How to Score a Million Points In Donkey Kong

By Editorial Team

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Donkey Kong arcade game

  • Tokens or quarters for play

  • Nerves of steel

Since the early '80s, arcade junkies have been trying to beat Donkey Kong. The elusive ape has sent many skilled players home with their tails tucked between their legs, or in search of solace in the form of an easier and more accessible game. With the release of the documentary "King of Kong ," a interest in the game was renewed. Here were two players who had managed to not only take the game to the fabled Kill Screen, but were able to score over one million points while doing so. If you'd like to follow in their footsteps, read on, and we'll show you how to get started.

Score a Million Points in Donkey Kong

Battle the Barrels. Donkey Kong is split into four different boards, which repeat over and over again until the game ends on a "kill screen" at level 22. The first of these boards has come to commonly be known as the Barrel Board. In this one (perhaps the most significantly iconic of the DK platforms), Mario (or Jumpman, as he was originally known) must climb a series of ladders to reach his fair maiden at the top of the screen. The real secret to this board is that you can actually control when the barrels come down the ladders. It works best on level three and beyond, but it's there even on the very first board if you get the timing right. The key is to wait until a barrel is passing over a ladder above you (it doesn't matter if it's one platform above or three), and hit the joystick in the direction of that ladder. Like magic, the barrel will tumble down the ladder. You can use this trick to make the barrel board a breeze and climb your way to the pretty Pauline.

Escalate the Elevators. The second board in Donkey Kong is usually called "The Elevator Board." This is a fast-paced board, with few enemies except for gravity and timed jumps. Particularly difficult is the third elevator board and beyond, where it takes an exceptional amount of timing to make it past Donkey Kong's bouncing springs to shoot up the ladder to victory. The key to this is to watch the springs as they bounce. Situate Mario in the safe zone between Donkey Kong and the ladder. When a spring bounces right between the ape's legs, you're good to go. Don't hesitate. Shoot right up the ladder, and don't let fear stop you. If you timed it right, you should be on to the next board. If not, Mario will be doing the air circle of death.

Finish the Factory. The third board is called "The Pie Factory" by Donkey Kong enthusiasts. It is variously the most difficult and the easiest board in the game. The best strategy for this board is to go to center of the board, just slightly to the left of the gas barrel above, and wait for all of the fireballs to come out of the barrel. This should take about 10 seconds at most. If you're lucky, you can then shoot straight up the right side and climb the uppermost right ladder without having to encounter any of the fireballs, which are the most dangerous enemy on the board. Be wary of the moving conveyor belts, particularly on the first platform, as they will change direction on a whim.

Remove the Rivets. The second board in Donkey Kong is commonly known as "Rivets" or "The Blue Board." Mario is again climbing ladders to reach Kong and his woman, but this time ,he must avoid fireballs galore and remove rivets from the platforms. When all the rivets are gone, the platforms collapse, Donkey Kong falls to his doom, and Mario and Pauline are reunited at last. The best strategy for this board is to head up the left, removing all rivets, and then go and do the same for the right, as circumstances permit. Another helpful tip: When you hit a fireball creature with your hammer, it will reappear on the opposite side of the screen from you. Therefore, if you smash fireballs on the right side of the screen and you have removed the left rivets, the fireballs will be stuck on the left side and you'll be free to move about!

Point Press Where You Can. While these strategies will help keep you safe, and may even lead to a kill-screen game, you can only score one million points by "point pressing." This means using any opportunity, trick or strategy to score as many points as possible as you progress through the levels. Here are a few helpful tricks. The first is on the rivets board: If you go up to the top and stand beside Donkey Kong, you can jump and press away from DK with the joystick. Each jump done in this fashion will give you 100 points. Repeat as often as you like, but watch the timer and any fireballs that might be making their way to you. Another trick to point pressing is using your skills of barrel control to group the barrels into tight groups of two and three. Jumping these groups will award more points than jumping each barrel by itself. Good luck, and don't let Donkey Kong get the best of you!


Donkey Kong is a random game, and it takes a lot of practice to do well; don't let early frustration get you down.


This advice applies only to the offical Donkey Kong arcade game, not to its many home console ports.