As seen in: Donkey Kong (Arcade)
Also in: Donkey Kong '94 (Game Boy)
Distinguishing feature: A weight problem so severe it knocks down scaffolding.
Strengths: Being a large ape.
Weaknesses: Laziness, depression.
Like so many erstwhile “villains,” Donkey Kong shouldn’t have been foiled. His plan, such as it could be called one, may not have been the most difficult one to stop: 1. Grab woman 2. Climb building 3. Enjoy. Any decent-sized military could take care of a problem like that. But to lose out against just a single, nearly weaponless human being about a quarter his size? That’s just inexcusable.
Taking a closer look at his tactics, though, it shouldn’t be such a surprise that Donkey Kong lost out time and time again. While his adversary is one for running and above all jumping, with his superhuman level of cardio his chief claim to fame, Donkey Kong tires himself out after just a ladder climb and a few quick hops. Instead of dodging his adversary’s attacks, Kong will frequently just sit there and do what’s easiest, whether chucking barrels or, when he’s too exhausted for even that, chilling out and waiting for the inevitable. Maybe he tired himself initially by grabbing Pauline? Or perhaps she weighs more than she looks? In any case, Donkey Kong just doesn’t seem to care.
In some sense then it serves the big ape right that Mario, aka “Jumpman,” would soon incarcerate him. While he used to be stuck from his own lack of initiative, later he was literally caged … but effectively it made little difference as far the ape was concerned. Sure, he made a feeble show of trying to escape, but it was clear to everyone that this was just to save face. Fortunately for Kong, his psychopathic son was around to get him out of jail. Still, even after escaping, Kong was too lazy to even run off himself, instead forcing his son to continue with the heavy lifting and carry him away.
Even Kong knew at that point it was probably best if he just drifted off. Originally a star player, he’d shifted into a supporting role in even his own games and seemed unlikely to regain the limelight. Kong left the big city of his youth, with its construction sites, elevators, and factories, and found a nearby house to retire in. But even then he couldn’t catch a break. What he’d assumed was some sort of abandoned greenhouse was actually under watch, and before he knew it, Kong was accosted by a “bugman” who shot him repeatedly with bug repellant. Lucky for Kong, bug repellant was only an annoyance for him (really, bug repellant against an ape?), but it was enough to make him once again reconsider his choices in life. Of course, that was after squashing the insolent bugman whose obsession with squirting bug spray up ape behinds is still hard to fathom.
Needless to say, Kong’s depression grew even deeper and he drifted around without any particular purpose for a few years. He was inspired to take up home tutoring for his son, whose predilection for destruction frequently got him kicked out of schools, but was too lazy to do more than hold up signs and hope that Kong Jr. would tire out.
It took Kong a long time to shake out of his funk. Here he was, the ape who launched a thousand arcade cabinets, yet he was lost and forgotten while his old rival was better-known than Mickey Mouse. His despair is pretty understandable.
After a decade making the odd cameo or cartoon appearance, Kong began to slowly realize his own worth and that in reality, people had never stopped loving the big ape.
Kong has been able to reignite his zest for life and today can still be seen grabbing a nearby woman, taking her off into a building, and being pursued by any nearby plumbers, carpenters, or other workmen hoping to win the lady’s favor. The difference is that now he’s doing it with more care, ducking into corridors, locking doors, and coming up with countless new ways to stop his pursuers. No longer just the icon of a past age, Kong is once again the king.