Donkey Kong Country Returns
Developer(s): Retro Studios (Wii)
Monster Games, Inc.[1] (3DS)
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Platform(s): Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nvidia Shield TV[2]
Release Date: Wii
Flag of USA November 21, 2010
Flag of Australia December 2, 2010
Flag of Europe December 3, 2010
Flag of Japan December 9, 2010

Nintendo 3DS
Flag of USA May 24, 2013
Flag of Australia May 25, 2013
Flag of Europe May 24, 2013
Flag of Japan June 13, 2013

Nvidia Shield TV
Flag of China July 5, 2019
Genre Platformer
Ratings ESRB: ESRB E Everyone
Mode(s) 1-2 players
Media Optical Disc, Game Card, Downloadable Media
Input Wii Remote (and Nunchuk), 3DS Buttons, Nvidia Shield Controller

Donkey Kong Country Returns is the fourth game in the Donkey Kong Country series. It is the sequel to Donkey Kong Country 3 and it is also the first DKC-line game in over a decade. Donkey Kong Country Returns is a 2D platformer developed by Retro Studios for the Nintendo Wii, and was announced at E3 2010. It uses many of the familiar elements from the original DKC games and even the DK Land trilogy. Donkey and Diddy Kong are once again the main playable characters.
There is a port of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Nintendo 3DS, developed by Monster Games, called Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.
It would be followed up with a sequel titled Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze 4 years later.
In July 5, 2019, a Wii emulated version was officially released on Nvidia Shield TV, exclusively for chinese region.[3]


Emerging from the volcano

The Tiki Tak Tribe and Tiki Tong Tower emerging from the volcano.

The story begins as the camera looks at a volcano. After a few seconds of observing it, the volcano erupts; lava and molten rocks shoot out into the sky. The Tiki Tak Tribe awakes and they emerge from the molten rocks that are still airborne. The eruption continues until Tiki Tong Tower bursts out of the volcano and roars.
That's not gonna work, buddy

Kalimba trying to hypnotize Donkey Kong.

The members of the Tiki Tak Tribe then go down to Donkey Kong Island to hypnotize the animals there by playing music (namely elephants, giraffes, zebras, and squirrels). The animals start stealing every banana from Donkey Kong Island, only to come across Donkey Kong's and Diddy Kong's hut. Diddy Kong jumps out the window and athletically swings down to the ground via the planks of wood that hold the hut up. He immediately notices that his and DK's banana hoard has been stolen once again. Diddy runs away after the animals that stole the hoard, not to be seen in this cutscene again. Donkey Kong finally steps out of the house just in time to see his and Diddy's banana hoard being taken away by animals. A Tiki comes along a few seconds later and pushes him back into his hut. The Tiki plays its music, but Donkey Kong and the rest of the Kong family are too intelligent and strong willed to be hypnotized by their music. The Tiki tries again as Donkey Kong squints his eyes at him and then smiles.

After the cutscene, the player gets control. Donkey Kong punches the Tiki out of his hut and walks outside (in multiplayer, Diddy Kong can double kick the Tiki out of his hut). The Kongs then begin their quest to take back their banana hoard and rid the Tikis of Donkey Kong Island.

DKCR World Map

View of Donkey Kong Island from a distance.

Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong journey through eight different worlds to regain their stolen banana hoard: the Jungle, the Beach, the Ruins, the Cave, the Forest, the Cliff, the Factory and (finally) the Volcano. As they go through the eight worlds, they battle several members of the Tiki Tak Tribe and the possessed wildlife, including animals, plants, skeletons, and robots. The Kongs occasionally visit Cranky Kong in his several shops scattered around the island. He comments about the items he has in stock and sells them to the Kongs, in exchange for Banana Coins.

Tiki Tak Tribe

Tiki Tak Tribe Leaders.

At the end of each world, they must defeat a Tiki Tak Tribe leader. The leaders are Krazy Kalimba, the Maraca Gang, Gong-Oh, Banjo Bottom, Wacky Pipes, Xylobone, Cordian and Tiki Tong - the Tiki Tak Tribe's leader. The first seven bosses are not fought directly as Tikis possess the bodies of animals to do their dirty work: Mugly (possessed by Kalimba), the Scurvy Crew (possessed by the Maraca Gang), Stu (possessed by Gong-Oh), Mole Miner Max (possessed by Banjo Bottom), Mangoruby (possessed by Wacky Pipes), Thugly (possessed by Xylobone), and Colonel Pluck (possessed by Cordian).

Boss battles usually begin with a boss animal eating bananas. One of the tribe leaders then possesses it to fight the Kongs. After the Kongs beat the boss, the boss animal lays down in defeat as the Tiki Tak Tribe leader possessing it emerges from the body, dazed. One of the Kongs then runs up to the tribe leader and KOs it with a total of one or more punches, knocking it into the distance.

In the Factory, the Kongs realize why the Tiki Tak Tribe are stealing bananas. They observe machines that mash bananas and put them into wooden statues to form new Tikis, possibly to take over more than just Donkey Kong Island. After they pass world 7 and shut down the factory, they proceed to the volcano to finish the Tiki Tak Tribe's rein once and for all.

At the end of the final world, they come face-to-face with the 'big banana' himself, Tiki Tong. Upon arriving inside Tiki Tong Tower, Tiki Tong takes and eats Donkey Kong's banana hoard and spits it on tribe leaders, much to the Kongs' horror, disgust and confusion. The tribe leaders then turn into giant hands for Tiki Tong to use. The Kongs break the hands by jumping on the back of each hand twice, while dodging his slap and chop attacks. Tiki Tong then proceeds to crush the Kongs with his head and breathe fireballs at them. They eventually defeat him by smashing his head three times.

Diddy and Donkey are then blasted to the moon due to Tiki Tong exploding. As all hope seemed lost, Donkey Kong uses his incredible strength to punch the moon towards Tiki Tong Tower (if Diddy Kong alone defeats Tiki Tong, a similar cutscene occurs with Diddy Kong headbutting the moon with his Chimpy Charge from Donkey Kong 64), smashing it back into the volcano, causing it to collapse. The moon is comically blasted back into orbit as bananas erupt from the volcano, bringing an end to the Tiki Tak Tribe's rein. All the animals on the island are also freed from their mind control. Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong later celebrate their victory and reclaim their banana hoard.

As the game ends during the aftermath, a golden temple mysteriously appears. After the Kongs gather all of the Rare Orbs from the eight Key Temples, they unlock the gateway to the temple and have access to its secrets.


This game takes inspiration from the basics of SNES Donkey Kong Country series.


Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong both keep their moves from previous games, but their roll attacks lack the continuous momentum for hitting multiple enemies in succession. They also can both use the ground pound ability and the blow ability to reveal secret items and to open paths.

For the first time in the DKC series, both Kongs are seen to be working together simultaneously. Diddy Kong can climb on Donkey Kong's back, a throwback to the "team-up" ability since Donkey Kong Country 2 (ironically an early official DKC artwork showed Diddy Kong riding Donkey Kong's back and has new skills like rolling up like a ball and ramming at enemies). Diddy can use his rocket pack to give him a jump boost, however the player cannot switch between them like in previous Donkey Kong Country games. Similar to Donkey Kong Country 2, to complete most levels, there are slot machine barrels containing prizes to player get. The prizes are: banana bunch, Extra Life Balloon, Banana Coin or random. In case of picking random, the player can also pound the barrel and multiply his/her prize.

The two characters can cling to grassy walls and ceilings to get around. Tutorial Pigs replace Star Barrels as checkpoints. Also, there is two hearts for DK, and two more separate hearts for Diddy (both characters have three hearts in 3DS New Mode). Lastly, collecting Puzzle Pieces and K-O-N-G Letters give the Kongs bonuses. The Puzzle Pieces unlock game development art and dioramas in the Extras menu. After getting all of the K-O-N-G letters in a world, the Kongs unlock one secret level in that world called Key Temple. Complete a Key Temple, and the Kongs get a rare orb. After all eight rare orbs are obtained, the Kongs will unlock the golden temple. Once the temple is completed, a mode called Mirror Mode will be unlocked. The Mirror Mode is a harder game mode by allowing to play only with Donkey Kong in mirrored versions of the levels without equippable items. If all the levels in Mirror Mode are completed, the Kongs will unlock more artwork in the gallery. It is not possible to play Mirror Mode in multiplayer.

Every level can also be played in Time Attack mode. In this mode, Donkey and Diddy have unlimited lives. Donkey Kong always starts the level without Diddy Kong, but DK can pick his friend up during most of the levels. There are four time rating medals the Kongs can get for each level: bronze, silver, gold, and the elusive shiny gold. The times needed for the first three are shown after the Kongs complete the level, but the time needed for shiny gold is unknown and can vary as much as one second faster than gold up to more than 20 seconds faster. It is not possible to play Time Attack mode in multiplayer.


  • Animal Crates house the Animal Buddy Rambi the Rhinoceros much like the previous DKC games. However, the crate is much larger and requires ground pounding to open.
  • Bananas serve their regular purpose; commonly found, 100 must be collected for an extra life.
  • Banana Bunches are worth five bananas. The bigger bunches are very rare and worth twenty bananas.
  • Banana Coins reappear from Donkey Kong Country 2, and are used to purchase health and other items that Cranky Kong sells in his shops.
  • Hearts measure Donkey and Diddy's health. Each Kong has two hearts (or three in 3DS New Mode); once both hearts are lost, a life is lost. However, if the player uses a Heart Boost, the Kongs gain an extra heart container.
  • K-O-N-G Letters make their major reappearance, being unseen since DK Jungle Climber. However, unlike in previous games, they do not give you an extra life; they unlock additional levels. Collecting all K-O-N-G letters from a level grants a Red Star Emblem to the player.
  • Extra Life Balloons are the game's main life counters. Oddly they do not have a face on them unlike previous games. There are only red extra life balloons. At Cranky Kong's Shop is possible to buy one, three or even seven extra life balloons per time.
  • Green Balloons save you from fall into a pit once, but not all the time. Exclusive items to purchase for 3 Banana Coins in the New Mode from 3DS game version and they cannot be used in every level.

A Mine Cart artwork from Donkey Kong Country Returns.

  • Mine Carts are key vehicles needed to get through mine-based levels. Mine carts can not be stopped and are usually found in dangerous locations. Unlike previous games, Mine carts are more fragile - they explode with one hit, which is instant death for the Kongs.
  • Treasure Chests often contain useful or important items, like Extra Life Balloons, Banana Coins, or Puzzle Pieces.
  • Puzzle Pieces are a new type of collectible item that unlock game development artwork and dioramas in the Extras menu.
  • Map Keys are purchased at Cranky Kong's Shop and used to unlock locked levels in worlds.
  • Heart Boosts give a single extra heart container to the Kongs for only one level.
  • Banana Juice makes the Kongs golden and lets you take extra hits (10 hits in Wii version and 5 hits in 3DS version).
  • Crash Guard let your mine cart or rocket barrel take two extra hits. Exclusive item to purchase at Cranky Kong's Shop (for 10 Banana Coins) in the New Mode from 3DS version and it cannot be used in every level.
  • Rare Orbs can open the doorway to the Golden Temple once all eight of them are found.


  • Barrel Cannons make their prominent re-imagination being used exactly as before, in a new era, being used as transportation methods.
    • Blast Barrels launch the Kong(s) in a certain direction like blast cannons, but have been revealed to be able to launch in the background environment.

DK Barrel.

  • DK Barrels retain their original purpose, reviving a lost Kong, but usage is different. In multiplayer mode, once a Kong is out and the player confirms, a DK Barrel will float down from above and the other Kong must jump on it to free the lost character. This system is much like the New Super Mario Bros. Wii style of getting a defeated player back. The DK barrels also restore the Kongs' lost hearts. In the 3DS version New Mode, portable DK Barrels can be purchased at Cranky Kong's Shop for 5 Banana Coins. After losing a character, they can be throw by touching 3DS second screen.
  • Wooden Barrels are base weapons, throwable against most enemies. They are few and far between compared to previous games, however. They are necessary to open secret entrances for Bonus Rooms and hanging bags holding items.



  • Donkey Kong returns as the main hero. He can let Diddy ride on his back and can even roll with Diddy on much like a bowling ball.
  • Diddy Kong returns as the sidekick. He retains his speed, flexibility, and agility as well as his rocket pack and his peanut popguns from Donkey Kong 64. He is DK's nephew.
  • Cranky Kong is the only other character returning in the game. He runs a shop and often makes cheeky comments about the player's choice of items. He is DK's grandfather.
  • Super Kong is a white version of Donkey Kong with a blue tie. He only appears in the Super Guide mode after the player loses eight lives (or five lives in 3DS New Mode) in the same level and he/she prompts the mode at Tutorial Pig's checkpoints. The Super Kong proceedes to complete the current level while the player watches and receives no items collected by the character. It allows the player skipping this level. Pausing the game also allows the player to take control of Super Kong. This mode cannot be activated in multiplayer.

Rambi the Rhinoceros.

Animal Buddies

  • Rambi the Rhinoceros makes his return as the one of the only two animal buddies of the game. He is found in a large wooden crate that requires some ground pounding to break. Rambi is very destructive; he can smash down blocks with his symbol on them and can charge through hordes of enemies and even break wooden spikes. His weakness is fire.
Pic dk 2

Squawks the Parrot.

  • Squawks the Parrot makes an appearance in Cranky Kong's Shop. The Kongs can purchase him for 15 Banana Coins. While playing a level, Squawks sits at the bottom of the screen. If the Kongs get close to a Puzzle Piece (or Bonus Room entrance), he will start squawking. The closer you get to a Puzzle Piece, the more he will squawk. Squawks also serves as world selection indicator in the main map.


All of the animal enemies and bosses are under control of the Tiki Tak Tribe. The enemies are listed below:


Worlds and Levels

There are nine worlds at total in this game including an extra world featuring only one level (in Wii and Nvidia versions), the Golden Temple, which is unlocked after Donkey and Diddy Kong have gotten all of the eight rare orbs from the Key Temple levels. The 3DS version also features extra eight new levels, in the Cloud world.


Map of the Jungle.



Map of the Beach.



Map of the Ruins.



Map of the Cave.



Map of the Forest.



Map of the Cliff.



Map of the Factory.



Map of the Volcano.



Map of the Cloud.

Cloud (3DS version only)

Differences between the Nintendo Wii, 3DS and Nvidia versions

Nintendo 3DS

  • All game inputs are made through 3DS buttons. There is not support to motion controls.
    • To characters' movement, the player has option of use 3DS circle pad or control pad.
    • Similar to Wii Remote and Nunchuk control scheme but different to horizontal Wii Remote, there is not dedicated run button. Both Donkey and Diddy Kong always move themselves at running speed.
  • This version possess two difficulty modes: Original and New. After starting a new game and picking a difficulty mode, the player cannot change it.
    • The Original Mode is not different from Wii version.
    • The New Mode adds one permanent extra heart container for each character (Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong). Each player can equip until three items per level. It also makes prices cheaper and adds new exclusive items to purchase at Cranky Kong's Shop: Green Balloons, Crash Guards and portable DK Barrels (see Items and Barrels sections above) (see Trailers in Videos section below). The Super Guide mode can be activated after the player loses five extra lives in the same level. And all game menus are highlighted in green color instead yellow.
  • During gameplay, the 3DS second screen displays numbers of player's items: totals of bananas, extra lives and Banana Coins, as well Puzzles Pieces and K-O-N-G Letters collected in the current level.
  • After each thirty minutes and completing any level, the player will receive a message advising to take a break.
  • After defeat Tiki Tong, it is possible to rewatch the game credits in the Options menu.
  • There is an extra world with eight exclusive levels, all based in the previous worlds (see Cloud world in Worlds and Levels section above) (see 3DS Exclusive Levels in Videos section below).
  • At Cranky Kong's Shop, in the Original Mode, the Banana Juice item costs only 10 Banana Coins (instead 20 Banana Coins in the Wii version). The Banana Juice also allows the characters to take only 5 hits instead 10 hits (like in the Wii version).
  • It is not longer possible to add a second player in the game map. After picking a game file, the player using Donkey Kong must use his/her file and be the host. The second player must use Diddy Kong and he/she is not capable to interact with menus and maps.
  • In the level 6-B Thugly's Highrise, during the boss fight third phase (red color), it is not longer possible to skip Thugly's "big meteorite spitting" attack by taking damage. In Time Attack mode, it makes get gold and shiny gold medals even harder.
  • After opening the Golden Temple and accessing the Cloud world, the entrance of Golden Temple not longer can be revisited.
  • In Mirror Mode, if the player collect all K-O-N-G Letters in any level, he/she will receive a Blue Star Emblem instead the red one.
  • In the Extras menu, there is a Movie Gallery section containing all movie cutscenes (in lower definition compared to Wii version): game opening, prebattle with Tiki Tong, ending, Golden Temple rising and access to the temple, including all different versions featuring Donkey Kong and/or Diddy Kong.
  • Some animations were cut.
    • The loading screen to access the game from starting screen most features static clouds.
    • In the loading screen when entering or getting out levels, the background has not scrolling effect.
    • Donkey and Diddy Kong no longer stare to interest points and incoming hazards above or below the screen.
    • The Kongs no longer have idle animations: Diddy, by himself, stretching and yawning or Donkey playing his Nintendo DS while Diddy watches when mounted on his back.
    • Rambi the Rhinoceros not longer tries to catch his breath after dismounted by the Kongs.

Nvidia Shield TV

  • The emulated version is very similar to original Wii version, but the game resolution is upscaled to 1080 pixels (see Nvidia Shield TV Version Gameplay in Videos section below).
  • The game inputs are made through Nvidia Shield controller. There is not motion controls.
  • This version is available only in chinese language.
  • Donkey Kong's idle animation displays him playing an iQue DS Lite.[4]



Animal Buddies







This is a very well made game, and any of the few known glitches are very rare. Here is a list of glitches of Wii version.

  • At Cranky Kong's Shop, there is a rare glitch where Cranky will be invisible.
  • There is also a glitch with taking damage where you may not be hurt by enemies/obstacles.
  • In the Ruins, level 3-K Shifty Smashers, there is a part where you must quickly roll underneath an extended block that rises up and down. This is not particularly difficult, but if the player is in a Time Attack, it may, on extremely rare occasions glitch when you jump up on it, because it may send you underneath it when you try and jump onto the next platform, and it will then crush before you can escape.
  • Sometimes, at the end of the level 4-5 Crowded Cavern, if the player crouches very close to the frazzled Mega Squeekly and then rolls, he/she will be able to go through him, and as far as rock ground extends on extremely rare occasions. You will soon come to a large crystalline growth (the one that Mega Squeekly bonks his head on). If you do a flying roll over it (the points won't hurt you), you will land on the wooden deck. There will probably be large gaps in it from when you were dodging Mega Squeekly, because when you flew too low, he smashed through it a little. If it is not cut off completely, you will come to a halt at large stalagmite with a wooden crane behind it. There is no way to pass beyond it, so you will have to go back, as there is nothing more to see. You cannot go through Mega Squeekly again afterwards.



3DS Exclusive Levels

Nvidia Shield TV Version Gameplay


  • This game pushes many differences from the other Donkey Kong Country series games in many ways:
    • This is the first DKC series game that is not made by Rare.
    • Each character has health bars.
    • This is the first DKC series game to not feature King K. Rool as final boss.
    • Enguarde the Swordfish is not featured in this game unlike its predecessors, probably because of the lack of underwater levels.
    • No Kremlings whatsoever.
    • Funky Kong is not present in the game.
      • The world map can be viewed without visiting a special area.
    • The game autosaves after leaving a level or returning to main title.
    • The Extra Life Balloons no longer represent the face of the main protagonist.
    • In multiplayer mode, both players can participate in a level at the same time. But losing both characters spends two extra lives back at checkpoint.
      • It is possible to second player character (Diddy) mount the first one (Donkey) and let the first player to control the game. This way, both can share item effects, like Heart Boost and Banana Juice. The player also has the option to revive the other one's character spending one extra life balloon at any moment.
    • The game no longer exits a level automatically after the player(s) die(s) and lose(s) a life (2 in multiplayer) and instead float down to the most recent checkpoint using the extra life balloon.
  • The game was developed by Retro Studios, the developers of the Metroid Prime series. This is their first non-Metroid series game.
  • This is the first DKC series game to not feature neither underwater nor ice-based levels. Developers were considering the former enough to where underwater levels were already in development or were already developed, but were excluded due to the slow pace of the levels compared to the rest of the game.
  • If the game was pre-ordered from GameStop, a banana-like case for Wii remotes would ship with the game.[5]
  • If Donkey Kong is left still for a while, he will start to play a Nintendo DS in Wii version, and an iQue DS Lite in Nvidia version. And Diddy Kong, by himself, will start to stretching and yawning.

External links


  1. Monster Games, Inc.
  2. Nvidia Shield TV
  3. Wii's Donkey Kong Country Returns Is Now Playable At 1080p And 60fps On Nvidia Shield
  4. Donkey Kong playing the iQue DS Lite but in 1080P 60FPS
  5. Have a Banana When You Pre-order Donkey Kong Country Returns
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