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Was Donkey Kong Supposed To Be Monkey Kong?

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Have you ever heard someone call Donkey Kong by the name Monkey Kong? If you have, you are probably friends with someone who is very familiar with the origin story of Donkey Kong and Nintendo. Maybe you even asked them about it, but you never got a straight answer. Well, in this article we will go over everything you need to know about Donkey Kong and Monkey Kong. 

So was Donkey Kong supposed to be Monkey Kong?

When Donkey Kong was originally released, his name was Monkey Kong. The problem was that the producers of King Kong did not like Nintendo was using the Kong name to sell their game. This forced Nintendo to change the name on their game to Donkey Kong. 

If you want to know more about donkey kong and the history of the game, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also watch this short video. 

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Who is Donkey Kong?

Donkey Kong, or DK is the male gorilla in one of Nintendo’s earliest games ever made. Donkey Kong was a great mascot and turned into one of Nintnedo’s greatest success stories in video game series.

Donkey Kong, debuted with the arcade game Donkey Kong which was a huge success. Because of the successm there were many subsequent video games with Donkey Kong as a main character!

What is the meaning of Donkey Kong?

In Latin, Kong means king. Anything supreme is called Kong. All you have to do is to look at King Kong. He is the king of the apes and a huge strong beast. Donkey Kong was inspired by King Kong. This is why Donkey Kopng was also a gorilla character. Kong is also a synonym for Ape. It was not surprising that Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto went for the title Kong for their game. 

Miyamoto himself clarified during a court trial that King Kong was considered a generic term in Japan for some large, scary ape, and not a trademarkable name. 

Because the name was Monkey Kong, they ruled that the name was too close to that of King Kong, and while they would allow Nintendo to use the Kong name, it could not be Monkey Kong. This is where Nintendo had to come up with something else that was catchy. 

Nintnedo knew that its character was strong and angry and hard headed like a normal ape, so they began to throw around names. This is where the term Donkey Kong came from. Donkey is sometimes known as a stupid animal, known for its lack of farsightedness and being stubborn. 

This is exactly what creator Shigeru Miyamoto had conceived his characters to be. According to him, Donkey Kong was named that to literally mean “stupid ape”, with the word donkey implying stubbornness.

Is it true that Shigeru Miyamoto originally wanted to call the character Donkey Kong?

There are actually many different stories about exactly how Donkey Kong became called Donkey Kong. Some include the makers of King Kong, while others include a translation error. According to Shigeru Miyamoto the name was always supposed to be Donkey kong, but a lot of people speculate that when they were translating the japanese language on the game to english, they called it donkey kong instead of Monkey Kong. The error was not realized until the game had hit the market, and by that time it was too late to change it. 

This is why some people think the name is Monkey Kong, while others call it Donkey Kong. No matter what the reason, Shigeru Miyamoto was not going to come out and say that they messed up on the name, so the name to this day is called Donkey Kong. 

Other theories about where Donkey Kong got its name.

Another theory that floats around is that there was an error in communication which led to the current name of the superhero. It claimed a mistake was done when copying of the message that might have originated either from a fax or from a voice call. The story is told that the main name was supposed to be Monkey Kong, but an error either in the reading of the fax, or issues over hearing a voice message and interpreting it as Monkey Kong, changing the Monkey into Donkey. This might be a strong reasoning that has ultimately led to the current version of the game and the main characters’ name.

Even today, there is still a debate over this theory of change of the possible name because of a mistyped fax, a blurred fax or a bad voice connection.

When was Monkey Kong renamed to Donkey Kong?

In 1982 Nintendo was sued by Universal Pictures for using the title “Kong” for its new character and hence infringing on “King Kong”. Nintendo got around this by adding the portion Donkey to Kong to make the name final name as Donkey Kong. It was also with the intention to bypass copyright complications as well as keep the name something catchy. 

Miyamoto had to describe in front of the court, the full story behind the evolution of Donkey Kong and how he had got to the final name. The court was later convinced that the two characters were not exactly the same as each other and they only shared a part of their name. Also, their very mode of functioning, their social backdrops and their whole themes were distinct from each other. Keeping in mind all these, the court decided the case in the favor of Nintendo.

Do we know the truth about where the name came from?

Even with all of the stories and rumors about Donkey Kong, fans still are not fully sure which of the above mentioned theories is indeed the correct one and what actually led to the naming of their favorite character as Donkey Kong.

Even though Shigeru Miyamoto claimed that the “Donkey” name was intentional and meant for the purpose of referring to the stubborn nature of the ape, it still seemed like Monkey Kong was the actual name but was accidentally changed to Donkey Kong for many people. 


Now that you know why some people call Donkey Kong Monkey Kong, you can begin to go through all of the stories and decide for yourself which it was meant to be. Even though every story varies a little, many fans to this day believe that the original name was supposed to be Monkey Kong. There are many reasons that it could have gotten changed to Donkey Kong, but no matter what the reason is, the name still stands today that it was changed to Donkey Kong. There are only a few Nintendo fans that do not know about Monkey Kong having its name changed to Donkey Kong. This is because the character has been called Donkey Kong for so long, that many people have stopped calling him Monkey Kong. 

No matter if you prefer to call him Donkey Kong or Monkey Kong, there is no denying that the character is a great character, and all of the games that he is in are very good games. People from all over the world know the name Donkey Kong simply because of the games that he is in.