Nintendo’s Possible Names For Donkey Kong Discovered, Including ‘Kong Dong’

Donkey Kong looking confused

The creative process is one that often takes a long time to get through. When I was in a band writing music, we used to riff for hours just trying to find an idea to anchor through, and my writing partner used to often say that ‘getting the rubbish bits out to find that one gem was all part and parcel of the process’. Well, some court documents from 1983 show that Nintendo went through this same process, and the results show that everyone’s favourite Simian Superstar might have gone by a very different persona when he first arrived on the scene.

Tom Phillips over at Eurogamer has been doing some snooping around X and discovered the list of names over on the Super Mario Broth channel, first discovered by video game historian Norman Caruso (who you might remember I spoke about in my Tetris article) and recently brought back to the attention of Nintendo fans everywhere.

The court documents in question relate to a feud between Universal and Nintendo; Universal accused Nintendo of copying ‘King Kong’ when they created Donkey Kong. I think we all know that Nintendo ended up winning the case because we all know the character in the featured image of this article as Donkey Kong, but the list of names that Nintendo was riffing instead of Donkey Kong bordered on the verge of madness.

Can you imagine turning on your N64 to play Custom Kong 64, or maybe getting excited about visiting the ‘Kong Holiday’ expansion at Universal Studios (I bet they’re glad they didn’t win the case now!). Kong Down might not have been too bad, but Kong Dong… that is something else entirely. I feel like ‘Giant Kong’ and ‘Kong the Kong’ might have been more like King Kong anyway!

Shigeru Miyamoto gave Donkey Kong the name because of his character’s stubborn nature and also because he’s a gorilla. The name Kong first came from King Kong’s creator Merian C. Cooper who, according to everyone’s questionable fact-hoard Wikipedia, was fascinated by the King of Komodo, the Komodo Dragon. ‘It was this phrase along with “Komodo” and “Kongo” (and his overall love for hard sounding “K”-words) that gave him the idea to name the giant ape “Kong”. He loved the name, as it had a “mystery sound” to it.’

The judge in charge of the case said that DK and KK (that’s King Kong, not Kim Kardashian) were very different as Nintendo’s offering just jumped up and down in a humourous way, whereas King Kong was what I’d call ‘a bit of a bad lad’, crushing people and stealing women. The judge stated that Donkey Kong was non-threatening, farcical, and nonsexual – a parody of the ferocious brute created by Cooper. Plus King Kong doesn’t wear a tie; not only is he a brute, but he doesn’t have any manners!

Would you have played a game with a character called Mr.Kong or Kong Dong? Kong Dong Returns definitely sounds like a title that wouldn’t sell very well, but thankfully none of us have to worry about that! These alternative names for Donkey Kong are so wild that someone could use them in a new ROM hack – who wants to take Bill Kong out for a spin?

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