Video Game: Donkey Kong Country Returns
They're back again—and about time, too.
Now, get out there and give those little drum guys what for. Yes, I said "what for". I'm old. Get over it.Donkey Kong Country Returns
is a 2010 platform game
produced by Nintendo
and Retro Studios
(of Metroid Prime
fame); it's the first entry in the Donkey Kong Country
series since Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
in 1996 and the first in the series canon since Donkey Kong 64
in 1999. The plot this time concerns the Tiki Tak Tribe, a group of evil tikis that have hypnotized the animals of DK Island, forcing them to steal Donkey Kong
's treasured hoard of bananas for their own nefarious plans
. Along with his best friend and second banana
Diddy Kong, the big guy sets out to get them back.
The game features many popular series landmarks, such as pirate ships, mine cart rides,
and of course, plenty of lush wilderness to get lost in,
as well as the goal of collecting scattered bananas and golden K-O-N-G letters. A co-op mode has been implemented, but gone are King K. Rool
and any underwater stages,
as stated here
The game is the first in the series to be made with no cooperation from Rare
, because Microsoft bought Rare in 2002. So once again, after 11 years, it's on like the eponymous ape.
A 3DS version
called Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
was released on May 24th, 2013 in all regions.
A Wii U
sequel called Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
was released in 2014.
This game provides examples of:
- Advancing Wall of Doom:
- Level 5-8, Muncher Marathon, has one made out of a rampaging horde of baby spiders.
- There's also one made of lava at the end of level 8-2 (Hot Rocket), although it serves as more of a visual distraction than anything else since the Rocket Barrel makes it an Auto-Scrolling Level.
- Alliterative Name: About 90% of the level names, with names like "Muncher Marathon", "Temple Topple" and "Damp Dungeon."
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The inside of Tiki Tong's lair.
- Appease the Volcano God: The Tikis sacrificing themselves to become Tiki Tong's hands immediately before the final battle has shades of this.
- Art Evolution: The original Donkey Kong Country trilogy featured a realistic art style and cartoony characters with realistic fur and textures. This game goes for more of a "painted cartoon" look and adds cartoony effects and animations to top it off. The fact that the series changed hands (formerly Rare, currently Retro) has something to do with it.
- Art Shift: Levels like "Sunset Shore" and "Foggy Fumes" feature black silhouettes against the colored backdrops. The golden-red hues of Sunset Shore in particular are spectacular.
- Artifact Title: "Life in the Mines Returns," which is not used in any mine level in this game.
- Ascended Meme: "It's On Like Donkey Kong" was trademarked and used by Nintendo to promote the game.
- Aside Glance: DK does this in the game's opening cinematic.
- Assist Character: Squawks the parrot hangs around at Cranky's shop until you pay for him, after which he'll help you seek out the puzzle pieces.
- Autosave: The game saves even if you leave a level, which is helpful if you just want to look for Diddy in the level, but KONG letter and puzzle pieces are programmed to only be counted when you reach the exit.
- Auto-Scrolling Level: Any mine cart or rocket barrel segment.
- Balloonacy: Cranky's shop is suspended in the air via balloons.
- Bamboo Technology: In keeping with Donkey Kong tradition. Notably, Diddy Kong has his jetpack and Peanut Popgun.
- Band Land: One of the last levels of World 7 has hammers pounding on drums. Listening to the BGM is important to get in rhythm when the hammer is about to strike.
- Bat out of Hell: The Squeeklies. 4-5 (Crowded Cavern) focuses on them the most, including a huge one with sonic beams called Mama Squeekly.
- Beat the Curse Out of Him: All bosses, except for Tiki Tong and possibly Colonel Pluck. They're ordinary animals possessed by the Tiki leaders. Once Donkey and Diddy defeat the bosses, the animals are freed and the Tikis float out of them in a stupor (and get a pounding of their own).
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: Cranky's new style of humour is repeatedly headbutting the fourth wall, rather than out-and-out demolishing it.
- Big Bad: Tiki Tong, leader of the Tiki Tak Tribe.
- Big Red Button:
- One is hidden in each of three later factory levels. You must find and activate all three to open the rocket level that leads to the boss. Lampshaded directly by Cranky Kong.
- The Ruins level "Button Bash" is full of them.
- Blow You Away: The Kongs can use their breath to blow certain things such as plants, windmills, lanterns, etc. to find collectibles and such. It's even needed against certain enemies in order to defeat them.
- Boss Arena Idiocy: The bosses 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.
- Boss-Only Level: Every boss, like in the original trilogy.
- Bottomless Pit Rescue Service: In the 3DS version's New Mode, you can buy a green balloon that will hoist you out of a bottomless pit once.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The bosses (save for the Final Boss) are creatures brainwashed by the Tikis into attacking Donkey and Diddy.
- Brutal Bonus Level: The temples.
- The Cameo: Mr. Game & Watch can be seen in the background of Foggy Fumes, hammering away a pipe.
- Cap: 99 lives and 999 Banana Coins.
- Captain Colorbeard: Captain Greenbeard.
- Cartoon Bomb: Thrown by a couple of bosses and Kowalee.
- Check Point: Professor Chops, a pig that runs a stand with a check on it somewhere in the middle of a level. The gold bonus stages where you get the orbs to enter the golden temple have no checkpoints whatsoever. They're also considered to be the hardest stages in the game. Have fun with that.
- Chicken Walker: A literal one in the form of Colonel Pluck's Stompybot 3000.
- Collection Sidequest: The KONG letters and puzzle pieces.
- Colony Drop: DK punches the MOON into Tiki Tong's Tower! Subverted because DK isn't trying to destroy the entire world, and the resulting explosion pops the moon back into place.
- Continuity Nod:
- Done very subtly by Cranky.
Cranky Kong: "See you later, alligator! Heh, heh..."
Cranky Kong: "You need to get to the top of the island by yourself? Too bad we don't know anyone with a plane!"
Cranky Kong: "Back in my day, I could get through the whole island without getting hit once!"
- Another one is hidden in the background in Foggy Fumes; there is an area that looks like the same building under construction in the first Donkey Kong.
- "Peaceful Pier" has an area during the rocket barrel sequence where a crosshair follows you, then stops so the crabs on the ship can fire an anchor at you; this is likely a reference to the "Krack-Shot Kroc" level in DKC3.
- Some of the carvings on the walls in the hidden Temple levels feature sprites from the original Donkey Kong game.
- You beat the first phase of Colonel Pluck's robot by punching the bottom of the cockpit, which is appropriately egg-shaped, and defeat it by smashing the bottom of the egg, similar to another boss in Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.
- One of the first levels is called "King of Cling", a reference to Donkey Kong: King of Swing.
- In the ruins, there are Kremling-like statues in the background.
- There's also Mugly and Thugly - Thugly is a more difficult Palette Swap of Mugly, much like Really Gnawty is to Very Gnawty from the first game. While this is also true of Master Necky and Master Necky Snr., the parallel to Really and Very Gnawty is better as Very Gnawty and Mugly are both the first boss.
- Continuing Is Painful:
- Just like in the original games, it can suck a lot to go through any segment without already having the second Kong, especially if there happens to be no DK Barrels between your current checkpoint and the end of the level. This very much applies to the Final Boss, because when (not if, WHEN) you die, the only way to get Diddy back is to restart the whole level and go through the Rocket Barrel gauntlet again. Only to probably die again anyway. Your best option is to accept it and fight the final boss using only DK. Thankfully, this doesn't become an issue in multiplayer.
- This is how the temple levels are. No check point and no DK Barrels. Unless you wanna go to another level and get Diddy there, if you die you'll be forced to navigate with just Donkey and his two hearts.
- Convection Schmonvection:
- World 8. Walking around and jumping over lava flows? Volcanic ash blowing in the wind, like snow? Big deal. As long as you don't fall in the lava or touch the flaming enemies (one of which you can duck under and be completely unharmed, even though it was just inches above you), you're fine.
- In at least one level, there are moving platforms that dip into the lava and rise back out. You can burn yourself if you jump on them too soon, but this danger period passes quickly and DK often ends up standing on a rock that is still glowing red. Cranky said it best: "We apes have no need for the laws of physics!"
- Cool Airship: DK runs after a galleon / zeppelin mix, seen hauling his stash of bananas in a big net that hangs from the bottom. A masked tiki enemy is seen dancing on the deck.
- Cool Guns: Diddy is armed with his Peanut Popgun.
- Co-Op Multiplayer: Word of God says that this feature was used to set it apart from DK's previous outing, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. However, it almost didn't exist due to New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Slammin' Steel and Boulder Roller both have segments involving this.
- Cue the Sun: Seen during the ending cut-scene for all three endings: After Tiki Tong's lair is destroyed with the moon, the sun rises as all the animals are freed from hypnosis and the volcano erupts into a literal rain of bananas.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory: Due to motion-controls instead of a button press, rolling may very well become this in the Wii version. 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, faster, but does not have this property unless you got Diddy in single-player mode. 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.
- A self-contained example: it's easy to get used to Diddy's jetpack, and to try to use it even when he's not there.
- Dance Battler: The Scurvy Crew; they put their claws up in a dance that protects them from being Goomba Stomped. Fortunately, it leaves them vulnerable to a rolling attack.
- Dark Reprise: The background music for "Muncher Marathon" is a fiendish remix of the forest's normal music.
- Death Mountain: World 6.
- Dem Bones: The cliff is full of alive and hostile reptilian-like skeletons, and some of them also spit fire.
- Demoted to Extra:
- Whereas in the original DKC a single player could freely switch between DK and Diddy to play as either one, here Diddy is effectively just a powerup that grants DK two extra hits and a jetpack for mid-air jumps (and you'll need it). Diddy is only truly playable in two-player co-op, and only by Player 2.
- A non-character example- the second and third Donkey Kong Country games feature plenty of hidden areas where you earn a Kremcoin or Bonus Coin by beating all the enemies. In here, there's exactly one such area, in Poppin' Planks. One.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The inside of Tiki Tong's lair.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
- There are three versions of the final cutscene FMV: One for each Kong by themselves, and one if you manage to beat the Final Boss with both Kongs in your posession.
- Rambi stays in place when you dismount, but if an enemy wanders close he'll knock the enemy out on his own.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Not so much punching him directly, but punching the moon into him!
- Difficulty Spike:
- The game's challenge feels just like its SNES/GBC predecessors for the first few stages. The gloves comes off once you reach 1-5 where obstacles start one-shotting you.
- A second spike comes in World 4, which is nothing but Mine Cart and Rocket Barrel levels. Including the boss. These levels are hard due to shifting the game's controls suddenly, making it hard for one to go through the stage without the use of the moves one's become accustomed to. Also, due to the fast scrolling speed and absurd closeness of obstacles, the only way to clear these levels without losing a live is by knowing their layout beforehand.
- Double Unlock:
- Opening World 9 requires beating the game and having collected the Temples' orbs.
- Also, unlocking the gallery images for Tiki Tong Tower and Tiki Tong requires you to collect the puzzle pieces (as per usual) in the levels "Moving Melters" and "Red Red Rising" respectively. However, you also need to defeat Tiki Tong in order to actually view them.
- The Dragon: All of the Tiki bosses may count, but Colonel Pluck takes the cake since he is the one running the manufacturing process for the Tikis.
- Drill Tank: you encounter a Drill Train in a few levels in World 4, operated by moles.
- Electric Jellyfish: Appears in the beach levels.
- Elite Mook: Tiki Tank, a kind of tiki mook that must be stunned with a Ground Pound before any kind of attack (barring Rambi's charge) can beat it.
- Escape Sequence:
- Crowded Cavern; even though you can't control your speed to outrun Mama Squeekly, you still have to dodge her attacks as she chases you to the end of the level.
- Muncher Marathon has Donkey and Diddy escape from a rapidly-growing swarm of spiders. Touching one of them means instant death.
- The end of Crumble Canyon, in which you have to outrun a giant flaming Tiki ball (which can kill you in one hit) while maneuvering through a series of obstacles.
- Eternal Engine: World 7 includes factory levels, including one in silhouette with platforms obscured by smog. See here.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: As if the Mine cart levels weren't bad enough, the Rocket Barrel levels crank this right on Up to Eleven without apology.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: some levels have squids being fired at you. One level has an octopus in the background attacking you with its arms.
- Exact Words: "Peaceful Pier". Oh sure, the "pier" part is peaceful, but the open ocean past it is anything but due to the Rocket Barrel, sharks, and a pirate ship firing cannonballs of death at you.
- Exposition Fairy: Professor Chops.
- The Faceless: Tiki Tong is never seen until the very end. Hiding him is so extreme that, unlike the previous Tikis whose silhouettes appear when you lost a life in their respective worlds, if you die before facing him in World 8, all you see is a question mark.
- Feathered Fiend: Savory Stu and Colonel Pluck, although both of them were hypnotized. Fittingly enough, the latter's level is even called "Feather Fiend".
- Floating Continent: The Golden Temple is this.
- Flunky Boss: The Mole Train.
- Flying Seafood Special: There are jellyfish and squid enemies that inexplicably fly through the air.
- Foreshadowing: The name and theme of "Crumble Canyon." The path leading straight from it to the boss level likewise crumbles.
- Funny Background Event: The zebra, elephant, giraffe (and squirrel) from the opening cutscene pop up a few times in the backdrops of various stages, most notably in "Blowhole Bound" where they are floating in a dinghy in the background.
- Gangplank Galleon:
- An interesting variation. Our heroes run through a ship as it's being attacked by Squiddicus, a giant octopus, forcing them to dodge its tentacles and platform on floating pieces of debris.
- There are also a level that takes place on several ships that are attacking you/each other with cannon balls. Additionally, there are a few smaller areas within levels where you get rocketed onto a ship on the background.
- Giant Enemy Crab: The Scurvy Crew is a trio of giant crab pirates. And the way to defeat them is to flip them over, then attack their weak points For Massive Damage.
- Giant Hands of Doom: Tiki Tong.
- Giant Mook: there are two giant Tiki enemies (one on the ground, the other flying) that require 3 stomps on the head, or just a single Rolling Attack.
- The Goomba:
- Awk, a pathetic-looking blue parrot, fills this position. There's also a pink parrot, Rawk, that can run faster than the blue counterpart, but it still dies after just one hit. Neither of them can fly for some reason.
- Tiki Goons fill this role as well.
- Goomba Springboard: Rather than just holding the jump button, you have to press it the moment you hit the enemy from above. This is a survival requirement in some of the harder levels where said enemies are the only thing between you and a Bottomless Pit. It's at its worst in Platform Panic, where you HAVE to get the extra height quite a lot. Then sometimes they throw in a puzzle where if you get the extra height, you hit a spiked ceiling and lose a heart. After a long stream of high jumps, this flies straight into Damn You, Muscle Memory territory.
- Gotta Catch Them All: The puzzle pieces, K-O-N-G letters, and orbs needed to unlock the Golden Temple.
- Groin Attack: This is how you defeat Colonel Pluck's Stompybot 3000- wait for the hatch to open first.
- Ground Pound: Subverted; instead of jumping and making a hard landing, DK slams his hands onto the ground.
- Guide Dang It: The puzzle pieces. Squawks will start chattering when you approach where one is hidden, but this won't necessarily tell you where the piece is hidden or how to reveal it — that's up to you. There are two particularly egregious examples:
- One is in the ruins; there is a puzzle piece hidden off the bottom of the stage in a place you would never know to even look, as there is no hint it is down there.
- The other is near the end of the game, where he squawks around a small platform just above the lava. It seems like a puzzle piece would spawn there, but in actuality it is simply a platform to allow you to access the real puzzle piece - namely, behind a breakable wall in a bonus room, in an area where the last (and only) barrel is a great distance behind. If it were not for squawks, these would be nearly impossible to find.
- Hominid Cannonball
- High Speed Battle: The Mole Train boss battle in World 4 takes place atop its own mine carts as it speeds down the track.
- The Hypnotoad: The Tiki Tak Tribe's main powers. They appear to be some of the easier enemies to defeat, suggesting that without the power to hypnotize other creatures to do their bidding, they'd be pretty helpless.
- Idle Animation: Donkey Kong looks around, sits on the ground, pulls out a Nintendo DS, and plays while Diddy watches over his shoulder. After a while he gets bored and tosses it casually over his shoulder. This may or may not have been inspired by a famous incident (Retro Studios took note of it on their website) wherein a kid dropped his DS in the gorilla pen at the zoo and the gorillas played it.
- Interface Spoiler: While the game is good at hiding the temple levels, the Golden Temple, and the Mirror Mode emblems, it slips up at World 6: You could only see six level spots on the World Map in addition to the boss level spot, but upon viewing the Level Summary, you see two more instances of "?????" than there should be. Sure enough, upon clearing what appears to be the last level before the boss, the road that appears to lead to the boss crumbles, and the two missing level spots finally appear in an otherwise conspicuous area of the map.
- Invincible Minor Minion: The Tiki Zings (only beatable with Rambi), and flaming Tiki Zings (unbeatable, even with Rambi).
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted in the final cutscene with DK, where he punches the moon into Tiki Tong's lair.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: In the factory, inanimate Tiki masks are brought to life by the squashed bananas from DK's Hoard.
- Jetpack: Diddy Kong has one.
- Jungle Japes: The first world, naturally.
- Justified Extra Lives: Previously, the balloons were just there for you to collect and gain extra lives. Now, they carry you back into the stage upon the event of dying. In co-op, if one Kong dies and the other summons him back, one of the balloons will carry in a DK Barrel for you to break and bring the first Kong back into action. If both Kongs are dead, two extra lives are given up in order to bring them back.
- Law of 100: 100 bananas, one extra life.
- Leitmotif: Each boss tiki's instrument that they're themed off of is added into their boss music and hypnosis music.
- Lethal Lava Land: World 8, which somehow manages to outdo the one in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
- Letting the Air out of the Band: Happens when you defeat Mole Miner Max as his body collides with the train and said train slows to a stop.
- Level Ate: World 9's single level. It's bizarre, to say the least. In-game artwork shows that they planned to include more levels in the Golden Temple, many of them having a food theme.
- The Lost Woods: World 5 is a forest world, filled with 600 foot tall pine trees and murderous spiders.
- Meaningless Lives:
- While the game is pretty difficult, this is a classic example of a game with meaningless lives. Most of the difficult stages have bonus rounds near the start of them, allowing you to gain infinite extra lives - and indeed, dying in them often will gain you stocks as the bonus round has 1-2 extra life balloons in it AND bananas, and coins (which can be used to buy extra lives, as well as other items) are plentiful, and all the more so when you start dying repeatedly on the harder stages later in the game, thus collecting the same banana coins over and over again.
- This game provides a similar thing in Meaningless DK Barrels. Some levels provide you with DK Barrels right before long stretches of Blast Barrels, Rocket Barrels, and Mine Kart that go on until the end of the level. These areas are One-Hit Kill, and the other benefits from having Diddy (his rockets for example) are a non-factor, rendering him completely useless.
- Mad Bomber:
- Stu, naturally. The only move he has that isn't bomb-related is swooping at you. Then again, he was Brainwashed and Crazy....
- The Koalas in The Golden Temple level
- Magic Music: The high-ranking Tikis play themselves as instruments to hypnotise the island's animals.
- Malevolent Architecture: and HOW. The secret bonus temple levels, especially.
- Man-Eating Plant: Two kinds of them, seen for the first time in the Donkey Kong Country series. They're even called "Chomps".
- Mecha-Mooks: Common in the factory world.
- Medium Awareness: After a bonus game, DK and Diddy will take a look at the item totals as they line up along the bottom of the screen.
- Megaton Punch: To defeat the final boss, DK punches the moon into it.
- Mercy Mode: Similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, after dying enough times trying to complete a single level, Professor Chops will appear and offer the "Super Guide", which calls in a Palette Swapped white DK to play the level for you. The game clearly warns you that Super Kong will only complete the level — you don't get to keep any of the items he collects in the process. Which means that in order to unlock the Golden Temple level, you must beat the hidden Kong Temple stages by yourself, because that's the only way to collect the orbs at the end of each temple level.
- Minecart Madness: One of the series many trademarks; World 4 consists almost entirely of them. The antics that actually occur during said levels make the original series's Minecart Madness look boring by comparison.
- Mini-Mecha: Colonel Pluck's "Stompybot 3000".
- Mobile Shrubbery: A type of mook that only appears in the silhouette levels is almost entirely shrouded in shrubbery. Only its eyes and spindly legs are visible.
- Mole Miner: Mole Guards in minecart sections and World 4. Mole Miner Max is the boss of World 4.
- Multi-Stage Battle: Each time Thugly Turns Red, he smashes the floor of the arena, sending the battle down to a lower level, though the change in terrain has no tactical effect on the battle in progress.
- Musical Gameplay: The factory level "Music Madness". The obstacles in this level are synced with the music.
- Musical Spoiler: The early Minecart Madness and Rocket Ride levels have a lead-in to the actual mine cart or rocket music before you jump into the vehicle for the first time (if you recognize it, that is). Later levels seems to abandon this altogether.
- Nintendo Hard: Much harder than the previous games, in fact. This trope is specifically mentioned in the GameSpy review. The unlockable Temple levels border on Platform Hell, even the World 1 temple (which is aptly named "Platform Panic"). However, the very worst levels in the game tend to be the rocket levels, which (like the minecart levels) will kill you if you touch anything, but unlike the minecart stages have few to no breaks from the carts and as the rocket is not running on rails gives you many more chances to die.... especially with how touchy the rocket controls are.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After each boss, you get to unleash a completely one-sided flurry of Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs on the tiki controlling the boss before uppercutting them into the sky. Their Oh, Crap expressions right beforehand are priceless.
- No Name Given: Other than the Final Boss, the boss tikis have no names.
- No OSHA Compliance: The Factory levels.
- No Sell: The tikis hypnotize the animals to do their bidding; one of them tries it on Donkey Kong, and learns the very hard way that DK is immune to it.
- Nostalgia Level: 1-1 (Jungle Hijinxs) is the most obvious, down to DK starting the game off in his treetop hut above his banana hoard cave.
- Not as You Know Them: The Scurvy pirates are now three crabs instead of crocodiles.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Contained in the music throughout World 8.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder:
- Both DK and Diddy actually have two hitpoints apiece, but when you're riding a mine cart or Rocket Barrel, colliding with anything is invariably lethal as it destroys the cart/rocket.
- Played straight in Mirror Mode, which challenges you to complete levels with only DK and only one Heart.
- 100% Completion: Completing every level and getting all the Kong letters nets you 100%, while clearing every level again on Mirror Mode will award you with the maximum 200%! Fortunately, Puzzle Pieces and Time Trial medals don't contribute to this.
- Palmtree Panic: World 2.
- Pass the Popcorn: During boss fights, a horde of Tikis watches you, chants in time to the boss music, boos when you hit the boss— and cheers when the boss hits you.
- Artistic License - Physics: The giant fan platforms with one broken blade in Foggy Fumes somehow stay perfectly balanced no matter their position or even when switched on.
- Pirates: The Scurvy Crew are a trio of Type 1, Giant Enemy Crab pirates. The red captain is named Greenbeard, has a Hook Hand, an Eyepatch of Power and a Nice Hat, the blue one has a cutlass in place of a claw, and the yellow one has a fork in place of a claw.
- Platform Battle: Mangoruby (falling off nets no real penalty beyond wasting time needed to hit all the switches), and the Mole Train especially (see High Speed Battle).
- Power-Up Mount: Rambi the rhinoceros.
- Prehistoria: World 6, Cliff.
- Pre-Order Bonus: Players who preordered the game got a banana-shaped Wiimote holder.
- Punny Name: Awks. They are awkward, and they are auks.
- Puzzle Boss: Mangoruby can't be struck directly; you must activate all the switches in the room first before you can attack.
- Randomly Drops: Hearts.
- Raymanian Limbs: Tiki Tong
- Rearrange the Song: Half of the game's soundtrack contains remixes of songs from the original DKC. This includes the title screen, world map, jungle, forest, ruins, factory and mine cart levels.
- Recursive Ammo: Thugly, the boss of world 6, launches a fire ball that splits into three, one of which will split into three again (and may do so yet again). Good luck trying to dodge this one.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Cling Cobra, Mangoruby, and the Dinosaur Skeletons.
- Respawning Enemies: In a departure from the original DKC series, all the normal mooks in the game will respawn to their original positions after being defeated, if you move a few screens away and come back. This can be annoying a lot of the time, but other times it's useful when you need the mooks for Goomba Springboard situations, as the respawning enemies will allow you multiple attempts to reach otherwise unreachable areas.
- Revenge of the Sequel: Taken to a literal extent. It's the return of Donkey Kong (the character) and the Country series.
- Ribcage Ridge: World 6 is a trek through cliffs covered in gigantic fossils. That try to kill you.
- Rise to the Challenge: Courtesy of nice hot videogame lava ("Red Red Rising", "Perilous Passage"). The last half of "Muncher Marathon" proceeds in a vertical format as well.
- Roar Before Beating: Mugly and Thugly, every time they Turn Red. Also, Tiki Tong.
- Rocket Ride: the Rocket Barrel, which is easily cited for having the game's most difficult stages.
- Rule of Three:
- Both Mugly and Thugly progress through three stages as you fight them (turning red on the third). In addition, in each phase they have to be hit three times.
- The second boss is the Scurvy Crew, consisting of three pirate crabs. Because there's three of them, three tikis are needed to hypnotize them.
- Saharan Shipwreck: Level 6-7 "Tippy Shippy". Somehow a fleet of pirate ships managed to get stuck up there.
- Secret Level: Each world features a Temple level which is unlocked by collecting all the KONG letters in that world.
- Segmented Serpent: Mangoruby. You destroy her segments in groups of two, rather than one at a time.
- Sequence Breaking: There are some pretty clever ways to bypass certain obstacles, and this becomes necessary when going for the best records in Time Trials.
- Shaped Like Itself: The UK advert, voiced by BRIAN BLESSED, invites you to "Join this hairy wrecking-ball as he tears through your living room, like an ape tearing through your living room!"
- Ship Level: Mostly World 2.
- Shockwave Stomp: Mugly, Thugly, and Tiki Tong all have one.
- A stage set in the ruins features an enormous stone statue of the original Donkey Kong holding a Wii remote, as opposed to a barrel, over his head. In fact, the sprite is a modified sprite from Donkey Kong Jr. Math, with the tie added and a sign replaced with the Wiimote.
- One of the stages is named King of Cling.
- In "Foggy Fumes", one of the Smokey Factory levels, you can see the first level from the original Donkey Kong.
- In the beach levels there are crab enemies that scuttle sideways along the ground. Ground pound near them and they'll flip over - ground pound again and they'll flip over again, unlike most enemies with stay stunned.
- Mr Game and Watch appears in the background of the aforementioned factory stage, which itself is stylized to look like a Game & Watch game.
- In 'The Mole Train', watch Mole Miner Max's facial expression carefully when he's enchanted by the tikis. Remind you of anything? Dun-dun-DUNNNN!
- Tiki Tong has an eye tic similar to that of King K. Rool.
- Retro created the Metroid Prime games, and they slipped in a few shout outs to Metroid in there:
- In the first factory level, you can see Crocomire's skull in the foreground.
- You can also see fossilized Infant Leviathans from Metroid Prime 3 in one of the cliff levels.
- The Volcano Vibe theme also sounds very similar to the Magmoor Caverns theme.
- The entire game is one to the original trilogy, although it predominantly references the first game. In fact, two of the stages reuse names from the original game: "Jungle Hijinx" and "Vine Valley".
- The interior of Tiki Tong's lair has more than a passing resemblance to Final Destination, right down to the colorful background and the the fact that is has one platform. And the fact you initially attack its hands.
- In "Button Bash", there's a giant monkey statue wearing a tie patterned with the American flag. This is undoubtedly a reference to video game champion Billy Mitchell (from the movie The King of Kong), who was known for wearing the same.
- Just to the right of the Jumpman scaffolding in the same level is the silhouette of Crocomire's skull.
- The Golden Temple level's music is a remix of the Donkey Kong Jr. Theme.
- Sound Test: Defeating bosses unlocks that world's soundtrack for you to listen to at your leisure.
- Sphere Factor: Diddy Kong can run atop of Donkey Kong as the latter is rolling in order to do so continuously.
- Two of the minecart levels also feature this, one level having the cart rolling around the inside of rails bent into a circular shape (like a hamster ball), and another with the cart rolling on top of a gigantic dinosaur(?) egg.
- Spider Swarm: One of the levels involves the Kongs having to outrun a gigantic swarm of invincible spiders after disturbing their nest.
- Stalactite Spite: The crystals in 4-3 (Bombs Away), although most of them simply shift position instead of outright falling. The next level, 4-4 (Mole Patrol), plays this straight, again with crystals.
- Stealth Pun: The main enemies of the Factory levels, Buckbot and Buckbomb, are mechanical poultry fashioned after the boss of the area, Colonel Pluck, who commands a giant mech of his own. In short, Robot Chickens.
- Super Drowning Skills: Unlike in the previous Donkey Kong Country games, deep water is essentially just another Bottomless Pit here.
- Suspicious Video Game Generosity: All of those extra lives this game seems to throw at you? You're going to need them.
- If you see a DK barrel in a level, chances are you're going to have to do some serious platform-hopping real soon.
- Tactical Suicide Boss: The Scurvy Crew, Stu, and Thugly.
- Technology Porn: The factory world is full of this.
- Temple of Doom: The hidden Temple stages, and World 3 is a milder version.
- Temporary Platform: Mostly of the "crumbling" varieties, and some levels (like World 1's secret level, "Platform Panic") are built entirely around them. One level in World 3 has a grid of platforms that appear and disappear at regular intervals (not unlike the infamous platforms of Mega Man fame), but thankfully you have safe ground to land on underneath.
- Threatening Shark: Grinning, leaping sharks attempt to bite DK and Diddy as they jump from one platform to the next in coastal areas, as seen in this video.
- Throw a Barrel at It: It is Donkey Kong Country.
- Time Trial: To get an idea on how this already Nintendo Hard game deals with time trials, you can net the best medalnote in the first level of the game by beating it within 53 seconds. Mercifully, time trial mode has no bearing on 100% game completion whatsoever.
- Took a Level in Badass: Rambi the Rhino was already a heavy, steamrolling character in the original games. Here, he can break through blocks much larger than himself, and is not ony immune to Spikes of Doom; he actually destroys them on impact. The only thing that can harm him this go around is fire.
- Trash the Set: After a boss is defeated, his lair is shown as destroyed with a DK flag among the rubble on the map screen from that point forward.
- Turns Red: Happens to the bosses as they either get faster or new attacks when low on health. Literally played straight with Mugly and Thugly, who actually turn red.
- A Twinkle in the Sky: The Tikis do this when you punch them after beating a boss.
- Under the Sea: Unlike all three previous installments in the series, this game does not have any. though a remix of the original underwater levels does play when you're riding the whale.
- Underground Level: Mostly overlaps with Minecart Madness. The entirety of World 4.
- Unique Enemy: A few enemies really only show up for a single level.
- Mimic, an enemy that resembles Mobile Shrubbery, appears in Sunset Shore
- Tiny hummingbirds called Humzees show up in a single room of Button Bash
- Updated Re-release: Donkey Kong Country Returns came to 3DS in summer 2013 as Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, adding a whole new world and an easier difficulty, which gives the Kongs more health and makes additional items available for purchase.
- Use Your Head: Diddy's ending involves Diddy falling towards the moon and tries to escape the pull, but his jetpack goes out of control, causing Diddy to slam headfirst into the moon, which results the end to the Tiki-Tak tribe.
- Warm-Up Boss: Mugly.
- Whack A Monster: The Mole Train boss, obviously being based off Whack-A-Mole.
- 2½D: A sidescrolling game rendered entirely in 3-dimensional graphics. Some levels feature additional layers in the background (or foreground) that the player traverses between using barrel cannons.
- Variable Mix: The map music (returning from the first DKC) has different instruments depending on what world you are in.
- The boss music tends to get more intense the further in the battle you get.
- Furthermore, each mine cart level and rocket barrel level has instrument changes for their respective themes dependent on the level.
- You Have Failed Me: Averted with the boss Tikis; Once they power up Tiki Tong with bananas, he turns them into giant hands(!) to fight Donkey and Diddy Kong with.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: After clearing the penultimate level in World 6, the pathway to the boss stage crumbles, causing you to detour through two stages which didn't exist on the map previously.