After selecting the level, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong will start with a default one minute time limit. The Kongs must rush through the level and gain time bonuses (indicated with a simple "+5", "+10", etc.) and reach the end before time runs out. Points are earned for getting Bananas, K-O-N-G Letters, Extra Life Balloons, freeing Animal Buddies and defeating enemies. Enemies killed quickly in a row will get their score multiplied by how many are defeated in a row (x2 for two enemies, x3 for three, etc.) Points are needed to get a high ranking in the end.
The end score is based on the following rubric:
- Score (prior to winning)
- Time Left, with 1,000 points added per second remaining (10 seconds = 10,000 points, etc.)
- Buddy Bonus, for having an animal buddy at the end (always 5,000 bonus points)
- Kongs Bonus, for having both Kongs at the end (5,000 bonus points)
The game will then add up the points and rate the player on a ribbon scale of "D-S", with "D" being the lowest and "S" being the highest, above an "A" rank.