One on One: Donkey Kong vs. Bowser

One on One, a weekly segment that pits two famous video game characters head to head and tries to figure out who would win in a one on one fight. The rules are simple, contestants are judged in 5 different categories: Attack, Defense, Special Abilites, Equipment, and Overall Experience.  Whoever wins the majority of the five is the victor.

This week’s showdown: Donkey Kong vs. Bowser. Both characters were originally created as Mario’s antagonists. Donkey Kong later had a change of heart, and became the hero of his own franchise, while Bowser is still the villain of Mario video games to this day. But which one of Mario’s original enemies ever posed a bigger threat? To find out we’ll start this showdown with:


Donkey Kong and Bowser both have some powerful melee attack moves. They rely on their strength and their size to crush smaller foes. Bowser’s claws put him at an advantage over Donkey Kong’s fists. His spikey tail and shell are also powerful weapons, and so are his horns. But Donkey Kong has a little more mobility than Bowser, which allows him to have a variety of attacks. While Bowser is pretty much stuck with clawing his opponents, Donkey Kong has the ability to hit the floor, and clap above his head. He also has a longer reach. Bowser might have more powerful attacks, but Donkey Kong’s versatility, mobility, and reach show that power isn’t everything.

Attack: Donkey Kong


Once again both Donkey Kong and Bowser rely on their size as the bulk of their defense. Donkey Kong’s superior speed and mobility is as much as an advantage in defense as it was in attack. But Donkey Kong has no armor, no shield, and no real way to block attacks without harming his own body. He’d be harder to hit, but the hits would do more damage. Bowser, the slower of the two, is a walking tank. his shell protects his entire back side. His big head and bad posture gives his enemies very little weak spots to aim for. Plus, he has those metal spikey bracelets that cover his arms. Hitting Bowser wouldn’t hurt him, it’d hurt you.

Defense: Bowser

Special Abilities

Nintendo really did make these two characters pretty similar. It’s not just their size and normal attack skills either. Both have the ability to jump high and body slam. Both have the ability to spin jump. So there’s only a couple of unique special attacks that we can compare the two on. Donkey Kong has the ability to power up his melee attack move, winding his fist for a mighty attack. He also has ability to create soundwaves, a move he used in Donkey Kong: Jungle Beats. These two abilities might be able to tie with Bowser’s ability to breath fire. But Bowser has more than just a fiery breath, he has the ability to grow in size which we’ve seen in numerous Mario games. The fire breath and growth totally dominate Donkey Kong’s special abilities.

Special Abilities: Bowser


Donkey Kong throws barrels, Bowser throws bombs. Donkey Kong rides on minecarts and animals (like in Donkey Kong: Country), Boswer rides on a flying Koopa car. Donkey Kong continues to rely on his strength and his barrels throughout his video game career. Bowser, on the other hand, has adapted to fight Mario to the best of his abilities throughout the years. He’s not just using his strength, he uses machines and inventions of destruction. He has the ability to equip even his minions with better gear than Donkey Kong does. It’s not hard to find who the winner is here.

Equipment: Bowser


Both of these characters started out as Mario’s enemies. They were the antagonists. They were the anti heroes that people from all over the world have beaten time and time again. Because they are the main bosses in early Mario games neither of them have walked away with very many victories under their belts. But that all changed when Donkey Kong got a franchise of his own. Now Donkey Kong is the star in his own games, and makes more appearances as the good guy than he does as a bad one. What does this mean? It means that he has friends, support, and people rooting for him to win. It also means that he has won before, actually lots of times. Bowser, on the other hand, still remains the villain of the Mario franchise. This means that he doesn’t ever win. He’s the antagonist that everyone knows will inevitably lose. His constant losing streak shows in his temper, and not branching out from harassing Mario has made him a not very threatening character. Donkey Kong has grown, and changed, important traits for any hero.

Experience: Donkey Kong

Verdict: Bowser


Donkey Kong has come a long way from his humble beginnings throwing barrels at Mario. He might have better mobility, and a better attack. But his hits can’t do much damage to Bowser’s superior armor. He also can’t compete with a firey breath, or Bowser’s inventions. Starring in his own franchise has shown the world that Donkey Kong is more than just a primate, but he’s not enough to contend with the superior fire breathing, claw slashing, tidal wave of power that Bowser is.