Extra Life Balloon
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Extra Life Balloons or Extra-Life Balloons, also called Life Balloons, Donkey Kong Balloons or simply Balloons, are items in the Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Land series that give the Kongs extra lives. In the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy, red balloons are the most common and provide single extra lives, while the much-rarer green and blue ones grant two and three extra lives, respectively. Due to being monochromatic, the Donkey Kong Land games only feature single-life-granting Extra Life Balloons. Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze only have red Extra Life Balloons, here known as Red Balloons, while the green and blue balloons were repurposed to grant new features. A yellow balloon also appears attached to the roof of Cranky Kong's Shop in Donkey Kong Country Returns along with a red and blue one, but this color never factors into gameplay.
In the original games, Extra Life Balloons have to be found within the levels or earned by successfully completing tasks such as Swanky Kong's quizzes and Bonus Levels. In Donkey Kong Country and the modern games, the Kongs can also get them by jumping on eight enemies in a row, changing the Banana Coins they receive to the balloons. They can also be purchased from Cranky Kong's Shop in groups of one, three and seven, and sometimes, before selecting a file, if the Kongs are low on lives, Cranky gives them extra balloons.
The balloons are shown differently depending on the game. In Donkey Kong Country, they have Donkey Kong's face on them. In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, they have Diddy's, and in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, they have Dixie's. The first two Donkey Kong Land games have the same balloon designs as their DKC counterparts; although Donkey Kong Land III (which mainly recycles sprites from Donkey Kong Land 2) features Diddy's face on the balloons, though he doesn't appear in the game. From Donkey Kong Country Returns onward, they are plain balloons and do not display a character's face.
In all three Donkey Kong Land games, balloons pop upon being collected, but in the Donkey Kong Country games, they just float to the life counter on the upper right of the screen (upper left in Donkey Kong Country Returns).
In Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, whenever Donkey Kong loses a life in single-player mode, he floats back to the start of the level or to a checkpoint by riding on a Red Balloon, which then pops at that point, showing how lives are actually consumed. In two-player mode, Donkey and Diddy share their extra lives. If either one of them loses a life, he floats back onscreen in a DK Barrel hanging from a Red Balloon after hitting if the remote is held sideways or if the Nunchuk is attached to the remote. This is similar to how characters float around in bubbles in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. If both Kongs lose a life at the same time, or if one loses a life while the other is gone, they return to the start or a checkpoint, although this costs the duo two lives.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze also features Red Balloons in the same fashion as in Donkey Kong Country Returns and its remake. However, Funky's Fly 'n' Buy only sells single Red Balloons. Performing a Kong POW with Diddy also turns all on-screen enemies into Red Balloons.
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