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Donkey Kong Donkey Kong - Japanese Logo - Katakana / Kanji

Donkey Kong - Cabinet - Video Game Marquee


Jumpman -- known today as Mario -- must traverse levels structures to save his girlfriend, Pauline, from Donkey Kong before time runs out. The levels include Girders, Rivets, Elevators, and Conveyor Belts. Mario must avoid flames, barrels, and bouncing rivets to reach his goal.

Donkey Kong was produced by Nintendo in 1981.

Nintendo released 107 machines in our database under this trade name, starting in 1970. Nintendo was based in Japan.

Other machines made by Nintendo during the time period Donkey Kong was produced include: Space Fever Color, Vs. UniSystem, Space Fever (Black & White), Heli Fire, Radar Scope, Sky Skipper, Popeye, Donkey Kong Junior, Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong 3


Name Donkey Kong
Developer Nintendo (Japan)
Year 1981
Type Videogame
KLOV/MOG # 7610
Class Wide Release
Genre Platform
Conversion Class Nintendo Classic
Game Specific Donkey Kong Pinout
Dipswitch Settings

Donkey Kong Dipswitch Settings (user contributed)

# Simultaneous Players 1
# Maximum Players 2
Game Play Alternating
Control Panel Layout Single Player
  • Joystick: 4-way (up, down, left, right)
  • Buttons: 1 - Jump
Sound Unamplified Mono (requires one-channel amp)
Cabinet Styles
  • Upright/Standard - 204 lbs
  • Cocktail
  • Cabaret/Mini
  • Upright/Standard
Instructions Donkey Kong Instructions Image
Bezel Donkey Kong Bezel Image
Control Panel Donkey Kong Control Panel Image
Side Art Donkey Kong Side Art Image
PCB Donkey Kong PCB Image

Game Play

You are a workman named Mario who climbs girders and ladders and will stop at nothing to save his stolen love from the clutches of the giant ape.

Using the joystick and the Jump button, you maneuver Mario over rolling barrels, away from falling barrels, over or away from fireballs and cement tubs, away from bouncing rivets, up and down ladders, along girders and conveyor belts, onto elevators, over rivets to remove them and over dangerous crevices, to get to where the ape holds the girl captive. For additional points, Mario gathers umbrellas, hats, purses and other bonus items that the girl has dropped on her way to the top of the building. Mario can also grab a hammer by jumping up to it to smash barrels, fireballs, and cement tubs for additional points but the hammer can only be used for a limited amount of time.

On the Girder, Elevator and Conveyor Belt levels, whenever Mario reaches Pauline, Donkey Kong will grab her and carry her off to the next higher level. But on the Rivet level, Mario must remove all the rivets on each and every floor by running or jumping over them. After all the rivets are removed, Donkey Kong will fall head first onto a stack of girders and be knocked out and then Mario and Pauline will be together again for good. Afterwards, the game starts over again with increased difficulty.

Donkey Kong KLOV/IAM 5 Point User Score: 4.23 (46 votes)

Fun Factor: 4.25

Overall Like 4.48
Fun (Social) 3.74
Fun (Solo) 4.32
Collector Desire 4.16

Technical Rating: 4.34

Gameplay 4.50
Graphics 4.20
Originality 4.68
Sound/Music 4.14

Personal Impressions and Technical Impressions each account for half of the total score. Within the Personal Impressions category, Like carries a little more weight than the other factors.

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Cheats, Tricks, Bugs, and Easter Eggs

The first version of Donkey Kong that was released in America red cabinet version had a trick that could be done on the barrell board. Move Mario up a ladder so that his hands are at the top of the ladder and the barrells will not come down on Mario. Only a barrell thrown from Donkey Kong or a fireball can get Mario when doing this. The best way to tell if your Donkey Kong machine has this older version of the software is to watch the title screen during the demo. Underneath the name, and Donkey Kong himself, you will see the copyright of Nintendo. If it reads: "1981 Nintendo" you have the older version the regular version of the program reads "1981 Nintendo of America". This is important to check because many of the cabinets that had the older version of the program got updated with new chips. The early cabinets also had a trick that could be done with a drinking straw to give unlimited gameplay. A straw inserted in the middle outside section of the upper hinge would turn sideways inside the machine and be positioned just above the credit switch. By jiggling the straw up and down, you could get up to 99 credits in seconds.


  • A Cure For Cancer - Carnage must rescue the T-1000 that was stolen by the big enemy.
  • Clinton Kong - Changes Donkey Kong into Bill Clinton.
  • Donkey Kong 2600 - Changes the graphics to make them look more like the Atari 2600 Version.
  • Monkey Donkey - Uses a different color scheme.
  • Pac-Kong - Changes the graphics to make them more like those of Pac-Man.
  • Wilford Kong - Changes Donkey Kong into Wilford.



Mario was originally a carpenter, not a plumber as he became later with the introduction of Mario Bros. The word "donkey", in Donkey Kong, is a play on the Japanese word for "stupid". Pauline is the name of Mario's girlfriend in Donkey Kong. In the Japanese version, her name is Lady, but she got her name changed when Nintendo released the Famicom version.

Another story on how the game's name evolved was that it was supposed to be "Monkey Kong", but due to a barely legible fax transmission, the screenprinters created thousands of pieces of artwork that read "Donkey Kong" instead. Since the manufacturers were in a rush to get the game released, they opted to change the game's title rather than wait for the artwork to be reprinted.

This game appeared in an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood where a young boy explains a little to Fred Rogers what the game is about and how it is played.

A modern version of Donkey Kong was made called Donkey Kong 94 for Super Game Boy. This version begins exactly the same as the original with the same four stages with updated graphics and play mechanics. But when you finish these levels, instead of repeating them over, the player is taken to 96 more levels, each with tons of puzzles to solve.

Cabinet Information

There are two different American cabinet styles. The most common is the light blue variety, but the first Donkey Kong machines were red.

Nintendo also produced cabaret or "mini" versions of this game.


SPINOFFS: Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. Mario appears in these games with his brother Luigi

VAPS Arcade/Coin-Op Donkey Kong Census

There are 14,952 members of the Video Arcade Preservation Society / Vintage Arcade Preservation Society, 9,547 whom participate in our arcade census project of games owned, wanted, or for sale. Census data currently includes 165,357 machines (6,938 unique titles).

Very Common - There are 1,573 known instances of this machine owned by Donkey Kong collectors who are active members. Of these, 1,348 of them are original dedicated machines. 56 of them are conversions in which game circuit boards (and possibly cabinet graphics) have been placed in (and on) another game cabinet. 159 of them are only circuit boards which a collector could put into a generic case if desired.

For Sale - There are 38 active VAPS members with a Donkey Kong machines for sale. There are 5 active VAPS members with a Donkey Kong circuit boards for sale.

Wanted - Very Popular - There are 107 active VAPS members currently looking for Donkey Kong. There are 3 active VAPS members looking for Donkey Kong boards sets.

This game ranks a 98 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census ownership records.

This game ranks a 97 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census want list records.

Rarity and Popularity independently are not necessarily indications of value. [More Information]



There are two versions of this boardset. One is a four board sandwich layout with a bunch of plug connectors, and the other is a two board sandwich layout with a 22/44-pin edge connector.


  1. Donkey Kong
  2. Donkey Kong Junior
  3. Donkey Kong 3


Foto-Finder® (Books)

  1. The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 121; Color photo Price guide: No
  2. The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 157; Color photo Price guide: No
  3. Arcade Fever Sellers (ISBN 0762409371) Page: 66; Color photo
  4. Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 121; Color photo

Additional References (logged in members often see more)

  1. 3D Model (External): Kong Off
  2. 3D Model (External): Sequel
  3. 3D Model (External): Cabaret
  4. 3D Model (External): Upright

See the game at:

This game is available at the following public arcades, bars or museums:

Name Location State Country Details Check-ins
Bartari 101 Adams Ave, Scranton Pennsylvania United States Arcade Bar (Classic Videogame and Pinball)
Children: Only in daytime
Focus: Classic & Modern Games
Food: Yes
Alcohol: Yes
Payment Method: Coins
Bit Bar 278 Derby St, Salem Massachusetts United States 1
Level One Bar + Arcade 130 Hutchinson Ave, Columbus Ohio United States 0
PinBar 501 17 Ave SW, Calgary AB Canada Arcade (Classic Videogame)
Status: Verified

Focus: Classic Games
Food: Yes
Alcohol: Yes
Payment Method: Coins
Sting Rays Bar And Grill 3112 East State Road 60, Valrico Florida United States 0
The Very Best Arcade (The Very Best Weiner Shop) 252 E High St, Pottstown Pennsylvania United States Arcade (Classic Videogame)
Status: Verified

Children: Allowed
Focus: Classic Games
Food: Yes
Alcohol: No
Payment Method: Coins
Upstate Pinball & Arcade Museum 109A West Trade St, Simpsonville South Carolina United States Arcade (Classic Videogame)
Children: Allowed
Focus: Classic Games
Food: No
Alcohol: No
Payment Method: Admission Charge

eBay Listings

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