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Donkey Kong Country Returns

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Donkey Kong Country Returns
DKCR boxart.jpg
Developer(s) Retro Studios
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platforms Wii
Release date: USA November 21, 2010[1]
Australia December 2, 2010
Europe December 3, 2010 [2]
Japan December 9, 2010 [3]
Nintendo Selects
Europe October 18, 2013
Australia August 27, 2015
USA March 11, 2016
Wii U (digital download)
Japan January 21, 2015
Europe January 22, 2015[4]
Australia January 22, 2015
USA March 31, 2016 (My Nintendo)
USA September 22, 2016 (public)
Genre Platformer
ESRB:ESRB E.png - Everyone
PEGI:PEGI 3.png - 3+
Modes Single-player, multiplayer
Walkthrough on Strategy Wiki Donkey Kong Country Returns
For the Nintendo 3DS re-release, see Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is the fourth game in the Donkey Kong Country series. It is the sequel to Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, and is the first Country-style game to be released in over a decade. The game is a 2D platformer developed by Retro Studios for the Wii, and was announced at E3 2010. It uses many of the familiar elements from the original games, with Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong being once again the main playable characters. Development first started in April 2008, and was about 70% completed when revealed at E3 2010. Returns was a tremendous success, leading to a sequel called Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U in February in 2014.

An enhanced port called "Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D" was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013 with additional content. On March 31, 2016, the digital re-release was made available in North America exclusively for My Nintendo users. The game was later made publicly available on the North American Wii U eShop on September 22, 2016. The game was also later released for digital download on the Nintendo eShop for Wii U.


See full intro here.
Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong posing in one of their concept art pictures.

Prologue as Depicted in Manual

(Cranky's POV) Can't a tired old ape take a nap around here?? A bunch of shifty-eyed musical miscreants just kicked our volcano into overdrive and took over Donkey Kong Island! Enough with the noise, already!

These rhythmic rabble-rousers are up to no good. They've been putting some kind of musical mojo on all our animal buddies and toting off every banana in sight. And get this: they've even gone after Donkey Kong's secret hoard! Nothing burns that boy's biscuits like someone messing with his precious bananas!

Just what do they want with all those stolen bananas? Back in my day, I'd take care of this mysterious predicament without breaking a sweat, but Donkey Kong and his little pal Diddy Kong are all worked up and ready for action. If anybody can run, jump, cling, and swing to the bottom of all this banana burglary, it's those two!

One day on Donkey Kong Island the newly risen volcano violently erupted, spewing lava and large boulders. Amidst the chaos the Tiki Tak Tribe, who were sealed in the volcano, emerged and began taking control of the animals on Donkey Kong Island with their hypnotic music. While leading banana carts through the jungle the burglars pass by Donkey Kong's Treehouse, and two hypnotized squirrels began piling DK's banana horde into a cart. The trumpeting of an elephant startles Diddy Kong, who is at first excited at the sight of bananas, but then realizes the animals are taking the bananas elsewhere. He quickly checks to see if the hoard is intact, but finds it is gone. Outraged, Diddy angrily pursues the animals, only to get stuffed into a DK Barrel. Donkey then leaps out onto the porch to see if Diddy is all right, and when he sees the banana hoard being toted away, he shrieks in anger but is confronted by the first major Tiki, Kalimba. DK proved to be immune to the hypnotic trance and punched Kalimba away. Then Donkey began his adventure to return peace to the island and reclaim his Banana Hoard. Upon Reuniting with Diddy, the duo traversed the 8 areas of the island, and faced off against the tribes leader, Tiki Tong.[5]

The Tiki creation process.

In the end, it is revealed that Colonel Pluck was in charge of using the supply of bananas in order to mass produce Tikis in the Factory area (see left file). By using his Stompybot 3000 machine, he made mashed bananas and filled empty wooden Tiki outlines with them. The Factory is shut down by the kong duo and Tiki production is halted. During this, [[Tiki Tong] stole the remaining bananas in order to continue manufacturing his army and to activate his true form, giving him much more power by fusing Tikis together to make hands.[6]

After Tiki Tong is defeated, the resulting explosion is so large that it sends Donkey and Diddy into space. The Kongs are in panic until Donkey realizes they are going to crash into the moon. He puts Diddy on his back, and with the help of the Barrel Jet along with his wind-up punch, the duo send the moon crashing down, crushing Tiki Tong's base and thus causing an eruption of bananas raining down as the animals of the island are freed. The Golden Temple is also revealed for later exploration.

Game overview

Gameplay and Modes

Diddy Kong climbing on Donkey Kong's back in the other concept art for the game. This art is one of two which features both Kongs.
The "Kong Roll"

Gameplay wise, Returns builds upon the foundation of the previous three Country games while introducing new elements that give it a distinct identity and feel. As stated previously, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are the only playable characters; the two retain similar abilities from the previous games, in addition to some upgrades.

1-Player Mode

In the single player mode, the player controls Donkey Kong, who has two "hearts", meaning he can take two hits before dying by default, which was not possible in previous Country games. Donkey Kong now makes heavier use of the Ground Pound, which is used to stun enemies, activate devices to reveal things in the background (usually against large plants or treasure chests), break through secret floors, and even to set off certain events in order to progress in the level. The new "Cling" ability also comes into play, where the Kongs can grab onto grassy surfaces to reach new heights.

When a DK Barrel is found in the single player mode, Diddy Kong will hop on Donkey Kong's back, which not only doubles the endurance of both Kongs to four hearts, but also gives the player new abilities. For example, when Diddy is on DK's back, he can hover in the air for a short period of time via Barrel Jet, allowing for better jumping distance. He can also use Donkey Kong for the Kong Roll ability, allowing the two to plow through hordes of enemies and go through a straight plain in a level quicker. However, if two hits are taken while Diddy is on, he will be too injured to continue and fall into the background.

2-Player Mode

In the 2-player mode, the second player is Diddy Kong. The second player can use Diddy Kong to his fully functionality, complete with individual jumping, barrel jets, cartwheels, and the Peanut Popgun usage. The Popguns allows Diddy to stun enemies, as well as his own version of the ground pound, the "Popgun Pound". Otherwise he controls similarly to Donkey Kong, only slightly faster and more agile. The player can also play as Diddy by himself, by selecting 2-Player Cooperative Mode, making Donkey lose a life, and not reviving him. The two Kongs share the same balloons between them, which function as lives in this game.

Mirror Mode

After beating the Golden Temple, mirror mode is unlocked. In mirror mode, the player has no help from Diddy Kong and only has one heart. In addition, they cannot use inventory items. It is worth noting that in this mode, even though Diddy Kong is not present, DK Barrels still appear, but do not serve their original purpose. In addition, if Diddy was with the player before entering the mode, he will return to them afterward.


General level gameplay has changed from the previous iterations. In some levels, there are multiple checkpoints instead of just one. The Kongs can make use of the new "Blow" ability, on certain plants and mechanical devices to reveal items, or even to interact with enemies such as the Tiki Torch. Puzzle Pieces are a new type of collectible found in every level (excluding boss areas), and can be found in hard to reach places, hidden bonus levels, in the background (via ground pound certain objects), or in secret places found by walking into a certain area in what would appear to be a wall. These are used to unlock things in the "Extras" menu, such as art, music, and dioramas.

The K-O-N-G Letters return, but with a different role. Once they are all collected in each world, a secret temple level is unlocked. Bananas are still to be found a plenty, 100 giving a life, but there are now bunches that give five or ten bananas. Banana Coins return from DKC2, but are much more common and used at Cranky Kong's Shop.

Super Guide

If the player dies eight times in a level a Tutorial Pig will appear and suggest the player to use the Super Guide, which will have Super Kong, a white version of Donkey Kong, play automatically through the level. None of the items collected will be added to the player collection. The player have the option play as Super Kong to finish the level.[7] Also, when Super Kong finishes the level, the level will stay red until Donkey Kong is used to finish the level, after which, the level will turn to blue.


  • Animal Crates house the Animal Buddy Rambi, much like the previous Donkey Kong Country games. However, the crate is much larger and requires Ground Pounding to open. The player can also break them by rolling into them, but the player will not automatically mount Rambi if they break the crates this way.
  • Bananas serve their regular purpose; commonly found, 100 must be collected for a free life.
  • Banana Bunches are worth five bananas.
  • Banana Coins reappear from DKC2, and have been stated to be used to purchase health and other items that Cranky Kong sells.
  • Bonus Levels are secret areas that contain bonuses such as Bananas.
  • Extra Life Balloons are the game's main life counters. Oddly they do not have a face on them unlike previous games.
  • Hearts measure Donkey and Diddy's health. Each have two and once both are lost, a life is lost.
  • K-O-N-G Letters make their major reappearance, being unseen since DK Jungle Climber. They can all be collected for an extra life, and must all be collected in each level for 101% game completion.
  • Minecarts are key vehicles needed to get through mine-based levels. Mine carts can not be stopped and are usually found in dangerous locations. The empty mine carts allow the Kongs to use only 1 through the entire level, while the ones with crystals in them can be jumped separately from. These ones will have you jumping from cart to cart on broken tracks.
  • Puzzle Pieces are a new type of collectible item. The amount needed to collect in one level varies, with the first level having nine. Collecting all the puzzle pieces in a level gives the player an image or a diorama, which can be found in extras, under image gallery and diorama gallery, respectively.[8]
  • Treasure Chests often contain useful items.


  • Auto-Fire Barrels are floating barrels found in many levels. When entered, they will launch Donkey and Diddy in the direction its facing.
  • Arrow Barrels launch the Kong(s) in a certain direction like Auto-Fire barrels, but have been revealed to be able to launch in the background environment.
  • DK Barrels retain their original purpose, reviving a lost Kong, but usage is different. Once a Kong is out, a DK Barrel will float down from above and the other Kong must jump on it to free the other Kong. It brings a defeated player back.
  • Rocket Barrels are used to fly through the level. After jumping into one, press the jump button rapidly to start the ride. During flight, hold the jump button to gain altitude, and release to descend. No matter how much health DK/Diddy have remaining, they'll lose a life in 1 hit, touching anything at all. The rocket will last until the end of the level, where it'll run out of fuel, and explode. These only appear in Peaceful Pier, Mole Patrol, Crowded Cavern, Gear Getaway, Liftoff Launch, and the first part of Tiki Tong Terror. It is to note that Ignition Barrels and Fuel Barrels do not appear in the game.
  • Slot Machine Barrels are found at the end of levels. Once the Kongs approach them, they will begin changing icons. Whichever icon is visible when the player touches the barrel determines which item the player will get:
    • Banana Icon: Gives the player five bananas.
    • Banana Coin Icon: Gives the player one banana coin.
    • Red Balloon Icon: Gives the player one red balloon.
    • DK Icon: Gives the player a random item. The player can shake the controller to receive more of that item.

*Note that Auto-Fire Barrels and Arrow Barrels that have a "skull and crossbones" design will break after use.

  • Wooden Barrels are generic, empty barrels that can be thrown against most enemies.



  • Donkey Kong returns as the main star. He can let Diddy ride on his back and can even roll with Diddy on much like Kiddy and Dixie in DKC3. He is floatier than his previous iterations and his solo roll does not travel as far as in older games.
  • Diddy Kong returns as the sidekick. He retains his agility as well as his Barrel Jet and peanut Popgun weapons from Donkey Kong 64.
  • Cranky Kong is the only other Kong returning in the game.[5] He runs the Cranky Kong's Shop and often makes comments about the player's choice of items. He has been seen with Squawks in his shop, apparently for sale.
  • Super Kong is a silver version of Donkey Kong that appears if the player has suffered numerous deaths, in which case the Super Guide mode will be activated and Super Kong will finish the level instead.[9]
  • Super Diddy Kong is a silver version of Diddy Kong, who climbs on Super Kong's back, when he is freed from a DK Barrel. Unlike where Diddy will stay with Donkey if he clears a level without losing Diddy's hearts, Super Diddy will leave regardless, and must be recovered in the next level Super Kong plays through.

Animal Buddies

  • Rambi the Rhinoceros makes his return as the first Animal Buddy of the game. He was first revealed in the second major trailer for DKCR.[10] He is found in a large animal crate that requires some ground pounding to break. Rambi is very destructive; he can smash down blocks with his new symbol on them and can charge through hordes of enemies and even break spikes. His weakness is revealed to be fire.[11]
  • Squawks the Parrot makes an appearance in Cranky's shop, when purchased, he will act as a Puzzle Piece detector, helping the Kongs by locating the hidden Puzzle Pieces in levels.
  • Whale is always smiling, and he only appears in the Beach world. Encountering him is part of the level in which he appears normal progression, as he does not have to be released from a container, or cannot be bought at Cranky Kong's Shop.
  • Professor Chops serves as the game's checkpoint system, and also teaches the player how to control DK. He also lets the player use Super Guide if they die 8 times, and makes an appearance in Time Attack mode as the referee.
  • Others: There are numerous other helpful buddies throughout the game. In the game's manual, Cranky refers to the hypnotized Giraffes, Zebras, and Elephants, as animal buddies. They can be seen popping up randomly in levels, and in Blowhole Bound, they can be seen in a boat in the background, while the elephant drinks from the water.


The enemies of the game are under control of the "Tiki Tak Tribe",[5] being possessed by them.

Kalimba, a member of the Tiki Tak Tribe.





Below is a list of the bosses of the game along with the names of the Tikis that control them.

Levels & Worlds

There are eight worlds, each world having one unlock-able level, and have alternate paths. There is also a "Golden Temple" world, though though all of the other world's temples need to be beaten before it is unlocked.[5]

The following levels are in the game:[14]

World 1: Jungle

World 2: Beach

World 3: Ruins

World 4: Cave

World 5: Forest

World 6: Cliff

World 7: Factory

World 8: Volcano

World 9: Golden Temple


For the game's entire gallery, see Donkey Kong Country Returns/gallery.

Box arts


Animal Buddies


Beta Elements

Main article: Donkey Kong Country Returns/Beta elements

Marketing and Release

One of the two promotional stickers of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong.

If the game was pre-ordered from GameStop, a banana shaped sleeve for Wii remotes was also be shipped with the game.[15] GamePlanet offers a DKCR backpack to come shipped with the game for an increased price of $80.[16]

To promote the game, Nintendo partnered Chiquita to cross-promote the game for a limited time by having Donkey Kong promotion stickers on their bananas. In addition, an online contest was set up asking people to upload three photos of themselves doing the "Donkey Kong dance" for a chance to win one of thirty-one prizes.[17] Nintendo also partnered with Johnny Rockets to rebrand their Chocolate Banana Shake as the "Donkey Kong Chocolate Banana Shake" for a limited time. In addition, the promotion ties in with a sweepstakes for a chance to win a copy of the game.[18]

In the United Kingdom, select Game and Gamestation stores were chosen to promote the game at launch by trading a handful of bananas in exchange for the copy of the game. The first twenty customers that arrived at the store were guaranteed to get the game.[19]

Nintendo of Australia promoted the game before launch by having game demo in two locations: The Nintendo Connection at Myer department store, Sydney City in November 27, and The Nintendo Experience at EB Games, Swanston Street, Melbourne in November 28. The first two-hundred people who sampled the game received a special Donkey Kong Poster.[20] They celebrated the launch of the game by holding an event in Circular Quay, located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in the afternoon. It featured a tower of bananas with a sign next to it saying "Kong's Banana Hoard", along with a variety of banana-based foods. The staff kept the public entertained with trivia questions; answering them correctly will be rewarded with a free Donkey Kong shirt. At night time, the main event began with the showing of the video game from the projector; giving people a chance to play the game.[21]

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

Main article: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

On February 14, 2013, a port of Returns was announced at a Nintendo Direct stream for the Nintendo 3DS system. Titled Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, it features an extra world, methods of making the game easier, and containing 3D visuals. The game was released in May 2013. The porting process and bonus world was handled by Monster Games in lieu of Retro Studios.[22]


  • The game was the first non-Metroid title developed by Retro Studios. An enemy called Electroid is named similarly to Metroid.
  • The final boss resembles Andross from the Star Fox series and Wham Bam Jewel/Wham Bam Rock from the Kirby series.
  • If Donkey Kong is left alone for a while, he'll look around, take out a Nintendo DS and start playing it. If Diddy Kong is on DK's back, then he'll start watching him play. Sounds from the original Donkey Kong can be heard while he plays the DS.
  • The tree house in the first level (accessed by jumping on the tire) has an extra life balloon in it, in a similar vein to Donkey Kong Country. If the player Ground Pounds near Donkey Kong's TV, it will show the DKCR logo and will play the theme heard on the title screen.
    • In addition, if the player enters the hole under the Kongs' house, where the hoard used to be, they will find a puzzle piece and banana coin by blowing on the dandelions.
  • The wind-up punching move used by Donkey Kong at the end of the game is very similar to a unique move used in the Smash Bros. crossovers, the "Giant Punch". However, in DKCR, Donkey Kong uses his right hand, not his left.
  • Similar to the Mario series, the Kongs' most basic way to attack enemies is jumping on their heads. If the player consecutively jumps on enemies' heads eight times, they will start earning balloons until they touch the ground.
  • When playing in 2-player mode, both players share the same stash of balloons, meaning if one player survives, and they are out of balloons, the 2nd player can only be revived by a DK Barrel.


  4. Philips, Tom (January 14, 2015). Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Prime Trilogy headed to Wii U eShop. Eurogamer. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. [1]
  8. Gameinformer
  12. 0:02 of video
  13. DKCR official website video gallery, "barrels of fun"
  14. [2]
  16. Spanish advertisement
  17. GoNintendo: Official PR - Chiquita and Nintendo team up for Donkey Kong Country Returns cross-promotion, dated 1/26/11; retrieved 1/27/11
  18. GoNintendo: Johnny Rockets starts 'Donkey Kong Chocolate Banana Shake' promo contest, dated 11/14/10; retrieved 1/27/11
  19. Official Nintendo Magazine: Fans buy Donkey Kong Country Returns with bananas, dated 12/3/10; retrieved 1/27/11
  20. GoNintendo: Nintendo of Australia - Be The First To Play Donkey Kong Country Returns, dated 11/18/10; retrieved 1/27/11
  21. Aussie-Nintendo: That's a lot of bananas - Sydney's DKCR launch event, dated 12/4/10; retrieved 1/27/11
  22. [3]

External links