Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Donkey Kong Dilemma

For those of you on the level of nerd to actually care about the evolution and established mythology of Nintendo characters who aren't Yet-Another-Legolas or RoboCop-With-Tits, the Donkey Kong family history has always served a perplexing problem. Back in the day there were two Kongs; Donkey Kong, and his virtuous son Donkey Kong JR. There may have been three if you counted that pink mutant JR clone, but since the recolored Player 2 is typically understood to be merely a fourth-wall breaking conventional nature of the medium, he is not a true Kong.

Luigi is the minority.
The original Donkey Kong trilogy paved the way for the rest of the Nintendo universe in much the same way that the modern Marvel universe burst forth from deep within The Fantastic Four. Donkey Kong introduced Mario to the world, though at the time he was known as the heroic Jumpman. This, arguably, makes Donkey Kong the single most important primate ever to grace television screens, second only to the mighty King Kong himself. (On a side note: I find it interesting how the most important visual mediums both developed into what they are now due to a titular gorilla.)

Naturally, it would only make sense for Nintendo to revise their industry-saving franchise, and make the character appeal to an even greater audience by pitting him as the hero. Unfortunately, they handed the task over to RareWare, who undoubtedly made another beautiful Donkey Kong trilogy. Unfortunately, they also made a lot of inconsistencies.

This is the first one.
Originally the popular Diddy Kong was intended to be a redesigned Donkey Kong JR. Unfortunately, since monkeys look absolutely nothing like gorillas (or chimps, but that's a different matter), Nintendo said "Hell no." RareWare, disgruntled that the Man was attempting to stifle their creativity, decided that "Fine, we'll just make our Donkey Kong be a grown up JR, and the old Donkey Kong will be a cranky old coot."

In itself, this event didn't create any real inconsistency. It would simply mean that the Donkey Kong Country trilogy takes place in the near future of the Super Mario series. Unfortunately, since Rare and Nintendo didn't quite see eye-to-eye, a lot of weird things started happening when the ball was put back in their court. They managed to keep track of the changes for a little while, but soon enough we ended up with...

Oh, him again.
Diddy Kong, being a far more popular character in the modern generation, phased out Donkey Kong JR as the big ape's main buddy and began showing up in a lot of the Mario spin off games. This doesn't really matter until you realize that the DK Diddy hangs out with is supposed to an adult JR, in which case, Mario should be as old and cranky as... Cranky.

Then again, Nintendo has this shit going on.
So we really have Diddy Kong to thank for the being first asshole in the DK Crew to make everything a little uncomfortable. Most of this could be overlooked or explained by simply assuming "Well, apes age more quickly than humans do."

Then this bastard showed up.
That there is Baby Donkey Kong, making his debut in Yoshi's Island DS. Naturally, he fits right in with Baby Mario and Baby Luigi for kart racing and baseball playing. Unnaturally, he's supposed to be the infant form of the modern Donkey Kong, the one who's actually Donkey Kong JR. The one who couldn't have possibly been born at a time when Mario and Luigi were infants, because that fucks up the "apes age quickly" theory that makes Diddy Kong plausible.

It's possible that Baby Donkey Kong could be a baby form of Cranky Kong, who is supposed to be the original arcade Donkey Kong, but if we go by the aging theory that makes Diddy possible, he shouldn't be born yet either. So maybe Baby Donkey Kong is actually the infant of the current Donkey Kong's great-great-great-great grandfather. Of course, then our Donkey Kong should be Donkey Kong VII, not JR.

It doesn't help that in most of modern Donkey Kong's biographies they state that he once battled with Mario while holding Pauline captive, the role that Nintendo now attempts to claim was actually taken by Cranky Kong. This can't be possible if DK is hanging with Diddy while Cranky is napping in his cave, because the bio we're reading is for Diddy-hanging DK.

" While he now prefers the laid-back jungle lifestyle to construction site mischief, DK is often forced back into action by the Kremling Krew. The great ape is quite fast despite his burly physique, and he keeps his strength up with a steady diet of his favorite food: bananas. His one extravagance (and only piece of clothing) is a monogrammed necktie. "
Donkey Kong's biography from his Classic Trophy, Super Smash Bros. Melee, 2001

Notice how that biography included both construction sites and the Kremling Krew? That's because Nintendo has no idea what they're talking about. It doesn't help that in their attempt to clean things up later on, they claimed that the current Donkey Kong is actually JR's son and the Cranky's grandson. This itself puts even more strain on the aging theory.

In short: Nintendo has no fucking clue what is going with their own franchise.

To sum it up:

Cranky cannot possibly be the original Donkey Kong - he's simply too old.
Donkey Kong as we know him cannot be Donkey Kong JR - Baby Donkey Kong proves this.
Donkey Kong JR - is missing in action.

Cranky, Donkey, and JR are all separate and distinct characters. The Donkey Kong that swings through trees and rides rhinos is the same one that loves chucking barrels. Maybe Cranky is senile, or maybe he actually did perform a number of escapades prior to Donkey Kong for the arcade. Either way, he can't be any form of Donkey Kong we're familiar with.

Now that all is said and done, here's another Kong conundrum to mull over:

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