Ape and hog ousted to similarly loony tune

Nintendo’s mascots know how things work in Kyoto.

It’s not about what you’ve done. It’s about whether your cap has an “M” on it.

As its unabated string of Mario sequels and spin-offs suggests, Nintendo knows who butters the corporate bread. The company has turned to the plumber with unflinching regularity over the years, and while it has sold countless millions of titles by doing so, Nintendo has also taken criticism for neglecting other its properties.

Just ask Pit, Fox McCloud, Captain Falcon, you get the idea.

Business has long revolved around Mario for Nintendo, not to mention the other two parts of its sacred triumvirate—Zelda and Metroid. Before any of them had headlined a single game, however, business revolved around Donkey Kong, the seminal simian who redefined the industry.

Indeed, if Nintendo is the house that Mario built, he used boards chopped by Donkey Kong. Four years before the plumber stomped his first Goomba, the dame-thieving ape catapulted Nintendo to the forefront of the gaming world with his groundbreaking 1981 arcade game, which earned the company $180 million in its first 12 months alone.

Donkey Kong had become the face of video games, but in just a few years, he would be ousted by the once-nameless hero from the game that made Kong a star, a character once part of his supporting cast and a role reversal with similarities to that of another iconic duo.

Warner’s Porky Pig and his successor Bugs Bunny.

Bugs’ nameless 1938 debut and subsequent rise were eerily similar to Mario’s

“Just as Mario began as Jumpman and only resembled the Mario we know and love today in his sprite and basic attributes alone, there was also a nameless rabbit who appeared in some early Porky Pig cartoons,” says David Oxford, scholarly news editor at Kombo.

Indeed, though Bugs Bunny wouldn’t appear in a fully realized form until the great Tex Avery’s 1940 classic A Wild Hare, the rabbit made its debut appearance two years earlier in Porky’s Hare Hunt. Directed by Ben Hardaway—nicknamed Bugs, appropriately—the short cast the rabbit as prey for a hunting Porky and debuted its iconic gag.

“Of course, you know, this means war.”

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11 Responses to Ape and hog ousted to similarly loony tune

  1. KEITH says:

    …Eh, What’s up Doc?

  2. Poochy says:

    Donkey Kong, the star of the portable games you mentioned as well as Jungle Beat, is not THE Donkey Kong, star of the original 1980 Donkey Kong. Rare turned that character into Cranky Kong, which became canon as recently as Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath for people to actually realize that, however. It’s the same thing with Mega Man…there a lot of different “Mega Mans”, but you see articles like these all the time referring to it as one, singular character when there’s a wealth of evidence showing that it’s not.

  3. Ptolemy says:

    I think the reason that Mario has so many sequels is because he’s a versatile guy. He’s doing very drastically different things from game to game.

    He jumps on mushrooms and kicks turtle shells, he plucks vegetables and can carry enemies, he gets a bunch of suits and a tail that lets him fly, he gets a dinosaur that can eat anything, he can jump into paintings (in THREE DEE!), he’s a kart racer, he’s a fighter, he can clean up paint in an island setting and he can orbit small planetoids. Up until now, he’s always had some fresh new thing to do.

    Other characters like Captain Falcon and Fox McCLoud are always going to be in refined iterations of their respective genres.
    Captain Falcon is an F-Zero racer, the mechanics may evolve, but he’ll always be a racer (and a pretty win fighter too, but hey). Fox is a fighter pilot, and that series, to me, went astray when he also started driving tanks and doing foot missions. Eww. Point is, I’m fine with those other Nintendo characters only having a few games, I want them to have good games. If it takes a while for something new to warrant a new game that is good, so be it.

  4. Ptolemy says:

    @poochy – I knew about the DK stuff, the multi-megamans though, just took me by surprise. I assume your not just talking about the difference between the abomination on the box art and the little dude on my TV screen.
    Huh huh…
    Show me your Megamans.

  5. Andrew G. says:

    I don’t think Nintendo has bothered showcasing Donkey Kong or Star Fox a whole lot since they lost Rare to Microsoft. Sad, but I reckon it’s probably true.

  6. rdaneel72 says:

    Fascinating piece of investigative journalism.

    Ironically, a similar theme is prevalent in the upcoming Wii game, Epic Mickey, where the villian is an early Disney character, angered by the success of the Mouse.

  7. Doc Octorok says:

    I’m sorry, I’ve having trouble stomaching the use of “Donkey Kong” and “canon” in the same post.

  8. gojiguy says:

    Excellent article. A sweet reminder of why I love Infendo.

    Heres to hoping E3 brings Captain Falcon, Fox, and other Nintendo franchises back to the limelight.

  9. @poochy I agree, if one were to get into semantics, but to do so here would seem to detract from the overall point. It seems that even Nintendo is uncertain about whether they want DK Sr. = Cranky to stick; likewise, Shigeru Miyamoto himself and others at Nintendo seem to refer to Link as though he were a singular entity, rather than a lineage of sorts.

    And I hate it when people do it to Mega Man as well, yet even Keiji Inafune seems to simply say “Mega Man” as a generalization.

    So for the intents of this article, it may be better to see “Donkey Kong” as more of a title or role than an individual.

  10. muggy8 says:

    That’s why i say no to sequels… well most of them anyways!!! Also, although the Final Fantasy games are not actually sequels, somehow Cloud became the FF mascot. Most of the time, when people say FF i think of Cloud, and i have yet to play FF VII yet. Maybe it just me…

  11. […] second article is a complementary piece which compares the gorilla’s unseating to that of another character who once hogged the […]

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