Our Possessed Donkey Kong Machine

Here is the story of our possessed Donkey Kong machine:

A few years back, we got the opportunity to purchase an original Donkey Kong...of course we jumped at the chance and quickly hauled it home. Little did we know, this Donkey Kong is not normal. We have had people in the shop that think we are over-exaggerating...that is, until they try it for themselves. The great and mighty Donkey Kong gets them every time.

If you travel around the Donkey Kong forums, you will see some heated debates over these mysteriously difficult or possessed Donkey Kong machines like the one at the Funspot Arcade shown in The King of Kong movie. We have dug through tons of sites looking for a reason behind this “difficulty difference” between machines. We think we may have finally found something plausible but at this date, we can't verify its authenticity.

Unverified information states this:

Nintendo Service Department Bulletin # TKG-02 12-11-81
GAME: Donkey Kong
SUBJECT: Speed-up Kit #1

TO prevent extremely long play times, we are making available
a speed-up kit. This kit prevents players from waiting on top
of ladders, on screen #1, while the barrels roll across
instead of coming down on top of him. Whit this kit, barrels
will roll on top of the player on a ladder 70 to 80 percent of
the time.

Machines above serial #30,000 will have this kit installed at
the factory, and all TKG4 board sets will come with this kit.

To install this kit in a four-board set, follow these

1) Remove P.C. Boards from game, leaving them
attached to P.C. Board bracket.

2) Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, separate the
sound P.C. Board from the CPU P.C. Board, exposing
the entire surface of the CPU Board.

3) Remove the EPROMS's at location 5F, 5A, 5H and 5K
from the CPU Board. (Note 5A should read 5G - MSH)

4) Install the speed-up kit EPROM's in the cores-
ponding locations.

5) Reconnect the sound P.C. Board to the CPU P.C.
Board and mount the P.C. Boards in the game.

That kit included the following 4 EPROM's

USA (c) 1981 Nintendo of America set

Filename Label Type Loc/PCB *Label *Loc/PCB CSum
--------- ---------- ------ ------- ---------- -------- ----
2532.5K TKG4-C-5At 2532 5A(CPU) TKG3-C-5K 5K(CPU) A0F0
2532.5H TKG4-C-5Bt 2532 5B(CPU) TKG3-C-5H 5H(CPU) B2BC
2532.5G TKG4-C-5Ct 2532 5C(CPU) TKG3-C-5G 5G(CPU) 73BA
2532.5F TKG4-C-5Et 2532 5E(CPU) TKG3-C-5F 5F(CPU) AA97

What About Our Possessed Donkey Kong Machine?

Our machine is a TKG4 Donkey Kong with the serial # 46,497. Well above the 30,000 limit for the older ROM. Our test screen shows “(C) 1981 Nintendo of America.” (This information also shows up on older machines that had their ROM set updated.) The other tell-tale evidence of the newer version is that Mario can't hide on ladders. The barrels come right down, no matter what the player does.

I can't find where this change in behavior explains our random fireball issue. I have seen in other forums, talk of operator mods that appeared in order to increase the quarter count as players got better at extending lives. This is the thing we will investigate next.

So, during all of this investigative work, we decided to start inviting people to come over and see how many points they can rack up on our possessed Donkey Kong. This machine is a real ego buster. As each contender comes in, we will add their scores to the page. Mind you...none of us are DK marathoners. We just have a love for the game. Anyone who doesn't already have the high score can try for a better score....move up the line so to speak. Check back for updates and see who we invite next....

Phil: 14,600
Rick: 7,650
Shep: 5,500

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