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Tech Tuesday – Donkey Kong Turns 30

30 years ago this month, the struggling American division of Nintendo, released the game Donkey Kong on the unsuspecting American shores making the company do a 180 and firmly making a place for the game and the company in the history books. Not to mention making me a few hundred dollars poorer as a kid. If I didn’t pump so many quarters into these games, I would be independently wealthy by now.

LA Premiere Of Picturehouse's "The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters" - After Party
Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Donkey Kong actually started out as a Popeye game. The characters would’ve be Olive Oyl, Bluto and Popeye. Bluto takes Olive, Popeye rescues her dodging thing getting thrown at him. When licensing for Popeye fell threw, Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto, had to come up with new characters for the game he was working on. So he invented Mario, Pauline, and Donkey Kong.

From there, many iterations of Donkey Kong happened,  as you could see from an article at It shows some of the games that followed up Donkey Kong, but also some of the crazy box art from the 8-bit days. Mario as James Bond is my favorite. There was also a animated series of shorts that was part of Saturday Supercade with voices being supplied by Soupy Sales, who was Donkey Kong and Peter “Optimus Prime” Cullen doing Mario. Still trying to figure that one out. “Luigi!! ROLL OUT!! That’sa’ me! Maaariooo!”

Then came the multitude of ports to other platforms, mostly done by third party companies back in the day. And by the looks of some of them, poorly. To me, the only platform that nailed that it was Colecovision. They pretty much stayed faithful to the look and feel of the games that were ported. I had an Atari 2600, and my friend Matt had Colecovision. My parents knew where they could find me after school most days.

And the merchandising arm was in full swing too with Donkey Kong cereal. Those golden crunchy sweetened barrels of goodness. I can feel myself going into diabetic shock just thinking about them. YUM! But back in those days, action figures for video games weren’t as popular I guess. Now, you can walk into almost any F.Y.E. and buy Mario and Donkey Kong figures and knick-knacks. There is even a documentary called King of Kong which is available on Netflix.

A good portion of my childhood was spent at the Video Palace on North Main St or that pizzeria on the corner of Pine and South Main St. in Gloversville, playing video games. Pumping in quarters and begging Mom and Dad for more. And Donkey Kong was happily one of my favorites.

So to Mario, Pauline, and the big monkey guy himself I wish you a Happy Birthday and many many more as you now happily take my virtual quarters. And to you the reader, enjoy a few v-quarters on me.


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