You'd think we'd know all there is to know about Nintendo's smash hit Donkey Kong by now, but the stories keep coming thanks to developer Shigeru Miyamoto and the re-release of the pared-down Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game via the NES Classic Mini. Chris Kohler at Wired has the translated details of an interview in Japanese from Nintendo's website in which Miyamoto discusses his nude creative process, his devotion to the early days of NES development, and that the arcade version of Donkey Kong was supposed to include voice clips.
“The lady stolen away by Donkey Kong was supposed to yell out, ‘Help, Help!’ And when Mario jumped over a barrel, she was supposed to yell, ‘Nice!,’ complimenting him. But some people within the company said, ‘Doesn’t the pronunciation sound a little weird?’ So we tested it on a native English speaker, a professor. They said it sounded like she was talking about seaweed: ‘Kelp, Kelp!'”
“At that point in development, we couldn’t fix it,” Miyamoto said. “So we took out all of the voices. “Help!” was replaced with Donkey Kong’s growl, and “Nice!” was replaced with the pi-ro-po-pon-pon! sound. It’s really good that we went with pi-ro-po-pon-pon. When you walk past an arcade and hear that sound, it’s really catchy. So even though we took out the voices, it still had great results. From this experience, I learned the importance of having good sound effects.”
I can't say that I miss the voice clips (you can hear them for yourself at The Cutting Room Floor), although my primary exposure to Donkey Kong was the 1994 Game Boy version which built upon the original arcade game. The Super Game Boy version of that game includes voice clips, but in my mind I always hear the Game Boy version's take on Pauline's screams for help as a tinny soprano warble. I suppose it all depends on which version you knew first. On a related note, I am glad that Miyamoto is still telling these kinds of development stories about his earliest creations. If he's held back new Donkey Kong tales, what are we still missing regarding Super Mario Bros. 3 or Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link?