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General Description

Donkey Kong Country Returns is a 2D platformer developed by Retro Studios and released for the Nintendo Wii in November 2010. In it players control hero Donkey Kong as he travels throughout DK Island to take back his stolen banana stash from the Tiki Tak Tribe, which are sort of mystical Tiki masks that can possess other creatures and control them.
Players must tackle dozens of challenging stages that take place in a wide range of environments. Players have only a few basic moves available to them, but the variety in level design keeps the game from ever being boring.

Each stage contains numerous secrets, many of which are hidden well enough that players must put in considerable time to find them all. Challenging Time Trials and a cooperative mode help fill out the package.

Educationally the game's biggest strength is probably in creativity. While the game borrows nearly every one of its mechanics from the 90's Donkey Kong Country games, Retro's careful eye on level design sets the game well apart from its inspirations. The game is also extremely impressive technically, with most reviews praising the game's consistently high graphic quality.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
C+ C
Ratings at a Glance
Creativity: 5 Publisher: Nintendo
Business: 3 Developer: Retro Studios and Nintendo
People: 4 Year: 2010
Problem: 6 Genre: Platformer
Simulation: 0 Strengths: popularity, problem, creativity
Popularity: 9 Platforms: Wii
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

As a 2D platformer, Donkey Kong Country Returns does not focus very strongly on classroom facts. Basic physics and math concepts are small elements of the game.

Creativity & Imagination

By the Player:

Though DKCR is a linear, 2D platformer, it does allow players some freedom in a few distinct ways. First is that each level is packed with hidden rewards, encouraging players to explore and scour each stage thoroughly to discover them. The second is in the game's level design when it comes to the challenging time trial mode. This tasks players with meeting par times on each course, which are set at extremely challenging levels. Players must learn the nuances of the game's controls and of each stage thoroughly in order to succeed here, and practice and experimentation are key to learning the optimal route through any given stage.

By the Developer:

DCKR is a reinterpretation of the classic Donkey Kong Country platformers, and it places a new focus on creative level design while embracing the original series' general style and strong visual sense. Many levels contain their own unique gimmicks; one early stage has players running between stones to avoid deadly waves that crash across the entire screen, while another has players riding in a mine cart while dodging foes and pits.

The game's visual style has also been praised. The game always looks good, and some stages offer particularly impressive gimmicks, like the handful of stages that have Donkey Kong appearing as a silhouette against a background sunset.

Business Skills

Business skills are involved when purchasing items at Cranky's Cabin, which appears in each new world the player visits. Players can spend coins collected during play to purchase a handful of one-time use items that provide various advantages during levels. In addition each new Cranky's Cabin sells a special, expensive key that unlocks an additional level in each world, offering players particular incentive to save up.

People Skills

DKCR features a straightforward co-op mode that allows one player to control Donkey Kong while the other controls Diddy. Players run and jump through stages alongside each other, and can help out their partners by defeating enemies along the way. The game only includes local multiplayer, meaning players will always be able to communicate clearly when playing as a team.

One notable feature is that the player controlling Diddy can jump onto Donkey's back and act as a sort of helper while the other player navigates the stage. This allows players of different skill levels to work together more smoothly when the going gets tough.

Problem Solving

DKCR is pretty straightforward in offering typical kinds of platforming challenges. Players must react to various hazards as they jump, swing and launch throughout each level. Many stages introduce unique hazards that ask players to consider the game in new ways. Varied boss fights at the end of each world also offer a change of pace.

Problem solving in DKCR is expanded considerably when the game is taken into time trial mode, where players must learn the fastest ways to complete each new stage. This can involve jumping from enemy to enemy, finding shortcuts and using Donkey Kong's speedy rolling jump attack and other specific techniques to earn the fastest time possible.


Donkey Kong Country Returns is not a simulation game.


Donkey Kong Country Returns has been praised as a worthy successor to the old Donkey Kong Country games, specifically for its graphic style and varied level design. The game has also been praised for having a high difficulty level.

Controls & Options

Standard audio and visual options are available.


Donkey Kong Country Returns was rated Everyone by the ESRB with a descriptor for Mild Cartoon Violence.