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It’s almost hard to believe that Donkey Kong was ever more popular than Mario, but after the Donkey Kong arcade game released in July of 1981 and until Super Mario Bros. hit the NES in September of 1985 Donkey Kong was Nintendo’s biggest superstar. He even stared in his own cartoon.
Back in 1983, Donkey Kong appeared in his own self-titled cartoon. The show was part of CBS's hour-long arcade-inspired cartoon block entitled Saturday Supercade. In the show, Donkey Kong escapes from the circus and is pursued by Pauline and her boyfriend Mario who seek to recapture him.
This abysmal show was filled with bad puns and ridiculous situations. You can get a taste of the cartoon in the video below. Peter Cullen, who later found fame as the voice of Optimus Prime in Transformers actually voiced Mario. Also note how Donkey Kong uses his own name as a battle cry, and that he is strong enough to rip a plane in half. We’re particularly fond of the ridiculous hat joke at at the 4:10 mark.
As an added bonus, check out this commercial for Donkey Kong cereal, which came out during the summer of 1982.
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