One of video gaming’s most unlikely heroes is turning 30.
Arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior is turning 30
Donkey Kong Junior had some big shoes to fill in 1982 as the sequel to Nintendo‘s first hit game, Donkey Kong. In a unique role-reversal, Mario was now the villain of the story as the son of the original antagonist fought through a maze of jungle vines and moving platforms in an effort to save his father.
According to trademark filings, Donkey Kong Junior first appeared publically on June 30, 1982. The suffix in the title was spelled as “Jr.” in Japan but “Junior” in North America. Later home releases moved toward the shorter version, appearing as “Donkey Kong Jr.” Despite the original longer version of the name the shorter suffix is the most common spelling of the game title worldwide.
“I remember Donkey Kong Junior getting a lot of attention in the arcades,” said Mark Kiehl, the all-time high score champion on the arcade classic. “People were excited about a sequel to Donkey Kong.”
The DKJ arcade unit went on to sell 30,000 machines in North America and see releases on every major home platform of the day. It also saw a great deal of exposure on television as one of the key games in a nationally aired arcade game contest, a breakfast cereal and even a Saturday morning cartoon short as part of the Saturday Supercade series on CBS.
In the later 1980s, Junior was among the list of launch titles for the very successful Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was part of a short-run reissue arcade game from Namco in 2005 included alongside the original game and Mario Bros.
“To this day it’s still a staple game for collectors and retro arcade operators to own,” Kiehl added. “It had a lot of staying power.”
Take a look at the video montage to experience some of the mainstream media love given to young Donkey Kong Junior in the early 1980s and post your thoughts and memories of the classic arcade game below.