Super Smash Bros. Then and Now: Donkey Kong - Prima Games

Super Smash Bros. Then and Now: Donkey Kong

by Bryan Dawson

One of Mario’s first adversaries has appeared in the Super Smash Bros. games (along with his relatives) since the beginning. He has never been one of the best characters, but manages to at least hold his own against his rivals. He’s always had trouble defending against projectile attacks, and that doesn’t look to change with the Wii U and 3DS versions on the horizon, but overall, Donkey Kong, has improved from game to game, and it looks as though that trend continues with the new Super Smash Bros. titles.

Super Smash Bros. 64
Donkey Kong is the definition of a heavyweight character in the original Smash on N64. His attacks are slow but pack a decent punch. He’s considered the best of the low tier characters because he has exceptional grab combos and powerful attacks, but has a difficult time setting up his attacks. He also has trouble dealing with any character with a projectile, as he doesn’t have a projectile himself, and has no reliable way of getting around them.

With the longest non-tether throw range in the game and long reach on almost all of his attacks, DK is solid. As a heavyweight character, he can also survive longer than most, despite a moderately weak recovery. His Spinning Kong recovery move has decent horizontal range, but minimal vertical range, which causes problems against good edgeguarders.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Donkey Kong retained all of the weaknesses he had in the original Smash, but this time around he received quite a few buffs. A good number of attacks saw significant improvement, including his Forward and Down Smash, Back, Down and Up Aerials and his Forward Tilt. He also received a significant speed boost, making him one of the faster characters in the game. This is especially significant because he’s still a heavyweight.

DK still suffers from a lack of projectile or options to deal with projectile attacks, and his recovery was only slightly improved. However, with his increased fall speed and the fact that he maintains his heavyweight status, he’s more difficult to KO compared to his Smash 64 incarnation. While he received an overall buff, he’s still considered a low tier character and didn’t move up on the tier list. This is also due to the fact that many new characters were introduced in Melee.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Much like his changes from Smash 64 to Melee, Donkey Kong received significant buffs between Melee and Brawl. He is once again slightly faster and received significant buffs to a wide variety of attacks. The Giant Punch, his main KO tool since Smash 64, charges faster, and the attributes of the attack have been slightly changed based on the level of charge. For example, while the fully charged Giant Punch still has super armor, a punched charged to level nine inflicts significantly more damage while lacking the super armor. To compensate for these changes, the Giant Punch has slightly less reach.

While DK’s recovery hasn’t improved all that much, though the Spinning Kong recovery move now has super armor to make it considerably improved. He still suffers when facing off against projectile-based characters, but he’s not quite as easy to chain grab and combo as in previous games. Overall, DK moved up slightly on the tier list, but without his main weaknesses being addressed, he’s still widely considered low tier, or at the bottom of the mid-tier.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U / 3DS

Donkey Kong is noticeably larger in size in the Wii U and 3DS Super Smash Bros. games. While many of his attacks remain almost identical to how they were in Smash Brawl, his weaknesses have been addressed. His Spinning Kong recovery move now has more horizontal and vertical range, but executes slower to compensate. His dashing attack is improved, but slower than in previous games, and some of his attacks are now faster, but generally slightly weaker.

From our limited playtime with Donkey Kong in the new versions, it seems as though he improved over his Brawl variant, but it may not be enough to finally move him out of the lowest tier of fighters. Many of the general system changes in the Wii U and 3DS Smash should help him a bit, and it’s too early to really tell where DK will fall in the tier list (he started at the top when Brawl first released), but at the moment, he seems very close to his Brawl incarnation.

We’ll have more Super Smash Bros. articles coming your way over the next few weeks.

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