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Donkey Kong is an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981. It is an early example of the platform game genre, as the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of platforms while dodging and jumping over obstacles. In the game, Jumpman (since renamed Mario) must rescue a damsel in distress, Lady (now named Pauline), from a giant ape named Donkey Kong (who would later become Cranky Kong). The hero and ape later became two of Nintendo’s most popular and recognizable characters. Donkey Kong is one of the most important titles from the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games, and became one of the most popular arcade games of all time.
Donkey Kong is one of the earliest examples of the platform game genre; it is sometimes said to be the first platform game, although it was preceded by Space Panic. In contrast to Space Panic, however, Donkey Kong was the first platform game to feature jumping, introducing the need to jump between gaps and over obstacles or approaching enemies, setting the template for the platform genre. Competitive video gamers and referees stress the game’s high level of difficulty compared to other classic arcade games. Winning the game requires patience and the ability to accurately time Jumpman’s ascent. In addition to presenting the goal of saving the Lady, the game also gives the player a score. Points are awarded for finishing screens; leaping over obstacles; destroying objects with a hammer power-up; collecting items such as hats, parasols, and purses (apparently belonging to the Lady/Pauline); and completing other tasks. The player typically receives three lives with a bonus awarded for the first 7,000 points, although this can be modified via the game’s built in DIP switches.