The Ultimate Guide to Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Country Returns is a 2010 platform game developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the Wii console. The game made its debut in North America in November 2010, followed by releases in PAL regions and Japan the subsequent month. This game marked a significant milestone as the first installment in the Donkey Kong Country series not to be developed by the original creator, Rare.

Plot and Setting

The game’s narrative centers around a malevolent group of Tiki-like creatures known as the Tiki Tak Tribe. These creatures are unleashed on Donkey Kong Island, where they hypnotize the island’s animals into stealing Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong’s treasured banana hoard. This sinister theft sets Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on an epic journey across the island to reclaim their stolen bananas.

Gameplay and Mechanics

Donkey Kong Country Returns is a side-scrolling 2.5D platformer that brilliantly combines classic platforming elements with modern enhancements. The game showcases Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong as the primary protagonists who must navigate through intricate levels filled with enemies, obstacles, and hidden secrets. The gameplay is renowned for its challenging yet rewarding nature, appealing to both nostalgic fans and new players alike.

The game utilizes the Wii Remote’s motion controls, which received mixed feedback. While some players appreciated the immersive experience, others found the motion controls cumbersome. Nonetheless, the game’s graphics, level design, and gameplay were widely praised, contributing to its critical and commercial success.

Critical and Commercial Success

Donkey Kong Country Returns was a resounding success, both critically and commercially. It sold over 6.53 million copies worldwide, securing its place as one of the best-selling titles on the Wii. Critics lauded the game for its stunning visuals, intricate level design, and engaging gameplay. Despite some criticism regarding its motion controls and high difficulty level, the game remains a beloved classic in the platforming genre.

Sequel and Ports

In 2013, Donkey Kong Country Returns was ported to the Nintendo 3DS under the title Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. This port introduced several new features and adjustments to accommodate the handheld platform, including a new New Mode that offered an easier difficulty setting for players seeking a more accessible experience.

In 2014, a direct sequel, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, was released for the Wii U. This sequel built upon the foundation laid by Donkey Kong Country Returns, introducing new characters, abilities, and even more challenging levels. The game was met with similar acclaim and solidified Retro Studios’ reputation as a worthy successor to Rare.

Digital Re-releases

The original Wii game was later made available for digital download on the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U. The Japanese release occurred on January 21, 2015, followed by the European release on January 22, 2015. North American players gained access on March 31, 2016, initially through the My Nintendo program and subsequently on the Wii U eShop on September 22, 2016.

However, the digital re-release was discontinued worldwide on March 27, 2023, coinciding with the Wii U eShop’s closure. Despite this, players who had previously purchased the game can still access and play it on their Wii U devices.

Surprising Nvidia Shield TV Release

On July 4, 2019, Donkey Kong Country Returns was silently released on the Chinese Nvidia Shield TV store without prior notice. This unexpected release came as a surprise to many, as Nvidia’s Chinese website and social media accounts did not advertise the game’s availability. This unique release was only discovered through approval information on government websites, and Nvidia eventually confirmed it.

Legacy and Impact

Donkey Kong Country Returns has left an indelible mark on the platforming genre. It revitalized the Donkey Kong Country series, demonstrating that Retro Studios could successfully carry the torch from Rare. The game’s blend of nostalgia and innovation captivated a broad audience, ensuring its legacy as a seminal title in both the Donkey Kong franchise and the broader platforming landscape.


In summary, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a masterful platformer that continues to resonate with players years after its release.

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