By: Nick Gambino

Donkey Kong helped cement arcade video games as a national pastime for 80s youth. It also has the distinction of being the launching pad for a certain Italian plumber who would soon be known the world over as Mario. (Though at the time he was a carpenter and known only as “Jumpman.”)

But despite its popularity at the outset of arcade games in 1981, the original Donkey Kong has still yet to see its way into any newer consoles. Apparently that was due in large part to legal issues with ownership of the code.

All of that seems to be cleared up as the 8-bit title was just released for $7.99 on the popular Nintendo Switch. It’s now part of the Arcade Archives program along with a couple of other versions including the infamous glitchy Japanese edition. You can even flip the Switch vertically for an experience more closely approximating the original arcade cabinet.

Arcade Archives has worked to cash in on the nostalgia craze that has steadily swept its way across the internet thanks in large part to social media videos that remind us of our youth. (“Kids these days will never know…”) There are well over 70 popular titles in the retro arcade program including Mario Bros., Double Dragon and Punch-Out!!. We’ve just learned they’re also adding the evasive Sky Skipper in July.

Of course, gaming has come a long way since the humble beginnings of the King Kong wannabe. DK himself has seen multiple upgrades on later systems like SNES, Nintendo 64 and Wii U. And while it’s fun to romanticize the past, the ’81 game is still limited in graphics and functionality.

But that’s not really the point, is it? Having access to that game brings us back to a “simpler” time in our own lives where everything was ahead of us and our only responsibilities were to have as much fun as possible. And dammit if the big dumb gorilla didn’t help us do that.

While Nintendo is generally thought of as “the house that Mario built,” the Japanese gaming company and Mario himself owe everything to the off-his-meds ape and his penchant for chucking barrels.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.