Yes, Donkey Kong has yet to star in his own adventure on the Nintendo 3DS. No, we won't have to wait too long for Nintendo to address that matter.

You see, Mario & Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move may well have leapt onto the 3DS eShop a couple of weeks ago, but Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, a 3DS port of the original Nintendo Wii classic, is set to debut tomorrow.

Of course, these outings don't represent the Kong's first and second appearances on a handheld. In fact, the majority of his 32-year career has been spent in the palm of your hand.

Take a stroll with us now, then, as we wander up portable gaming's memory lane and reminisce over DK's contribution to Nintendo handhelds down the years. Oh, and fondly remember how he paved the way for a certain plumber.

Game & Watch

Although Donkey Kong began life in an arcade cabinet in 1981, it's Ninty's Game & Watch system that benefited most from Miyamoto's anthropomorphic gorilla in the early period of DK's life.

The Game & Watch, for those unaware, was a line of standalone handheld electronic devices on which you could play a single game on a black-and-white LCD screen.

In 1982, Donkey Kong became one of the first dual-screen Game & Watch titles. Its popularity resulted in further Game & Watch Donkey Kong versions getting developed, including Donkey Kong Jr. in 1982 and Donkey Kong II in 1983.

And the relationship between primate and handheld didn't end there. Donkey Kong 3 on Game & Watch, for example, was released in 1984, as part of the Micro Vs. series.

The game came with a single LCD series and two control pads attached, allowing two players to attack each other with angry wasps.

Game Boy and the Rare takeover

Despite Donkey Kong's apparent popularity, the poor beast was seemingly left on the sidelines for an entire decade, marginalised by his tormentor Mario.

Well, until Donkey Kong for the Game Boy popped up in 1994.

This was an entirely different game from DK's previous outings. Here was a hugely entertaining platform-puzzler in which Mario attempts to chase Donkey Kong and save the girl.

With Kong's Second Coming out of the way, super-developer Rare took over the IP, producing the Donkey Kong Land platformer for the Game Boy in 1995. This represented a follow-up to the popular Donkey Kong Country on the SNES (which was later ported to Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance).

Donkey Kong Land's sequel - unsurprisingly entitled Donkey Kong Land 2 - surfaced a year later on the Game Boy, with Donkey Kong Land III for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color emerging two years after that.

The rise of the spin-offs

After Donkey Kong Land III in 1997, we had to wait a long time to get our hands on another DK handheld instalment. Apart from starring in Donkey Kong 64 in 1999 for Nintendo 64, the Kong was inactive until 2004, in fact.

In 2004, Nintendo released Mario vs. Donkey Kong for Game Boy Advance, serving as a spiritual sequel to the original 1994 Donkey Kong on Game Boy. Once again, Mario was hell-bent on traversing platforms, grabbing keys, unlocking doors, and hunting DK down.

This title spawned a sizable spin-offs series. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis debuted on Nintendo DS in 2006, for example. In this game, you focused on directing an army of mechanical Marios to halt DK's dastardly plans.

After this came Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! for DSiWare in 2009, then Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! on DS in 2010. In both, the core focus on controlling armies of Mini Marios was preserved.

Which neatly takes us up to the modern day, as the fifth instalment in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series is out and proud.

And the rest...

Oh, we're not finished chronicling Donkey Kong's appearances and impact on handhelds yet, sir. Not by a long shot.

Japanese developer Paon had a crack at the Donkey Kong series in the late 2000s, producing DK King of Swing for GBA in 2005 and DK Jungle Climber for DS in 2007. Swinging from pegs to reach the exit on each level was the main focus in both of these games.

Let's not forget Diddy Kong Racing DS, either. This was, in fact, Rare's last Nintendo-published title. Released in 2007, the game doesn't actually feature Donkey Kong. Instead, all of the attention is on his nephew.

Finally - and this may be stretching the definition of 'handheld' a fair bit - a Nelsonic Game Watch version of the Game Boy's Donkey Kong was released in 1994. This enabled you to play DK on your wrist in between, you know, checking the time. Neato.

So, here we are. At the here and now. Waiting impatiently for Donkey Kong Country Returns on 3DS. How many hours to go now, Mark?! Mark!

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