Geek dads, take note: This is how you use your technological prowess for good.
When Mike Mika’s 3-year-old daughter asked why she couldn’t play as the girl in Donkey Kong, Mika didn’t have an answer for her.
We had just played Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES a few days before, and she became obsessed with playing as Princess Toadstool. So to go back to Donkey Kong, I can see how natural it seemed to ask the question. I explained to her that Donkey Kong, while similar, is not the same game. On this occasion, I really could tell that she was disappointed. She really liked Donkey Kong, and really liked playing as Princess Toadstool. We left it at that and moved on.
But Mika is a game developer by trade, so he decided to ask his colleagues for tips on how to edit Atari 2600 games and hit upon the Tile Layer Pro tool. By replacing the characters’ sprites, Mika was able to make Mario the damsel in the distress and Pauline the ladder-climbing, barrel-hopping hero.
Mika reveals his gamer pride by getting all the details right too. He had to shrink Pauline’s height from three tiles down to Mario’s two — Donkey Kong was originally going to be a Popeye game — and then he replaced the “M” bonus indicator for Pauline’s “P.”
Mika posted a YouTube video of his hack and it’s already tallied close to one million views in just a few days. YouTube users being YouTube users, there have been quite a few dick comments left below the ingenious video but Mika says the effort was well worth it because his daughter seems to enjoy DK even more as a dress-wearing collection of sprites. And for that, we salute you Mike Mika.