Donkey Kong is one of the most important games in the history of the industry for several reasons:
It was Nintendo's first successful video game.
It was the first video game Shigeru Miyamoto created. He's gone on to make most of Nintendo's major franchises including Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Pikmin, and Animal Crossing.
It was the first game in which characters were developed before programming was started.
It was the first game which had a game designer who was not also the programmer.
It was the first game to feature Mario, the most popular video game character ever created.
However, it was also brought to America by a skeleton crew trying to keep the American arm of the business afloat. Nintendo's first stateside release, Radar Scope, was a complete failure. The company decided the best way to break into the American market was to use an instantly recognizable character: Popeye the Sailor.
Yes, this was supposed to be the game to save Nintendo.
While they were waiting for the licensing rights to Popeye, leftover Radar Scope cabinets were converted to play a new game, Donkey Kong. No one knew how important Donkey Kong would be to Nintendo and the industry in general, so precise records weren't kept.
Until recently, the predominant theory was one of mistranslation. When the game art was being translated into English, the "m" in "Monkey" was replaced with a "d," creating "Donkey Kong." However, both the American and Japanese versions of the game used the same name.
A few years ago Shigeru Miyamoto set the record straight. When he was trying to find a word that meant "stubborn" he reached for a Japanese/English dictionary and found the word "donkey." He paired this with the word "kong" from King Kong to bring to mind monkeys. The title was supposed to be interpreted by players as "stubborn monkey."
There was one important change in the translation: In the Japanese version of the game the player's character was called "Jumpman," but this was changed to Mario for American cabinets in honor of the landlord for Nintendo of America's offices, Mario Segale.
Posted 1256 day ago