Decades-old design doc shows what Donkey Kong was like with Popeye characters
A major piece of Nintendo history
Most Nintendo fans know that Nintendo was originally planning to use the Popeye license for what would eventually become Donkey Kong, but when Nintendo couldn’t get the license, they went with their own characters. Ever wonder what Donkey Kong might be like with Popeye characters as the stars? A recently-unearthed design doc gives us incredible insight into that approach.
The design document above comes from none other than Shigeru Miyamoto, and it’s strikingly close to what Donkey Kong would end up being. The sheet includes sprite designs for Popeye, Bluto and Olive Oyl, who would have replaced Mario/Jumpman, Pauline and Donkey Kong.
Outside of the shift to original characters, there really doesn’t seem to be much different between the Popeye version of the game. While Nintendo might have been upset at the time that they couldn’t secure the Popeye license, little did they know their original characters would set them on a path to being the juggernaut they are today!