Rochester’s Strong Museum Is Now Home to the World’s Largest ‘Donkey Kong’ Arcade Game—and Yes, It’s Playable

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Heroes can now save Pauline from Donkey Kong’s grasp by playing a giant-sized version of the original 1981 game at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

The game is playable in a nearly 20-foot tall arcade cabinet that Shane Rhinewald, the senior director of public relations for the museum, called “big enough for Kong himself.” The museum is touting the installation as the world’s largest playable Donkey Kong arcade game.

The game has been recreated at its massive scale with input from Nintendo America, as part of a 90,000-square-foot expansion at the museum known for its highly interactive exhibits geared toward the exploration of play.

“Given Donkey Kong’s immense size and its huge impact on the history of arcade games, it lends itself perfectly to this whimsical format,” Rhinewald told Artnet News. “It’s been fun to see kids and adults alike stand beneath the towering game and smile at the uniqueness of it.”

The Donkey Kong arcade cabinet is seen suspended between the first and second floors. Photo courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play.

To play the game, visitors stand beneath the screen and use a regular-sized joystick set on a pedestal on a recreated cabinet. The arcade cabinet has been suspended in the middle of the platform between the first and second floors, apparently so that the joysticks can be reached by human arms.

While the arcade cabinet retains the original gameplay, wherein the main character Jumpman is tasked with rescuing a damsel in distress, Rhinewald conceded “some added intensity,” especially since the game’s flying barrels now look life-sized.

“The giant Donkey Kong works from an original motherboard, just scaled up 370%,” Rhinewald said. “The museum’s digital curator and arcade technician used a series of adapters and scalers to ensure that the game itself plays exactly like the original.”

The Strong National Museum of Play’s 90,000-square-foot expansion seen from outside. Photo courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play.

Rhinewald said the idea for creating the giant video game popped up early in the expansion process for the museum. “The team settled on Donkey Kong to get the supersized treatment because it’s one of the most iconic and recognizable arcade games,” he said.

The Strong’s expansion, which opened June 30, includes a new World Video Game Hall of Fame, as well as a 24,000-square-foot exhibition called “ESL Digital Worlds: High Score” dedicated to the history and artistry of electronic games from mainframe computers to today’s modern consoles.

The new World Video Game Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play. Photo courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play

Other additions include a 17,000-square-foot exhibition called “Hasbro Game Place” that features larger-than-life landscapes inspired by classic board games—from an 18-foot, fire-breathing dragon from Dungeons & Dragons to Candy Land’s Forest of Candy Canes. More game makers are represented in the museum’s “Game Time!” exhibition on the history of board games and puzzles.

“The Strong’s expansion emphasizes the importance of electronic games on how we all learn and play—but the museum is much more than electronic games,” Rhinewald said. “It explores all facets and types of play.”

 

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