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A mascot racer starring Donkey Kong and friends. Originally intended as a GameCube title that made use of the bongo controller (used in other Donkey Kong games, such as Donkey Konga and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat), it made its debut on the Wii instead, utilizing motion controls in lieu of percussive ones.

The game was developed by Paon, who previously made DK: King of Swing and its sequel DK: Jungle Climber. Instead of racing in the three vehicles used in Diddy Kong Racing and its DS remake, the characters ride rocket-powered bongos. While the game borrows many elements from the Mario Kart franchise, it also has its own unique item system featuring elements from the Donkey Kong Country series and Donkey Kong 64. It also features a challenge mode that puts the player in various scenarios to race in.

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The game provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: As per Donkey Kong Country standards, the game does have quite a few examples, but not to the same extent.
    • Salty Sea
    • Shimmering Sea
    • Open Ocean
    • Parched Palace
    • Blazing Banana
    • Backward Barrel
  • Amazing Technicolor Racetrack: The game does have a few examples, surprisingly for an early Wii game. The wormholes on Cosmic Highway, the lava on the Mt. Dynamite courses, the water and ice on Mammoth Glacier and Alpine Peak.
  • Ascended Extra: Kopter went from an Invincible Minor Minion in DKC3 to a Secret Character in this game.
  • Astral Finale: Cosmic Highway.
  • Bamboo Technology: Rocket-powered bongos are used by all characters, except King K. Rool, who instead uses a big rocketbarrel. Several Barrel Cannons can also be found on the racetracks and Chunky Kong's Pineapple Launcher is an item.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: None of the racers or live items (such as Squawks and Mini-Zingers), need a space suit on Cosmic Highway.
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  • The Bus Came Back: Lanky Kong was reintroduced in this game. Quawks also returned, and was officially named as well.
  • Cane Fu: Cranky Kong can attack other players with his cane, including his wife Wrinkly.
  • Character Class System: All characters have their own stats, but it doesn't follow a weight-based system like Mario Kart. Some characters however, have a logical stat distribution. Diddy and Dixie are fragile speedsters, while Funky and Kludge are mighty glaciers.
  • Character Select Forcing: Only Donkey Kong can compete in Candy's Challenges.
  • Cheerful Child: Diddy, Dixie, Kip and Kass.
  • Chest Insignia: Some characters have an emblem printed on their bongos, and all of their bongos have varying designs. Donkey Kong, as expected, uses his signature DK logo with the normal color of bongos, while Kritter's bongos are grey, has a skull printed on the sides and are spiked on the top and bottom. Some characters that don't have an emblem on their bongos, like Kalypso, instead uses a type of accessory on their bongos. Her bongos are purple with golden jewelry on them.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kip, Kass, Kalypso and Kludge, aside from trophy cameos in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, have not appeared in any Donkey Kong games since this game.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Items in Red Item Ballons have better effects when used by a Kong, while Blue Item Ballons are this for the Kremlings.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Just like the Mario Kart franchise, more powerful items are given to players who are far behind, like a Crystal Coconut or a Mega TNT Barrel.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Lanky Kong, Klump, Funky Kong and Kludge all have very high top speed, but poor boost and agility. If you can avoid errors from both items and hazards though, they can race around the track very quickly with their speed, especially with high combos using Wild Moves.
  • Fragile Speedster: Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, Kip and Kass.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: All the Kremlings qualify, but special mention goes to King K. Rool.
  • Homing Projectile: The Pineapple Launcher's shots, Squawks and the Prop Monkey will home in on the closest opponent in front of the user, the Mini-Necky will home in on the closest opponent behind the user and Quawks will attack the player in first place like the Spiny Shell in Mario Kart.
  • Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: Averted with all Kongs, but played straight whenever King K. Rool, Klump and Kludge ride on Rambi or Enguarde.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Ultra Barrel DK - he can only be unlocked by completing all of Candy's Challenges, but he is ridiculously powerful, with all stats being maxed out.
  • Interface Screw: One of the effects the rare Mega TNT Barrel causes is reversed controls for a small amount of time.
  • Invincibility Powerup: The Tasty Melon and the Crystal Coconut. The former only makes you invincible, while the latter will make you invincible and gives you an unlimited amount of Wild Moves, essentially a Golden Mushroom and a Star combined.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Donkey Kong and Kritter.
  • Jungle Japes: DK Jungle, DK Jungle Falls and DK Jungle Sunset are this. DK Jungle also has some elements of Tree Top Town.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Mt. Dynamite, Dynamite Run and Mt. Dynamite Remix are this combined with Death Mountain.
  • Level-Map Display: All courses have a corresponding map.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Cranky Kong, Tiny Kong, King K. Rool, Kalypso and Ultra Barrel DK.
  • Made of Iron: All characters can shrug off an explosion, wasp swarm attack or repeated crashes into barrels easily.
  • Market-Based Title: The game is known as Donkey Kong Jet Race in Europe and Australia.
  • Mighty Glacier: Lanky Kong, Funky Kong, Klump and Kludge.
  • Mood Dissonance: The final confrontation with King K. Rool just screams this. You have to race him in, of all places, Alpine Peak, a Slippy-Slidey Ice World with gorgeous vistas and cheerful music. It doesn't fit the atmosphere in the slightest.
  • Musical Nod: The theme that plays in Cranky's Flight School is a remix of Cranky's Cabin from Donkey Kong Country.
  • Nitro Boost: Wild Moves, which are used separately from the items. A player can have up to six Wild Moves, and one is obtained by picking up at least 50 bananas scattered around the course. The Wild Elixir is an item that gives the user one Wild Move or two, depending on if a Kong or Kremling used it. The Wild Moves give a temporary speed boost when used, and the duration can be increased by repeatedly crashing into barrels or enemies like Zingers and Neckies.
  • Palm Tree Panic: Salty Sea, Shimmering Sea and Open Ocean with some parts being Under the Sea.
  • Playing with Fire: The Blazing Banana item.
  • Power Glows: Happens when using one of the two items that makes you invincible. The Tasty Melon will turn a player green, while the Crystal Coconut will turn one silver.
  • Powerup Mount: Rambi and Enguarde can be briefly ridden during a race, with Rambi being exclusive to the Dynamite Run track, and Enguarde being exclusive to the underwater sections of Salty Sea and Open Ocean.
  • The Rival: Every Kong character has a Kremling that they share their stats with:
    • Donkey Kong: Kritter.
    • Diddy Kong: Kip.
    • Dixie Kong: Kass.
    • Lanky Kong: Klump.
    • Tiny Kong: Kalypso.
    • Funky Kong: Kludge.
    • Wrinkly Kong: Kopter.
    • Cranky Kong: King K. Rool.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Scorching Canyon and Parched Palace. Scorching Canyon also has a shortcut that involves Mine Cart Madness.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Mammoth Glacier and Alpine Peak.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: The Backward Barrel item, a wooden barrel that is thrown behind the user in order to hit those behind. It multiplies into three upon doing so, and if the item was used by a Kremling, they will turn into TNT Barrels.
  • Temple of Doom: Cranky's Temple and Temple Heights are this combined with Ominous Floating Castle.
  • Wacky Racing: Not to the same extent as Mario Kart, but it's there.
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