With Donkey Kong Country turning 25 last week and soaking up the lion’s share of the anniversary headlines, we thought we’d give its younger sibling a chance to shine. Donkey Kong 64 celebrated its 20th birthday on 22nd November and we caught up with Mark Stevenson and Chris Sutherland of Playtonic Games, both Rare veterans and involved in the development of DK 64 (Mark was Lead Artist and Chris lent his dulcet tones to video gaming’s most beloved rap).
Obviously, we highly recommend checking out the feature for some behind-the-scenes insights into the development of the collectathon-to-end-all-collectathons (or ‘collectakong’, if you will… Hello?). There was, however, a tidbit from our interview which didn’t really fit in anywhere despite being utterly intriguing to DK fans.
You see, as the DK faithful will already know, old-ape Cranky Kong from the DKC games is actually the original Donkey Kong from the arcade game, which means his given name was once ‘Donkey’ before he got old and changed it. As a result, we’ve always wondered about the fluid first names of the Kong clan. Is it a personal choice? Are you forced to relinquish your name to your offspring when you develop a particular personality trait or the passage of time ravages your once-youthful visage?
Having spent far too much time contemplating how this all works, we posed Mark and Chris the following question:
Nintendo Life: Seeing as Cranky Kong was the original Donkey Kong, it seems first names in the Kong clan can change according to appearance or disposition. What was Wrinkly Kong’s name before she got old? What will we call Funky Kong when one day he inevitably loses his cool?
Having obviously considered this many times before (or perhaps just humouring us in a thoroughly gentlemanly manner), Stevenson responded thusly:
Mark: Your guess is as good as mine, I’ll stick with the idea that if Cranky was originally Donkey then maybe Wrinkly would have been more like Candy Kong, maybe she was the original Candy Kong, or maybe she had a similar sweet sounding name like Cookie Kong or Caramel Kong. Maybe Funky Kong will become Clunky Kong, riding around in his pimped-up mobility scooter.
Sutherland went on to cast doubt on all the truths we cling to:
Chris: I always thought Cranky was the original Donkey Kong, but I think there are fan theories that suggest otherwise (and if there aren’t any such theories, they will be now be created that I’ve said this).
Head canon at the ready, people! Before Wrinkly turned all old and well, wrinkly, she just might have been the original Candy Kong (or Cookie, or Caramel Kong) before passing the torch to the next generation. It seems a little unfair to rename somebody because of their changing appearance, but who are we to judge the ways of the Kong?
Perhaps best of all, Funky is destined to become Clunky Kong, burning around the jungle on a mobility scooter once his knees have given out after all that surfing in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. This pleases us immensely.
Caramel Kong, eh? We’ll leave you with that.