The Tiki Tak Tribe is awoken by a volcanic explosion and go down to Donkey Kong Island to hypnotize the animals there (namely elephants, giraffes, zebras, and squirrels). The animals start stealing every banana from Donkey Kong Island, only to come across Donkey Kong's hut. Diddy Kong jumps out the window and athletically swings down the planks of wood that are holding the house up. He finds DK's Banana Hoard has been stolen once again. Diddy Kong runs away, not to be seen in this cutscene again. Donkey Kong finally steps out the house just as a Tiki comes along and pushes him back into his hub. The Tiki plays his music, but Donkey Kong and the Kong Family are too smart to be hypnotized by their music. This cutscene follows with gameplay that allows Donkey Kong to punch the Tiki out of the house.
Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong then 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 must defeat the eight Tiki Tak Tribe leaders: Kalimba, the Maraca Triplets, Gong, Ukulele, Panflute, Xylophone, Accordion and Tiki Tong- the Tiki Tak Tribe's king.
This game copies the basics of the SNES series.
- Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong have both received moves from their previous games. Diddy and Donkey can both use the Ground Pound ability and also "blow" to reveal secret items. 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 you cannot switch between them like in previous Donkey Kong Country games.
The two can cling to grassy walls and ceilings to get around. Tutorial Pigs replace barrels as checkpoints. Also, there is two hearts for DK, and two more separate hearts for Diddy in two-player, and one with both in one-player. Lastly, collecting Puzzle Pieces and KONG Letters give the Kongs bonuses. The Puzzle Pieces unlock art and Dioramas. After getting all of the KONG Letters in a World, the Kongs unlock one more level in that world called a Key Temple. Afterwards, they complete a Key Temple and get a Rare Orb. After all eight Rare Orbs are obtained, the Kongs will unlock the level Golden Temple. Once it is completed, a mode called Mirror Mode will be unlocked. If all the levels in Mirror Mode are completed, the Kongs will unlock more images in the gallery.
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 ratings 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.
- Animal Crates house the Animal Buddy Rambi the Rhinoceros much like the previous DKC games. However, the crate is much larger and require ground pounding to open.
- Bananas serve their regular purpose; commonly found, 100 must be collected for a free life.
- Banana Bunches are worth five bananas. The bigger bunches are very rare and worth twenty bananas.
- Banana Coins reappear from DKC2, and are used to purchase health and other items that Cranky Kong sells.
- Hearts measure Donkey and Diddy's health. Each have two and once both are lost a life is lost. However, if the player bought and used a health boost, they would get three hearts.
- KONG 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.
- Extra Life Balloons are the game's main life counters. Oddly they do not have a face on them unlike previous games. There's only the red ones too, instead of red, green, and blue.
- 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, sending Donkey Kong down to the depths below.
- Treasure Chests often contain useful items.
- Puzzle Pieces are a new type of collectible item, that unlock Art and Dioramas
- Map Keys are used to unlock locked paths in Worlds
- Heart Boost gives an extra Heart for one level
- Banana Juice lets you take an extra 10 hits
- Rare Orbs can open the doorway to the Golden Temple once all eight of them are found.
- Blast Barrels make their prominent re-imagination being used exactly as before, in a new era, being used as transportation methods.
- Barrel Cannons launch the Kong(s) in a certain direction like Blast Barrels, but have been revealed to be able to launch in the background environment.
- DK Barrels retain their original purpose, reviving a lost Kong, but usage is different. Once a Kong is out, a DK Barrel will float down from above and the other Kong must jump on it to free the other Kong. This system is much like the New Super Mario Bros. Wii style of getting a defeated player back.
- Wooden Barrels are base weapons, throwable against most enemies. They are few and far between compared to previous games, however.
- 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 flexibility as well as his Rocket Pack and his Peanut Popgun from Donkey Kong 64.
- Cranky Kong is the only other character returning in the game. He runs a shop and often makes 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 when the player loses eight lives.
- Rambi the Rhinoceros makes his return as the one of the only 2 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 new symbol on them and can charge through hordes of enemies and even break spikes. His weakness is fire.
- Squawks the Parrot makes an appearance in Cranky's Shop. The Kongs can purchase him for 15 Banana Coins. For one level he will sit at the bottom of screen. If the Kongs get close to a Puzzle Piece, he will start squawking, the closer you get to it the more he will squawk.
All of the enemies and bosses are under control of the Tiki Tak Tribe. The enemies are listed below:
- Bonehead Jed
- Cling Cobra
- Firehead Ned
- Mole Miner
- Mole Guard
- Screaming Pillar
- Tiki Boing
- Tiki Bomber
- Tiki Buzz
- Tiki Doom
- Tiki Goon
- Tiki Pop
- Tiki Seeker
- Tiki Tank
- Tiki Torch
- Tiki Tork
- Tiki Zing
- Mugly (possessed by Kalimba)
- Scurvy Crew (possessed by Maraca Triplets)
- Stu (possessed by Gong)
- Mole Miner Max (possessed by Ukelele)
- Mangoruby (possessed by Panflute)
- Thugly (possessed by Xylophone)
- Colonel Pluck (possessed by Accordion)
- Tiki Tong
Worlds and Levels
There are nine worlds total in this game including the Lost World featuring only one level, The Golden Temple which is unlocked after Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong have gotten all of the eight Crystal Balls from the Key Temples.
- Jungle Hijinxs
- King of Cling
- Tree Top Bop
- Sunset Shore
- Canopy Cannons
- Crazy Cart
- Mugly's Mound
- Platform Panic (Secret level; unlocked by collecting all "KONG" letters in World 1.)
- Poppin' Planks
- Sloppy Sands
- Peaceful Pier
- Cannon Cluster
- Stormy Shore
- Blowhole Bound
- Tidal Terror
- Pinchin' Pirates
- Vine Valley
- Clingy Swingy
- Flutter Flyaway
- Tippin' Totems
- Longshot Launch
- Springy Spores
- Wigglevine Wonders
- Muncher Marathon
- Mangoruby Run
- Sticky Situation
- Prehistoric Path
- Weighty Way
- Boulder Roller
- Precarious Plateau
- Crumble Canyon
- Tippy Shippy
- Clifftop Climb
- Thugly's Highrise
- Foggy Fumes
- Slammin' Steel
- Handy Hazards
- Gear Getaway
- Cog Jog
- Music Madness
- Lift-off Launch
- Feather Fiend
- Furious Fire
- Hot Rocket
- Roasting Rails
- Smokey Peak
- Bobbing Basalt
- Moving Melters
- Red Red Rising
- Tiki Tong Terror
- This game pushes many differences from the other Country series in many ways:
- It's the only Donkey Kong Country-series game that is not made by Rare.
- Each character has health bars.
- This is the only Donkey Kong Country series game to not feature King K. Rool as final boss.
- Enguarde is not featured in this game unlike its predecessors, probably because of the lack of underwater levels.
- No Kremlings whatsoever.
- Funky Kong is excluded.
- The game was developed by Retro Studios, the developers of the Metroid Prime Trilogy. This is their first non-Metroid series game.
- This is the first Donkey Kong Country series game to not feature neither underwater nor ice-based stages. Developers were considering the former enough to where underwater stages 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.
- If Donkey is not controlled for a while, he starts to play his Nintendo DS.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns official website
- Donkey Kong Country Returns at Nintendo E3 Network
- On IGN
|Donkey Kong series|
|Classic||Donkey Kong • Donkey Kong Jr. (Math) • Donkey Kong 3 • Donkey Kong '94|
|Mario vs. DK||Mario vs. Donkey Kong • March of the Minis • Minis March Again! • Mini-Land Mayhem!|
|Donkey Kong Country||Donkey Kong Country • Diddy's Kong Quest • Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! • Returns • Returns 3D|
|Donkey Kong Land||Donkey Kong Land • Land 2 • Land III|
|DK||DK: King of Swing • DK: Jungle Climber|
|Single games||Donkey Kong 64 • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat|
|Racing games||Diddy Kong Racing (DS) • Diddy Kong Pilot • Donkey Kong Racing • Donkey Kong Barrel Blast|
|Donkey Konga||Donkey Konga • Donkey Konga 2 • Donkey Konga 3|
|Game and Watch||Donkey Kong Hockey • Donkey Kong Circus|
|Other games||Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers • Donkey Kong: Jungle Fever • Donkey Kong: Banana Kingdom|