While Nintendo was kicking Universal’s legal butt regarding the use of a King Kong-like character in arcade games in 1986, Midway must have been paying some attention, as they released their competitive destruction-simulator Rampage the same year. The game features three monsters touring the US, seeking to scale/raze tall buildings and terrorize the populace: a giant werewolf, giant lizard, and the franchise mascot: George, the giant gorilla. While George’s origin is that of a regular ape enlargened by an experimental vitamin, his inspiration is even more transparent than his lizard cohort’s.
Needless to say, the game was a hit that endured the test of time, getting a sequel in 1997 (Rampage World Tour, one of my childhood favorite arcade games), shortly-followed by the confusingly-named Rampage 2, then Rampage through Time, Rampage Puzzle Attack, and Rampage: Total Destruction. While the roster of monsters ballooned over time, the initial three have remained front and center, especially George (for example, when they show up in Lego Dimensions, he’s the one to defend). With New Line Cinemas’ upcoming film adaptation of the game filming soon (directed by Brad Payton, starring The Rock), I’m sure we’ll be seeing that gargantuan gorilla front and center.
Of course, Rampage wasn’t the last game franchise to play kaiju-mash, and when coming up with a roster of original giant beasts, an expy for Kong is an obvious choice. The next example came in 1991, with SNK’s King of the Monsters. Of the six beasts available in this game, the relevant one is named Woo, a three-thousand year-old, 43-meter tall primate from China who can shoot electricity from his hands (so, basically infringing on Tsuburaya, Shaw Brothers, and Toho all at once). The monster is presumably killed during the events of the first game, but fear not: for the 1992 sequel (more of a traditional fighter than the first), the Japanese government has put Woo’s brain into a robotic body to get Cyber Woo! This form actually has a more lasting legacy due to its appearance in Neo Geo Battle Colosseum (albeit in a highly miniaturized form), so most sprites you see of the character are from that game.
Next up is 2003’s War of the Monsters, from Incognito Entertainment, which prominently features their over-sized ape, Congar. This one goes with the NASA chimp exposed to radiation origin, and despite what you see in the Japanese box art, he doesn’t have electric powers. One of his alternate skins is a mecha form, though.
Lastly, getting away from video games and going to the tabletop realm, we have King of Tokyo, from Magic: the Gathering creator Richard Garfield, which was published in 2014, and already has numerous variants and expansions. As with the other monster mashes, there are obvious analogues to multiple movie monsters, and their Kong is just named “The King”. He is a wee bit mechanical, though.
Not every title in this vein has a Kong analogue, but it does seem to be commonplace among the most successful games. Keep that in mind when setting up one of your own!