Donkey Kong Country Returns (known as Donkey Kong Returns in Japan) is the fourth game in the Donkey Kong Country sub-series. It features two playable main characters, Donkey Kong and his friend Diddy Kong. The game was developed by Metroid Prime series creator Retro Studios. The main antagonists of the game is the Tiki Tak Tribe.

The game was first released in North America on November 21, 2010; it was later released in other regions in December 2010. A new version known as Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D was later released on the Nintendo 3DS on May 24, 2013. A sequel, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, was released for the Wii U on February 13, 2014 which was ported over to the Nintendo Switch on May 4, 2018.


The game begins with the Tiki Tak tribe hypnotizing the animals around DK Island to gather bananas for them. Soon a Tiki leader, Kalimba, encounters Donkey Kong, but when he tries hypnotizing him, it does nothing. Donkey Kong promptly beats up Kalimba and heads on a journey to retrieve his bananas along with his buddy Diddy Kong.


Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are the playable character in Adventure and Time Attack mode. In the cooperative multiplayer mode the second player will control Donkey Kong's buddy Diddy Kong. In the single player mode Diddy Kong can be found in barrels and will ride atop Donkey Kong's back and give him two extra hearts and a brief hovering ability. If Diddy Kong's two extra hearts are depleted he will be removed from Donkey Kong's back until the player can find another barrel containing him within it. The characters can be moved by pressing left and right on the joystick. The farther in one direction the player presses the joystick, the faster Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong will move. Pressing down on the joystick will cause the characters to crouch and shaking the Wii Remote or Nunchuck while crouching will make the character blow air from his mouth. Pressing the A button on the Wii Remote will result in the character jumping. The longer the player keeps their finger on the A button, the farther the character will jump. When Diddy Kong is on Donkey Kong's back, keeping A button pressed or pressing the A button in mid-air will give Donkey Kong a slightly prolonged jump. When pressing left or right on the joystick while shaking, Donkey Kong or Diddy Kong will perform a roll. If Diddy Kong is on Donkey Kong's back, DK will be able to roll continuously (unless in multiplayer mode). Shaking the Wii Remote or Nunchuck while standing still will make Donkey Kong perform a Ground Pound and cause Diddy Kong to shoot the ground with his peanut popgun (if Diddy is on Donkey Kong's back in multiplayer mode, shaking the Wii Remote will result in Diddy shooting at an enemy). Pressing the Z button will make Donkey Kong cling onto items and vines.

In some of the game's stages, Donkey Kong can find his Animal Buddy Rambi contained within a crate. Upon breaking the crate, Rambi can be used as a vehicle of destruction. Rambi can only become defeated by touching fire or falling down a cliff, making him a very powerful ally. Shaking the Wii Remote while stationary will result in Rambi performing a ground pound. Shaking the Wii Remote while moving left or right will give him a temporary speed boost. To dismount Rambi, the player must press either Z or B.





  • Ack
  • Awk
  • Bopapodamus
  • Buckbot
  • Buckbomb
  • Buzzbite
  • Cageberry
  • Char-Char
  • Chomps
  • Cling Cobra
  • Electrasquid
  • Electroid
  • Firehead Ned
  • Frogoon
  • Hopgoon
  • Jellybob
  • Kowalee
  • Mimic
  • Mole Miner
  • Mole Guard
  • Pinchley
  • Pogobot
  • Pyrobots
  • Rawk
  • Screaming Pillar
  • Skittler
  • Skellyrex
  • Skullyrex
  • Snaggles
  • Snaps
  • Squeekly
  • Squeekly Family
  • Squiddicus
  • Squidly
  • Stilts
  • Tiki Boing
  • Tiki Bomber
  • Tiki Buzz
  • Tiki Doom
  • Tiki Goon
  • Tiki Pilot
  • Tiki Pop
  • Tiki Seeker
  • Tiki Tank
  • Tiki Torch
  • Tiki Tork
  • Tiki Zing
  • Toothberry


  • Mugly
  • Scurvy Crew
  • Stu
  • Mole Miner Max and his Mole Train
  • Mangoruby
  • Thugly
  • Colonel Pluck and his Stompybot 3000
  • Tiki Tong



  • 1-1 Jungle Hijinxs
  • 1-2 King of Cling
  • 1-3 Tree Top Bop
  • 1-4 Sunset Shore
  • 1-5 Canopy Cannons
  • 1-6 Crazy Cart
  • 1-B Mugly's Mound
  • 1-X Platform Panic


  • 2-1 Poppin' Planks
  • 2-2 Sloppy Sands
  • 2-3 Peaceful Pier
  • 2-4 Cannon Cluster
  • 2-5 Stormy Shore
  • 2-6 Blowhole Bound
  • 2-7 Tidal Terror
  • 2-B Pinchin' Pirates
  • 2-X Tumblin' Temple


  • 3-1 Wonky Waterway
  • 3-2 Button Bash
  • 3-3 Mast Blast
  • 3-4 Damp Dungeon
  • 3-5 Itty Bitty Biters
  • 3-6 Temple Topple
  • 3-B Ruined Roost
  • 3-X Shifty Smashers


  • 4-1 Rickety Rails
  • 4-2 Grip & Trip
  • 4-3 Bombs Away
  • 4-4 Mole Patrol
  • 4-5 Crowded Cavern
  • 4-B The Mole Train
  • 4-X Jagged Jewels


  • 5-1 Vine Valley
  • 5-2 Clingy Swingy
  • 5-3 Flutter Flyaway
  • 5-4 Tippin' Totems
  • 5-5 Longshot Launch
  • 5-6 Springy Spores
  • 5-7 Wigglevine Wonders
  • 5-8 Muncher Marathon
  • 5-B Mangoruby Run
  • 5-X Blast & Bounce


  • 6-1 Sticky Situation
  • 6-2 Prehistoric Path
  • 6-3 Weighty Way
  • 6-4 Boulder Roller
  • 6-5 Precarious Plateau
  • 6-6 Crumble Canyon
  • 6-7 Tippy Shippy
  • 6-8 Clifftop Climb
  • 6-B Thugly's Highrise
  • 6-X Perilous Passage


  • 7-1 Foggy Fumes
  • 7-2 Slammin' Steel
  • 7-3 Handy Hazards
  • 7-4 Gear Getaway
  • 7-5 Cog Jog
  • 7-6 Switcheroo
  • 7-7 Music Madness
  • 7-B Feather Fiend
  • 7-X Treacherous Track


  • 8-1 Furious Fire
  • 8-2 Hot Rocket
  • 8-3 Roasting Rails
  • 8-4 Smokey Peak
  • 8-5 Bobbing Basalt
  • 8-6 Moving Melters
  • 8-7 Red Red Rising
  • 8-B Tiki Tong Terror
  • 8-X Five Monkey Trial

Golden Temple

  • 9-1 Golden Temple


Nintendo had wanted to revive the Donkey Kong franchise for quite some time. There have been many games within the franchise but none have really reached the amount of success that the Donkey Kong Country series had on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo EAD Tokyo made an attempt with Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, bur while the game was a critical darling, it didn't shoot to the top of the charts, possibly due to it being released near the end of the GameCube's life. Kensuke Tanabe, who assisted Retro with the Metroid Prime franchise, suggested the game to Retro's president Michael Kelbaugh who had mentioned prior to the suggestion of his desire to work on the series, that he and his team should work on Donkey Kong Country Returns. Nintendo EAD Tokyo, the developers behind Jungle Beat, were already working on Super Mario Galaxy 2 and to a lesser extent Flipnote Studio in April of 2008 and thus were not available to create the next game.

During the development of the game, the game was codenamed "Fate" or "F8" to represent how the game fell into Retro Studio's laps. Their studio had just lost several key members, which made the company open to various different proposals. Shigeru Miyamoto and Tanabe brought up the idea of Donkey Kong Country, which they quickly agreed upon. When deliberating on how the game should control, the developers initially decided to use the Wii Remote + Nunchuk combination. After the success of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, however, they decided to allow the player to also use the Wii Remote sideways (without the Nunchuk). The developers of the game have stated that they personally prefer using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Game director Bryan Walker has stated that he assumes that people will at first use the Wii Remote on its side and then "graduate" to their preferred setup.

Donkey Kong Country Returns was officially unveiled by Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aime during the company's 2010 E3 press conference. A couple of days earlier, IGN reported on a rumor that the Nintendo first-party was in fact developing a new game in the Donkey Kong series, but provided no information regarding the then rumored title or the name of it.

Shortly after the game's reveal, IGN had an interview with Retro Studios and Tanabe regarding Donkey Kong Country Returns. When asked about the possibility of teaming up with former Rare (the original game's developer) employees such as David Wise to recreate the soundtrack, they denied it. Instead, they said, they were working with Nintendo's Kenji Yamamoto, who had previously worked with Retro on all of the Metroid Prime video games. Much of the music from the original Donkey Kong Country soundtrack have been reworked into the game. A full orchestration was not used for the game, but some bass instruments and a piano were incorporated into some tracks.

According to Retro Studios, each level in Donkey Kong Country Returns has about three times the amount of detail than a typical room in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in terms of textures and polygons. Thay also stated that the water levels from the previous installments will be removed because of their repetitiveness and difficulty.


  • In one of the early stages of the game, a large structure can be seen in the distance. This structure is based on the sprite of Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong Jr. Math on the NES.
  • A more classic and less visible representation of Donkey Kong's history is present in the form of the construction site from the arcade classic Donkey Kong in one of the industrial stages.
  • Also in the industrial stage is a hammer-wielding Mr. Game & Watch. His appearance is based on Vermin, a classic Game & Watch title in which the character bashes the heads of nasty rodents trying to destroy his garden.


Donkey Kong Country Returns is a highly acclaimed addition to the series. Metacritic gives this game a metascore of 83/100 based on 62 critic reviews. Destructoid was very positive in their review of the game and gave it a 10/10 score. EDGE was more critical and gave the game a 7/10, mirroring the score that they gave to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. IGN, who rewarded the game with a 9/10, also nominated it as one of the best Wii games and best platforming games of E3 2010.

Examiner was very favorable of the game, saying that Donkey Kong Returns is not only "one of the best platformers of 2010, but also one of the best Wii games ever made". Their review and Kotaku's were both listed on Retro Studios' website.

3DS Version

In a 2013 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo revealed that they going to release a Nintendo 3DS version of Donkey Kong Country Returns. It was released on May 24, 2013 and developed by Monster Games instead of Retro. As it was ported down from stronger hardware, there were some reduction in quality. The game runs at 30 fps instead of 60 fps and the graphics were downgraded significantly to fit the 3DS resolution. Since the 3DS would be awkward to shake, the motion controls have been designated to the X/Y buttons. In addition, new items were added to make it easier including a crash guard to take an extra hit on mine-cart and rocket barrel levels and a green balloon to save you from falling. The game rewards completion of the game with 9 more levels with the 9th being the original's bonus level.





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