Miyamoto’s early design for Donkey Kong reveals the game’s inspiration for “Popeye”
If you’re well-versed in gaming history, you may already be aware that Popeye the Sailor Man’s 1981 game Donkey Kong, which also starred Olive Oyl and the villain Bluto, was originally intended to be Popeye the Sailor Man.
Nintendo allegedly failed to obtain the license for the Popeye project, leading to the creation of Donkey Kong and a specific plumber named Mario Jumpman.
However, Shigeru Miyamoto’s own design paper, which was discovered and posted by @forestillusion a few years back, has been highlighted by Digital Eclipse’s Mike Mika on Twitter for a glimpse at how the game was shaping up with the original characters (with scans credited to Gaming Historian).
It was missed by us back then, but Nintendo fans will find it fascinating. Examine it below:
Early design document from the planning stages of Donkey Kong gives us a very interesting look into what the game was like when they were using characters from Popeye. Sprites for Olive Oyl, Popeye, and Bluto are seen in the top left. (Scan thanks to Gaming Historian!) pic.twitter.com/iAQLMCta41
— Forest of Illusion (@forestillusion) September 29, 2021
You can clearly see how this design paper finally changed to become the finished item, don’t you? In fact, the level layout on the right appears to have been finished up rather well (albeit without the bombs and dynamite). Additionally, a lovely tiny image of Popeye can be seen in the bottom left, along with the sprites for Olive Oyl, Bluto, and Popeye in the upper left (almost).
Finally, Miyamoto’s autograph is clearly visible in the top right corner. What a fascinating look at Donkey Kong’s beginnings! See the page below for further details on how Popeye became Donkey Kong:
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