Fans Take Videogame Damsels Out of Distress, Put Them in Charge

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Playing “Donkey Kong” this spring, Mike Mika’s 3-year-old daughter Ellis asked him why it is always the mustached Mario who saves Pauline, the damsel in a pink dress who gets kidnapped by a gorilla.

The game has no option for the girl to save the boy. It just works like that, the dad told his daughter. “She was bummed out,” he says.

So Mr. Mika, a 39-year-old videogame developer in Emeryville, Calif., hacked the classic game’s software to make the damsel into a heroine who saves the plumber Mario. He published his version, dubbed “Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition,” online, where it has been downloaded more than 11,000 times since it was posted in March.

The iPhone Gives ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ a Second Chance

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Old is the new cool in videogames.

Videogame titles that once gathered dust on collectors’ shelves have found a new life on mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, giving companies a cheap way to make money while also helping to promote new software.

It is what Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. did when it was preparing to release the third installment in a popular film-noire series called “Max Payne.” About a month before the new title went on sale, the company released “Max Payne Mobile”—the first game in the series released 11 years ago, reworked to run on smartphones and tablet computers rather than videogame consoles and personal computers.