Welcome back to another regular entry in Warped Pipes, the series where I try to find the method in the madness that is the Super Mario franchise and come up with a coherent timeline of events. Get yourself some roasted peanuts because we are talking about...

Donkey Kong Circus

Box art
Image: In The Attic

Released as a Game & Watch handheld in 1984, this title sees DK Sr. performing a circus act in front of Mario. The back of box lays out the scenario and basic gameplay well:

Back of box
Image: In The Attic

The game play is simple and there aren’t any additional stages or story beyond what is shown here. Whenever DK Sr. does fail, Mario callously laughs and points at him.

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My Interpretation

I believe that this game reveals how DK Sr. made it from his jungle home to Mario’s city in the first place. It appears that he may have been captured, sold to a circus company, and forced to perform. This explains DK Sr.’s rage and apparent hatred of humans, especially Mario, who mocks the ape’s involuntary performance. In light of this, DK Sr. is a far more sympathetic figure and Mario a more villainous one. It may be specifically because of the events of this game that DK Sr. chooses to kidnap Pauline and attack Mario when he escapes.

World Building

These events fit well into the world as we understand it so far: a highly industrialized city encroaching on a neighboring undeveloped jungle and exploiting its denizens and resources. In this game we also learn that the circus may be a common form of entertainment for the city dwellers. Sentient fireballs again make an appearance, confirming how common they are.

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The Timeline So Far

This places Donkey Kong Circus immediately before Donkey Kong 3, giving us the timeline below:

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Next Up

There is still one more Game & Watch title featuring Mario and DK Sr. left to talk about: Donkey Kong Hockey. Next time on Warped Pipes!


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