Donkey Kong Land

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This article is about the first game in the Donkey Kong Land series. For information about the series itself, see here.
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Donkey Kong Land
Developer(s) Rareware
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy
Release date Game Boy
USA June 26, 1995
Japan July 27, 1995
Europe August 24, 1995
Virtual Console (3DS)
Japan April 2, 2014[1]
Genre Platformer
ESRB:ESRB K-A.png - Kids to Adults
CERO:CERO A.png - All ages
Mode(s) Single Player
Game Boy:
Media GB icon.png Cartridge
Nintendo 3DS:
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Game Boy:
Nintendo 3DS:

Donkey Kong Land, known in Japan as Super Donkey Kong GB, is a video game developed by Rareware for the Game Boy. Released in 1995, it is a handheld follow-up of Donkey Kong Country, and the game's pseudo sequel. The game is also one of the few Game Boy games to feature a specially colored cartridge (yellow), which is also used on the two sequels, Donkey Kong Land 2 and Donkey Kong Land III. It is one of the first games to feature Super Game Boy special features, including a rendered jungle border across the television screen. It was also released for the 3DS's Virtual Console in Japan on April 2, 2014.

The game is often mistaken as a Game Boy "port" of Donkey Kong Country. Although it is true that the two games play the same using the same engine, the storyline is different and Donkey Kong Land has different levels, enemies, and bosses from the ones featured in Donkey Kong Country.


According to the game's instruction booklet, the story takes place after the events of Donkey Kong Country, where Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are discussing about their latest adventure to Cranky Kong. Cranky admits that the adventure was more successful than he thought, although claiming that it was only because of the "fancy graphics" and that "Kids'll buy anything nowadays". After Cranky goes on about the games of his time, the two other Kongs try to convince him that it was not only fancy graphics that made Donkey Kong Country great, but that it "was just plain fun". However, this did not convince the old ape, so Donkey and Diddy decide to have an adventure on an 8-bit system, with King K. Rool stealing the Banana Hoard again. Once the bet is decided, Cranky Kong arranges everything and calls King K. Rool to come and take the hoard overnight. Afterward, the two heroes decide to rest for the adventure ahead of them.


The title screen for Donkey Kong Land, as seen with the Super Game Boy adapter.

Donkey Kong Land is a 2-D platformer, designed for the Game Boy. Because of the Game Boy's limitations, the game offers less than its 16-bit predecessor. On the level select screen, names of the stages are no longer present, and the levels themselves have very few Bonus Levels, usually only having one or two. Additionally, after the Kongs find all the Bonus Levels in an area, an exclamation point appears above the level's circular marker in the overworld.

The game is divided into four worlds, each with seven normal levels, with the exception of the game's first world, Gangplank Galleon Ahoy!, which contains a total of nine. A boss level also appears in each world and must be completed to progress. Though most levels are unlocked after beating its previous level, some levels can be accessed before later levels. This can be done by finding rare, barrel-shaped bombs inside some levels and blasting away large boulders. With these boulders destroyed, a passageway to a certain level can be found. Unlike in Donkey Kong Country, the Kongs will be able to travel freely to any level without any assistance, as they can simply journey world-to-world on foot.

Donkey Kong near a checkpoint.

Like in most platformer games, the goal is to reach the end of the level, without being defeated by an enemy or falling into a trap. The Kongs must make their way through each level carefully, or else an enemy may attack. When this happens, one of the Kongs in the group will run away. With one hero remaining, the player must be careful, as losing both Kongs can end the level in a loss. Luckily, missing Kongs can be recovered by using Buddy Barrels, common barrels found in every level. A few continue points, usually one or two, appear in levels as well. If touched, the Kongs will appear back at the last continue point upon losing the level. Each level ends with a small portal, which the player should jump into to exit the level. Sometimes, levels may have more than one portal.

Playable characters and abilities[edit]

As in the game's prequel, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are the only playable characters. The stats of these apes both vary, just as in the previous game. Donkey Kong, the leader of the group, does not have as much speed as his partner, Diddy, nor can he move quite as fast. He is, however, much stronger and is the only character able to beat the powerful foes, Krushas, without using a TNT Barrel. Diddy, on the other hand, is much smaller than Donkey Kong, and can get through tight areas more easily.

The basic ability, jumping, can be done by both Kongs to defeat enemies, cross pits, or to simply jump to access higher areas. Both Kongs also have the ability to roll or cartwheel into foes. This can defeat the enemies much more easily than jumping on them, and it also gives the heroes an extra speed boost. Sometimes, the Kongs will find themselves requiring to cross a wide abyss too large to jump over. With their cartwheel and roll moves, they can perform a super-jump, making them roll over the gap and jumping in mid-air for an extra boost. Bouncing on a tire can give them an extra boost in the air as well.

Diddy Kong climbing.

Though not used as much as jumping and rolling, the Kongs can also climb ropes and swim through water. To climb, the heroes must simply jump up and touch a rope. Climbing can be useful when crossing large gaps, though it can only be done on ropes. Jumping rope-to-rope is common in some levels, but luckily, the Kongs have no trouble in grabbing onto other ropes. During underwater levels, the apes will also use their ability to swim. Tapping the A Button while swimming can make the Kongs move higher as they slowly float downwards. When the Kongs swim, they will not have as much control as on land, and as a result they should be careful.

Animal Buddies[edit]

Donkey Kong riding on Expresso.

Unlike Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Land is filled with very little Animal Buddies, a total of only two. In fact, Animal Buddies seldom appear in most levels. The Animal Buddies here are unable to shoot through barrels, and they will suddenly drop to the ground once these obstacles are approached. Still, they can be a big help in the Kongs' quest with their different abilities. Below shows the capabilities and appearances of both Animal Buddies in the game, Rambi the Rhinoceros and Expresso the Ostrich.

Image Name Description
No image available Rambi the Rhinoceros The rhino buddy first appears in the level Jungle Jaunt. He is able to charge into enemies to easily defeat them. Rarely, Rambi is able to break through certain walls to create an opening to a Bonus Level. Because of this, Rambi is quite an important buddy, and he is needed to complete the game 100%.
No image available Expresso the Ostrich The ostrich buddy is the other Animal Buddy in Donkey Kong Land. First appearing in a Bonus Level located in Deck Trek, Expresso is able to help the Kongs cross wide abysses with his useful flying abilities. Strangely, this helpful capability is never used to find any Bonus Levels, but is instead used inside them. Out of his four appearances, three of them take place in a Bonus Level. Expresso is able to defeat enemies in this game, unlike in Donkey Kong Country.


Levels and Bonus Areas
Gangplank Galleon Ahoy!
# Level Bonus Areas Type of level Music theme
1 Jungle Jaunt 2 Jungle Jungle Jaunt
2 Freezing Fun 1 Snow Snowy Pig Wings
3 Simian Swing 2 Jungle Jungle Jaunt
4 Deck Trek 2 Ship Gangplank Galleon Ahoy!
5 Rope Ravine 2 Snow Snowy Pig Wings
6 Tyre Trail 3 Jungle Jungle Jaunt
7 Riggin' Rumble 2 Ship Gangplank Galleon Ahoy!
8 Congo Carnage 2 Jungle Jungle Jaunt
9 Arctic Barrel Arsenal 2 Snow Snowy Pig Wings
10 BOSS LEVEL: Wild Sting Fling 0 Ship K. Rool's Acid Punk
# Level Bonus Areas Type of level Music theme
11 Tricky Temple 1 Temple Ancient Beaver Bop
12 Kremlantis 0 Underwater ruins Kremlantis
13 Reef Rampage 0 Coral Aquatic Ambience
14 Snake Charmer's Challenge 1 Temple Ancient Beaver Bop
15 Chomp's Coliseum 0 Underwater ruins Kremlantis
16 Nautilus Chase 0 Coral Aquatic Ambience
17 Swirlwind Storm 1 Temple Ancient Beaver Bop
18 BOSS LEVEL: Seabed Showdown 0 Underwater ruins K. Rool's Acid Punk
Monkey Mountains and Chimpanzee Clouds
# Level Bonus Areas Type of level Music theme
19 Pot Hole Panic 2 Cave Cavey Cavey
20 Mountain Mayhem 2 Mountain Monkey Mountain
21 Track Attack 2 Clouds Chimpanzee Clouds
22 Spiky Tyre Trail 2 Cave Cavey Cavey
23 Sky High Caper 1 Clouds Chimpanzee Clouds
24 Landslide Leap 2 Mountain Monkey Mountain
25 Collapsing Clouds 2 Clouds Chimpanzee Clouds
26 BOSS LEVEL: Mad Mole Holes 0 Caves K. Rool's Acid Punk
Big Ape City
# Level Bonus Areas Type of level Music theme
27 Construction Site Fight 2 Skyscraper Big Ape City
28 Kong Krazy 1 Blimp Blimp Off
29 Balloon Barrage 2 Construction site Great Girder Grapple
30 Fast Barrel Blast 2 Blimp Blimp Off
31 Skyscraper Caper 1 Skyscraper Big Ape City
32 Button Barrel Blast 2 Construction site Great Girder Grapple
33 Oil Drum Slum 2 Skyscraper Big Ape City
34 BOSS LEVEL: K. Rool's Kingdom 0 Blimp K. Rool's Acid Punk


Many items can be found around Donkey Kong Land, and each help the duo complete levels or defeat enemies. Each item has a different purpose.

Image Item Effect
Banana DKL.PNG Bananas Bananas are the most abundant items in the game. They appear all over the game's levels. Collecting 100 of these common items can give the heroes an extra life.
Banana Bunch DKL.PNG Banana Bunches Banana Bunches appear often in levels. They are just like normal bananas, though they are worth a total of ten bananas, instead of one.
No image available Barrels These wooden kegs are very rare items, found in only three levels. They can be thrown to defeat even the strongest kinds of enemies, as well as bust open walls.
Buddy Barrel DKL.PNG Buddy Barrels Buddy Barrels are the game's most common kind of barrel and have a DK logo on them. If one of the Kongs are missing, likely from being hit by an enemy, these barrels will contain the lost hero. Because of this, Buddy Barrels are very valuable during gameplay.
No image available TNT Barrels Like normal barrels, TNT Barrels are found often in levels and can be thrown at enemies to defeat them. However, these types of barrels are much more explosive, and can blast away strong foes. They can even blast away Oil Drums.
Kong Tokens DKL.PNG Kong Tokens Kong Tokens are another common type of item in the game. They are found all over every level, mainly in Bonus Levels. Once the Kongs collect some of these special coins, they can exchange them for extra lives in certain Bonus Areas.
No image available Extra Life Balloons Extra Life Balloons are also important items in Donkey Kong Land. If they are collected, the Kongs will gain an extra life, keeping them away from a Game Over. These balloons fly away fast, so the Kongs must make sure they act fast to get them.
K-O-N-G Letters DKL.PNG K-O-N-G Letters K-O-N-G Letters are one of the game's most vital items. Every level has four of these letters (spelling "KONG") scattered throughout them in order. Each letter must be collected for the Kongs to save their game. Additionally, in the level, Kong Krazy, these items can be used as platforms.
Checkpoint DKL.PNG Continue Point This item replaces the Star Barrel from Donkey Kong Country. When touched, it automatically saves the player's progress at that point into that level. Continue Points appear in every level and can be found more than once in a level.

Enemies and hazards[edit]

Donkey Kong near the enemy, Nemo.

Donkey Kong Land is filled with only twenty different enemies and hazards, although most first appeared in the prequel to the game, Donkey Kong Country. Enemies listed below in bold are those who have already appeared in this previous game in the Donkey Kong series. The table also lists the first and last level that these enemies and hazards have shown up in. Noticeably, many of these foes have stayed in throughout the whole game, not making a final appearance until the levels of the last world, the Big Ape City. Swirlwinds can also help the Kongs on their quest, other than harming them.

Image Enemy/hazard First level appearance Last level appearance
Army DKL.png Army Tire Trail Button Barrel Blast
Chomps Jr. DKL.png Chomps Jr. Chomp's Coliseum Oil Drum Slum (Bonus Level)
Clambo DKL.png Clambo Nautilus Chase Nautilus Chase
Fangfish DKL.PNG Fangfish Kremlantis Kaos Oil Drum Slum (Bonus Level)
Fangfish2 DKL.png Gloop Kremlantis Kaos Oil Drum Slum (Bonus Level)
Gnawty DKL.PNG Gnawty Freezing Fun Oil Drum Slum
Hogwash DKL.PNG Hogwash Freezing Fun Skyscraper Caper
Klaptrap DKL.png Klaptrap Riggin' Rumble Skyscraper Caper
Kritter DKL.PNG Kritter Jungle Jaunt Oil Drum Slum
Krusha DKL.PNG Krusha Tricky Temple Oil Drum Slum
No image available Mincer Deck Trek Button Barrel Blast (Bonus Level)
Mini-Necky DKL.png Mini Necky Deck Trek Fast Barrel Blast
Necky DKL.png Necky Congo Carnage Pot Hole Panic
Nemo DKL.PNG Nemo Nautilus Chase Nautilus Chase
No image available Oil Drum Landslide Leap (Bonus Level) Oil Drum Slum
Slippa DKL.PNG Slippa Jungle Jaunt Oil Drum Slum
Slippa Jar DKL.png Slippa Jar Snake Charmer's Challenge Snake Charmer's Challenge
Snapper DKL.png Snapper Kremlantis Kaos Chomp's Coliseum
No image available Swirlwind Snake Charmer's Challenge Swirlwind Storm
Zinger DKL.PNG Zinger Freezing Fun Oil Drum Slum


Throughout the Kongs' quest, they not only find the enemies listed above, but also several bosses, who require a little more skill to beat. Each boss appears at the end of all the game's worlds, and must be defeated to allow the heroes to progress.

Image Boss Location Level name
Wild Sting DKL.PNG Wild Sting Gangplank Galleon Ahoy! Wild Sting Fling
DKLColossalClamboSprite.png Colossal Clambo Kremlantis Sea-bed Showdown
Hard Hat DKL.PNG Hard Hat Monkey Mountains/Chimpanzee Clouds Mad Mole Holes
DKLKingK.RoolSprite.png King K. Rool Big Ape City K. Rool's Kingdom


Main article: List of Donkey Kong Land staff

Main Programming[edit]

  • Paul Machacek

Support Programming[edit]

  • Steve Patrick
  • Oliver Norton


  • Dean Smith

Sprite Graphics[edit]

  • Steve Mayles
  • Mark Stevenson
  • Keri Gunn
  • Carl Tilley
  • Kevin Bayliss

Additional Graphics[edit]

  • Neil Crook


Main article: List of glitches in Donkey Kong Land

Instant Death[edit]

If Donkey or Diddy hits an enemy and gets knocked back with no visible ground below, the game will mistake the player for falling into a pit and will count it as an instant death, even if both Kongs are present.

Missing Nuts[edit]

In some levels, particularly jungle levels, there are Neckys that sit on platforms and spit nuts, hoping to hit the Kongs when they're below him. However, if Necky is on the top of the screen, the sound effect of spitting nuts can be heard, but no nuts are actually fired.


On release, Famitsu scored the game a 24 out of 40. Donkey Kong Land received a 71% at GameRankings.

Beta elements[edit]

Main article: List of Donkey Kong Land beta elements

Several creatures and characters who were originally going in this game were abandoned for unknown reasons. These creatures and characters included a fish enemy named Pucka, an unnamed Kong who wore a hat and a what appears to be a baby ram named Ram Bunkshus. All these unused characters were first advertised in an old issue of Nintendo Power, which included pictures of them.


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Donkey Kong Land.


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