Donkey Kong Country Returns
Donkey Kong Country Returns, known in Japanese as Donkey Kong Returns, is a side-scrolling 2.5D platform game developed by Retro Studios for the Wii in 2010. It is the fifth game in the Donkey Kong Country series and a reboot. The game stars Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, who must recover the banana hoard from a new group of villains, the Tiki Tak Tribe. In 2014, a sequel was released for the Wii U, titled Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
In 2013, the game was ported to the Nintendo 3DS, titled Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. The original Wii game was later released for digital download on the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U on January 21-22, 2015 in all regions except North America. 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.
On July 4, 2019 at approximately 9 pm UTC+8, the game was silently released on the Chinese Nvidia Shield store without any prior notice from Nvidia's Chinese website or its social media accounts. Unlike the other Wii/GameCube ports, this game was never advertised by Nvidia and was only known to exist by approval information from government websites. Nvidia eventually posted about the game on July 12 at 3:13 pm UTC+8.
One day on Donkey Kong Island, a large stream of lava erupts from a volcano sending out small boulders. A tower emerges from the eruption as well as the rest of the Tiki Tak Tribe from the boulders sent out from the blast. The Tikis drift down into the jungle, where they hypnotize the wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, zebras, and squirrels. The Tikis' minions steal every banana from the banana hoard and load them onto large leaves pulled through the jungle and then taken onto an airship soon after. Diddy looks out of a window from DK's Tree House and spots the animals with the stolen bananas in the distance. Diddy goes down to check the banana hoard and realizes no bananas are left, and then angrily chases the thieves. Donkey Kong awakens and opens the tree house door, noticing the last few loads of bananas being stolen. Donkey Kong shakes his fist in anger. One of the Tikis' high-ranking members suddenly appears and pushes Donkey Kong back into his tree house. It attempts to hypnotize Donkey Kong multiple times, but he remains unaffected by it for unknown reasons. Donkey Kong punches the Tiki and sends it out the front door, Donkey Kong then jumps down from his tree house and starts his new adventure. Diddy joins along once Donkey Kong frees him from a DK Barrel.
After traversing the island's many regions, the Kongs come face-to-face with Tiki Tong, who turns the stolen bananas into banana juice and spews it on each high-ranking member of the Tiki Tak Tribe to transform them into a pair of hands. After defeating Tiki Tong, a resulting explosion sends the Kongs into outer space. The Kongs panic and realize they are about to crash into the moon. Donkey Kong puts Diddy on his back, and with the help of the Barrel Jet and his wind-up punch, the Kongs send the moon down to earth, which destroys the Tikis' base. The bananas are released in a explosion, which sends the Kongs and the moon flying out of the volcano. With the Tiki Tak Tribe defeated, the animals on Donkey Kong Island are freed from their hypnosis. Donkey Kong and Diddy land back on the island and celebrate their victory as the bananas rain from the volcano.
Donkey Kong Country Returns plays similarly to the earlier Donkey Kong Country installments. The player controls Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, who can use various moves such as jumping and rolling to defeat enemies and to progress in a level. Some abilities were newly introduced in the game. The Kongs can perform clinging to move across Climbing Grass. The Ground Pound move involves Donkey Kong hitting the ground, which he must do on certain objects, such as switches, to progress in the level.
Unlike the previous Donkey Kong Country titles, Donkey Kong and Diddy each have two hearts to represent their health status. If both Kongs are together, the health counter has a total of four hearts, two per Kong. When a Kong touches an enemy or spikes, they lose one heart. If the Kongs lose all of their hearts, they lose an extra life. If the Kongs crash into an object while riding a Rocket Barrel or a Mine Cart, get hit by waves in the level Tidal Terror, or fall into a pit, water, or lava, they instantly lose a life. If Donkey Kong and Diddy lose all of their lives, the player gets a Game Over.
The Kongs can get an extra life if they collect 100 bananas or a Red Balloon, or by jumping on eight consecutive enemies in a row (just like the Super Mario series). Banana Coins are another common item throughout the levels, and they allow the Kongs to purchase items from Cranky Kong's Shop. K-O-N-G Letters also return in every level, and they are mandatory to collect for a perfect completion score. The game introduces Puzzle Pieces, a few of which appear in every regular level. If the Kongs collect every Puzzle Piece in a level, the player unlocks something in the Extras menu.
The level checkpoints are each represented by a Tutorial Pig at a booth. Some levels have more than one checkpoint. If the Kongs lose eight lives in a level, a Tutorial Pig gives them the option of using Super Kong, who automatically plays through the level. However, none of the collected items are added to the inventory, and when Super Kong completes a level, it stays red from the overworld unless Donkey Kong and Diddy complete it themselves, causing it to turn blue.
In 1 Player mode, the player controls Donkey Kong. If he is by himself, Donkey Kong can throw a DK Barrel to release Diddy, who hops Donkey Kong's back. When Diddy is with Donkey Kong, he can briefly make them hover in midair by using his Barrel Jet. He can also use Donkey Kong for the Kong Roll ability, allowing them to roll into many enemies and go through a straight plain in a level quicker. If the Kongs take two hits while Diddy is on Donkey Kong, the player loses Diddy.
In 2 Players mode, the second player controls Diddy Kong. They can control him independently from Donkey Kong, or keep Diddy on Donkey Kong's back. When independent, Diddy can still use his Barrel Jet and also has the ability to cartwheel and use his Peanut Popgun to stun enemies. Diddy has his own version of ground pounding, the Popgun Pound. Diddy is slightly faster and is more agile than Donkey Kong. In the mode, both players share the same stash of balloons, meaning if one of the players survives and the second player runs out of lives, they can only be brought back by a DK Barrel.
The 2-Player Cooperative Mode allows Diddy to be present without Donkey Kong.
The treasure of the Golden Temple is a mirror, which unlocks Mirror Mode. In this mode, level layouts are completely mirrored, and players cannot use inventory items or Diddy Kong. As a result, no multiplayer feature is available during this mode. To add to the difficulty, Donkey Kong only gets one hit point, and as such, all recovery hearts are removed. Clearing all the levels in Mirror Mode will unlock some bonus images in the Image Gallery and is necessary for 200% completion.
K-O-N-G Letters are also mirrored, and if they are collected again in a level during Mirror Mode, the orange starred emblem corresponding to the level, meaning all Letters have been previously collected there, will become blue. However, recollecting the letters in Mirror Mode is not necessary to complete the game 200%.
The Time Attack mode is accessible when any level has been completed at least once. In this mode, the player can earn one of four medals by finishing it in the fastest time possible. The level is always started with only Donkey Kong, even if players have Diddy Kong with them. When the Tutorial Pig finishes the countdown and waves the green flag, the timer and level will officially start. If the Kongs reach the end of the level and hit the Slot Machine Barrel with a checkered flag on it, then the Tutorial Pig will wave it to stop the timer. Then, the player's total time is recorded and a bronze, silver, gold, or shiny gold medal is awarded, depending on how fast the player did in the level. Shiny gold medals require an even faster time than normal gold medals, and their required time is not shown in the game.
The Kongs do not lose lives in Time Attack mode. However, the timer does not reset if players are taken out by enemies, obstacles, or an abyss.
Time Attack mode does not affect the game clear percentage, nor unlocks anything in Extras; as a result, this game mode is completely optional.
Images, music, and dioramas can be unlocked if players perform certain tasks within the game, such as collecting all Puzzle Pieces in levels, defeating bosses and beating Key Temple stages.
This game utilizes two different control schemes, which are the by itself, and the with the Nunchuk Attachment, which serves as the primary control scheme.
Wii Remote & Nunchuk
Solo & Co-op
Wii Remote (horizontal)
Solo & Co-op
Each world of the game ends with a boss battle. Normally peaceful creatures, the first seven bosses will display hostility towards the Kongs once hypnotized by the higher-ranking members of the Tiki Tak Tribe, employed to guard portions of the banana hoard. The eighth and final boss is the leader of the tribe himself, Tiki Tong.
Boss battles may be sequential, meaning the boss will become more aggressive as it takes more hits. After receiving the final hit, the creature will faint, and the Tiki that possesses it will reveal itself in a dizzy state, allowing the Kongs a chance to knock it out with repeated punches. However, if ignored for some time, the Tiki will regain consciousness and leave the fight scene, abruptly ending the level, although this has no influence on the game's progress.
The Tiki Tak Tribe has invaded a large portion of Donkey Kong Island, scattering its members throughout all the 9 worlds and mixing them with the indigenous population of enemies. The lower-ranking members of the tribe typically resemble bongo drums, the rest being designed after other traditional instruments (kalimba, gong, xylophone etc.), particularly those that possess the boss enemies.
Most of the enemies from the island's natural fauna are specific to certain worlds, though they might briefly appear in other locations. For example, Rawks, which are common in the Jungle world, can be also encountered in Damp Dungeon, a level from the Ruins world, as well as the Golden Temple, the last area to be explored in the game.
Items and objects
The adventure is littered with noteworthy objects that can be used or manipulated in various ways or purposes. Below is a table that comprises all collectables, projectiles, vehicles, and miscellaneous objects found in the game.
Worlds and levels
The game is divided into eight main worlds and an extra level, the Golden Temple. With the exception of boss levels, all levels in the game contain a number of Puzzle Pieces that unlock concept artwork. Every world has one unlockable level and alternate paths to take between levels.
Below is a table listing all levels in the game, along with the number of Puzzle Pieces each one has (five, seven, or nine), as well as the music theme playing there. The soundtrack of the game features various rearrangements of past Donkey Kong melodies, with the other tunes being new. Tunes followed by an asterisk (*) have been given a title in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
Marketing and release
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. 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.
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 arrive at the store are guaranteed to get the game.
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. 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.
After the completion of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, employees of Retro Studios felt "franchise fatigue" and considered to create a Donkey Kong game next, although the studio wound up creating a third Metroid Prime installment after Satoru Iwata suggested a sequel to showcase the Wii's motion controls Donkey Kong Country Returns development's started after several core developers of the Metroid Prime series left Retro Studios, which made several executives skeptical of whether the developer could keep making high-quality games. At the same time, Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to make a new Donkey Kong Country game and suggested Retro Studios as its developer. Since many Retro Studios employees were fans of the series, the suggestion was welcomed enthusiastically by them.. The game's director Bryan Walker further opined that after multiple senior developers of the Metroid Prime series left Retro Studios and another key developer passed away, it "did not feel right" to immediately continue the Metroid Prime series. Following internal conversations, the studio wanted to specifically revisit the Donkey Kong Country series due to the success of the games.
Development started out slow, with the developers creating only two of the eight bosses during 2009. The pace fastened around 2010, as the team increased in size and after E3, as Retro Studios and Nintendo eventually agreed on how the levels should be designed.
Bryan Walker explained that early in development, the team struggled to get an handle on the game's aesthetics, mentioning how early art mockups looked like "like something you would see in Metroid Prime – very sullen, dark, edgy, menacing palm tree". The team, however, "learned very quickly" and soon made tweaks for more appropriately whimsical designs.
Kensuke Tanabe, who had worked on the localization of the original Donkey Kong Country, and his assistant Risa Tabata supervised Retro Studios during development, giving their opinions on the level designs and requesting enemies to be changed. Tanabe also asked for the creation of a multiplayer mode to distinguish the game from Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.
In a 2021 interview, Kynan Pearson, now a former member of Retro Studios who had worked on the game, revealed that the silhouette levels were inspired by the aesthetic of Frank Miller's Sin City comic series.
Diddy and Damaged Donkey Kong
The player must go to an area in a level with a DK Barrel and at least one enemy without Diddy Kong. The player must grab the DK Barrel and wait the enemy to approach Donkey Kong. When the enemy is almost touching him, throw the barrel so that it breaks before Donkey Kong gets damaged. If done correctly, Diddy gets on Donkey Kong's back and two extra hearts appear in the health HUD, but one of the main hearts is empty, while it naturally would refill when the barrel breaks.
Cranky Kong's Shop Glitch
When visiting Cranky Kong's Shop, the game may freeze during transitions, such as when buying items or even entering the shop. This can sometimes be fixed by entering and exiting the Home Menu.
An original soundtrack that is based on the game is released only in Japan for Club Nintendo members. It has twenty-five songs from the game.
References to other games
References in later games
Pre-release and unused content
In the concept art gallery for the game robotic creatures called Ferndozers are shown, in which they are the only dumped concept characters whose official names are shown. Ferndozers look like monstrous tanks with a Barrel holding a giant chainsaw and a robotic arm. In a second concept art from the gallery it is shown that Ferndozers would appear in the Factory, many of them deforesting the Factory's surroundings. The concept art also showed Donkey Kong in the corner, controlling it with a remote control.
Names in other languages