Donkey Kong Country (series)

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Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country series logo.png
The Donkey Kong Country series logo
Genres Platforming
Developers Rare (1994–1999)
Retro Studios (2010–present)
Publishers Nintendo
Artists Steve Mayles
Kevin Bayliss
Adrian Smith
Mark Stevenson
Neil Crook
Writers Gregg Mayles
Dan Owsen
Composers David Wise
Eveline Fischer
Kenji Yamamoto
Platforms Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Virtual Console, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Platform of origin Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Year of inception 1994
First release Donkey Kong Country
21 November 1994
Latest release Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
14 February 2014

The Donkey Kong Country (DKC) video game series is a series of platform video games originally developed by Rare and later Retro Studios, and published by Nintendo. It is a spin-off from the original Donkey Kong series. In it, players control Donkey Kong and his friends and must complete a series of sidescrolling levels and defeat numerous enemies and bosses to reach the games' main goal.

The original Donkey Kong Country trilogy was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System between 1994 and 1996, and was developed by Rare. The first game was later ported to the Game Boy Color and the trilogy to the Game Boy Advance and Virtual Console service on Wii. The trilogy was followed by a game on the Nintendo 64 entitled Donkey Kong 64 (called Donkey Kong Country 64 early in its development). Another Donkey Kong game was in development for the GameCube, but after Microsoft's acquisition of Rare in 2002, the development of future Donkey Kong Country games stopped. Several experimental spin-off titles that utilised the DK Bongos were released between 2003 and 2005. However, Retro Studios revived the Donkey Kong Country series in 2010 with the launch of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii, and later the Nintendo 3DS. The most recent title in the series is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U.

The series' protagonists are Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, Kiddy Kong and Cranky Kong, aided by other Kongs and their friends. King K. Rool and his Kremling cohorts serve as the primary antagonists for most of the series. Other notable villains include the Tiki Tak Tribe and the Snowmads, introduced to the series by Retro Studios.

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

The games mainly take place on Donkey Kong Island, which has taken many different forms. Originally, it was quite diverse; it has a large jungle on the bottom, pine trees above, icy mountains, and a lone industrial area. In Donkey Kong Country Returns, however, the island appears drastically different than in previous titles. It no longer appears in the shape of Donkey Kong's head, and now has a large volcano protruding from it. The island is also now teeming with ancient temples, many of which appear to have been built by the Tiki Tak Tribe sometime before they were encased in the volcano.

Donkey Kong Island made two cameo appearances in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: it can be seen in the background of the areas Gangplank Galleon and K. Rool's Keep. In the Game Boy Advance remake of Donkey Kong Country 2, these cameos were removed.

Story[edit]

In the original Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong, together with his nephew and sidekick Diddy Kong, must recover his stolen hoard of bananas from King K. Rool and the Kremlings. Upon investigating the empty "Kong's Banana Hoard", located directly underneath his home in the Kongo Jungle, Donkey Kong embarks on an adventure throughout his native Donkey Kong Island. While collecting bananas on the island's vastly different regions, Donkey Kong must defeat many enemies, including the reptilian Kremlings, and other hazardous creatures native to the island. After progressing through the island's different areas, Donkey Kong ultimately arrives at a pirate ship called Gangplank Galleon, where Donkey Kong's nemesis and the leader of the Kremlings, King K. Rool, awaits with Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard. Upon his defeat, the game ends with a final shot of Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard restored to its former glory, filled with bananas once again.

Donkey Kong Country 2 opens with Diddy Kong standing on the deck of a pirate ship. In the ship's cabin, he finds a note stating that Donkey Kong has been kidnapped by Kaptain K. Rool, a pirate Kremling, who had demanded the entire Banana Hoard that he stole in the previous game for a ransom from the Kongs. Diddy Kong subsequently attempts to rescue Donkey Kong from the Kaptain, and accompanying him is his girlfriend, Dixie Kong. Together, they travel through Crocodile Isle and are helped on their way by an assortment of animals (called Animal Buddies) in a bid to defeat K. Rool and rescue Donkey Kong.

At the start of Donkey Kong Country 3, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong have disappeared during a fishing trip to the Northern Kremisphere, a previously unseen part of the DK Isles. Dixie Kong sets off to find the pair and is joined by her cousin Kiddy Kong. Initially, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong appear to have been kidnapped by a mysterious robot named KAOS, but later in the game it is revealed that King K. Rool, going by the new moniker Baron K. Roolenstein, is the real mastermind behind the pair's disappearance.

In Donkey Kong 64 King K. Rool wants to destroy DK Isles with a large laser called the Blast-O-Matic (as he thinks if he can't have DK Isles, nobody can), but it malfunctions after a crash that puts his floating, mechanical island face-to-face with DK Isles. To buy some time, he captures Donkey Kong's friends and locks them up, and then steals Donkey Kong's precious hoard of Golden Bananas. Donkey Kong discovers a huge ex-member of K. Rool's army named K. Lumsy, who promises to help Donkey Kong if he is freed from the prison cell K. Rool has locked him in. To save K. Lumsy, Donkey Kong and his friends must defeat the leaders of K. Rool's army, one at a time, by proceeding through the worlds of DK Isles and K. Rool's floating island.

Donkey Kong Country Returns' story revolves around creatures known as Tikis, which are new to the series. The different types of Tikis fill the role of the antagonists in the story, replacing the Kremlings from Donkey Kong Country.[1][2] The story begins when a group of evil Tikis known as the Tiki Tak Tribe arrive on Donkey Kong Island after being awaken by a volcanic explosion,[3] and plays music to hypnotise the animals on the island to steal Donkey Kong's bananas. Since Donkey Kong is resistant to the Tiki's music, he works with Diddy Kong to retrieve his hoard of bananas from the Tikis.[4] Throughout the game, the pair travels through eight worlds to recover their stolen bananas. After Tiki Tong is defeated, the Kongs were launched into space where they punch down on the moon which crushes Tiki Tong's base and sends bananas flying everywhere.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze begins at Donkey Kong's hut, where the Kongs are celebrating his birthday. Just as he is about to blow the candles out, Donkey Kong notices a mysterious snowflake appear and put out the candle on his birthday cake. An ice dragon flies toward Donkey Kong Island, turning the sea under it to ice. The Kongs are then blown away from the island by the ice dragon's intense winds, landing on the Lost Mangroves island. Afterwards, a large Snowmad ship stations itself where the Volcano from Donkey Kong Country Returns used to be, and the Snowmad tribe seizes Donkey Kong Island for their own, turning it into a frosty area with continuous snowfall. After traversing across 5 islands, the Kongs arrive at Donkey Kong Island. The Kongs make their way to the leader of the Snowmads, Lord Fredrik. After a long battle, Donkey Kong delivers the final punch to Lord Fredrik, which sends him flying out through the roof of the Snowmad's ship, destroying it in the process. Donkey Kong uses the horn that was used to freeze their island, turning Donkey Kong Island back to normal.

Gameplay[edit]

Games[edit]

Timeline of release years
1994 Donkey Kong Country
1995 Donkey Kong Country 2
1996 Donkey Kong Country 3
1997
1998
1999 Donkey Kong 64
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010 Donkey Kong Country Returns
2011
2012
2013
2014 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Rare era[edit]

The games in the Donkey Kong Country series are primarily platform where players must complete a number of different side-scrolling levels.[5][6] Each level is uniquely themed and consists of varying tasks such as swimming, riding in mine carts, launching out of barrel cannons, or swinging from vine to vine.[6] Players lose a life if they get hit by any enemy or fall off the screen. To defeat an enemy, players can either execute a roll, jump or ground slam which can also unveil secret items. However, some enemies cannot be taken down like this, so the player must either throw a barrel or use the assistance of a friendly animal. Enemies vary in difficulty, usually becoming tougher to take down as the game progresses. When the player has lost all their lives, the game is over. However, the player can gain additional lives by collecting items scattered throughout the levels, including 100 bananas; all four golden letters that spell out K–O–N–G; extra life balloons; and golden animal tokens that lead to bonus levels.[7] There are also many secret passages that can lead to bonus games where the player can earn additional lives or other items.[8]

Donkey Kong 64, being a 3D adventure, is in many ways very different from the other games in the series. The game has strong platforming links, similar to that of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. There are a total of five playable characters, each with unique abilities and upgrades. The player starts out with access to Donkey Kong only, then goes on to unlock each of the other four Kongs as part of the gameplay. They are each necessary to defeat character-specific bosses in each level. Each new Kong that is freed can be accessed as playable through tag barrels that are scattered throughout each world. Additionally, each Kong is represented by a colour which works alongside the game's unique collecting system where objects such as bananas and coins can only be collected by the Kong whose colour corresponds to the colour of that object. Each playable Kong has several different collectibles within the game. There are five Golden Bananas per Kong in every level that only that specific character can get. In every level, each Kong delivers a colour-appropriate blueprint to Snide. The Golden Bananas are used as payment to open the entrance to every new level. Each character can also find 100 colour-appropriate bananas per level through single bananas, bunches, or balloons. The bananas are necessary to unlock boss fights, which drop keys that open the cage of K.Lumsy who unlocks new levels to be completed. Another collectible is character-specific coloured coins. With these coins, each Kong is allowed to buy essential combat items: Cranky Kong's special ability potions, Funky Kong's guns, and Candy Kong's musical instruments. Other items to be collected are ammunition for guns, orange grenades (which are usable as weapons), crystal coconuts used to fuel special abilities, film for taking banana fairy pictures, and headphones scattered in each level to restore the instruments' powers.

Retro Studios era[edit]

In the newer games that succeed the original trilogy, new gameplay elements were added such as levels in which the characters and foreground environments appear as silhouettes, spawning several new gameplay mechanics.[2] In Returns and Tropical Freeze, collecting K-O-N-G letters will not award any lives to the player and unlock various bonuses and hidden levels. Additionally, in these games collecting puzzle pieces unlocks artwork from the games. In Tropical Freeze the Kongs are able to pluck items from the ground and pick up and throw stunned enemies. Additionally, filling up a 'Kong-POW' meter allows Donkey Kong and his partner to perform a special move which defeats all on-screen enemies and converts them into items depending on the partner.[9][10] The game also utilises the "Super Guide" feature that previously appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2. If the player loses eight lives in a single level, they are given the option to allow a white-coloured Donkey Kong named Super Kong to take over and complete the level for them. However, Super Kong will not look for collectible items, nor will he show the player where they are. He also keeps anything he happens to collect, so the player is not rewarded for these items.[11] However, the Super Guide is absent in Tropical Freeze and is replaced by an expanded shop, run by Funky Kong, offering various support items such as temporary invincibility.

Features[edit]

Playable characters[edit]

Players of Donkey Kong Country control one of the various characters, depending on the game: Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, Kiddy Kong and Cranky Kong. In the original trilogy, the player can switch between characters if they are both on the screen. In Donkey Kong 64, the player can switch between Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong and newcomers, Lanky Kong, Tiny Kong and Chunky Kong through "Tag barrels" in certain locations. In the Retro Studios games, the player has to choose character(s) before each level. Each character has its own specific characteristics: Donkey is the larger and stronger of the two, and can defeat enemies more easily; Diddy is faster and more agile, but not as powerful, and can use his barrel jetpack to glide the air over short distances and his peanut gun to stun enemies;[12] Dixie can spin her ponytail into a propeller and slowly descend through the air, with an initial boost in height at the start, allowing her and Donkey Kong to fly up out-of-reach platforms or items, and can also use her candy gun to stun enemies; Kiddy has the ability to bounce across open water; Cranky, in a similar mechanic to the DuckTales video game, can use his cane to bounce on dangerous surfaces such as spiky thorns and reach higher areas and defeat certain enemies the other Kongs cannot.[13] In several levels, players can gain assistance from various animals, who are found by breaking open crates. These helpers include Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish, Winky the Frog, and Squawks the Parrot, among others. These animals have certain unique abilities that the player can use such as Rambi's ability to charge at enemies.[14][15] Each animal can be found in an appropriately themed level: for example, Enguarde can only be found underwater, and Squawks will be found in caves.[6][16] Some animals can also give players access to bonus games.[12]

Modes[edit]

The series' games offer single-player and multiplayer game modes. In the original trilogy, the multiplayer mode allows two players to play alternatively in one of two different modes: the competitive "Contest" mode or the cooperative "Team" mode. In Contest mode, each player controls a different set of Kongs and take turns playing each level as quickly as possible; the objective is to complete the most levels in the fastest time. In Team mode, each player takes the role of one of the two Kongs and play as a tag team: the active player's Kong will control the progression of the two players while the other player is dormant; the other player takes control if the active player loses his Kong from damage or if the active decides to switch out. In Donkey Kong 64 multiplayer can be played by up to four players at one time. It features three basic arenas, one special arena, and six gameplay modes. The five playable characters from the single player adventure are used in the multiplayer mode, along with a secret character, Krusha. If only two players play in the special arena, random baddies will spawn to make the game more difficult. The basic arenas resemble the world structure of the single-player game's levels. Additionally, players have access to the weapons and attacks the playable characters have in the main game, though none of the special abilities are available for use. Both Free-for-All and team settings are available for most game modes. The special arena is a duplicate of the Kremling fighting ring from the main game. In contrast to the basic arena, players are solely tasked with defeating one another. Players only have access to their melee attacks, though power-ups not seen in the main game are available for players to pick up. In the newer games, multiplayer mode enables a second player to control other Kongs.[2] If a player's character dies in two-player mode, it can be brought back by using the other character to hit a "DK Barrel" or red balloon that floats into view, a mechanic similar to the one used in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. To avoid problems arising from differences in the players' skills, the second player can hop on Donkey's back to take on a more passive role, while a Kong's specific characteristic can be used to help his partner, such as Diddy's ability to prolong jumps.[2] There is also an optional time attack mode, which in Tropical Freeze feature online leaderboards, allowing players to view video replays of the top ranked players.[2]

User interface[edit]

Donkey Kong Country uses a series of map screens to track the players' progress. Between each level, players control their character on the map screen, navigating to the next level they want to play. Each level on the map is marked with an icon: unfinished levels are marked by Kremlings (in the original trilogy), while friendly areas are marked by members of the Kong family.[17] Every individual world map screen has one boss enemy at the end of the course, which must be defeated to advance to further worlds. In the original trilogy, it is only possible to access the entire island map after defeating a world boss. However, it is also possible to access previous world maps by finding Funky Kong and borrowing his barrel plane. Players use this ability to select the world from the main screen, then the level within it. During play the game interface hides most game-related information, such as the number of bananas, letters, and animal tokens collected, as well as the number of lives remaining. When an item is collected, the relevant information briefly appears on the screen.[18] In Donkey Kong 64 a huge overworld is used instead of a map screen.

List of games[edit]

The original Donkey Kong Country trilogy was originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System between 1994 and 1996, and was developed by British video game developer Rare. These games were later ported to the Game Boy Color (the first one only) and Game Boy Advance, and were also re-released on the Virtual Console service on Wii. After Microsoft's acquisition of Rare in 2002 development of future Donkey Kong games stopped. However, Retro Studios revived the series in 2010 with the launch of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii, and later the Nintendo 3DS. The most recent title in the series is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U.

Donkey Kong Country (1994)
The original game was developed by Rare and was originally published for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1994. It was the first Donkey Kong game that was not produced or directed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the character's original creator, although he was still involved with the project.[19] In the game, Donkey Kong, together with his nephew and sidekick Diddy Kong, must recover his stolen hoard of bananas from King K. Rool and the Kremlings.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (1995)
The second game was also developed by Rare and was originally published for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1995. The game begins soon after Donkey Kong has been kidnapped by the prime antagonist Kaptain K. Rool, leaving Diddy and his girlfriend Dixie to rescue him. Together, the two travel to various and distinct parts of Crocodile Isle where the game is set on which there are varying worlds totalling in eight unique environments.[20]
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (1996)
The third game was also developed by Rare and was originally published for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1996. It was the final installment in the original trilogy. In the game, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong have disappeared during a fishing trip to the Northern Kremisphere, a previously unseen part of the DK Isles. Dixie Kong sets off to find the pair and is joined by her cousin Kiddy Kong.
Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
The fourth game was also developed by Rare and was the only game in the series for the Nintendo 64. It was the last entry to be developed by Rare. The game is a follow-up to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, with many levels containing elements from those games, such as the mine carts and the bonus stages. The game follows the adventures of Donkey Kong and four of his simian friends as they try to win back their hoard of Golden Bananas and banish King K. Rool. Players can control all five Kongs in eight individual levels as well as a greater world map, a multiplayer mode, and several minigames.
Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010)
The series was revived by Retro Studios with the launch of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii in 2010.[21] It is the series' fifth entry and the first not to involve Rare during its development.[1] The game's story focuses on a group of evil creatures called Tikis known as the Tiki Tak Tribe that arrive on Donkey Kong Island,[3] and hypnotise the island's animals to steal Donkey Kong's bananas. This forces him to retrieve the hoard with the help of his sidekick Diddy Kong.[4]
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (2014)
The sixth game in the series was developed by Retro Studios and published for the Wii U in 2014.[22] It is the first game in the series rendered in high-definition. The game's story focuses on the Snowmads, a group of Viking creatures, such as walruses, owls and penguins, that invade Donkey Kong Island, forcing Donkey Kong to go against them with the help of his friends Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, and Cranky Kong.[23] This is Cranky Kong's first appearance as a playable character in the series.[24]

Ports[edit]

Donkey Kong Country was later ported to the Game Boy Color in 2000, the Game Boy Advance in 2003 and was re-released on the Virtual Console on Wii in 2007. Donkey Kong Country 2 was ported to the Game Boy Advance in 2004 and was re-released on the Virtual Console on Wii in 2007. Donkey Kong Country 3 was ported to Game Boy Advance in 2005, and was re-released on the Virtual Console on Wii in 2007.

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D was re-released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013.[25] Donkey Kong Country Returns was released on the Nintendo eShop on Wii U in PAL regions in 2015.

Donkey Kong Land[edit]

The original Donkey Kong Country trilogy was adapted as three games for the Game Boy: Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Land 2 and Donkey Kong Land III. The world themes and storylines were largely the same as the DKC trilogy, with mild deviations. However, they featured monochrome graphics, different level layouts and the addition of a few original enemies. The games were re-released on the Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS between April 2014 and February 2015.

Television series[edit]

Donkey Kong Country is a Canadian-French computer-animated television series created by France 2 and Nelvana. It was originally from a different series titled: La Planète de Donkey Kong (The Planet of Donkey Kong in English translation). Donkey Kong Country first aired in France on 4 September 1996; it premiered in Canada and aired in its entirety on Teletoon. It has premiered late in the United States on CBS originally on August 15, 1997, before the Fox Broadcasting Company got the U.S. exclusive rights to air it. On December 19, 1998, was when they aired two episodes as specials and aired a few more episodes during the summer of 1999 before being taken off. However, the series was broadcast in its entirety on Fox Family from 1998 until 2000. In Japan, Donkey Kong Country was aired on TV Tokyo on October 1, 1999 and aired all episodes on Friday nights at 6:30PM with the exception of its final episode which was a clip episode. Although that was later presented in another TV Tokyo series, which was on a quiz show called Ohashi. It was one of the earliest television series to be computer-animated to match an artistic style. The series was partially negatively received in U.S. shores due to its large amount of differences from the games; however, it has been successful and popular in Canada, France and Japan, with the latter of the three having quite a line of merchandise, that includes the entire series released on 13 volumes in videotape releases, with three episodes per tape. Several elements of the series like the crystal coconut, appeared in later Donkey Kong Country video games like Donkey Kong 64, which was released a year after the show began airing on Fox in the U.S.

The series' story begins when Donkey Kong happens to find a magic coconut called the Crystal Coconut, which grants wishes and is capable of answering questions asked of it. Donkey Kong is the protector of the Crystal Coconut, which is housed in Cranky Kong's Cabin. King K. Rool and his minions want to steal the Crystal Coconut from Donkey Kong and company to rule Kongo Bongo Island, the setting of the show. Try as they may, King K. Rool and his minions never succeed in stealing the Crystal Coconut. Each episode features two songs performed by the show's characters. The series spanned a total of 40 episodes in two seasons. Season 1 was produced by Medialab Technology for 26 episodes. But after the license became invalid, Nelvana got the rights to license the series and worked with Chinese studio, Hong Guang Animation for Season 2 that features 14 more episodes.

Reception[edit]

The Donkey Kong Country series has received critical acclaim, garnering an aggregate score of 86.83% on GameRankings—not including ports and re-releases.


Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Donkey Kong Country 89% (SNES)[26]
90% (GBC)[27]
79% (GBA)[28]
— (SNES)
— (GBC)
78% (GBA)[29]
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest 90% (SNES)[30]
81% (GBA)[31]
— (SNES)
80% (GBA)[32]
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! 84% (SNES)[33]
75% (GBA)[34]
— (SNES)
77% (GBA)[35]
Donkey Kong 64 87%[36] 90%[37]
Donkey Kong Country Returns 87% (Wii)[38]
83% (3DS)[39]
87% (Wii)[40]
83% (3DS)[41]
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze 84%[42] 83%[43]


References[edit]

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