weight, large size, fast falling speed, and very long hitstun leave him extremely vulnerable to combos and chaingrabs.

Changes from Smash 64 to Melee

Donkey Kong has received a large mix of buffs and nerfs, but was nerfed overall.


  • Notice.png Donkey Kong's hair color on his default costume was darkened.
    • Notice.png His other costumes have different ties to them (black has blue; red has a slightly darker blue than the black costume; blue has purple; and green, which is no longer just a team battle costume, has a red tie that is very similar to the original costume, but is a little darker).
  • Notice.png Donkey Kong's voice clips are retained from the previous game, though with better quality.
  • Notice.png The voice clips when Donkey Kong taunts and is KO'd in Super Smash Bros. have swapped places.


  • Nerf.png Donkey Kong is catastrophically lighter (being more than 20 units lighter).
  • Buff.png Donkey Kong's air speed has been improved (going from below-average in Smash 64 to among the faster air speeds in Melee).
  • Buff.png Most of his attacks are generally faster.
    • Nerf.png Most of his attacks are generally weaker, such as his forward smash.
  • Nerf.png Donkey Kong's falling speed has been increased. While this improves his vertical endurance, it also makes him considerably more vulnerable to combos and worsens his already poor recovery.

Ground Attacks

  • Buff.png Neutral combo now has a wider hitbox.

Aerial Attacks

  • Buff.png Neutral aerial has a new animation that has better comboing ability.
  • Nerf.png His forward aerial and down aerial have much slower start-up and only meteor smash when hit at the bottom. Additionally, the latter's hitbox length was shortened, but it has more range and power.
  • Nerf.png Donkey Kong's back aerial's hitbox length has been slightly shortened.
  • Buff.png Up aerial has a new animation that involves Donkey Kong doing a swinging headbutt upward, which contains better comboing ability.
    • Nerf.png His new up aerial now has less reach.

Grabs and Throws

  • Nerf.png His grab range was reduced, going from the longest non-tether grab in Smash 64 to below-average in Melee.
  • Buff.png Forward throw can now throw up and down, giving Donkey Kong more options to combo or KO.
  • Nerf.png Back throw does 8% less damage (18% → 10%).

Special Moves

  • Buff.png Giant Punch charges faster and has less ending.
    • Nerf.png Giant Punch now has less reach, damage (now deals 30% instead of 36%), and knockback. It now also leaves him helpless when used in the air, which, combined with his poor recovery and the move's lower power, weakens its off-stage utility.
  • Buff.png Donkey Kong has a new side special move, Headbutt, which can bury grounded opponents and meteor smash opponents in midair.
  • Buff.png Spinning Kong now goes a slightly longer distance and no longer has set knockback when it first comes out (now can KO). It also has less ending lag.
  • Buff.png Hand Slap has a slightly more power and has slightly higher range. It also has less start-up.
    • Nerf.png Hand Slap has more ending lag as opposed to having none in Smash 64.


  Image Name Damage Description
Neutral attack Donkey Kong Neutral attack SSBM.png   4% A quick cross punch followed by an uppercut.
Forward tilt Donkey Kong Forward tilt SSBM.png   11% Donkey Kong swipes forward with one arm. A good move for spacing. This attack can be aimed up or down.
Up tilt Donkey Kong Up tilt SSBM.png   9-11% Donkey Kong swings his arm in an arc over his head. A decent juggling move.
Down tilt Donkey Kong Down tilt SSBM.png   7% Donkey Kong ducks and swings his hand at the opponent’s feet. Very fast with long range.
Dash attack Donkey Kong Dash attack SSBM.png   11% (clean), 9% (late) Donkey Kong skids to a halt and does a side-kick.
Forward smash Donkey Kong Forward smash SSBM.png   20% (hands), 21% (arms), 19% (upper body), 18% (lower body) Donkey Kong performs a very forceful clap that's fast and deals high knockback.
Up smash Donkey Kong Up smash SSBM.png   18% Donkey Kong claps both his hand above his head. Both of DK's hands and his head are invincible during this attack.
Down smash Donkey Kong Down smash SSBM.png   16% (hands), 14% (arms) Donkey Kong raises both his arms before slamming them down on both sides of him. Very fast and deals great vertical knockback.
Neutral aerial Donkey Kong Neutral aerial SSBM.png   12% (clean), 10% (late) Quickly spins in the air with both arms extended.
Forward aerial Donkey Kong Forward aerial SSBM.png   16% Puts his fists together above his head, then does a powerful ax-handle swing downwards. This move can meteor smash opponents the moment Donkey Kong swings his hands in front of his face.
Back aerial Donkey Kong Back aerial SSBM.png   13% (clean), 9% (late) Performs a quick kick directed behind him that lingers briefly. A good edge-guarding move.
Up aerial Donkey Kong Up aerial SSBM.png   14% Performs a quick headbutt upwards. Combos into another up aerial.
Down aerial Donkey Kong Down aerial SSBM.png   16% (foot), 13% (body) Performs a downward stomp whilst holding both arms up in a macho pose. Always treated as a meteor smash when it hits.
Grab Donkey Kong Grab SSBM.png    
Pummel Donkey Kong Pummel SSBM.png   3% Karate chops the foe.
Forward throw Donkey Kong Forward throw SSBM.png   10% (breakout), 8% (forward/backward), 7% (up), 6% (down) Regardless of the opponent's size, DK heaves the opponent onto his back. Then, he can perform any of the following throws listed below. One side note is that Donkey Kong will receive 10% damage if the opponents breaks free of his grab by button mashing.
  • Forward: Tosses opponent forward.
  • Back: Tosses opponent behind him.
  • Up: Tosses opponent upwards. Can chain grab fastfallers.
  • Down: Tosses opponent like a bowling ball.
Back throw Donkey Kong Back throw SSBM.png   11% Swings his arm back and throws the opponent behind him.
Up throw Donkey Kong Up throw SSBM.png   9% Throws foe upwards with one hand. Can chaingrab fast fallers.
Down throw Donkey Kong Down throw SSBM.png   7% Violently slams the opponent into the ground with one hand.
Floor attack (front) Donkey Kong Floor attack (front) SSBM.png   6% Gets up and swats both sides of himself.
Floor attack (back) Donkey Kong Floor attack (back) SSBM.png   6% Jumps on both his hands and kicks backwards then forwards while getting up.
Edge attack (fast) Donkey Kong Edge attack (fast) SSBM.png   8% Hoists himself onto the stage, throwing his rear at any opponent in his path.
Edge attack (slow) Donkey Kong Edge attack (slow) SSBM.png   10% Slowly climbs back onto the stage and swipes one hand forward.
Neutral special Giant Punch (SSBM).png Giant Punch 12% (uncharged), 18%/30% (fully charged ground), 16%/27% (fully charged air) Donkey Kong winds up and thrusts out his arm as a potentially powerful attack. He can swing his arm up to 11 times, with each swing adding 2% damage. The charge can be cancelled by pressing the shield button or by pressing left or right on the control stick. The attack itself has good range and decent speed. Donkey Kong will become helpless whenever he unleashes the punch in the air.
Side special Headbutt (SSBM).png Headbutt 5% (ground), 10% (air) Donkey Kong performs a massive headbutt on the opponent. If the opponent is grounded, they will be buried on the ground temporarily. In the air, this is a meteor smash. This attack is very damaging on shields.
Up special Spinning Kong (SSBM).png Spinning Kong Ground: 12% (startup), 8% (loop early), 3% (loop late)
Air: 10% (startup), 4-5% (loop early), 2% (loop late)
Donkey Kong twirls around like a helicopter, hitting multiple times. This great horizontal coverage, but lacks vertical distance. Donkey Kong's arms are invincible during the first half of the move when used in the air.
Down special Hand Slap (SSBM).png Hand Slap 11% Donkey Kong delivers an earth-shaking blow to the ground, sending nearby enemies skyward. It has considerable power, consistent and repetitive damage, and a large quake hitbox.


  • Looks at the camera, shrugs his shoulders, and then makes a confused noise.

Character Matchups

Super Smash Bros. Melee Character Matchups
  Fox Head 01 (SSBM).png Falco Head 01 (SSBM).png Marth Head 01 (SSBM).png Sheik Head 01 (SSBM).png Jigglypuff Head 01 (SSBM).png Peach Head 01 (SSBM).png Ice Climbers Head 01 (SSBM).png Captain Falcon Head 01 (SSBM).png Pikachu Head 01 (SSBM).png Samus Head 01 (SSBM).png Dr. Mario Head 01 (SSBM).png Yoshi Head 01 (SSBM).png Luigi Head 01 (SSBM).png Ganondorf Head 01 (SSBM).png Mario Head 01 (SSBM).png Young Link Head 01 (SSBM).png Donkey Kong Head 01 (SSBM).png Link Head 01 (SSBM).png Mr. Game & Watch Head 01 (SSBM).png Roy Head 01 (SSBM).png Mewtwo Head 01 (SSBM).png Zelda Head 01 (SSBM).png Ness Head 01 (SSBM).png Pichu Head 01 (SSBM).png Bowser Head 01 (SSBM).png Kirby Head 01 (SSBM).png Avg.

Trophy descriptions

In addition to the normal trophy about Donkey Kong as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Donkey Kong on any difficulty.

Donkey Kong
While he now prefers the laid-back jungle lifestyle to construction site mischief, DK is often forced back into action by the Kremling Krew. The great ape is quite fast despite his burly physique, and he keeps his strength up with a steady diet of his favorite food: bananas. His one extravagance (and only piece of clothing) is a monogrammed necktie.
Donkey Kong (Smash Red)
Donkey Kong is a huge target in a fight, so he hates crowds. When he's in the fray, his Giant Punch deals serious damage to multiple opponents. The big ape's Headbutt hits so hard that it temporarily buries opponent's in the ground. DK is a lot faster than he looks, and he's lethal in the hands of a master.
Donkey Kong (Smash Blue)
Being the strongest simian around, DK has the upper hand once he grabs an opponent. He can even lift his foe up and make him or her an unwilling traveling companion; if DK grabs you, shake your Control Stick as fast as you can to break his grip. His Spinning Kong covers more lateral distance than vertical, so use it quickly to recover.

Alternate Costumes

Donkey Kong's alternate costumes in Super Smash Bros. Melee.


  • Oddly, DK has a hurtbox attached to his necktie.
  • Whenever Donkey Kong enters the stage on certain modes in 1P Mode, he can be seen briefly in his blind pose position. This distinction also happens with Peach.
  • Donkey Kong, along with Mr. Game & Watch, Roy and Pichu, are the only characters in Melee to have an attack that damages themselves.
DKSymbol.svg Donkey Kong universe
Characters Donkey Kong (64  · Melee  · Brawl  · 3DS/Wii U  · Ultimate)
Diddy Kong (Brawl  · 3DS/Wii U  · Ultimate)
King K. Rool (Ultimate)
Side Characters Boss Giant Donkey Kong
Assist Trophy Klaptrap
Mii Fighter Costumes King K. Rool  · Dixie Kong
Background characters Cranky Kong
Stage Hazards Klaptrap  · Donkey Kong
Enemies Kritter  · Tiki Buzz
Other Funky Kong
Stages Kongo Jungle  · Kongo Falls  · Jungle Japes  · Rumble Falls  · 75m  · Jungle Hijinxs
Items Hammer  · Barrel Cannon  · Spring  · Peanut
Music List List of Music (Donkey Kong series)
Song "Gang-Plank Galleon"
Collectibles Trophies Melee Trophies  · Brawl Trophies  · 3DS Trophies  · Wii U Trophies
Stickers List of Stickers (Donkey Kong series)
Spirits List of spirits (Donkey Kong series)
Masterpiece Donkey Kong
Related universes Mario  · Yoshi  · Wario  · Wrecking Crew