The Donkey Kong universe refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the sub-franchise of the famous Mario series that deals with the character Donkey Kong. It is generally agreed on that Donkey Kong and related items count as Mario properties, but DK has appeared in enough of his own games alongside enough original characters, created by second-party developer Rareware instead of Nintendo itself, that many consider him as holding sway over a "sub-universe" of Mario. Donkey Kong is also considered part of his own universe because his smasher's insignia consists of the letters DK rather than the iconic image of a Super Mushroom held by other Mario characters.
Nintendo had an arcade game called Radar Scope that was successful in Japan but not very much so in the United States. The then Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi turned to the young game developer Shigeru Miyamoto and entrusted him with the development of a new game, which would be built from units of the Radar Scope game. Miyamoto came up with the game Donkey Kong, the game that would be the debut for the characters Donkey Kong as the titular antagonist and Mario as the hero to rescue DK's damsel-in-distress hostage Pauline. The game was a breakthrough hit for Nintendo and helped put the company on the map. Both DK and Mario reappeared in Donkey Kong Junior, but this time the former was held captive by the latter and it falls to DK's titular son Donkey Kong Jr. to save him. And in Donkey Kong 3, DK breaks into a greenhouse to again assume the role of villain, and the player controls Stanley the Bugman to oust DK and his insect minions. In addition, throughout the 1980s, eight Donkey Kong games were released for the Game & Watch platform. Afterwards in 1994, Nintendo produced a Game Boy sequel simply titled Donkey Kong, which was a restructuring and expansion to the first two games.
Donkey Kong was established as its own spin-off franchise when the British company Rareware designed and released Donkey Kong Country for Super NES; the new, main premise of Donkey Kong and the accompanying fictional world were introduced and made specific to the Donkey Kong name. The game itself was a 2-D platformer and a major financial success because it demonstrated then-revolutionary CGI-graphics on the console. Notable introduced elements include DK's homeland, DK Island, of which his home is in the region known as Kongo Jungle; DK's nephew and sidekick Diddy Kong and other Kong cohorts Cranky Kong, Candy Kong, and Funky Kong; Barrel Cannons are found throughout levels and are used as modes of being transported through stages; and the series' villains the Kremlings, crocodiles with members like Klap Traps and led by the obese, arrogant Kremling King K. Rool.
Rareware expanded its Donkey Kong Country franchise with two SNES sequels. In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest, DK is kidnapped by K. Rool and it is up to Diddy Kong and a new character, his girlfriend Dixie Kong, to rescue him; here, other introduced members of the Kong family tree are the grandmotherly Wrinkly Kong and the showbiz Swanky Kong. In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, both DK and Diddy have been kidnapped, and it is up to Dixie and her newly introduced cousin, Kiddy Kong, to rescue them. Then, sometime after DK's appearance in Super Smash Bros., Rare created the 3D adventure platformer Donkey Kong 64, in which K.Rool attempts to annihilate DK Island with his own mechanical island, but DK, Diddy, and three more introduced Kongs, the clown-like Lanky Kong, Dixie's younger sister Tiny Kong, and Kiddie's older brother Chunky Kong, thwart the plan. Though DK 64 generally received high marks, it has been criticized for being an example of an overt "collect-a-thon". All of these games, like other Rare titles, have a large degree of self-referential humor, contrary to Mario games.
In the meantime, DK has appeared frequently as a character, main and otherwise, in many Mario game series such as Mario Kart, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, and Mario Party, and also was featured as a main character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The Donkey Kong Country franchise by Rare seemed to be put on hold, however, when Rare was sold to Microsoft in 2002. All subsequent games that are Donkey Kong-centric are either made by other developers (such as Donkey Konga for GameCube, which was made by Namco) or by Nintendo itself (such as the recent Mario vs Donkey Kong puzzle game series for GBA and DS) and conform to a much more Mario style of mannerisms. DK remains an indelible part of the Mario universe.
In Super Smash Bros.
If treated separately from the Mario universe, the DK universe is only about as big as most of the other franchises represented in Super Smash Bros., with one character, one stage, and one item.
The following character is considered both part of his own universe and part of the "Marioverse."
- Donkey Kong: An ape clad in a monogrammed red necktie, "DK" is a sometimes fearsome character, originally taking a maiden as a hostage for his enemy Mario to rescue. For his appearance alongside Mario in a seminal game named after him, DK comes close to Mario as one of the most famous videogame characters in the world. In his appearances in Mario games in the years afterward, he and Mario have become more like friendly rivals and are often seen competing in kart racing and sports games, though they occasionally flare up in conflict, such as in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. In many of the Mario games he is a selectable character who conforms to the "big, strong, and slow" archetype, and this tradition is carried over into his role as a Smash Bros. fighter. He has strong attacks which also have rather large reach, and this is meant to offset his general lack of swiftness and his easy-to-strike-as-a-target size.
If the Donkey Kong universe is counted as separate from the rest of the Mario universe, Super Smash Bros. features one DK-themed stage:
- Congo Jungle: This stage features visuals, audio, and layout designed in direct homage to the first level of Donkey Kong Country for the SNES. It has a pair of rotating platforms in the center and a Barrel Cannon hovering below the stage which can be used by fighters to save themselves from falling.
Likewise, only one item can be said to represent the Donkey Kong universe.
- Hammer: The giant mallet from the original Donkey Kong could be picked up by Mario and he would swing it uncontrollably for the next period of time to the tune of a "super" melody, pulverizing any obstacles in his way. The Hammer is featured in Smash just as that sort of item; the character becomes a pulverizing swinging force for the next ten seconds as the classic melody plays, and any character unlucky enough to be bludgeoned by it will probably be KO'ed. The wielder is unable to throw away the hammer, use any other moves, or do any double jump during that time.
- 6: A remix of the first stage music heard in Donkey Kong Country. It is heard in Congo Jungle, and both the music and the stage were reused in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
- 16: The victory fanfare of Donkey Kong is an orchestration of the "Boss Defeated" music heard in Donkey Kong Country for SNES.
- 26: Sped-up beep-boop music that occurs when you pick up the Hammer, in homage to the music that would occur when Mario would pick up a hammer in the original Donkey Kong.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
While Super Smash Bros. Melee features an abundance of new content, the Donkey Kong franchise is still only represented by one character. Two new stages are introduced, however, with one returning from Super Smash Bros. Also included are one new item as well as a returning item, and a few trophies.
CharactersDonkey Kong: Donkey Kong is still the only character from the DK Universe that is actually featured as a playable character, reprising his role as a powerful but somewhat sluggish fighter with an immobilizing headbutt as his new B-Forward Move.
Super Smash Bros. Melee features three DK-themed stages, however, compared to the two-at-most stages for many other franchises (Mario and Kirby being the only exceptions):
- DK Island: Kongo Jungle: This multilayered stage is a general depiction of Donkey Kong's jungle environment at the edge of a waterfall. The music for this stage is the "DK Rap" made infamous by Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64.
- DK Island: Jungle Japes: This stage more closely resembles the Jungle tileset of Donkey Kong Country for the Super NES. It is named for the first stage of DK64 and features the music of the first stage of DKC. It is very similar thematically to the SSB Congo Jungle stage. It takes place around a jungle cabin at sunset, with the silhouette of Cranky Kong visibly passing by a window.
- Past Stages: Kongo Jungle 64: The original Congo Jungle stage also returns in Melee totally unaltered.
Like several other represented franchise, the DK sub-universe features a couple items:
- Barrel Cannon: A new item. In the Donkey Kong series, there are many empty barrels that function more like cannons, and characters that enter them can be shot out to somewhere else, either automatically or by the player's command. As an item in Melee, a player can pick up a barrel cannon and throw it at another to trap him, and the victim must wait until the barrel rolls into a proper direction before shooting himself out of it. Use the Barrel Cannon as a disruption tactic against opponents.
- Hammer: Returns from SSB somewhat powered down, and there is a chance that the hammer's head will fall off its stick as soon as you pick it up, so you will be left swinging helplessly for the full duration as the discarded head remains on the battlefield for someone else to pick it up and hurl it at you as a projectile. This is meant to downgrade what would otherwise be considered an overpowered item.
- 3: Kongo Jungle: A cover band performance of the "DK Rap" made infamous in the opening sequence to Donkey Kong 64, with a much different assortment of instruments and rhythms from its original appearance. It is heard only in the DK Island: Kongo Jungle stage.
- 4: Jungle Japes: A calm and atmospheric remix of the standard "Jungle music" in various stages of Donkey Kong Country for SNES. It is heard in DK Island: Jungle Japes.
- 27: Kongo Jungle N64: SSB64's version of "Jungle Japes", which itself is a calm and atmospheric remix of the standard "Jungle music" in various stages of Donkey Kong Country for SNES. It appears in the Past stage attached to it, Past Stages: Kongo Jungle.
- 39: DK's Victory: The victory fanfare of Donkey Kong is an orchestration of the "Boss Defeated" music heard in Donkey Kong Country for SNES.
- 76: Hammer: Sped-up beep-boop music that occurs when you pick up the Hammer, in homage to the music that would occur when Mario would pick up a hammer in the original Donkey Kong.
Full Trophy List
- Donkey Kong's three game trophies
- Hammer (trophy)
- Barrel Cannon (trophy)
- Dixie Kong (trophy)
- Klaptrap (trophy)
- King K. Rool (trophy)
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- Donkey Kong: Donkey Kong is confirmed to return to the fray yet again, sporting a look that seems furrier than his Melee appearance, and a differently shaped mouth, but is otherwise identical. As of now, he also seems to be mostly unchanged from his fighting style in Melee. Both his Down B and his ability to carry opponents have been confirmed to return. His Final Smash is the Konga Beat, in which the player must use button combinations - DK is invincible during this. He use replicas of the the Gamecube bongos used to play Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2 and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, respectively. He damages opponents by the sound waves bouncing the opponents around, gaining percentage.
- Diddy Kong: Donkey Kong's nephew and best friend since Donkey Kong Country finally becomes a playable character. He apparently has a very unique style of movement. He also brings a couple of weapons from Donkey Kong 64 to the fray with him, in the form of the Rocketbarrel Boost and his Peanut Popgun, which he combines for his Final Smash, Rocketbarrel Barrage. He can also use a Monkey Flip and throw banana peels.
- Rumble Falls: Loosely based on the game Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, Rumble Falls is a large level that continuously scrolls upwards, much like the Icicle Mountain stage from Melee. However, there are some differences, such as a smaller amount of hazards that would prevent ascension, the stage apparently only goes up, as opposed to going up and down randomly, and there is actually something at the top of the stage this time.
- 75m: An almost perfect recreation of the infamous elevator stage in the original Donkey Kong arcade game rendered in an identical 8-bit style. Stage hazards include mobile fireballs, bouncing jacks, and Donkey Kong himself.
- Melee Stages: Jungle Japes: A Melee stage brought back for an encore, a little detail has changed this stage in a big way--the water, which characters used to fall through, can now be swam in. However, it still sweeps characters swiftly to the left side of the screen.
- Hammer: The Hammer returns from SSB and SSBM virtually unaltered in function or purpose.
- Springboard: Taken from Donkey Kong Jr. this acts as a weak throwing weapon as well as a basic spring to launch yourself high into the air. The sound that plays when jumped upon is taken directly from Donkey Kong Jr.
- Jungle Level Ver. 2 - A complete remix of the "DK Island Swing" background music from the original Donkey Kong Country. It is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- Jungle Level - Another remix of the "DK Island Swing". It is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- King K. Rool/Ship Deck 2 - A completely redone version of the song used during the battle against King K. Rool in the first Donkey Kong Country. It is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- Bramble Blast - From Donkey Kong Country 2, where it was known as "Stickerbrush Symphony," this is a faster remix of said song, which played in all of the bramble filled levels. It is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- Battle for Storm Hill - Background music for the Storm Hill level taken directly from Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat. It is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- DK Jungle 1 Theme (Barrel Blast) - Taken directly from the recently released racing title Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, it is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- The Map Page/Bonus Level - A combination of two themes taken directly from the original Donkey Kong Country--the world map and bonus stages. It is used on the Rumble Falls stage.
- Donkey Kong - A techno arrangement of the themes from the original Donkey Kong arcade game, composed by the original game's sound effects producer, Hirokazu Tanaka. It is used on the 75m stage.
- Opening (Donkey Kong) - A remix of several themes from the original Donkey Kong arcade game. It is used on the 75m stage.
- 25m BGM - The background music of the first level of the original Donkey Kong arcade game, it is used on the 75m stage.
- Jungle Japes (Melee) - Taken directly from Melee. A calm and atmospheric remix of the "DK Island Swing". It is used on the Jungle Japes stage.
- Kongo Jungle (Melee) - Taken directly from Melee. A cover band performance of the infamous "DK Rap". It is used on the Jungle Japes stage.
- Donkey Kong victory theme - A whimsical sounding remix of the victory fanfare played in Donkey Kong Country after defeating a boss or successfully completing a bonus level.
- Donkey Kong
- Diddy Kong
- Konga Beat
- Rocketbarrel Barrage
- Dixie Kong
- Funkey Kong
- Candy Kong
- Lanky Kong
- Rambi the Rhino
- Enguarde the Swordfish
- Tiny Kong
- Cranky Kong
- Squitter the Spider
- Expresso the Ostrich
- King K. Rool
- Peanut Popgun
- Banana Bunch
- Banana Coin
- Chunky Kong
- Cranky Kong
- Diddy Kong
- Donkey Kong
- DK Barrel
- DK with Barrel
- Funky Kong
- Gale Hawg
- Lanky Kong
- Manky Kong
- Pauline & Donkey Kong
- Wrinkly Kong