News Article

Nintendo - Donkey Kong Series is Adaptable to Fresh Ideas

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Also, getting the ba-BOOM ba-BOOM ba-BOOM rhythm was important

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze may not have been the Retro Studios project that some fans desired or expected, but nevertheless it is a sequel to one of the finest platformers to grace the Wii. Ultimately, the odds are good at this stage that it'll be a hugely enjoyable experience when it arrives in November.

Naturally, Retro Studios and their management colleagues from Kyoto were doing the media rounds during E3 to promote the new title, and they spoke to our colleagues at, talking in some detail about the project and the series' legacy as a whole. On the legacy topic, the game's producer Kensuke Tanabe explained that, unlike the clear dividing lines in the Mario franchises, the DK series is being approached on a project-by-project basis.

Mario is like… Let’s give Mario as an example of something that’s very clear and defined. If you look at Mario here, you have a very clear distinction between 2D games and 3D games. The 2D side-scrollers are continuing in the New Super Mario series, and then you have games like Mario 64. You have Sunshine and Galaxy and Galaxy 2 and now 3D World. Those are the 3D world Marios, and then you have the 2D world Marios. There’s a very clear line between those two series.

Now, with Donkey Kong, it’s never been that clear throughout time. We went from 2D to 3D on the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube, and then back to 2D here. We had things like Jungle Beat, these experimental sorts of projects. Here, we said, "Let’s go back to 2D. Let’s try 2D," and set to reinventing the Donkey Kong Country franchise. In the end, it’s not like we’ve ever drawn a clear distinction between two types of games. We’re really looking at, "Hey, what do we have with our hardware? What does the marketplace want?" We’re adaptable. We can respond to those needs. We’ll come up with games that might incorporate elements from both sides.

As well as explaining how the additional graphical power of the Wii U made for greater detail in the visuals — Retro's Michael Kelbaugh describes the system as "quite a powerhouse" — Tanabe explained how the legacy of the Wii original, and the tweaks in Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, have combined to help the team aim for an experience suitable for newcomers and veterans alike.

As I think you know, this series is known as a difficult series. For the fans of the series, I don’t want to betray that expectation of a real challenge. But of course, I want to make the game as accessible as I can to casual players, people who haven’t had an opportunity to try the series yet.

So one of the things that we’ve done is, we’ve taken a feature from the 3DS version of Donkey Kong Country Returns, which is the green balloon. We brought it back in this version. It basically allows the player, as you know, to fall to what is normally a loss of life. The green balloon lifts them up and they can place themselves where they want and let go. It gives the power to use or not use it to the player, though. Basically, we’re just providing a system for players who want to use it if they want to. They can go purchase this item in-game and use it, but of course they don’t have to. It’s just giving those people a chance to get into the game a little easier and make it more accessible. You have the standard Donkey Kong challenge for our veteran players who are really into it, and we’ve got some aids that are available for people who maybe aren’t as used to the series that will allow them to have some of the same experiences as other players.

So, are you looking forward to the arrival of Tropical Freeze in November? Are you confident that the experience will suit the full spectrum of experienced and less skilled gamers? Let us know in the comments below, while you can check out the full interview at


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User Comments (54)



DualWielding said:

wish this was on the 3DS instead, really want to play it but the Wii U only have two other games that interest me so I can't justify buying one



thebigN said:

i hope they make a 3d dk eventually like dk 64 which is one of my favorite games, but im fine with tropical freeze it looks COOL



shake_zula said:

I haven't played the 3DS one, is it noted somewhere if you use a green balloon? Like how you can't get all the stars in NSMBW if you use Super Play?



LavaTwilight said:

I'll be making a purchase of this one! Can't wait. It may not be day1 like some other games but I'll be sure to get it



OorWullie said:

It look's great and without doubt it will be be great but I still feel they could have done a lot more with the visuals.I can see jaggies,why are there jaggies?Surely it has the power to make jaggies a thing of the past?



Araknie said:

Hope that green baloon shat is totally optional because i will never use it.



rjejr said:

Glad to read about the green balloon addition. The first one was a good game but too difficult for my kids. Those minecart levels are a bit unforgiving.



NintyMan said:

I have absolutely no problem with having optional items and an easy mode to make it easier for new players while the experienced ones can play it normally. Did anyone have a problem with the easy, normal, and hard modes of games in the past? I don't see any difference.

At any rate, this is definitely going to be a Day One purchase for me!



ricklongo said:

Nothing against Metroid, but I for one would take Nintendo charm over a futuristic shooter any day of the week.

This is likely the game I'm most looking forward to this year - and we're talking the year of Pokemon X & Y and Zelda: A Link Between Worlds here. Especially if they bring back animal buddies. Oh man, PLEASE give me my animal buddies.



WiiLovePeace said:

I'm greatly looking forward to DKC:TF I'm going to play through it on co-op. Certainly won't use the green balloons, though they will be tempting haha.



WindWakerLink said:

Dixie is a playable character! I'm SOLD!! Hahahaha!
But seriously, this is a day 1 buy! No questions asked!

I don't really like these "extra" help things there are doing and I C & understand why they are doing. BUT!!!!! I'm glad I'm not FORCED to use them. That's good. I refuse to use any of that stuff! "Hardcore! Hardcore!" XD XD

Oh I just realize there will be new kart levels!!!! Awesome!!! Whenever I played the kart levels, I would scream, yell, and laugh with excitement of how intense and crazy things got in those levels. My cousin, who would be with me at these time, laughs at me for this, but I don't care. I love the series and can't what to play Tropical Freeze!!! ^__^

There was a mention of another new playable character beside Dixie but they refuse to reveal who. That's fine. I suspect it's one of the following:
-Funky Kong
-Cranky Kong
-Tiny Kong
-Candy Kong
-Chunky Kong
-Lanky Kong or
-Kiddie Kong

I wanna throw "Wrinky Kong" in the mix but it's implied that she dies in DK 64 because she talks to you in spirit form...'that's sad...'



MadAdam81 said:

Right now, this game will sell more Wii Us than Metroid, and I think they need to reinvent Metroid, or just make Super Metroid Returns, which will be great for the system.



Big_L91 said:

@MadAdam81 your right there in reality no one cares about metroid except die hard fans, too be honest during my childhood with the n64 i didnt know or care what metroid was. i do love the series now but only because of super really the prime games sort of drag on a bit.....
im happy with DK myself metroid can come later when they have a better understanding of the wii U hardware.



ricklongo said:

@Clayfrd He was, but the concept was way too underused. I think four or five animal buddies is a good number for a DKC game. I really missed the stupidly hard Squawks stages from the old SNES games.

And now they've got underwater levels again, there's no excuse to not bring Enguarde back.



Clayfrd said:

@ricklongo That's a fair point. I'd love to see more. And yeah, with water levels back, Enguarde would definitely be a good addition!



bassoongoon said:

I'm excited for Tropical Freeze! It should be fun. I hate to ask, but what was the 3D Donkey Kong on GCN? I cannot remember!



UnseatingKDawg said:

Hey, if they return the power-ups from New Mode in DKCR3D, I don't see a problem. It creates a good balance.



element187 said:

I just picked up the DKCR on 3DS, and the game is just amazing... Sadly, I missed the Wii version because a burglar stole my Wii before this game came out and I never got around to buying a replacement.

I'm looking forward to 60 fps goodness, (the 3DS version is only 30fps sadly).... the graphics look sharp, and I"m digging the camera angle changing.

I purchased a big 1.5tb external drive for my Wii U. I have decided to go all digital when it comes to first party titles. So I'm all ready to download this day one in November.... WW in Oct, W101 in Sept and Pikmin 3 in Aug (darn you Europeans get it first), and then of course the most anticipated title for me this year, SM3DW.

The replay value in Nintendo games are just so stellar, I want quick access to them all without changing discs.... now 3rd party games I will probably buy on disc just so I can sell them if I get bored of them.



element187 said:

@shake_zula they do have super play as well, but the super play doesn't grab any puzzle pieces or letters... .the green balloon is an item you can purchase with banana coins that allows you to get a second chance if you miss a jump. Its completely optional... with how easy it is to max out on lives in DCKR 3DS, I don't think I will ever use the green balloon.



ikki5 said:


and that is why it is going on the Wii U, if everything great went to the 3DS or both the 3DS and the Wii U, people would probably buy the 3DS and skip the Wii U as the 3DS already has a great market and game line up. The Wii U needs games, great games for it to be able to take off. This will help that and it it what the Wii U needs.


The Gamecube games were the Donkey Konga games and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat



Tony_342 said:

" is a sequel to one of the finest platformers to grace the Wii." That's putting it mildly. I'd say it's one of the finest platformers ever made - period. Although, the Wii had some amazing platformers. But definitely one of the best side-scrolling platformers ever.

"Also, getting the ba-BOOM ba-BOOM ba-BOOM rhythm was important."
Shouldn't that be "ba-BOON ba-BOON ba-BOON?"

...Yeah, that was dumb. Sorry.



Mauhiho said:

I can't wait!
I am really happy this isn't a Metroid game.. I never understood why that series is so popular. It's just another shooting game.



SuperMinusWorld said:

Uhhh... I mean, sure, DK can be adaptable but so can Mario. Especially the 3D series. The 2D series has become rather bland and predictable.

The 3D series tends to experiment with different gameplay styles along with adding new locations/setpieces/enemies. I won't go into depth too much, but the 3D series can be divided into 3 eras.

-The 64/Sunshine era included more adventure elements with the explorative maps and Mario's controls/physics; the combat of 64 and FLUDD from Sunshine were complimentary of this style.

-The Galaxy era brought Mario closer to his 2D roots with an emphasis on action and some puzzles set in linear stages; the addition of gravity made interesting and unique platforming and puzzling.

-The 3D Action era basically takes Mario's 2D endeavors and gives them a 3D coat of paint; Mario doesn't have any special powers (other than that nifty roll feature) this time and plays more like he does in the 2D games with a maneuverable jump in midair and a toggle for walking and running; Mario relies on power-ups to add variety to the gameplay. This era proves that a straight-up platformer can work in 3D.

The 2D games ever since the first NSMB for DS have all remained largely the same. To me, they feel like rehashes of the original 2D series as opposed to doing anything particularly new in terms of gameplay.



gohanrage said:

Funky Kong
Cranky Kong
Tiny Kong
Candy Kong
Chunky Kong
Lanky Kong or
Kiddie Kong
Own DKC 1 2 3, DK64.
I really Do not Like Kiddie, Chunky Lanky.
DIXIE KONG is better than Tiny Kong.
Donkey, Diddy and DIXIE are enough kongs for me as well as Kranky
I actually like Donkey Kong Country 2 more then Donkey Kong Country 1. because Diddy and Dixie can run faster. I didn't like the characters in DKC3 or the Music but I also hated that they slowed down how fast DIXIE could run because of Kiddy.
there is no advanced editor so I can't remove formatting. I didn't add any spaces between the kongs names it was a copy and paste



Tysamu said:

it's weird looking at the Kongs then looking at the environments; they both differ significantly to me. The Kongs are pretty detailed; especially since you can see the fibers of their fur close up but then you get to the environments and they look as though they could've been done with the wii's power.



vio said:

Donkey Barrel Blast was never released on the Gamecube. Yes, it was originally developed for the system, but the Gamecube version was cancelled and it was released on the Wii instead. So it can't truly be labeled a Gamecube DK game.



irkd said:

@MadAdam81 minimum wage is double there than here in the USA. So it costs about the same.

(still too expensive for a handheld game)



GamerZack87 said:

Tropical Freeze sounds like a refreshingly-icy-cold fruit drink. Man, now I'm having a craving for one! Mmm...

@MadAdam81: Do you have a 3DS? If so, the 3DS version is only $60.



Epicnessofme99 said:

Cannot wait for this game, actually still need to finish the last world in Donkey Kong Country Returns which I plan on doing sometime soon.



BlackStar9000 said:

@MadAdam81 why does your government hate gamers so much? Aussies get the raw deal every time a new game comes out, they force modifications to games like GTA because they are 'too adult", I say leave that country or start a protest...seriously.



Predator said:

I want more animal buddies in this one, the last one just had Rambi. I want the Swordfish, the Spider and the Parrot.



WindWakerLink said:

@gohanrage Agreed!! (Chuckles) I prefer Dixie over Tiny any day. It's just to have more girls in the game. Out of all the DKC games, DKC2 was definitely my favorite because of everything! The story, the new game play mechanics, the couples deal with Diddy and Dixie, the plot twist towards the end, the secret/true ending and most of all THE MUSIC!!! ^__^ That game was one of the highlights for me in the 90s. Whenever I play it, I'm always reminded why the 90s was so GOOD!

SN:"I didn't realize the slowed down run of Dixie in DKC 3 until you mention it. Wow...That probably would explain why it felt different... Regardless, it was still a good game and I really music in DKC 3 but it got NOTHING on DKC2!!"



gohanrage said:

I do not understand how dixie can carry donkey. in DKC2 her whole body had to spin for her to fly. If she tried just swinging her hair in a circle she would get a sore neck.



gohanrage said:

It was also funny how when DIXIE would FLY diddy would just float in the air behind her

I bought the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack on audio cassette but tape was bad made a bad noise as it would play the tape. really bad squeak

Later On I bought the Donkey Kong Country Trilogy. I play DKC and DKC2 on CD but never the Third game I think the music is really bad.

I believe that the Stamper Brothers were working on DK64 while others made DKC3 which is why it sucked



Bistarish said:

The only way that casual gamers will get better, is if they try and try to play as a "experienced" player. I'm 87.3% positive that's how the majority of people get good. God, the tears and frustration if felt over a game...



garfreek said:

I just hope they get that dkc vibe, it was kind of missing in returns. I loved the dark and realistic aproach of the games.

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