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Ranking the Donkey Kong Country Games

Updated on August 15, 2017

Donkey Kong Country: It's one of the more popular franchises in Nintendo's library. In the 90's, the series was known for groundbreaking graphics. With simple, but effective gameplay, the series looked as good as it played. In recent years, the franchise has gained a resurgance in popularity on both the Wii and Wii U.

With six games, it's time to rank all of them. For what it's worth, Donkey Kong Country is one of the rare instances where every game in the series is good. However, some were a little more successful in their efforts.

Donkey Kong 64

It speaks volumes that a game this good is the weak link in the series. The collect-a-thon sub-genre was a big deal during the Nintendo 64 era. Nintendo already made the hugely successful Super Mario 64. Rare followed that up with Banjo Kazooie. This game was like those on steroids. It was so big, that while many games were enhanced by the N64 expansion pack, it was REQUIRED for this game. In a way, this game was a primo example of being too much of a good thing.

Levels were downright gargantuan with five different characters needing their own items collected, mini-games that can only be played by certain characters, dozens of power-ups. Still, it is awesome that this game gives you so much to do. Gameplay is generally fun. Though there are several mini-games that are downright irritating. (The Beaver Bother might make some players tear out their hair.)


Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble

While this game has topped several best lists, I can't agree with that. While it is an excellent game on face, it is also an example of third game syndrome - It's the Arkham Origins of the series. It's a good game, but they just didn't do ENOUGH to differentiate this one from the first two. Did this game do anything groundbreaking? No, but it did do everything right. The gameplay is solid so anyone who likes the first two DKC games should check this one out. Even if it's the weak link of the SNES trilogy, it was leagues ahead of most platformers on that console.

Also, a big point against this game: Why no Donkey or Diddy Kong? I like Dixie, but lacking those two stunk.


Donkey Kong Country Returns

After years of hiatus, this beast came back on the Wii. It's funny to think that a series that was known as groundbreaking for its graphical developments. However, in 2010, the series was groundbreaking by going back to the past for some neo-retro fun.

Along with old school fun, this game also brought about old school difficulty. Some deaths feel unfair, and the final boss is a pain. However, the game will dole out extra lives hand over fist, so players only to remain persistent.

Also as good as these games are, anyone who can get past those rocket levels without swearing should be nominated for sainthood.

Also, between the modern, DKC games, this game has a way cooler ending. Possibly the coolest ending from the series.


Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

It was actually hard to decide between this or DKC Returns. Both were excellent, and both had similar gameplay. Also Tropical Freeze is one world shorter than its predecessor.

Still, Tropical Freeze gets the edge because it succeeds in taking a good game and building on it. DKC Returns only has Diddy Kong as a playable partner. Nothing wrong with that on face, but it is nice to see Dixie and Kranky Kong return as playable characters. More than beloved characters returning, it does give a little more variety.

But between both games, it is a shame that there's no way to play as any of those side characters in single player.


Donkey Kong Country

This was the game that started it all. Despite the advancements and changes to the series, this game still holds up. It's simpler than the other games, but that's part of the appeal. Seasoned players can probably beat this one in a weekend. While this game has a reputation for difficulty, that's never been a problem for me.


Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest

It seems like a shame that Donkey Kong is only the character being rescued in what's possibly the best game in the series. Once again, this game was so good because it took what was great about the previous title and built on it.

Adding Dixie to the series did give this game a little more dimension, the pirate theme is fun, and there's good level variety. This game actually is tougher than the predecessor. But it's the kind of tough that persistent players will eventually see to the end.

Favorite Donkey Kong Country game

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