The Difference between Mario & Donkey Kong

Among other things, we’re spending some holiday family time playing the Super Nintendo. With my sister in town, old family dynamics instantly arise in the presence of the 16 bit wonder. Cartridges need the dust blown off of the contacts and the console needs to be switched on and off repeatedly for the game to properly load. Kids, this is what we had to do for early video games — called “tapes” by some neighborhood parents — to work.

We’re playing the old favorites, including Super Mario World, Super Mario All Stars (which includes 1, 2, 3 and lost levels) and even some Kirby’s Avalanche. If you don’t know, Kirby is a genderless blob that will brighten your day and teach you how to explode his colorful friends.* But best of all is Donkey Kong Country. This is where my sister and I are transported back to 1994. Have you played Donkey Kong Country? Donkey and his little brother (I think) wander around a mountainous region searching for bananas. Their quest is ambiguous at best. However, there’s no doubt that a good time is had by all.

All this game play has given me opportunity to think about the similarities and differences between Donkey Kong and Mario.

  • Donkey Kong and Mario are both mammals. But Donkey Kong is a hairy monkey, whereas Mario is a facially shaved human.
  • Donkey Kong and Mario both have jobs. Mario is a plumber by trade, whereas Donkey Kong is some kind of Teamster. I can’t tell what kind, though.
  • Donkey Kong and Mario both have a cohort. Mario has — as the title implies — a brother, whereas Donkey Kong has a brother / cousin / offspring (?) named Diddy. Luigi is taller and seems to take his shameful position as #2 in stride, as if carefully biding his time until glorious revenge, whereas Diddy is a rambunctious and noisy child. In Mario Bros., the shame resides on Luigi. In Donkey Kong, the shame rests solely on the shoulders of Kong, who probably has to constantly apologize for Diddy’s antics brought about by a lack of self-awareness.
  • Mario clears pipes. Donkey Kong, based on the amount of potassium he consumes, probably does the opposite.
  • Mario: tasteful overalls. Luigi: tasteful overalls. Donkey Kong: tie and pants.
  • I have grown bored by my own analysis. Draw your own conclusions, I guess.

    * this is why I don’t write video game prose.

    About radamdavidson

    When I'm not blogging, I'm hanging out with my family, pastoring a church, or listening to vinyl. I think and write about Jesus, music, communication, organizational leadership, family whatnot, and cultural artifacts from the 1980's -- mostly vintage boomboxes. You can read my blog at, watch [RadCast], a daily 3 minute video devotional, or find me on socials (@radamdavidson). I also help Pastors in their preaching and public speaking (
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    1 Response to The Difference between Mario & Donkey Kong

    1. Isaac A says:

      I think Diddy is Donky’s nephew?

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