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"He's coming out of hibernation. It's the BODACIOUS BEAST, the PRIME PRIMATE, DONKEY KONG. Introducing DONKEY KONG COUNTRY, the first fully rendered video game EVER. Featuring his sidekick DIDDY KONG."
Introduced in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and ported to the Game Boy Color four years later and to the Game Boy Advance six years after that, Donkey Kong Country introduced the groundbreaking technique of using pre-rendered 3D graphics in a 2D console game and marked the final decisive milestone in the early-to-mid '90s console war between the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, with the latter emerging in the lead in the west. It also brought the star of Donkey Kong back into the limelight (though the game makes it clear that the Donkey Kong you play as is different from the original, and that the original Donkey Kong is the older and aptly named Cranky Kong).In the first game in the series, the original Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong and his sidekick Diddy Kong travel across Donkey Kong Island to get back their stolen banana hoard from the Kremlings, an army of anthropomorphic crocodiles led by King K. Rool. In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, released a year later, King K. Rool kidnaps Donkey Kong and takes him to the Kremlings' homeland, Crocodile Isle, forcing Diddy Kong and his girlfriend Dixie Kong to travel into enemy territory and rescue their friend. A year after that, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! has Dixie and her baby cousin Kiddy Kong search for Donkey and Diddy, who have mysteriously gone missing while on vacation in the Northern Kremisphere, and battling the Kremling cyborg (and Arnold lookalike) Kaos.Donkey Kong 64, from 1999, brought the series onto the third dimension. In it, King K. Rool returns with a vengeance. Figuring that if he and his people can't have Donkey Kong's island, nobody can, so he steers an enormous high-tech warship next to it and plans to blast it right off the face of the Earth with his secret weapon, the Blast-O-Matic. This game unites a team of Kongs (Donkey, Diddy, Dixie's sister Tiny, Kiddy's brother Chunky, and odd-man-out Lanky, although other familiar faces such as Cranky and Funky lend a hand along the way) who set out to find a series of 200 solid-gold giant bananas and the missing blueprints to the Blast-O-Matic in an effort to trounce the Kremlings for the final time.Supporting NPCs in the series include:
Funky Kong, whose jet barrels allow Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong to return to any previously completed level
Candy Kong, who had a save point in the original game
Wrinkly Kong, Cranky's wife, who in the second game ran a school called Kong College which gave players tips about how to play the game, and where players could also save their game
Swanky Kong, who in the second game hosted a quiz game in which players could answer trivia questions in order to win extra lives
Also of note is that during the first game's heydey, the Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II were given an authorized romhack of the game called Donkey Kong Country Competition Cartridge, which basically turned the game into a competition to grab as many bananas as possible within a time limit of five minutes, with only a few levels available and several tweaks to encourage scoring. After the competition ended, Nintendo took back the carts and sold them to subscribers of Nintendo Power. Only 2,500 copies of the game are known to exist, and it has since become a highly valued collectors item.The Game Boy Color port of Donkey Kong Country has two extra mini-games: Funky Kong's Fishing Mini Game and Candy's Challenge, where you perform in luck-based tasks similar to the various Bonus Stages. Funky's Fishing Game is also seen in the Game Boy Advance port, though Candy's Challenge is replaced by Candy's Dance Studio. Also in the GBA port, the player can fill the Kongs' scrapbook by finding cameras and performing in-game feats of varying difficulty. The GBA port of Donkey Kong Country 2 contains the mini-games Expresso Racing and Funky's Flight Challenges, in addition to bringing back the scrapbook feature. There is also a new boss, Kerozene, to fight. In both games, all the mini-games must be won each time they're encountered and the scrapbook must be completely filled in order to achieve the highest completion percentage. (In the port of 2, there is an additional mini-game at Klubba's Kiosk called Bag a Bug, but playing it is completely optional.) The GBA port of Donkey Kong Country 3 contains the mini-games Funky's Rentals, Cranky's Dojo, and Swanky's Dash. There is no scrapbook feature this time around. All of Funky's challenges must be completed to achieve the highest percentage, but Cranky and Swanky's games need only to be won once. The game also adds a new boss, Kroctopus, and a new area, Pacifica, containing six additional levels.Each installment had a Game Boy counterpart under the name Donkey Kong Land. Land translated the pre-rendered graphics of its sister series as well as it could to the Game Boy's small, monochrome screen and usually featured new levels.A Racing GameSpin-Off appeared as Diddy Kong Racing. There was to be a sequel to Diddy Kong Racing called Donkey Kong Racing (go figure), but Rare's contract with Nintendo for usage of the Donkey Kong franchise ran out. Then Rare got bought out by Microsoft, demolishing any remaining hope that the contract might be renewed. However, Nintendo did toy with the franchise for a while, producing the Donkey Konga trilogy of rhythm games with Namco as well as Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, an action-platformer that is not set in the DKC continuity, but is nevertheless very reminiscent of its style. Following this, they handed the character over to Paon, a company that produced Donkey Kong King Of Swing for the Game Boy advance, Barrel Blast for the Wii and Jungle Climber for the DS.Donkey Kong Country also had a short-lived French CGI-animated series based off it; several elements from this show ended up in Donkey Kong 64. Information on the series can be found here.In 2010, Nintendo and Retro Studios of Metroid Prime fame released Donkey Kong Country Returns, a revival of the series with 2.5D graphics for the Wii. A sequel called Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was released in early 2014 on the Wii U.The characters in this series can be found here.
2½D: Most notably Donkey Kong Country Returns, but the other three games were pioneers of this style, having prerendered 3D models to make the sprites and things in the background affecting the foreground.
Advertising Campaigns: Besides the many TV commercials, Nintendo sent a 15-minute behind the scenes VHS tape to most Nintendo Power subscribers. It featured interviews with the people who tested the game (in Redmond, Washington), a few game tips, and a teaser for Killer Instinct Gold for the Nintendo 64.
Animals Not to Scale: Nobody really cares since the games aren't meant to be taken seriously, but there are countless cases of animals that are much bigger than their real life counterparts, most notably giant insects, beavers and birds, and many that are much smaller, probably the most notable case being Rambi, who is about the same size as Donkey Kong, where real rhinos are the size of cars.
Artistic License – Biology: Ellie the Elephant in DKC3. Able to make truly impressive leaps and bounds.. Despite the fact that elephants, famously, are not able to jump.
Apes can't swim, either.
Especially not in icy or polluted water.
Wasps and Hornets don't make honey.
Ascended Extra: In an unusual non-character example, the Gangplank Galleon. In the first game, it was briefly seen as the setting of the final boss battle. In Diddy's Kong Quest, not only has it been expanded into an full 5-level world, but the entire game is pirate themed, meaning lots of pirate outfits for the Kremlings and scattered pirate ship themed levels.
Awesome but Impractical: Funky's Barrel Plane in DKC1, the lack of DK Coins or Kremlins in order to beat the game makes revisiting past areas absolutely useless. Unless, of course, you want to achieve 100%, but even that doesn't give you a special ending.
Bonus Stage: The 2D games are absolutely loaded with hidden bonus areas of varying kinds. Finding them (and in [DKC2 and 3, winning them) is often necessary for achieving 100% Completion. In order to do this for DKC or DKC2, you'll have to find a bonus stage hidden inside another bonus stage. Not funny, Rare!
In the first game in the series, you have to twice fight Necky, a boss that only can be hurt by jumping on its head. Unfortunately, its head is too high to Donkey or even Diddy reach. Good luck that someone unexplainably left a tire wheel lying around, right?
Boss Dumb Drum. He is an animated iron barrel that floats around and spits Mook relentlessly. Once on a while he descends to try to squash Donkey and Diddy down. All what they have to do to win is move out of the way when Drum does that, because he eventually breaks down. If he only spats enemies out and kept himself on air, they would be unable to win.
In the Game Boy Advance version, Drum cannot damage himself this way. TNT barrels appear after you defeat a wave of mooks, which you must pick up and throw at him.
King K. Rool himself. You can only hurt him by jumping on his head. But he wears a spiked crown, so you can not jump on his head without hurting yourself. What does he do? Take off his crown and hurl it far away.
In Donkey Kong Country 2 you would be unable to pass beyond the first Boss - Krow - if he did not throw at you his own eggs - that you can pick and throw back at him.
Baron K. Roolenstein in Donkey Kong Country 3. If he hadn't installed levers in the ceiling that drop barrels, the kongs would have no way to hurt him.
Most of the boss battles in Donkey Kong 64 have a random, convenient, COMPLETELY unnecessary exploding barrel in the middle of the room that, if removed, would make even the first boss impossible to defeat.
The bosses in Donkey Kong Country Returns were generally good about choosing locations that weren't potentially lethal towards them if utilized properly by Donkey and Diddy. The one glaringly obvious exception was Mangoruby, whose boss chamber contained three wheels with switches on them that, when pounded, would de-electrify Mangoruby's body and allow Donkey to Goomba Stomp her.
Technically, there already was a Donkey Kong theme (from the original) that is used in the intro of DKC1. Then DKC2 remixed Jungle Japes for its Bonus Stages, and they haven't looked back since.
Also, DKC1's bonus theme was remixed and made into DKC3's main theme.
Breakout Character: When Diddy proved more popular than Donkey Kong in DKC1, he was promoted to main character status in DKC2, only to see his sidekick Dixie overshadow him and get promoted to main character in DKC3.
Brutal Bonus Level: The Lost World levels in DKC2 and DKC3, along with the boss fights at the end.
Canon Foreigner: Bluster Kong, Eddie the Mean Old Yeti, and Polly Roger in the CGI cartoon.
Chest Monster: In Donkey Kong Country 2, "Klobbers" are Kremlings disguised as barrels until you come close. Ordinary Klobbers merely knock you around non-lethally, but yellow Klobbers knock bananas off of you, and black Klobbers (with their Red Eyes, Take Warning) knock extra life balloons off of you (still non-lethally). And then there's the TNT Klobbers....
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Chunky and Kiddy Kong haven't been showing up in any recent games, not even a Mario game. This is despite Kiddy Kong being announced to return in Donkey Kong Racing (which never came to be in the end).
Don't forget Rattly the Rattlesnake. Winky and Expresso at least got a Shout-Out here and there...
Completion Meter: The game keeps track of bonus rooms and K-O-N-G letters the player finds in each level. The Game Boy Advance port also has a virtual scrapbook for special pictures found in-game.
Convenient Weakness Placement: Many of the bosses in the Donkey Kong Country series have barrels or cannonballs that appear in the Boss Room for no reason, which you then use to damage the otherwise invincible boss. Some of the bosses may even pretty much hand you a barrel or cannonball, usually at their end of their attack cycle (after which they would just stand there and wait for you to hit them with it).
Continuity Nod: The fourth world in the first Land game is in fact the city that the very first Donkey Kong took place in, the one where the original Kong held Pauline hostage on top of a skyscraper.
Cool Old Guy: Cranky Kong. He makes potions that help you in DK64.
Cool Old Lady: Wrinkly Kong. She saves your game in DKC2 and DKC3.
Crutch Character: When you get really good at DKC2, Dixie turns into this. Diddy is just plain faster and navigates through tighter spaces.
Cutscene Incompetence: Averted, narrowly. The GBA remake of DKC1 adds an opening cutscene where Diddy's captured by a Krusha and stuffed into a barrel. Diddy can't hurt Krushas on his own.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Haven't played the game in a decade or so? Just for fun, try replaying some of the bonus levels, especially the ones in the treetop worlds that involve the Kongs having to aim for a moving barrel offscreen. That's right. You can still do it. ... Now try messing up on purpose in these levels, say, to avoid the annoying animal bonus runs. You can't.
In the original trilogy, rolling/cartwheeling/ponytail spinning into an enemy would give you a burst of momentum, allowing you to easily take out whole rows of enemies with just one attack. In Donkey Kong Country Returns, the roll goes farther and faster, but does not have this property. In the very first level, almost right away, you'll encounter three basic enemies in a row. If you try to roll through them all like in the old days, your roll will end just in time for you to slam into the third enemy and get hurt. I have a hard time believing this wasn't done on purpose.
That damned rocket barrel from Rocket Rush! Left fires the left rocket, which pushes you right, and vice versa...
Darker and Edgier: Donkey Kong Country 2 in comparison to the original. The Kremlings are pirates and are carrying weapons like cannons and cutlasses around, Donkey Kong has been kidnapped, and in comparison to the friendly jungles and temples of the original island, you're fighting on the home turf of the Kremlings this time, an island full of swamps, sunken ships, ghost-infested structures, and a castle. The game in general also has a darker and more foreboding visual and audio aesthetic.
Lighter and Softer: The third game on the other hand was once again bright, colorful, and set in forests and junglelands.
Early Installment Weirdness: The first game is starkly pared down compared to the latter two. In addition to having the animal-buddy-token bonuses unseen in any other installments, the first DKC game lacked hero coins and a secret world. Also, unlike the latter two games (and Donkey Kong 64), which forced you to win each bonus challenge to win every bonus prize, the first game simply expected you to find all the bonuses in order to get 100% Completion.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Subverted in a rather interesting fashion. There are enemies trying to kill you for no obvious reason (Zingers, Armys), but there are also numerous small animals that can be seen crawling, hopping, flying, or swimming around the levels. The latter have no effect on you; they're just scenery.
Expy: Most enemies introduced in the original game don't appear in the two sequels, but have obvious analogues. In Donkey Kong 64, most of the original enemies from the first game returned, leaving their Expies high and dry (Klobber and Kablam from DKC2 also appeared, but they had no analogue in the first game).
Faceship: The Gangplank Galleon has K. Rool's head built at the front. The Flying Crock in DKC2 has a Kremling head-shaped front.
Flunky Boss: Dumb Drum. Notably, you don't even harm the boss itself in the original SNES version and its Game Boy Color port. Just kill all the enemies it produces and it'll destroy itself.
It does keep smashing itself into the ground to try to squish you, so you might argue that it basically smashed itself to death.
Follow the Leader: It was obviously based on Super Mario World, but it does have its own original elements, like a frontal rolling attack, minecart rides, and secrets hidden in the walls. Though some still slam it for being a Mario clone.
Any similar attributes between Country and the Mario series could be chalked up to genre conventions, and indeed the entire feel of the game is almost completely different. DKC puts a huge emphasis on the atmosphere of the game, far more than any Mario game ever did. Not to mention the innovation of having two characters with different play styles on screen at the same time and the complete lack of power ups that the Mario series is famous for. Needless to say, while it owes a debt to the Mario series it is a substantially different game.
Follow the Money: Aside from the usual hints of bonuses, the bananas remind players how or when to use advanced moves in the early levels, and can be a last-second warning on how to avoid a death. (On the other hand, see Schmuck Bait below.)
Subverted in a couple of Bonus Stages in DKC2 — they're mazes, and the bananas indicate dead ends.
For the Evulz: It seems the only reason K. Rool had his troops steal DK's banana hoard, aside from possibly food, was simply to steal it.
Genre Savvy: After a short while of playing any of these games, an observant player will be able to correctly guess where some of the secret areas and items are hidden, even without (entirely) relying on checking every possible wall or pit.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Literally. A few potential answers to Swanky's quizzes in DKC2 are "Kaptain K. Rapp" and "K. Rapp's Keep".
Even worse, in the GBA port of DKC, Funky has been known to greet DK and Diddy with "Dude, tell Candy she can ride my wave anytime!"
Gimmick Level: lots of them, especially in the later games. Apparently, adding new enemies along with the obviously different level maps just wasn't enough. At least half the levels in the SNES series had unique or very rare gimmicks. A few examples:
Timed Mission: Haunted Hall and Riverside Race (and Doorstop Dash, to a lesser extent)
Gotta Catch 'Em All: In DKC1, you don't have to collect a darn thing if you don't want, and the only difference in the ending is that a single line of dialogue from Cranky will be changed very slightly if you found everything. In DKC2, you have to collect all the Kremcoins in order to access all the levels, but the DK Coins are merely an extra challenge for the player, not necessary in any way. Things started getting out of hand with DKC3, where you really did have to collect all of the Bonus Coins and DK coins to get the best ending, including finding all of the Banana Birds in the overworld. And then DK64 took things Up to Eleven, with 500 bananas, 25 golden bananas, five blueprints, and two banana fairies in each level, including the overworldnote The overworld doesn't have any non-golden bananas to collect, but makes up for it by having an unaccounted-for sixth banana for Tiny Kong to find..
Green Aesop: Done in a subtle fashion. The Kremlings own grim and polluted factory areas like Kremkroc Industries and Mekanos, and have ruined Crocodile Isle with oil, toxic waste and trash, while the Kongs live happily on Donkey Kong Isle, in harmony with nature. In addition, Frantic Factory is shown as being a dreary and depressing place, with spooky music and a dark atmosphere.
One memorable example: In DKC1, the entrance to one of the bonus rooms is hidden within ANOTHER bonus room! AND you are required to go against your own common sense to get to it, with virtually no hints to do so!note To elaborate, the first level of Kremkroc Industries Inc. (Oil Drum Alley) has a bonus room with a slot-machine style mini-game with prize choices of a 1up, an animal token and a banana. Choosing the banana in a normal bonus room of this type gives you exactly that; a single banana worth exactly 1/100th of a 1up, normally intended as a booby prize. Choosing it here, however, gives you a barrel instead. Why? So you can use that barrel to break the wall opposite the way you came in, of course! It doesn't help that the only hints to do this are that the aforementioned wall normally has a completely cosmetic exit that is easily ignored, and two arrow signs pointing to the right, towards the wall, which are ALSO easily overlooked, as they are part of the normal stage background. But there's one final screw-you from all this. Even if you figure all that out, if you simply throw the barrel at the wall, the barrel will break and the mini-game you are currently in will end without going into the second one since you just "spent" your "prize". Rather, you have to lunge yourself at the wall, while holding the barrel, so that when the wall breaks, your momentum will carry you into bonus room #2 before bonus room #1 ends. Whew!
100% Completion: Played with. DKC 1 actually goes up to 101%, DKC 2 goes up to 102%, and DKC3 goes up to 103%. You can even take the last one up to 105% by using a special cheat code which makes the game harder.
Strangely, Donkey Kong Land III also goes up to 103%, but the first two DKL games only went up to 100%.
Hyperactive Sprite: Whichever Kong's following you in DKC3. Probably the code to make them stand still got removed to make space in a 32 megabit cartridge.
Idle Animation: In the first game, Donkey Kong will beat his chest and whoop, Diddy will take off his cap and scratch his head. In the second game, Diddy will start juggling, and Dixie will blow bubblegum and drink a soda as she does in the third game, while Kiddy will pull at a loose thread in his romper suit and eventually pull too hard and fall over. In the hive levels, Dixie will eat the honey off the walls she can cling on to.
Justified Extra Lives: In the original trilogy, the Extra Life Balloons are just there for you to collect. In Returns, they play a more involving role by carrying Donkey and/or Diddy back into the stage after dying, and during co-op, if one player dies but the other is still active, one of your balloons will eventually carry in a new DK Barrel for you to break and get the other player back in the game.
Killed Off for Real: Wrinkly Kong since DK64 came out, though her ghost has appeared in several subsequent games.
King Mook: Every boss in DKC1 except for K. Rool; Krow and King Zing in DKC2, Barbos in DKC3.
Well, arguably even K. Rool. He's the king of the Kremlings, and Kremlings serve as mooks.
Lampshaded in DK64 in the manual by Cranky Kong. As well, there's a giant beaver near the end of the first level, but it's not the boss.
Koosh Bomb: Used as an impact effect whenever any character gets hit.
Lampshade Hanging: Cranky Kong does this a lot by complaining about the generally silly tone amongst other things. See also Meta Guy below.
Last Note Nightmare: The series' Nightmare Fuel page cites the death-against-K-Rool music to have been cut (from a game with so much Nightmare Fuel, no less) because it was too scary. The Last Note Nightmare trope is the exact reason behind that.
Lead The Target: It's not done by a gunman, but rather, bolts of lightning in the Lightning Lookout level of DKC3. The bolts of lightning will always hit you if you constantly hold forward.
Mascot Mook: While many would be tempted to just say the Kremlings, the enemy who's arguably the most qualified are the Zingers. Not just because they appear in so many games, but they tend to have the most minimal changes between games compared to the other enemies.
It helps that K. Rool is kind of a bumbler, though. With homicidal - er, apecidal intent, but still a bumbler.
Nintendo Hard: The whole series is pretty challenging, but especially DKC2.
In Diddy's Kong Quest, you've battled your way through King Kaptain K. Rool's castle. You're at the final stage, when the Kaptain suddenly escapes into an airship. But before you can follow him, you have to go through a briar patch. "Screech's Sprint", in particular.
Web Woods from the same game. Putting the DK coin in the goal roulette at the end of an incredibly long and tedious level is just downright sadistic, especially when you consider the fact that that DK Coin is there only for, like, 0.1 seconds.
Mudhole Marsh does something similar, but instead of an easy to time barrel cannon, you have to bounce off one of Kannon's shots. At least the coin is up there a bit longer.
Toxic Tower, anyone? The first half of the level is literally "one misstep, you die". And did I mention you're playing that section as Rattly the snake, the hardest animal buddy to use in the entire series?
Truth be told, the game ratchets the difficulty up to Nintendo Hard around the end of World 4 (Krazy Kremland). It begins to stray into Platform Hell as you get into the Lost World.
Animal Antics. Most of the level isn't too bad. Until you reach Squawks' stage, however. Take the Nintendo Hard-ness of the usual Stickerbrush Symphony areas. Now add gusting winds. And extremely narrow passageways. And gusting winds. And hordes upon hordes of wasps. Oh, and did I mention the goddamn gusting winds? Those who are lucky to make it through then get introduced to Rattly's area. It's not overly hard, but it's not too hard to miss a jump over a pit of spikes, and since you will likely have one hit left in you after Squawks' area, if you make said-mistake and die, you have to go through Squawks' area all over again.
Klobber Karnage, especially when you reach the Barrels that you have to take across the spike pits in which you have to also avoid Zingers.
There is a glitch with some emulators that make these barrels spin automatically, shooting the entire level well past Platform Hell territory.
No Fourth Wall: The original series derived a lot of humor from this, although it was toned down as the series progressed. Perhaps the most extreme example was Donkey Kong Land's instruction manual story, where Cranky argued with DK and Diddy that Donkey Kong Country was only successful because of its graphics, and dared them to defeat K. Rool again on the inferior Game Boy.
Most game manuals back then had a "notes" page for players to scribble in. Cranky lampshades "Does anyone actually use these pages? Waste of paper if you ask me."
Becomes a Hilarious in Hindsight moment since most games that use manuals now (if they are even made) have cut out the notes section.
Nonindicative Name: Poison Pond. An underwater level where you swim around in water that is colored green but, strangely enough, does not harm you at all.
Unless the green water of Poison Pond really is full of harmful pollution, then the Kongs are *somehow* immune to it. It is obviously polluted though, with the spiked wheels scattered about. And why does a pond have piranhas and jellyfish, anyways?
Non-Lethal K.O.: Any time you lose a life, they go flying, followed by a short animation of them getting knocked out before being sent back to the map screen.
Non-Standard Life Loss: In the first DKC game, there are certain mine levels where you had to ride a moving platform. Destroying this platform (i.e. no fuel left) caused Donkey Kong/Diddy Kong to go through the animation when they lose a bonus round (balloon pop at the end), and you return to the Overworld map.
Official Couple: Diddy and Dixie are canonically boyfriend and girlfriend. As are DK and Candy.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: In all three DKC games. In Donkey Kong 64, the characters start off with four hit points, with Candy Kong giving them an extra four on two occasions. DKC Returns allows the characters to take two hits before going down.
Orphaned Series: Rareware ran away with its mistress Microsoft, so the series had to live with its absentee uncle Nintendo for a while and was eventually adopted by Paon, then later Retro Studios. Rareware lost custody, but still gets to visit the series on handhelds as Microsoft doesn't have its own.
Palette Swap: Klubba and Kudgel in DKC2, as well as numerous minor enemies. Lampshaded by Cranky Kong in the GBA port of DKC1.
Cranky: It's just like the old days, reusing the boss, changing its color and pretending it's completely new.
The Psycho Rangers: Except for one secret character, Barrel Blast paired a Kremling with identical stats against each Kong; some of them were AscendedMooks, while others were completely new characters.
Recurring Boss: Obviously K. Rool, but Krow from the second game is fought twice. Once at its nest, and once as a ghost.
Recycled Soundtrack: The Game Boy Color port of DKC lifted songs from Donkey Kong Land and DKL III.
Regional Bonus: The Japanese version of Donkey Kong Land III was for the Game Boy Color. Unfortunately, it was missing animation frames and your last time displayed at the bottom of the screen during time trials over the Game Boy version.
Remember the New Guy: Cranky Kong's wife Wrinkly appeared out of nowhere in DKC2. If Cranky had a wife, shouldn't we have heard about her in DKC1?
Rolling Attack: Donkey Kong and Kiddy Kong have a rolling attack, while Diddy Kong has a cartwheel attack. Armies also do this.
Ruleof Three: In Donkey Kong Country 2, each "habitat" has three levels dedicated to it (not counting boss stages). For instance, Lockjaw's Locker, Lava Lagoon, Glimmer's Galleon are the three sunken ships levels, while Target Terror, Rickety Race, and (the admittedly background-swapped) Haunted Hall make up the roller coaster triad.
Save Game Limits: The first game suffers from a major dearth of save points, with a save point popping up every four or five levels on average. That doesn't sound too bad, but keep in mind, this game is Nintendo Hard. You didn't necessarily have to reach a save point before you could save; technically you could use Funky Kong to fly back to save points in previous levels, but it still made saving more of a hassle than it should have been.
Sequel Snark: In the GBA remake, after the Kongs jump overboard and King K. Rool sails off, Cranky remarks, "Call that an ending? Looks like a cheap stunt setting up the story for the sequel!" In the Hero Mode ending, he tells Diddy, "You have really surpassed yourself! Who knows? Maybe you'll make the sequel."
Sequence Breaking: Not so much in DKC3, but in DKC2 several jumping puzzles can be avoided by using Dixie's helicopter spin to glide over them.
Serious Business: The Donkey Kong Universe, originally. Though nowadays they just poke fun at their crazy theories and attempts to expain discrepancies, such as the Kongs having extra fingers in Mario sports titles, two Enguardes in Coral Capers, and changes to the story in the remakes.
Shout-Out: Some of the levels were named after music references. "Vulture Culture" is also the name of an album by The Alan Parsons Project, and "Fear Factory" is the same name of a metal band that popped up at the time of the game's release.
In DKC2, Cranky mentions wanting to play Killer Instinct, yet also gripes that it must be a bad game simply because he is not in it.
DKC3 has Wrinkly occasionally playing her Nintendo 64 when you go to save... when that's the case, you can clearly hear a rearrangement of the Super Mario 64 castle theme.
Also, when you start a bonus stage in DKC3, the music starts by going "BAH-BAH doo, BAH-BAH doo"... quite similar to the main theme to a popular spy movie series, the latest of which was being adapted to a video game by Rare at the time DKC3 came out...
Slippy-Slidey Ice World: There's one of these in practically every game. In DKC3, there are enemies in these areas called Slippa, who literally slip and slide around the area trying to run into you (though you yourself do not slide).
Soundtrack Dissonance: Ripsaw Rage from DKC3 contains a giant saw slowly creeping up a treehouse level as calm music plays. The new happy-go-lucky music in the GBA version is even more dissonant.
Spelling Bonus: Though what they do varies form game to game, every game in the series grants some sort of bonus if you collect trinkets labeled K-O-N-G.
The Spiny: Zingers. Beating them typically requires a thrown barrel, an animal ally, or invincibility.
Red Zingers take it Up to Eleven, being completely invulnerable except to TNT barrels.
DKC2 has an enemy actually called Spiny, and it fits the trope, while DKC3 has an enemy called Bristles. The only way to kill them is to roll into them head on or just throw a barrel at them.
Strange Secret Entrance: Some secret levels are accessed by unintuitively jumping down "bottomless" pits into off-screen barrel cannons.
Super Drowning Skills: In Donkey Kong Land 3, there is at least one section where the Kongs transform into Squitter and must travel through water-filled caves. Touching the water causes Squitter to lose one of his two hit points.
The whole plot of Donkey Kong Land is a response to Shigeru Miyamoto verbally trashing DKC in an interview.
In Donkey Kong Country 2, Cranky Kong opens a museum for (Nintendo) Video Game Heroes. Earthworm Jim's gun and Sonic the Hedgehog's shoes can be seen tossed next to a trash can with a sign that says "NO HOPERS" on it. Heavy.
Ten-Second Flashlight: Gleamin' Bream in the third game. Poking him with Enguarde will get him to light the area around him for a few seconds. Also applies to the barrels that temporarily lights up the screen in Glimmer's Galleon in Donkey Kong Land 2.
There's also both Stop And Go Station and Loopy Lights in the first, both featuring the RockKrocs.
Donkey Kong Country Returns received a update (new easy mode and more levels) for the Nintendo 3DS.
Video Game Flight: Squawks the Parrot lends wings to the Kongs in certain levels, which tend to be aerial mazes. Also, in Donkey Kong 64, Diddy Kong can fly with Rocketbarrels—a jetpack made out of barrels fueled by magical coconut-shaped crystals.
Wake-Up Call Boss: Queen B from the first game, Kudgel from the second game, and Barbos from the third game. Kleever from the second game as the second boss in both Country and Land (where his name is misspelled as Kleaver) also fits.
Cranky: We never had any of this fancy 3D stuff in my day. Oh no, we had to survive on what we had! And what little we did have, we were happy with!
A Winner Is You: Conquering Donkey Kong Land nets you a single word of congratulations as the plain-text credits roll.
Xtreme Kool Letterz: Everything related to the Kremlings replaces any hard C with a K, à la Mortal Kombat. Also appears in the form of including "krem" in other words, such as in the name of DKC3's hidden final area, the inactive volcano Krematoa. Completing its 5 levels forces the appearance of the Bonus Boss in his docked submarine, the Knautilus!.
You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses?: In the standard ending of 3, Cranky insults the protagonists' performance, and they surround him, apparently to beat him up. As they close in, Cranky puts on a pair of glasses and says the line.
Cranky Kong: You kids have it easy with all these wikis and trope catalogs! Back in my day, if you wanted to find out information about your favorite video games, you'd have to wait every month for gaming magazines to come in the mail to read developer interviews and trivia collections. And by golly, we'd never develop any of these silly editing addictions back then!