In the original version of the game, Donkey Kong kidnaps Pauline, a princess, and Jumpman, later named Mario, has to dodge barrels and climb ladders to rescue the damsel in distress. For Mika and his daughter, playing video games is a favorite hobby, and both enjoy playing older video games. On Facebook, Mika says his daughter asked him if she could play “Donkey Kong” as the princess and rescue Mario.
Mika’s daughter got the idea when she played “Super Mario Bros 2” and was able to play as Princess Peach and wanted to do so while playing “Donkey Kong.” With some ingenuity, and help from some friends online, Mika set to work modding the ROM of “Donkey Kong,” the emulated version of the game that can be played on a computer. Mika swapped color palettes, redrawing Mario’s frames and replacing it with Pauline, and in a few hours created a new version of “Donkey Kong,” now with the princess rescuing Mario.
The story has since gone viral following a Reddit thread discussion and several sites reporting on the hack with several calling Mika the “best dad ever.”
For such a project, it also helps that Mika makes a living at creating video games working as the chief creative officer at Other Ocean Interactive, reports NBC News. Faced with his daughter’s request, Mika said, “I realized I should be able to solve this problem,” notes NBC News. For Mika’s daughter, she does not know that her father worked on the project, believing that Mika just managed to get Pauline to appear. Speaking about the ability to play as Pauline, Mika said his daughter “was very excited. She wanted to play that character pretty bad.”
Mika wasn’t looking to engage in gender politics as NBC News notes that several comments and discussions have discussed the implications of just changing character designs, some saying it sets a bad example that any request will be catered to. In response to some of this criticism, Mika says he just wanted to make his daughter happy and “just wanted to do whatever it took to keep my daughter playing games with me.”
A more technical look at what Mika did can be read at Wired. A video of the hacked version of “Donkey Kong” can be viewed below. Mika also included the modded patch, so other gamers can play as the princess.