History of Mario and Donkey Kong: From Friend to Foe

The history of Mario and Donkey; how love can turn oh so sour.

The battle between Mario and Donkey Kong has been known for decades, even centuries. Wait, maybe not that long…

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With the release of Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move for 3DS approaching, I decided to explore the relationship further.

The history of these two iconic Nintendo characters is long and full of interesting takes on the relationship. But there are some parts of this relationship that you may not know about. Was this hatred stemmed from a companionship? Was this hatred formed from jealousy? Or was Donkey Kong a huge gorilla with an anger management problem?

Well, it all started with an Italian plumber who took an ape as a pet, as weird as that may sound. Yes, you heard right. Donkey Kong was actually Mario’s pet ape before he escaped and kidnapped Mario’s main squeeze, Pauline (not Peach, she comes later).

In Donkey Kong, the game that first debuted the rivalry, we discover that Donkey Kong has escaped and angrily takes Pauline captive. Jumpman, aka Mario, has to save Pauline, jumping over barrels and avoiding fire. Many people – mostly me – think this stemmed from neglect on Mario’s part. Donkey Kong, trapped in a cage, only wanted Mario’s attention. Many others think that DK only kidnapped her because she was pretty…

Since the 1981 release of Donkey Kong, Mario and his pet gorilla have battled it out, turning their once loving relationship into hatred. It’s in the 1982 Donkey Kong Jr. that Donkey Kong takes the role of damsel in distress when Mario holds the gorilla hostage while Donkey Kong’s son has to rescue him.

Will the rivalry never end?

Although their relationship seems peaceful in games like Mario Kart and even friendly in Mario Party, we see that their relationship is still just as flawed in Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong, wanting to support his good friend Mario, goes to the store to buy some Mini Mario toys. Seeing that none are available, he then goes on a sort of rampage and breaks into the Mario Toy Factory and takes some Mini Marios hostage.

Even after the hassle seen above, there is a sequel where Donkey Kong kidnaps Pauline… again. This game is then followed by more sequels, but I’m sure you get the point: Donkey Kong doesn’t seem to be trying to patch up this relationship.

This battle seems to be never ending. The history of Mario and Donkey Kong’s relationship is a long one, and won’t be ending anytime soon. With the release of Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, the long rivalry continues, with no hope of reconciliation in site.

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Raven Hathcock
Better dead than a damsel. I'm a Magazine Journalism student at the University of Georgia. I enjoy shooting bullymongs in the head while I'm not cuddling my cat.