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Plugged In

Dad hacks Donkey Kong so daughter can play as a girl

Plugged In

For over three decades, Mario has been the hero of Donkey Kong.

But when Mike Mika's daughter didn't understand why she couldn't play as damsel-in-distress Pauline in the coin-op classic, the Oakland father turned the tables on the plumber -- and hopped away as a shoo-in to win a few Dad of the Year awards.

Mika, who also happens to be creative director at the game design studio Other Ocean Interactive, hacked into the Nintendo Entertainment system version to turn Pauline into the hero of Donkey Kong, leaving Mario stuck high on the scaffolding with the angry simian.

From Mika's Facebook page:

"My 3-year-old daughter and I play a lot of old games," "Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She's played as Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn't in that particular Mario game; she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else can I do?"

More impressively, he seems to have done it all in one night. His first Facebook update about the change noted he was awake at midnight working on the modified version. Fourteen hours later, he posted that he had finished the job.

Swapping out male heroes in old games with female leads is becoming something of a trend, actually. Last November, Mike Hoye reworked The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker to change Link from a "He" to a "She" to make the game more accessible to his daughter, who played the game with him as he read the text aloud to her.

Mika's Donkey Kong hack came from the same place: a simple desire to make his daughter happy.

"I didn’t set out to push a feminist agenda, or try to make a statement," he said in a post on Wired. "I just wanted to keep that little grin lit up on my daughter’s face every time we sit down to play games together."

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