Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Miyamoto Spills Donkey Kong’s Darkest Secrets

Chris Kohler:

It’s long been known that the game’s protagonist was named “Mr. Video” and “Jumpman” by Miyamoto, but that it was Nintendo’s American branch that christened him “Mario” due to his resemblance to their landlord, Mario Segale. But did you know that Donkey Kong was supposed to have human voice samples? Or that Nintendo had a company bathtub?


Miyamoto had to create Donkey Kong under intense time pressure. Nintendo of America was sitting on many unsold cabinets of a failed arcade game called Radarscope, and it needed a replacement game immediately. Miyamoto knew he was going into intense crunch time, and telephoned several of his friends, saying, “You probably won’t hear from me for about two or three months.” This was about how long it took to create a full game in those days, he said—but in fact, Donkey Kong ended up taking about four or five months.


“For example, for the game’s title, I was trying to convey the idea of ‘stupid monkey,’” he said. “‘Donkey’ of course referred to the animal, but the dictionary I used said that it had a secondary meaning of ‘idiot.’ Nintendo of America said that this was not the case, and ‘donkey’ didn’t mean ‘idiot.’”

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When I was a fresh out of the box RPG II programmer (1986) I worked for a ISV that sold business software for the IBM System/36. One of our customers was M.A. Segale. I met Mario once.

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