Donkey Kong

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Donkey Kong is a Nintendo created video game distributed by Atarisoft for the Texas Instruments (TI) TI-99/4A. It was programmed jointly by Douglas Brian Craig and Howard E. Scheer. It was distributed on Solid State SoftwareTM Command Module cartridge during the fourth quarter of 1983. Its original retail price was $44.95.

Donkey Kong
Front of Retail Packaging for Donkey Kong for the TI-99/4A
Donkey Kong Retail Packaging [1] [2]
Publisher(s) Atarisoft
Original Retail Price $44.95 (USD)
Programmer(s) Douglas Brian Craig and Howard E. Scheer
Part# RX 8512
Format(s) Solid State SoftwareTM Command Module
Release 1983 (4th quarter)
Genre(s) Action, Platform


Donkey Kong is a platform game that requires the player to cross numerous platforms and scale ladders to ascend to ever higher platforms before reaching the goal of each stage. Donkey Kong was also one of the first games of this genre to require the player to jump over various obstacles including gaps, barrels, and fireballs. The ultimate goal of each level, and the entire game as a whole, is to help Mario ascend to the uppermost platform of the stage to rescue his girlfriend Pauline from the clutches of the gigantic ape, Donkey Kong. There are up to four stages to each level:

  • Stage one consists of Mario climbing up a construction site which includes crooked girders and ladders to help him reach higher platforms. Mario has to jump Oil Barrels on this stage or crush them with one of two hammers that he can grab during this stage.
  • Stage two has Mario facing a five-story structure consisting of conveyor belts with Fireballs and Sand Piles to avoid. Starting on stage two, Mario has the option of collecting some of Pauline's lost items for bonus points. These items are strewn about the stages and include her hat, purse, and umbrella. There are two hammers on stage two.
  • Stage three has Mario using up and down open elevators to ascend and descend while avoiding Fireball and falling to his death. There are no hammers on stage three.
  • Stage four has Mario at the bottom of a five-story construction site. The four levels above Mario each contain two rivets for Mario to collect. These rivets disappear after Mario crosses them leaving a gap in the girders that Mario must leap over to cross afterward. Numerous Fireballs appear at random times during this level for Mario to either destroy with one of the two hammers provided in this stage or to leap over to continue on his way.

Each level contains one or more of the above stages. Level one, for example, consists of stages 1 and 4. Level two consists of stages 1, 3, and 4. Level three consists of all four stages in order from 1 to 4. Level four goes in this order of stages, 1, 2, 1, 3, 4. After level four, barrels and enemies get faster and the game becomes progressively more difficult to complete.

Advertising Blurb (From Back of Retail Packaging)

You can feel an exciting tingling up and down your spine when you play Donkey Kong at home, just like at an arcade. Your joystick guides Mario*, the fearless carpenter, up the girders and elevators as he attempts to rescue his sweetheart from the clutches on Donkey Kong. All the thrills of the arcade game in a home computer version for one or two players.

Fun Fact

Donkey Kong is notable for being one of the first games in history to have a complete narrative, told through simplistic cut scenes that advance the story (although the TI-99/4A version lacks these cut-scenes). [3]


Beginning the Ascent

Insert the Donkey Kong cartridge into your Texas Instrument Home Computer, as explained in your computer owner's guide, and turn on your computer. Plug the joysticks into the joystick port.

To choose the one player option press 1, or for two players press 2, and Mario's journey shall begin.

Press the SPACE BAR during a game to pause play action. To resume play, move the joystick in any direction or press the fire button.

Move your joystick left or right to make Mario run in that direction. Move the joystick up or down to make him climb or descend ladders. Press the red joystick button to make Mario jump. He can jump while standing still or running but not while on a ladder.

Mario*, the fearless carpenter, wants desperately to save his girlfriend from the clutches of Donkey Kong, who holds her captive atop a mass of broken girders. Mario must scale four different structures to rescue his sweetheart.

He always begins at the bottom of a stack of girders. He must climb ladders, and leap over a barrage of bouncing barrels - only to have Donkey Kong snatch the damsel from him once again, breaking the plump little hero's heart.

Sometimes, poor Mario finds himself at the bottom of a pyramid of girders. He must dash over all eight steel rivets to accumulate points while avoiding fatal torching by the fireballs. But after removing the rivets, he must take care to leap over the gaps.

When Mario jumps onto a series of fast-moving elevators to get to the top, he has to avoid the pursuing fireballs.

Mario also faces a complicated chain of conveyor belts. He must sidestep moving buckets of sand while continuing to battle the unrelenting fireballs.

He has only three chances to reach the top of the heap - though he can win an extra chance by scoring 7,000 points - all the while racing against the clock. It's a struggle all the way. But Mario will face anything to rescue his true love.

*Mario is a Trademark of Nintendo


Speed counts, especially when you' re challenging the broken girder ramps. Dawdling fuels Donkey Kong's anger - he'll bowl barrels faster and harder. So move Mario quickly!

The hammers, which last for about 10 seconds, can be very useful. But, you'll need to make sure Mario stops running before smashing a fireball or barrel - each of these tricksters can easily slip under a hammer on the upswing and polish Mario off.

Be careful when approaching ladders. Barrels have minds of their own, and may drop down on Mario's noggin at the last possible moment.

Practice helps you master Mario's various feats of video athletics. While Mario runs in one direction, you can slam the joystick to the opposite side a split second before punching the jump button - he'll back-jump over unplugged rivets or other foes. When two obstacles approach, get a running start, then press the jump button - he'll execute a flying broad jump. Timing his jumps is the key to Mario's success on the elevators and conveyor belts.


Donkey Kong - Bonus.png

Bonus Clock - The bonus clock in the upper right corner begins with a number of points, depending on your level of play: 5,000 at level one, 6,000 at level two, 7,000 at level three and 8,000 at levels four and above. Every two seconds, the bonus number is decreased by 100. If Mario finishes his journey before the clock runs out, you accumulate the number of points left. If he hasn't rescued the girl by the time the clock winds down to zero, Mario loses his chance.

Donkey Kong - Barrels.png

Barrels - Jumping a barrel earns you 100 points. Leaping over two is worth 300.

Donkey Kong - Fireball.png

Fireballs - While barrels simply roll at poor Mario, fireballs chase him. He has to jump high to avoid being charbroiled by these devils, but if he makes it, it's worth 100, 300, or 800 extra points.

Donkey Kong - Rivet.png

Rivets - Each time Mario crosses a rivet, you collect 100 points.

Donkey Kong - Hammer.png

Hammer - Mario must jump to grab the hammer. Once he has it he can use it for about 10 seconds to smash barrels, sand piles, and fireballs for 300 to 800 points each.

Donkey Kong - Hat.png Donkey Kong - Umbrella.png Donkey Kong - Purse.png

Prizes - Mario's girlfriend dropped her hat, purse, and umbrella. These prizes appear at various places in the game. Collect them to earn anywhere from 300 to 800 points each.

Donkey Kong - Sand Pile.png

Sand Piles - Poured neatly into tiny concrete containers, these move along conveyor belts and can flatten Mario on contact. Mario can smash them with the hammer for 300, 500, or 800 points, jump over them one at a time for 100 points, or avoid them altogether.



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