Planning to see 'Wreck-It Ralph'? Brush up on classic video game characters

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 2:55 p.m. MDT

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Donkey Kong Country Returns
Unable to secure the rights to make a Popeye game, a Japanese company named Nintendo (which, translated, means “leave luck to heaven”) instead turned to first-time designer Shigeru Miyamoto to invent something new.

“Donkey Kong,” as his 1981 creation came to be called, introduced the world to two of gaming’s most iconic characters, albeit in nearly unrecognizable forms. Playing as a mustachioed carpenter referred to as “Jumpman” (later renamed Mario), gamers had to dodge barrels thrown at them by Jumpman’s belligerent pet ape while scaling a construction site. Along with pioneering a style of game play known as “platforming,” “Donkey Kong” was influential as the first arcade game to have a storyline programmed into the opening scenes.

“Donkey Kong” was followed in 1982 by another arcade hit, “Donkey Kong, Jr,” which reversed the characters’ roles, pitting Donkey Kong’s son against a villainous Mario in an attempt to rescue Donkey Kong from his cage.
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