It's on like Donkey Kong: A brief history (infographic)

Categories: Popular Culture

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"It's on like Donkey Kong."
The basic origin of the phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong" is clear enough: the 1981 video game, in which said large ape somewhat inexplicably terrorizes a construction site. What's less clear, though, is how that ape went from mindlessly slinging 8-bit barrels at Mario to an icon for getting it on everywhere, hero of a rallying cry and symbol of interpersonal challenges that inevitably end with one man victorious and the other taken down to China Town. We don't have nearly enough to do with our time, so we set about the task of figuring it out -- and the answer, it seems, involves a surprising amount of Ice Cube.

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20 comments
large23220
large23220

I heard it for the first time in 1993 or 1994. It is a distinct memory. It was hilarious and I heard it from this totally insane white kid in Virginia who alternated between running the ghetto looking for crack and hanging out with Jehovah's Witnesses. 

So we can date it to 1994 at the latest. Maybe somebody said it on a TV show or something. More likely some random funny thing somebody came up with one day and everybody started repeating it. Like I did in the 90s.

Sean Sutton
Sean Sutton

Then you didn't see the video.  Hate the music if you want (and I wouldn't blame you if you do) but the chicks in that video were... woah...

Yoga Teacher Training
Yoga Teacher Training

I have the same query as Nick, "How do you figure that Donkey Kong fell from prominence in the 90s when there were three Donkey Kong Country games from 1994-96 that were all really popular?" Would be because there are a lot more new games that have made this one lack challenge? 

guest
guest

You also missed when Scott Pilgrim used the phrase in it's trailer....

Guest
Guest

You forget the Oreo commercial with the Manning Bros. and the Williams sisters. I forget when.

Dave Calciano
Dave Calciano

This was quite possibly the worst infographic I've ever laid eyes on.

Shiggy
Shiggy

"debuts on Nintendo"? wtf? Donkey Kong was an arcade cabinet in 1981. You know damn well that that phrase implies a home game console, and the Famicom & NES didn't come out until 1983/1985.

Nick Hall
Nick Hall

How do you figure that Donkey Kong fell from prominence in the 90s when there were three Donkey Kong Country games from 1994-96 that were all really popular?

Tom Holmes
Tom Holmes

You missed its appearance in "Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk." It's really the only thing I can remember about that song.

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guest
guest

Yeah... on a NINTENDO arcade cabinet....

Terry Williams
Terry Williams

Wrong. Kong Country 3 was terrible, childish, and no challenge whatsoever. Whereas DKC was challenging and DKC 2 was ever more challenging, DKC 3 was a bust that was just as big a failure as DK 64 and the game with the bongos

Shiggy
Shiggy

As it says in my comment, it is unreasonable to use "on Nintendo" to refer to anything but an NES or Famicom. Even "on /a/ Nintendo" might slide as you suggest, but never "on Nintendo".

Holmeskillet
Holmeskillet

dude, dk64 was awesome.  eagerly awaiting lanky kong's return.

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