Sunday 9 August 2009

Champ Kong

I still administrate the better half of Mario Fan Games Galaxy and it's my job to sift through the constant flow of rubbish submitted by people who haven't quite grasped how the internet works. Yesterday was mildly interesting, because someone who hadn't been eating from the intelligence tree decided to submit CHAMP Kong, a 1996 port of Nintendo's classic Donkey Kong by CHAMProgramming to DOS (though this particular submission was a bugfixed version from 1997). Who'd have thought that games largely considered abandonware would be submitted by their original authors to a fangaming website! Wait... no, nobody thought that and that's why it was declined.

Now, truth be told, DOS computers didn't really receive many Arcade ports, and often it was up to other companies to fill that gap with exclusive software. CHAMProgramming, a US-based company who appeared in 1992, gave themselves the task of producing renamed ports for the gaming public. CHAMP Kong wasn't their first title, but it was very accurate for the day and was the first, in what would become a regular feature, to have a "CHAMP" mode improving on the original game, as well as a classic mode attempting to emulate the original game as much as possible.

Though it was never guaranteed to be a perfect port, in 1996 this was pretty much the only way PC users could play Donkey Kong within their own homes. Emulated Arcade or NES (the logical back-up plan) ports wouldn't appear until 1997 when the emulators MAME and NESticle arrived respectively (and even then you'd need higher PC specs to run them), so if you were desperate for Donkey Kong, this was the only way to go. Ironically, considering newer versions of MAME have been screwing around a bit with games like Donkey Kong, it could still be considered one of the better ways to play today.

However, clearly nobody was desperate for Donkey Kong, or any other CHAMP games, as the company went out of business in 1998. Before they kicked the bucket, CHAMProgramming were promising CHAMP versions of Burger Time and Frogger, and further plans showed that they were willing to tackle 10 more classic titles too including Donkey Kong Jr.

So though it's not an accept-worthy submission, it's worth a mention. There's more details at this fan site (though the downloads are broken). I'm not actually sure whether these games were officially deemed freeware but chances are CHAMProgramming hadn't got permission from Nintendo/Atari/whoever anyway. As with most DOS titles, you'll need DOSBox or a reasonably old computer for the full experience.


  1. Hey, my aunt's old Windows 95 computer had this game.

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