One of the first narrative video games was Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, which debuted in 1981. It’s thin storyline followed a mustachioed man as he leapt over barrels to save a woman from the clutches of a sexually frustrated gorilla named Donkey. With its physics, real time game play, and plot, Donkey Kong was truly a piece of innovative software. Following in those footsteps, Microsoft would release its own primate game ten years later. Gorillas would use its own physics engine as well as the computing horsepower of MS-DOS and QBasic to pull off what is clearly a superior game.

Realism and Narrative in Gaming

Gorillas intense realism represented a tremendous landmark for PC gaming. Players had to weigh in the angle of the throw as well as the ambient wind velocity and planetary gravity in order to defeat their opponents. A player never quite new where the banana he or she threw would go the first time. It might hit the opponent, it might also fall back to the position from whence it came and bring ruin to your own ape. This tension made every throw a crap shoot, giving the game the kind of palpable suspense seen in thrilling Hollywood blockbusters. As with most excellent games, multiplayer modality increased the game’s range, creating an exciting experience for two people to share.

Metaphoric Masterwork

Most turn-based strategy games fall out of the domain of realism because most armies don’t sit around taking turns exchanging attacks. Not so in Gorillas. When gorillas sit on the top of large buildings in cities, they are always careful to consider every aspect of their position and the specific force needed to throw a banana at another gorilla. Also, when these bananas impact with something, they realistically explode in a highly localized conflagration which totally vaporizes all surrounding materials. This is the kind of true to life dramatic presentation that most game designers aspire to.

A Tail of Two Monkeys

Never before has the primal rage of two monstrous gorillas been so perfectly captured in a literary form. We should know, we spend all of our time making this sort of thing up. Gorillas is essentially a tragedy. Two giant apes, clearly out of place sitting on top of buildings in a major city, are clearly allegories for social outcasts. Yet like so many, they lash out at one another in a dysfunctional attempt at making a connection– any kind of connection– with a kindred spirit. It is a classic tale of loneliness, isolation, and a lack of honest communication between two unique individuals.

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