Smash 4 Donkey Kong Guide

Smash 4 Donkey Kong Guide by Thedmatch

I’ve been picking up Dankey Kang recently, and I’ve learned some things that I thought I’d share in guide form. Here is the first definitive DK guide out there~

How do you even Donkey Kong?

Well thank you, little girl, for asking. An effective Donkey Kong, is a sly Donkey Kong. Many players to recklessly approach with Donkey Kong, mainly utilizing his dash attack to setup up any form of an aerial game.

Don’t do that!

If you want to really lay the Smackdown with the DK, you’ve gotta understand what Donkey Kong’s style is! With that brings the question: What is his style?

No other character in the game reminds me more of Ryu of the Street Fighter series, than Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is a poke and punish kind of character, where you dish out small hits of damage utilizing his tilts, and especially utilizing his n-air and b-air (reverse aerial rush it. To do this, dash, stop running, tilt the control stick the opposite direction immediately, jump, and attack). Donkey Kong is fairly agile with his b-air, n-air, and tilts, which allow him to rack up damage quickly, and use attacks that don’t have as much recovery frames.

Once you build some damage up, around 30%, is when you really want to utilize DK’s down and up throw, since his aerial game can truly come out and allow you to juggle, since the opponent’s damage is high enough to start. Something else to keep in mind is: DK is all about momentum. Once you get the ball rolling, you don’t stop. You come at your opponent until they can counterattack. Take the time to switch gears if your opponent catches you, and go back to careful dodging, grabbing, and tilts. Make the opponent pay with your smashes, but do not seek out trying to land the smashes due to their slow nature.

Without further ado, here is the usual move analysis~



These moves are used mainly to rack up extra damage and to set up for other moves. These moves don’t really have high knockback, but they can do nice damage.


  • Damage: 4% (1st Hit), 6% (2nd hit)
  • Description: Does a quick cross punch and follows up with an uppercut.
  • Notes: A “meh” move. It is used mostly as a “get off me” tactic, or to get some quick damage to follow up into an aerial

Dash Attack

  • Damage: 10%
  • Description: DK attacks the opponent by rolling them over
  • Notes: An okay move. Good for racking up damage and getting the opponent into the air

Forward Tilt

  • Damage: 10% (angled to the side), 12% (angled up), 9% (angled down)
  • Description: Backhands the opponent in front of him
  • Notes: DK’s arm is intangible while the hitboxes are out, allowing it to be used safely against most other attacks. Great for spacing. This move is also guarenteed to come out if you attempt to pivot grab fast enough, so that can be used for some mind games.

Up Tilt

  • Damage: 9% (hand), 10% (elbow), 11% (arm)
  • Description: Swats his arms upward
  • Notes: Fast with a good arch range. Again, DK’s arm cannot be injured while the hitboxes are out. Can tiltlock certain characters at low percents.

Down Tilt

  • Damage: 8%
  • Description: Swats at the opponents feet.
  • This move causes opponents to trip 40% of the time. Slightly less range and similar start-up than his forward tilt, but barely any ending lag and still has long range. /It has been nerfed since Brawl, though, starting up later than it should and doing slightly less damage. A great lock move at low percentages and a trip can be combined with his Hand Slap (down b).



Powerful. Very powerful. Use them at our own discretion, because the endlag on them is immense. Also, don’t rely on them all the time for kills, because it can get predictable after a while.

Up Smash

  • Damage: 18% (uncharged), 25.5% (fully charged)
  • Description: Claps above his head
  • Notes: Good for hitting from below a platform and a great running up smash. Both DK’s arms and head cannot be hit during the middle of the attack.

Forward Smash

  • Damage: 20% (with fingers, uncharged), 28% (with fingers, fully charged), 21% (with hands, uncharged), 29.4% (with hands, fully charged), 19% (with arms, uncharged), 26.6% (with arms. fully charged), 18% (with body, uncharged), 25.2% (with body, fully charged)
  • Description: Claps his hands together in front of him
  • Notes: The two stronger hitboxes have increased hitlag, making it easy to tell which one has connected. This move is ultra powerful, but can be easily punishable, so be weary when choosing when to use it.

Down Smash

  • Damage: 17% (with hands, uncharged), 23.8% (with hands, fully charged) 14% (with arms, uncharged), 19.6% (with arms, fully charged)
  • Description: Does a double back-handed punch by bringing his closed fists down 90 degrees at both sides.
  • Notes: This move was gutted from Brawl. It used to be one of the best DSmashes in the game but it has slower startup and reduced knockback. It is still a great option for reading rolls though, especially after a Dash Attack.



DK’s aerial game is just great. He can easily juggle and get offstage kills with these great moves.

Neutral Air

  • Damage: 11% (early), 8% (late)
  • Description: Spins with arms extended. Similar to the Spinning Kong, but much faster to execute.
  • Notes: This move is great for approaching. Short hop Nair works well when trying to execute aerial strings, racking uo damage, or just getting in.

Forward Air

  • Damage: 16%
  • Description: Puts fists together above his head, then does a powerful ax-handle smash
  • Notes: DK’s worst aerial and one of his worst moves. It can meteor smash when sweet spotted, but I only recommend using it when you feel safe (as in, you have a large % lead, you have a stock lead, etc.).

Back Aerial

  • Damage: A sex kick. 13% (early), 8% (late)
  • Description: Back-kicks behind him
  • Notes: One of his best moves. It makes an effective “wall of pain” and can net some nice offstage KOs.

Up Aerial

  • Damage: 14%
  • Description: Headbutts above
  • Notes: This move is great for juggling at low percents, and many things can combo into this

Down Aerial

  • Damage: 16% (foot), 13% (body)
  • Description: Stomps down whilst holding his arms up in a macho pose
  • Notes: I find this one of the easiest meteor smashes to land. It’s guaranteed, as long as you hit with the foot. Be careful, though, don’t be too reckless with it, because it can cost you the game with its IMMENSE endlag.


Giant Punch (Standard B)

  • Damage: 10-12% (uncharged, on the ground), 6-8% (uncharged, in the air), 18-28% (charged, ground), 15-20% (charged, in the air)
  • Description: DK winds up a punch which is released once the button is pressed again. Damage increases by 2% for each arm swing he pulls off before punching (with the first having no effect); if he stops charging and his head starts smoking, it’ll be fully charged.
  • The sweetspot is located at DK’s elbow and is slightly more powerful than the main hitbox. When fully charged and sweetspotted on the ground, Giant Punch can KO at ~40%. Use sparingly and charge it whenever you can, especially since the charging time is increased from Brawl. You can use it to intimidate your opponent to approach

Headbutt (Side B)

  • Damage: 8-14%
  • Description: A sideways headbutt that sends the opponent straight down into the ground. Meteor smashes in the air
  • Notes: A practically useless move, there’s always a better option. You’d best use it when you are SURE that you can hit it, like use it as a punish. It is also recommended to be used at high %s, so the opponent stays grounded longer.

Spinning Kong (Up B)

  • Damage: ~2% to ~ 20% (multi hit)
  • Description: DK spins around with arms extended. Has super armour on the ground and intangibility frames in the air.
  • Notes: As a recovery, this move is pretty hot and cold. It’s great horizontally, but that’s all that’s good about it. If you don’t sweetspot the ledge, it had tons of landing lag, so remember to ALWAYS SWEETSPOT THE LEDGE. Vertically, this move is trash, and despite the great recovery in this game, DK’s long ass arms are incapable of grabbing the ledge while Jigglypuffs stick hands grabs that shit from miles away. On the ground, this move is not bad for mixup. It can also be used to get out of a string, because of it’s large super armor frames.

Hand Slap (Down B)

  • Damage: 14% per hit
  • Description: An earth-shaking attack with okay range, but cannot hit opponents that aren’t on the ground. Meteor smashes when used in the air.
  • Notes: An OK move. It can widdle away shields like nobodies business, and it has high shieldstun to boot. This move is great for mixup, though despite its buffs from Brawl, is still laggy as hell.


Forward Throw (Cargo)

  • Damage: –
  • Description: Regardless of the opponent’s size, DK heaves the opponent onto his back, just like carrying a crate or a barrel.
  • Notes: Both players gain knockback-based super armor, similar to Yoshi’s double jump. Using DK’s Cargo throw, he gains an extra set of throws:

Cargo Forward Throw/Back Throw

  • Damage: 8%
  • Description: Throws the opponent forward/backward
  • Notes: Cargo forward/back throw are basically the same, but they serve barely any use other than to get the opponent offstage. Using cargo back throw is practically useless in all cases though, as normal back throw would be better

Cargo Up Throw

  • Damage: 7%
  • Description: Throws the opponent up
  • Notes: The best cargo throw and probably one of his best throws in general. Cargo Uthrow can lead into Uair at low percents, and creates opportunities for a lot of strings.

Cargo Down Throw

  • Damage: 6%
  • Description: Throws the opponent downward
  • Notes: Sadly, this down throw has been largely changed since E3, or even Brawl; it looks so lazy and redundant as of now. It now sends the opponent in a more horizontal trajectory….but the animation looks like he’s still throwing them down. This move is mainly use for extra damage and such, but you should just use the cargo up throw if you want to get the most out of your cargo throw.

Back Throw

  • Damage: 11%
  • Description: Swings his arm back and throws the opponent.
  • Notes: A very good KO throw and it has fast start-up. At low percents, this is a great move to get the opponent offstage and gimp the hell out of them with Bairs and nairs.

Up Throw

  • Damage: 9%
  • Description: The opponent is tossed upwards.
  • Notes: Similar to cargo up throw. Can combo into an up smash or up aerials at low percentages.

Down Throw

  • Damage: 7%
  • Description: Slams the opponent into the ground with his hand. In other words: TOUCHDOWN!!!
  • Notes: An okay throw to set up into dash attack and the likes. It can also nicely combo into Down B at low percents.

And that’s the move analysis! Now, here on to the good stuff~



This character has plenty of strengths, and it is important to highlight them in battle. To start, DK is exceptionally heavy. Especially in this game, on average, he can live up to ~130% give or take. Also, contrary to other heavyweights, DK is surprisingly fast, and pretty fast at that. Also uncharacteristic of a heavyweights, a majority of his moves are actually pretty fast. Along with his speed, his arms are like elastic; they are large and stretchy. He also has immense power and insane kill potential. He is also really good at gimping and edgeguarding (that Bair is a godsend). In addition, he also juggles really well with that crazy good Uair and can rack up damage really fast. He also has one of the most options of meteor smashing in the game; its hard to play a game with Dk and NOT meteor. Also, Ness tier back throw.


Everyone’s favorite! As you can guess, with speed, range, and power, there has to be some downsides to this character. For one, due to his large size he can easily be locked, and can be juggled like a ball. Seriously, his weight can really let him down sometimes; and the nerf of SDI (smash DI, or hitsun shuffling) has really hurt him. Multi hit moves such as Little Mac’s jab, Yoshi’s bair or Dair, Sheik’s Uair, etc. are all practically inescapable. Speaking of inescapable, characters like Diddy and Sheik can combo DK like no other. Also, recovery. That’s self explanatory.

Bad MUs

DK has plenty of MUs that don’t turn out well for him; fast characters are one. Characters like Sonic, Sheik, or Falcon give him a really hard time because of their rush down nature. An easy way to deal with them is to shield grab at the ledge and back throw to stop their momentum. There are also projectile spammers; the reason this is bad is self explanatory. Theres two ways to deal with this:

Roll, spotdodge, airdodge, repeat. Intimidate the opponent with neutral B. What I mean by this is, that every time you use a chargable move, whether it be WFT’s or Samus’, the opponent wants to immediatle approach you, for some reason. Take advantage of this.

Meteor Smash Bros. 4

As mentioned before, Donkey Kong has one of the most meteor smashes, behind Ike. He has Fair, Dair, Down B, and Side B. Now, which is the best option? Well, obviously, they’re all laggy. Forward air spikes on frame 21-22, which is an especially tiny window for a move with a giant hitbox. Headbutt and Hand Slap are incredibly laggy, and really predictable. So naturally Dair, is the best. It has barely any startup, and is the least laggy move. Also, the entire animation spikes, as long as you hit it with the foot.

Combos? Strings?

DK actually has plenty of combos (strings, if you will). Here is a list of what I found work:

  • Cargo up throw→ fair (low percents)
  • DThrow → Down B (low percents)
  • Down B→ Down Smash
  • Uair→ Uair→ Uair
  • Dair (above the ground) → UpSmash/DSmash/UAir
  • Uthrow → USmash (situational)
  • UThrow → UAir (situational)
  • Utilt → UTilt → Up B
  • DTilt → Down B/Side B/Neutral B

Final Thoughts:

Don’t fool yourselves when you are playing as DK, he is not the best character in the game. You can’t pressure people like Falcon, out-prioritize them like Lucina, or juggle like Rosalina. But don’t think Donkey Kong is bad. He is very strong, with some quick and powerful attacks, and is tough to launch. You want to play laid back with DK, let your opponent strike first unless that’s not an option. Happy Smashing to all.

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