In the ’80s, Nintendo found itself in a legal battle with Universal over the name of their iconic character, Donkey Kong. The lawsuit alleged that DK was based on King Kong, the famous ape from the big screen. As part of the court documents from 1983, it was revealed that Nintendo had entertained several alternative names for the character before settling on Donkey Kong. Some of the bizarre suggestions included “Bill Kong”, “Steel Kong”, “Kong Holiday”, and the cringe-worthy “Kong Dong”. The sheer randomness of these proposed names is both fascinating and slightly baffling.

Looking at the list of rejected names, it’s evident that Nintendo was exploring a wide range of possibilities. From “Funny Kong” to “Mr. Kong” to “Funky Kong”, the options were certainly diverse. One can’t help but wonder what the gaming landscape would look like today if Nintendo had gone with “Kong Down” or “Kong Dong” instead of the beloved Donkey Kong. The selection process for determining the final name must have been quite the journey, filled with laughter and head-scratching moments.

Amidst the chaos of brainstorming new names, a doodle by legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto emerged from a 1981 meeting about Donkey Kong. The doodle, which depicts an odd-looking character, raises the question of whether Miyamoto’s initial vision for DK was different from the final product. Was he always intended to be an ape, or did his design evolve over time? The doodle adds an intriguing layer to the character’s creation story.

Ultimately, the court sided with Nintendo in the legal battle against Universal, with the judge highlighting the distinct differences between Donkey Kong and King Kong. The judge’s comparison portrays Donkey Kong as a playful and nonthreatening character, in contrast to King Kong’s aggressive and destructive nature. This ruling solidified Donkey Kong’s identity as a unique and beloved character in the gaming world.

While the naming debacle of Donkey Kong may seem like a distant memory now, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the creative process and legal challenges faced by game developers. The rejected names and court documents serve as a reminder of the complexities behind the scenes of our favorite video game franchises. As we look forward to the upcoming HD release of Donkey Kong Country on the Switch, it’s worth reflecting on the quirky journey that led to the creation of one of Nintendo’s most enduring characters. What is your favorite proposed DK name?


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