Donkey Kong Junior (ARC)

Donkey Kong Junior
©1982 Nintendo

Arcade (ARC)




Additional Work:


Product Info: Donkey Kong Junior is the sequel to the arcade smash hit Donkey Kong, and was initially released in the arcades to much anticipation. In this installment, the characters and universe of the original return, but with the roles reversed compared to its predecessor: Mario (previously named "Jumpman") is now the villain and Donkey Kong Junior is trying to rescue his father. Like its predecessor, Donkey Kong Jr. is a platform game.

The game features a total of four stages, each with a unique theme. DK Jr. can run left and right, jump, and grab vines/chains/ropes to climb higher on the screen. He can slide down faster by holding only one vine, or climb faster by holding two. To pass the first three stages, DK Jr. must reach the key hanging next to his father's cage, whereupon Mario flees while pushing the cage off the screen. In the fourth stage, DK Jr. must push six keys into locks on the topmost platform to free Donkey Kong. After a brief cutscene, the player is taken back to the first stage at an increased difficulty. A bonus timer runs throughout each stage, and any points remaining on it are added to the player's score upon completion. DK Jr. loses a life when he touches any enemy or projectile, falls too great a distance, touches the water and falls off the bottom of the screen or if the bonus timer counts down to zero. The game ends when the player loses all of their lives.

Development Notes: Following the success of the arcade smash Donkey Kong, Nintendo planned the sequel to star Donkey Kong's own son, DK Jr., as the protagonist who had to save his dad from Mario. Ideas for the sequel surfaced during development of the 1981 Donkey Kong, when members of Miyamoto's team came up with several ideas and full complete levels that wouldn't really fit into the game due to the various constraints. His team eventually began fleshing out these concepts, and these designs evolved into something all their own. The process was so far along, with even entire stages conceived, that one of the team members suggested they start working on another video game. The conversation happened around the same time that Nintendo wanted another Donkey Kong coin-op to capitalize on the original’s fame, giving Miyamoto the perfect opportunity to further explore his newly established franchise. Originally, Miyamoto wanted the new game to star Donkey Kong himself, but there were problems with the character’s massive size. He wouldn’t be maneuverable on the screen, so a new star was needed. The change brought about a new hero and drove the narrative in an entirely new direction. They ultimately came up with the idea to make a smaller Donkey Kong in place of Mario who would be the son of Donkey Kong. Since they still wanted a big Donkey Kong on top of the screen, they came up with the plot of Mario capturing him after the events of the first game.

Game development faced a serious challenge as the consignment programmer who Nintendo contracted to work with their design team on the original game, was no longer on the project, and Nintendo lacked access to the original program source. In response, Nintendo contracted Iwasaki Engineering Co., Ltd. to work with Nintendo's technology team to reverse engineer the original arcade game, so that Nintendo could gain access to the source code and develop the sequel.

  • Production Credits: Link
  • Staff Interview: Link

Version: Arcade (ARC)
Source: KRIRM. Wired: Sakamoto Interview. Nintendo JP.
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