Saturday, November 17, 2012

Donkey Kong vs. Fix-It Felix Jr.

In Disney's latest film Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph serves as the villain in a classic arcade game known as Fix-It Felix Jr.  The title is an obvious nod to Donkey Kong Jr. but the rest of the game notably draws influence from the first game in the series, the original Donkey Kong.  But have you ever noticed just how thorough Disney was in their homage?  Let's take a look...
Can you spot the differences between the picture on the left and the picture on the right?
Right off the bat, the similarities are obvious.  Both cabinets are of near identical design and a very similar shade of blue. And, upon closer inspection of the artwork, it's crazy how closely the details of Fix-It Felix are modeled off of Donkey Kong.  Let's examine some of the individual elements on their own...
Evidently DK beat Felix to the arcades by a year.
The marquee up top is nearly identical to DK's but with one noteworthy change that carries through most of the artwork:  Felix and Ralph's positions are swapped compared to DK and Mario.  This motif is seen throughout the artwork on the cabinet.  Despite the hero/villain placement swap, the overall composition is still highly reminiscent.  Ralph punching the bricks closely matches the look of Mario and the barrels on the DK original.  The "TobiKomi" logo is placed in a shape very similar to that of Nintendo's own logo and the copyright notice is also placed identically.  The text is styled very similarly as well, and the use of Hobo for the Felix logo definitely recalls the traditional DK logotype.  They even go as far as to place a pie-holding NPC in a circle next to Felix, just like Pauline's placement on the original.
Poor Ralph.  Why does Felix get two pictures?
For the screen boarder, the shape is a little different and the stripes aren't the same, but beyond that, the similarities are obvious.  It's worth noting that while DK has two images of Pauline on the top of the boarder, Felix gets two pictures of himself on the bottom.  Ralph doesn't even get a spotlight here.  Poor guy.  The little characters that surround the boarder are very closely modeled on the original with Ralph and Felix actually striking identical poses to their Nintendo counterparts.  The bricks that Ralph punches at the bottom are even arranged in the same pattern.  Crazy, no?
So I guess Gene is Pauline?  I suppose their names do rhyme at least...
The artwork for the controls is pretty self-explanatory.  Ralph and Felix have switched places compared to DK and Mario, as is the norm.  The background is blue.  Beyond that?  Almost identical.
Wait a sec.  What's exploding behind Mario?  I don't remember that from the game.
The artwork on the side of the cabinet is a bit less blatant, but the overall design is still very similar.  The standard hero/villain placement swap is seen here again and the framing for the logos is once again very similar.

So there we are.  All the extreme similarities between the designs of the original DK arcade cabinet and the Fix-It Felix artwork.  They are a great deal more alike than you probably realized!  So, what does all of this mean?  It means that Disney was exceptionally thorough in their design and research in order to create an authentic feel for something that's actually on screen for very little time in the film itself.

And that I'm a huge nerd for noticing it and pointing it out...

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