How Donkey Kong Was Born From a Nintendo Arcade Flop
Donkey Kong owes his success to more than a failed attempt at a Popeye video game. Get the real, true facts about the arcade classic.
Back in the early 1980s, arcade machines were all the rage around the globe. However, just because a game was a hit in Japan didn't mean it was going to be a blockbuster in America. Such was the case for Donkey Kong's predecessor, Radar Scope.
Nintendo's legendary developer and creator Shigeru Miyamoto got his start on Radar Scope. In 1979, the space-themed shooter was released in Japan, and was a bit of a flash in the pan hit. The success was so sudden, Nintendo immediately put together a plan to release the cabinets in the U.S. Unfortunately, due to shipping issues, Radar Scope didn't arrive stateside until months after the hype, and Radar Scope's popularity had dropped off significantly.
On the hook for a significant investment, the only recourse Nintendo could come up with was to create a game that would utilize the existing architecture of the Radar Scope hardware and cabinet. Fortunately, Miyamoto had just the game in mind, and was soon whittling away on making Donkey Kong a reality.
A short time later, the new software was sent to Nintendo of America, along with new artwork for the cabinets. Some 2,000 of the 3,000 red Radar Scope machines were revamped to become Donkey Kong. Nintendo had no idea just how big Donkey Kong would become, but soon the big ape and his nemesis Jumpman were all over the country in all-new blue cabinets that you can still find in the remaining arcades here in the U.S.
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