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NERDING DAY

Nerding Day: Donkey Kong Ripoffs

The idea of a man climbing a construction site to rescue a woman from a gorilla seems like it should be unique. Of all the video games in the world to copy, no game lends itself better to being MADLibbed into something new. An unethical game designer looking to make a ripoff Donkey Kong could instantly change it so you’re… climbing a STAR RODEO to rescue a PREGNANT DENTIST from a CHARLES GRODIN. Even the least amount of effort like… climbing a(n) ASS to rescue a(n) ASS from a(n) CHARLES GRODIN’S ASS would be better than a failed attempt at precisely recreating Donkey Kong. And yet here we are in a world where 750 people copied the exact gameplay of Donkey Kong and also, pointlessly, the exact characters and plot. Let’s look at some of these pieces of shit!

KONGO KONG, 1983 (Commodore 64)

I’m not good at reading gorilla expressions. It’s why the first phrase I learned in sign language is “Strong gorilla, I’m drunk. Are we about to fight or fuck?” So I have no idea if KONGO KONG is a rampaging beast or a transfer gorilla smiling for his school picture. The game itself depicts him as a homeless man guarding a woman he made out of patio furniture, which doesn’t help at all. KONGO KONG looks like a therapist asked a child to draw the nude man who climbed onto their roof and declared himself Santa Claus.

KING KONG, 1982 (Atari 2600)

The original Kong must have been furious when some asshole normal-sized gorilla stole his name, added “Donkey” to it, and became way more famous. So to get revenge on Donkey Kong, King Kong copied his game to the letter. Well, not to the letter. It’s much worse in every way, and is arguably the laziest, shittiest Donkey Kong clone which is an extremely competitive field. If you held a gun on an Atari 2600 and said, “I don’t have the cartridge, but we’re going to fucking play Donkey Kong,” this would be the attempt not good enough to save its life. So King Kong didn’t exactly get revenge on Donkey Kong with this. As far as payback goes, it’s like getting revenge on your wife by making a homemade wig sort of like her boyfriend’s haircut and asking him to borrow $1200 for diarrhea medicine.

Let’s check in with an old friend for the next one…

KILLER KONG, 1983 (ZX Spectrum 48K)

I mentioned earlier how I’m not great at reading gorilla expressions, but that’s not the case here. I know exactly what this look means.

Krazy KONG, 1983 (ZX Spectrum 48K)

In the early ’80s, ZX Spectrum owners had an endless selection of bad Donkey Kong knockoffs. I should mention with the ZX Spectrum they could also just play Donkey Kong. And in a world where Donkey Kong is available to you, purchasing and playing Krazy KONG is like sitting down at an Olive Garden and asking the waiter if they can fly SpaghettiOs in from a Bolivian toilet.

KONG, 1983 (ZX Spectrum 48K)

These people very specifically made a copy of Donkey Kong so confused or stupid customers would think, “Oh, this is Donkey Kong.” And then the box art tried to convince them it’s actually about King Kong fighting airplanes, a different ape and a wildly different game concept. But whether you’re looking for a knockoff of Donkey or King Kong, you will hate plain KONG. It’s like they went out of their way to disappoint twice as many players while also doubling their chances of getting sued. You probably don’t need an analogy to understand how dumb this is, but KONG on Spectrum 48K is like ordering a dildo and being mailed a real human penis, only it’s terrible and crooked and made out of alpaca meat.

DONKEY KING, 1983 (Dragon 32)

Jesus, I didn’t realize there would be this many Donkey Kong knockoffs. But in the spirit of shamelessly copying shit and not caring, DONKEY KING on the Dragon 32 is like ordering a dildo and being made a real human’s pants, only it’s terrific and cooky and mad about feet.

KILLER GORILLA, 1983 (Amstrad CPC)

KILLER GORILLA on the Amstrad CPC is like orging a dorble and being mard poosto on tibble carga alpaca meat.

PANIC KONG, 1986 (MSX)

PANIC KONG on the MSX is the final words of a fish suffocating in a boat thinking of alpaca meat.

KONG, 1983 (Commodore 64)

KONG on the Commodore 64 is the meat boat thinking of fish and the beef canoe taking fish dreams, Dr. Alpaca Clock Penis.

WALLY KONG, 1984 (ZX Spectrum 48K)

Holy fuck, this one is named WALLY KONG. That’s actually a really elegant way to explain to a potential customer how this is Donkey Kong’s shittiest cousin. Wally Kong is what you would name an ape if it farted so hard it got its head caught in the zoo bars. Wallycop is what Marlon Wayans would name his Robocop parody. If you were writing a screenplay about the year 3000 and wanted to immediately explain how the last 980 years sucked you would introduce a character named President Wally Bush. WALLY KONG‘s box art looks like something you would show the Supreme Court in your case to make drawing gorillas illegal. 

CRAZY KONG, 1981 (Commodore 64)

This came out only months after the first Donkey Kong, which in the video game developing world is almost impressive. If you’re a sports fan, I can explain it like this: Imagine seeing Michael Jordan playing for the first time, then changing your name to Wally Jordan a few weeks later but remaining untalented at basketball.

PAC-KONG, 1983 (Atari 2600)

“Picture this: Pac-Man meets Donkey Kong with giant robots. Now take away the Pac-Man. And the giant robots. Now make the Donkey Kong much, much worse. I’m a mysterious intruder who broke into this building hoping to steal pills, the creator of PAC-KONG. I’m also the creator of the Yes Knife, this knife you say yes to.”

KONG’S REVENGE, 1991 (ZX Spectrum)

All these abs and titties makes this look like a sexy take on Donkey Kong, and it is, but not in the way you think. It’s about Kong and Mario, two jacked guys with lusty smiles working out together. Mario’s luscious gym muscles are crammed into a child’s t-shirt and he walks with a skip in his step like a man in love. If they gave a Nobel Prize for horny video game sprites, Abhijit Banerjee, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences, would say, “I am proud to share this honor with KONG’S REVENGE on ZX Spectrum Cassette.” I haven’t been so certain a man and gorilla are about to fuck since a few minutes ago when the cover of KILLER KONG locked eyes with me.

King Cuthbert, 1984 (TRS-80)

In the ’80s, Tandy computers stole game ideas and plugged in “Cuthbert,” their mascot they stole from Mad Magazine. The idea for their Donkey Kong ripoff was to have Cuthbert murder him and declare himself king of the gorillas, but none of this made it into the actual game. This is basic Donkey Kong, the player is still Mario, and nobody is king of anything. This is like telling your kid you’re going to make up a story about them in Star Wars and then badly recapping the one with Jar Jar Binks with zero changes and telling them to go the fuck to sleep.

ZANY KONG JUNIOR, 1984 (BBC Micro)

The guy who made KILLER GORILLA, which was just Donkey Kong, went on to make a sequel called ZANY KONG JUNIOR, which was just Donkey Kong Jr.. This inspired the copyright holders to finally, in a world where a Donkey Kong clone came out every 11 seconds, to finally send a cease and desist letter. Steal our IP for your shitty Radio Shack mascot? Fine, embarrass yourself. Depict our characters falling in love at the gym and pounding sweat and passion into each other’s holes? Now that you mention it, yes please. But copy two Donkey Kong games in a row? We will ask a goddamn lawyer to request you stop. Speaking of stopping, should I maybe wrap this up?


This article was brought to you by our fine patron and Hot Dog Supreme, Brianne Whitney: who discovered the scientific formula for diagnosing a crew of being “through” or “2 legit 2 quit.”

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