BySimon Rune Knudsen, writer at
A tryhard person enthusiastic about dad rock and weird beers.
Simon Rune Knudsen

The world of Nintedo's Donkey Kong is mostly a peaceful and child-friendly place. Sure, once in a while Diddy Kong or Donkey Kong Jr. has to go rescue one of their friends or loved ones from some more or less harmless bandits, but it usually happens in a playful way that involves eating lots of delicious bananas and defeating, not killing, the mean villains.

That's because the Donkey Kong franchise has to appeal to people of all ages. Which is a relief, since you can always find bloodshed and destruction in plenty other .

With that said, there is one mythical event in the Donkey Kong world that hints at some much darker subject matter. It's not an event that you actually get to experience in any of the friendly games released by Nintendo, but something whispered and rumored throughout the Donkey Kong lore and theorized by fans.

It's the Great Ape War.

What Was The Great Ape War?

It might seem difficult to believe, but there was actually a violent event of war-like proportions in the Donkey Kong world, where old friendships were ended and tails were clipped.

It all happened prior to the Donkey Kong world we see today. More specifically, it happened when Cranky Kong, the original Donkey Kong from the 1981 arcade game and the grandfather of the current Kong, ruled Donkey Kong Island. And yeah, Nintendo could be a bit more creative with the naming of places and characters.

Anyway, the Great Ape War was a conflict between the Primate Alliance (gorillas, apes, orangutans etc.) and the Kremlings, the stable bad guy crocodile-faction of Donkey Kong.

Defeat Led To Betrayal

[Credit: Nintendo]
[Credit: Nintendo]

According to the Donkey Kong Wiki, the Great Ape War didn't go the way of the primates. Actually, they were losing to the Kremlings, who were led by the merciless King K. Rool and the formidable fighter General Krusha. When the future was looking most bleak for the Primate Alliance, certain groups within started questioning whether the war could truly be won.

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Eventually a betrayal was orchestrated. The Manky Kongs, an orangutan group within the Primate Alliance, rebelled against Donkey Kong's rule and began to prioritize the survival of their kind alone. Since then, the Manky race has remained Kong Family rejects and are still considered enemies of the alliance. That's why they throw so many barrels at you when you play a Donkey Kong game.

Except Lanky Kong of course. He's a reject orangutan, who was accepted into the Kong Family later on. It's possible that he was too young to be involved in the betrayal and therefore can be forgiven.

Amount Of Casualties Unknown

There is no accounts on any notable deaths within the Kongs or the Kremlings during the war, so let's just assume that only nameless foot soldiers were killed in action. There is a story about Funky Kong getting a life-changing amputation though.

Apparently, Funky Kong fought in the war under the alias of "the Brown Baron". He was a formidable pilot, but General Klump, a Kroc-army leader, shot him down during a dogfight resulting in a gruelling crash. Funky Kong lost his tail in this event, as he is actually half monkey and not a full-blooded ape like the rest of the Kongs.

Cranky Kong Shut The Krocs Down

[Credit: Nintendo]
[Credit: Nintendo]

After what we can only assume to be years of conflict, since we're talking about a "Great" war and not just some skirmish, Cranky Kong took matters into his own hands and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, single-handedly ensuring the survival of the Primate Alliance.

He went after the leaders of the Kremlings, defeating the might General Krusha in a dual which left the Kroc-army's morale shattered and defeated. The feat did not come without a cost for Cranky Kong though, as the Great Ape War took a big toll on his health, giving him a hunchback and made him the cane-walking elderly we know from today's games.

The Hero Donkey Kong Deserved

[Credit: Nintendo]
[Credit: Nintendo]

Still, Cranky Kong's sacrifice was worth it. If he hadn't done what he did to end the war, who knows if we had ever gotten the great Donkey Kong games for SNES and Nintendo 64? Probably not. He literally enriched our video game culture by his selfless actions. Thank you, Cranky Kong!

Do you know anything about the Great Ape War that we missed? Let us know in the comments!


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