While Mario is the undisputed man when it comes to all things Nintendo, let it never be forgotten that it was Donkey Kong who gave the plumber a leg-up in the world of video games. The ape's original game not only conquered the arcade and introduced the world to the character who would become Nintendo's mascot, it also saved the company and put it on the path to becoming the huge global concern and cultural icon it is today.
It's easy to forget just how many games Mario's erstwhile nemesis has to his name. From 1981's original Donkey Kong up to the Switch port of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the ape and his clan have consistently featured in Nintendo games for 40 years now. It's about time we ranked every Donkey Kong game from best to worst, then! Or, more accurately, from worst to best.
Below you'll find just that - the best Donkey Kong games of all time ranked from bad to brilliant. We've included only games on Nintendo consoles, so you won't find obscurities like Donkey Kong 3 Dai Gyakushuu. We've also limited it to full games where the ape has a starring role - we'd be here all day if we included all of the karting and tennis games featuring the DK clan - and we've ejected the Game & Watch titles (which can be found digitally spread across various Game & Watch Gallery collections or DSiWare) and consolidated a few ports for the sake of brevity. DK and his crew have been in a whole bunch of games!
Enough monkey business. Let's take a look at the best DK games ever. Here w--, here w--, here we go!
25. Donkey Kong Barrel Blast (Wii)
We begin at the bottom, which is appropriate because this DK racer really is a load of 'bottom'. Originally a DK Bongo tie-in planned for GameCube, it got moved to its motion-controlled successor with the barmy bongo peripherals switched out for Wii Remote waggle. 'Bongo Blast' became 'Barrel Blast' and you shook your Wiimote and Nunchuk to accelerate. Unfortunately, the racing is sluggish, the controls are hideous and the visuals looked ropey even at the time. The fact that DK and Diddy featured in the excellent Mario Kart Wii only highlighted what a mess Donkey Kong Barrel Blast really was. Developer Paon DP would do better with the characters in other games, but this was plain bad. The cover makes it look like the game could be fun. Trust us, it isn't.
24. Donkey Kong Jr. Math (NES)
Donkey Kong Jr. Math adds some arithmetic to the basic vine-swinging and platforming of Donkey Kong Jr. in a title that sucks all the fun out of both gaming and mathematics (hey, we're told numbers can be thrilling if you understand them). It combines 'education' and 'entertainment' to make - you guessed it! - a terrible game. Think of the poor kid who got a launch NES console and this - there must have been at least one.
Don't feel too sorry, though. Boxed versions of Donkey Kong Jr. Math are worth a pretty penny these days, so silver linings and all that. The title makes the game sound dreary, and it very much is, which saves it from the bottom of the list; at least it delivers on the promise of its name.
23. Arcade Archives Donkey Kong Jr. (Switch eShop)
The tables turned in this sequel to the arcade original with Mario having kidnapped Donkey Kong, so it's up to Junior to rescue Kong Senior. We've had ports a-plenty over the years, and the latest Switch version from Hamster enables you to flip your Switch into vertical mode for the most authentic experience you'll get outside an arcade. It's hard to argue that the base gameplay here hasn't aged, though, and you'll probably need a healthy dose of nostalgia and/or academic interest in the game to get much enjoyment from it nowadays. There's retro fun to be had with it, but we can think of dozens and dozens of '80s classics we'd rather play than Donkey Kong Jr., regardless of platform.
22. Arcade Archives Donkey Kong 3 (Switch eShop)
If push came to shove, we'd personally prefer to sit down with Donkey Kong 3 over Donkey Kong Jr. purely for how it diverges from its predecessors in intriguing ways. Taking control of that most famous of Nintendo icons, er... Stanley the Bugman, it's your job to use your bug spray to deflect the advances of flower fan Donkey Kong through your greenhouse. DK has enlisted an army of bugs and bees to keep you occupied while he makes off with your prize petunias.
Despite lacking the iconic gameplay and sound effects that have passed into video game lore, there's something oddly compelling in Stanley's battle against the headlining ape, and something a little sad in the knowledge that Stanley would vanish into obscurity afterwards. Well, that's not quite right; Stanley has had a handful of cameos over the years in games like Smash Bros. and the WarioWare series, but you rarely hear Nintendo fans clamouring for his return. Poor Stanley.
21. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (DSiWare)
A DSiWare instalment of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong puzzle platformer series, there's nothing much wrong with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! - it's simply 'another one of those'. If you can't get enough of this sub-series' lock-and-key gameplay, the third entry is fine and features a level editor similar to its predecessor, although these days sharing your custom levels is a lot tougher than it used to be.
20. DK: Jungle Climber (DS)
Following the rather poor Barrel Blast, developer Paon redeemed itself a little by returning to the DK formula it started out with on Game Boy Advance in DK: King of Swing. DK: Jungle Climber for DS puts you in control of your favourite tie-wearing simian as he climbs through the jungle using the shoulder buttons and it works rather well on original hardware. The soundtrack is a little disappointing by DK's high standards, but this and its predecessor are uniquely-controlled entries in the Kong canon that are worth a look even if they don't scale the heights of his more famous adventures.
19. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS eShop)
The first 3D entry in what to this point had been an exclusively side-scrolling affair, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move translates the series' gameplay well to the third dimension, even if it doesn't really add anything to the basic formula. As you might have spotted from the title, the plumber and the ape have settled their differences this time around and are simply MC-ing things alongside Pauline here, thus diminishing somewhat Donkey Kong's presence. While the gameplay can sometimes become infuriating and feel a little unfair, MADMOTM (or 'mad-mottom', as nobody has ever called it) is still a fun time if you've got the patience for it.
18. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis (DS)
The sequel to the GBA original, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis gave players control of mini versions of the plumber via the touchscreen rather than having them follow Mario around like the Pied Piper, and the game became more tactical as a result. It also saw the return of Pauline for the first time in many years, someone now very familiar to even the youngest Mario fans after her star turn in Super Mario Odyssey's New Donk City.
17. DK: King of Swing (GBA)
With a lovely, pastel colouring to its art, DK: King of Swing takes the essence of Clu Clu Land and makes a decent game out of it. Using the shoulder buttons to swing around and grasp onto pegs throughout the jungle, this twist on DK gameplay is quite refreshing after so many standard 2D platformers and Mini-marching games. It's nice to see him doing something outside his usual wheelhouse which doesn't involve driving karts, smashing tennis balls or swinging a golf club with one hand. It's not an absolute stone-cold classic, but DK: King of Swing is a fun little portable game and a breath of fresh air in amongst all this 2D platforming monkey business.
16. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U eShop)
Putting in an appearance on both Wii U and 3DS (the latter of which also received Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge which drew heavily on this series), Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars reverted back to 2D gameplay and gave us a taste of the enjoyable action-puzzler series in glorious HD for the first time. It's more of the same, although the Miiverse integration made sharing your workshopped levels a breeze, and when the base gameplay is this fun, it's easier to forgive how frequently Nintendo have gone back to its box of DK and Mario-shaped mechanical Minis. With Wii U dead and buried (and Miiverse with it), this is another concept we wouldn't mind seeing brought back on Switch.
H-H-Here we go!
So they're finally here
Performing for you
honestly it's amazing how many Donkey Kong games there are.It's also wierd how it went from a Nintendo Mega Franchise to a modest Mid Tier Nintendo Franchice. hopefully Donkey Kong will continue to be in great games.
So what youre saying is we need a donkey Kong country returns HD port.
Yet another reminder that I need to give the latter two games in the original Rare trilogy a spin. I played the original Donkey Kong Country to death back in the day but never had access to the others.
[Edit 7/9/21: I've played the rest of the Rare Trilogy since this post. The accolades are certainly deserved, especially Diddy's Kong Quest.]
Both Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze deserve to be placed so high IMO. They're excellent!
In before many say DK64 was better then that! However it wasn't 😝
Tropical Freeze? They are seriously trying to tell me that's the best DK game?!? I am disappointed.
Good list. All my favorites are near the top, so I don’t really feel a need to nitpick placings.
Jungle Beat is under appreciated. There’s nothing quite fun like slapping Bongos to beat up some ape baddies. The level scoring system is also really addicting.
DKC2 is number 1 for me, while the first game is amazing, the second improved on it in every single way, other than saving... lol. Tropical Freeze is really good though, loved it a lot.
Where's Diddy Kong Racing!? List should be for all Kong games. Not just Donkey
@Jokerwolf I fully agree with you. That game was also good to control (on gameboy never played it on SNES) and had very good music and stages. It played TF for more then 100% but nah... it just made me want to play an older Donkey Kong game.
The Retro Studios games are so great, but man do I struggle so much with those barrel rocket levels. Had to skip those on the 3DS version.
I don´t know. The original DKC is still the best, imo. Direct and fun.
And Returns is much better than TF, but that may be because TF was too similar in every way...
Donkey Kong Country 2. One of my favorite games of all time actually. I can’t tell ya how disappointing it is that this game was not included in the SNES Mini.
Ranked for my pleasure? This just made me angry. Completely disagree with list.
It's good to see the GameBoy Donkey Kong game get the recognition it deserves. I've always been sad that Nintendo had a proper sequel in the works for (IIRC) the GBA but it ended up being reworked into something quite different that just wasn't as good.
I really must try DKC2 at some point as it seems to get a lot of love. I was never very keen as it seemingly got rid of Donkey Kong and I was never that enamoured of Diddy (even though he was arguably the better character to use). Plus I had bailed on my Super Famicom for a PS1 by then... 😓
I really want a new Donkey Kong Country game soon, with K. Rool. It has been 6 years since Tropical Freeze. I also want a new soundtrack by David Wise! Please, Nintendo!
I would put the original DKC at 2, with Diddy Kong's Quest just behind but other than that it's hard to argue with the list. Tropical Freeze is without doubt one of the great platformers and in my opinion, the best this century by quite some distance. It's not Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island level of greatness but then nothing is.
We all know Diddy Kong Racing is the best game featuring DK
wait ...does DK mode in Goldeneye count? That’s my number one
I’ve only played a handful of Donkey Kong games but I can definitely say that Tropical Freeze is my favorite. The music, visuals, controls, world, collectibles, difficulty. and dynamic level design are absolutely incredible. It’s probably my favorite 2D platformer of all-time.
I see the argument for Tropical Freeze, but DKC2 is one of the greatest games of all time. Just glad you ranked Donkey Kong 94 so highly. That game is a classic.
@DockEllisD I agree with you. The first its my favorite, The theme of the first underwater level Oh GOD. (Aquatic Ambiance i think) hear that on the SNES was an incredible experience. The whole Soundtrack is fantastic.
Quite a good list. Donkey King himself holds a special place in my heart, so I personally like playing DKC 1 a little more than the sequel. But man, wouldn't it be great to get the original trilogy with NSO? Man that would be a dream come true for me
Donkey Kong Country at number 6? Shame
Is Tropical Freeze actually that good? I’ve never played a DK game (apart from Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2) if it’s one of the best I might consider picking it up and giving it a try
I wan’t a true successor to dk64 so badly. That feeling of adventure was amazing as a child. It didn’t age super well because of the collectathon mechanic, but there is so much potential if they fix this. The boss from Tiny Kong still haunts me!
@WesEds I'd suggest playing Donkey Kong Country SNES or Donkey Kong Country Returns before playing Tropical Freeze. Donkey Kong Country Returns is like an intro to Tropical Freeze in terms of mechanics. Though you won't be missing anything if you just go straight to Tropical Freeze. And Donkey Kong Country SNES was a great platformer in its era
I know it's not donkey Kong but we need a remake of Diddy Kong racing!
@JayJ as someone who played the snes games years before Tropical freeze ( I'm a junior in high school) I can say tropical freeze is the greatest in the series by far. It definitely is a successor to the original series and has all the great things about the originals and multiples it by two. Have you played tropical freeze? Can you tell me why your disappointed? Please explain which game you find better
2. Jungle Beat
7. Tropical Freeze
8. Mario vs Donkey Kong
10. DKC Returns
The Retro Studios games have amazing level design, but they have certain design flaws (IMO) that don't get called out. Namely, the control scheme is overly complex and not as fun to return to as the SNES games. Making grab and run separate buttons was a big mistake. (I say this as someone who got 200% on both games and enjoyed them thoroughly. I just don't think they deserve quite the high praise they receive).
Jungle Beat, DKL2, and MvDK are 3 most under-appreciated games in the series.
@PickledKong64 Well that's your opinion and that's cool and all but it is an opinion that I totally disagree with. Tropical Freeze has always been somewhat of a polarizing game as far as the DK fanbase goes though. Some people such as yourself seem to love it, while some people such as myself didn't care for it at all.
Lets just say Barrel Blast fans are in for a treat in tommorows direct
I largely agree with this list, though I'd put the original DKC higher.
+1 on giving the number one spot to Tropical Freeze. Such an excellent platformer, single player or co-op. I still feel like it's semi underappreciated versus the SNES trilogy.
@WesEds Platformers are one of my favourite genres and I reckon it's one of the finest platformers ever made and the best 2D platformer since the 90's.
@JayJ but what's your reason? Theres gotta be a reason why you dont like it? I always wondered that. I have never had anyone explain to me why they hate it other than people saying it's not the originals or too hard. I'm just interested in your opinion on why you dont like it
DKjr is way too low, DK64 is still way to high.
DKC2 needs to be number 1. Tropical Freeze is top stuff but DKC2 is in another league in my opinion.
My top 3 would be
1.Donkey Kong Country 2
2.Donkey Kong Country Returns
3.Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
In my opinion DKC2 is way above the 2 and 3.
Eh I enjoyed Barrel Blast. It has its charm.
I hope they announce a new DK Country soon :/ It has been 6 years since the last one.
It will always be Donkey Kong Country snes for me i remember getting at launch day and the game taking me deep into the winter and the soundtrack and gameplay blew my mind.
1. Tropical Freeze
4. DKC 3
5. DKC Returns
6. Diddy Kong Racing
7. DK Gameboy
DKC2 for the soundtrack/visuals
DKC3 for the level design
DKC1 for nostalgia
Tropical Freeze . . . I guess many people can’t see why it’s not a great game. It’s average at best.
Tropical Freeze is a good example of why Retro don’t know how to make a really good DKC game. All the polish in the SNES trilogy is absent in Tropical Freeze.
Retro also fail to realise that RARE got better with each DKC game. Sure DKC2 is the best DKC game but DKC3 dis try new things and moved the series in a good direction.
Tropical Freeze is Retro trying to better DCK1 while totally ignoring all the improvements DKC2 and DKC3 had.
The rest of the list I can mostly agree with. Tropical Freeze is at most 15th out of the 25 games here.
I don’t get why people think Tropical Freeze is amazing when it’s clearly object not.
This article makes me want to try the Dk gameboy version
They are telling us they do not understand how RARE polished their games into something amazing back in the day.
They are also telling us they do not understand that Tropical Freeze also lacks this level of polish
@the8thark you're trolling to say DKTF "is at most 15". At the very worst it's top 5.
@the8thark Platformers don't come much more polished than Tropical Freeze, it's polished to the absolute hilt. Every single platform and enemy has a purpose. The attention to detail is as good as it gets in platformers. The music is sublime, the challenge is tough but fair, the secrets are enjoyable to hunt down, the bosses fun to fight and best of all, it controls like a dream.
I can understand someone not liking it, that's fine but to say its average, objectively not amazing and worse than Donkey Kong Land 2 and DK64 is just being ridiculous.
"Tropical Freeze" at number one is just right! That game may be the best 2D-platformer of all-time. Can't argue with the top 3 as a whole.
But in my opinion "Donkey Kong Land 2" is the best of the Game Boy-trilogy. I mean, how could it not be? It's basically the "Donkey Kong Country 2" for that system, which is the second best Donkey Kong-game of all-time. It holds a special place in my heart, though. Played it to death, when it came out, since I only owned a Game Boy back then. What a great game.
IMO DKC is the best by far. The impact of the graphics alone made me stick with Nintendo and not go to the darkside (playstation) This combined with the gameplay and the lush music make it the number 1. Coral Capers anyone?
@the8thark Yeah it's like I got nothing personal going on here as this is just some article created by a few people's opinions, but DKC Returns and Tropical Freeze always felt really generic to me compared to the Rare titles. The way I have always looked at Donkey Kong is that I loved the original Nintendo classics, then Rare took the series and turned it into something truly special. After Rare left I feel like Donkey Kong games generally dropped in quality.
Certainly can’t disagree with the top one. Polished to the nth degree and with a superb flow to it. As a lover of 2D Platformers it’s a real treat.
The SNES games still hold up very well though they’ve been surpassed. Nice to see the Gameboy DK’94 getting some recognition. A cracker.
I played the crap out of Donkey Kong Country returns on the 3ds it will always be top for me, then tropical freeze next.
The Donkey Kong cameo in the 2D level of Super Mario Odyssey was one of my favorite parts of that game.
@PickledKong64 I think there is a lot of reasons why I was underwhelmed with Tropical Freeze, but it's honestly not a bad game by any means to me, it's just not nearly as special as the Rare DKC and DKL games to me. There was just a feel to those games, the way they looked, the way they sounded, the way they played, that the Retro games never really lived up to. Then again that is just my opinion.
@shonenjump86 not legally anyway.... it's available on 3DS Eshop that's something I guess.
I would like another DK ‘94 a lot.
Never beat DK64 and it bothers me greatly. Really hope they add N64 to NSO so I can shame my child self
@JayJ I can respect that thank you for your opinion. I played the dkc trilogy on the wii cc when I was in elementary school. I replayed them in my freshman year. I played Tropical Freeze in sophomore year and believe it lives up to the original. They do have a different gameplay type but I believe tf plays great, looks great and sounds great. The music was made by the same dude
I guess I'll have to give DKC2 another shot. I played it back in the day but preferred the original.
Donkey Kong 94 is three spots too low.
Oh no, not this again. Nothing breaks my brain like NintendoLife's love for Tropical Freeze. I just don't get it. I bought the game. I tried to like it. I do not understand why it's ranked that high. DKC 1 and 2 and Donkey Kong '94 are timeless.
Donkey Kong 64 is the best one imo
I want a proper new DK game for the Switch. Not another remake.
it seems fashionable to bash DK64 these days. sad really as despite a lot of collectibles it is a very fun classic 3D platformer, would love a new one that refined the collectibles to just one type rather than 5.
The cynics among us may say tropical freeze is no.1 as to entice people into buying through the affiliate link but of course we’re not cynics so it’s fine!
For me jungle beat would be top 5, what a superb game that was once you’d mastered the bongo controls...
@WesEds it’s amazing
I'd agree with most of the list. The dkc and dkl games are top notch. Tropical freeze is by far the best. I've only beaten dkl2 and dkc2-3 so i still need to complete both of those trilogys.
Jungle Beat was the best one.
Might of been short but it was excellent.
Fanstastic to play with the drums.
Perfect top 3 👌🏻
DK Gameboy is #1 by far. The pinnacle of Donkey Kong. The epitome of it's essence. Rare converted DK into another form of platformer. A really good platformer that kept getting polished but much altered from the original formula. The others like the racing the bongos and the minis are also DK games but not really. They are all fun though.
DK Jr. is criminally low on this list.
BTW, Donkey Konga is one of the all time greatest 4-player games. Constant hilarity.
Jr is a really great one. It's a true DK game that was better than the original in a lot of ways. You should play the Arcade version. I think it should at least be higher than DK3. And its a lot more deserving than any DK mini game. Maybe its a case of a younger reviewer reviewing an old series.
DK64 was an absolute slow slog of a game I didn't enjoy it at all. It is however, my favourite DK game to watch being speedrun as it is UTTERLY broken in so many ways.
The original DKC is still my favourite for all its flaws, mainly for the music. I think.
@Priceless_Spork - I own the arcade version. Not a MAME build but an original cabinet. I might be a bit biased but I find the game to be infinitely replayable.
Seriously? Im super jealous. I played jr more than the original. It was a step up in challenge. How much does one of those cost? Are they Rare? JK
I agree with the top two, but they should be flipped. I love love love DKC2, but TF is great too. Now we need DKCR3 with K.Rool as the villain.
I also just want to say that I love Jungle Beat and would love to have a sequel someday. It’s amazingly fun with the drums.
The DK crew are my favorite Nintendo characters and I wish more of them were in the sport/kart games. Gimme Dixie and Cranky in Mario Kart (at least Tour) and Smash!
I really love the DKC games. Personally, DKC 3 has a special place in my heart as I got it for Christmas and vividly remember how pumped I was. Replayed it earlier this year and still really enjoyed it. Also have the original DKC "hype" VHS, which maybe came from Nintendo Power? I watched that so much.
Ok Nintendo, give me another DKC game please.
Tropical Dong is number one instead of DKC2? Surely you jest.
@Priceless_Spork - It was a gift from my wife back in 2009. I'm sure prices are even higher now.
I won't argue with TF at number one, though personally I'd put DKC2 there. DK64's placement seems about right; it does have its charms.
No, the only really controversial thing I'll say is this: DK94 is good, but way overrated.
@NESlover85 One of my personal top 10 games if all. Some people prefer the simplicity of the original, though.
@SuperToe DK Jr? Oh, you're one of THOSE weirdos. (I kid.)
A screenshot would help.
@USWITCH64 yeah I like first dkc the best and coral capers music is top quality, some rap song even sampled it if I remember correctly
Glad to see Donkey Kong GB getting some love. That was one of my favourite games growing up.
For me nothing beat the chill of original arcade sounds...
@shonenjump86 I felt the same so I manually added it 😂
Would argue that donkey kong country returns is better on 3ds from a gameplay perspective. I stopped playing it on wii because you had to shake the remote to roll, it was just too cumbersome.
@dimi I have one of those mini arcade cabinets for my Switch. I don't use it too often anymore but when I do, I connect a little speaker I have and put it inside the cabinet. This gives a nice reverb effect, especially in the Hamster ports as you can alter the audio settings. It can't beat the arcade but it comes close.
@mr_grimm Yep, the Wii shake was what put me off DKCR too. I've never played the 3DS version.
It really is a great game. Would rank it over tropical freeze.
Donkey Kong Country 2
Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country 3
I find comments saying Donkey Kong Tropical freeze isn't as polished as the Snes titles to be absolutely unbelievable.
Are these people trolling or are they being genuine?
I would like to hear an example of what they consider to be a polished game, because I've got to play it!
1.Tropical Freeze, easily, the rest don't even come close imo
2. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
3. Donkey Kong Country
I can definitely respect those that put DKC2 at the top, but if I was going to rank them, this would be my top 3.
I love DK games in general, and for me its hard to rank them sequentially besides DKC2, my clear favorite. So from the ones I've played, I put them in tiers (no order within tiers):
S+: Country 2, Tropical Freeze, Diddy Kong Racing, DK '94
S-: Country 1, Country 3
A+: Land 2, Arcade DK, Country Returns, Jungle Beat
A- Land, Land 3, Arcade DK Jr
B: 64, Arcade DK3, Konga
Haven't played the Climber or the Mario vs. DK series, I'd like to try them out at some point. I really wanted to like Donkey Kong 64 more than I do, because I love the N64 in general and Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite games of all time. I think DK64 would benefit from an HD remake more than any Nintendo game I can think of. Keep/modernize the good parts and either streamline or snip the rougher parts.
'Generic' I feel is a good word to use.
They're good games, but feel a little soulless compared to the original trilogy for me.
I love lots of these games but I would agree with TF as #1. I still have my Wii U hooked up and go back to that game from time to time. Just an amazing game all around and may be the best platformer I’ve ever played.
Good list, except I'd knock DKC2 down a few more pegs, and put the two Retro-developed games in spots 1 and 2 (with Tropical Freeze at the front of the pack, of course). They exemplify excellence in game design in a way that the Rare-developed games never did.
Also, unpopular opinion time: I actually liked the waggle in Returns, and opted for the Wiimote + Nunchuk control method in TF.
It's good to see some love for DK94, by the way. I was shocked by how excellent that game was. One of the very best platformers on the GB.
@Franklin Genaric in what sense? You're certainly entitled to prefer the original trilogy over Returns/TF, but especially if you're comparing to the first DKC (where levels in each world wonder little outside "jungle" "winter" "factory") Retro's designs have tones of different interpretations of the central theme integrated into level design an aesthetic style. I do acknowledge that DKC2 has a foot up in having more unique themes to each world, but I don't think they are utilised to the degree Returns and Tropical Freeze do.
I agree: DKC Tropical Freeze is the very best. I would put DKC Returns at second place, and put DKC 2 at third. The original DKC trilogy was awesome, but the graphics on your character were ugly. The newer games look much better in comparison, while keeping the great gameplay and solving a few issues the originals had.
Can't really complain about this list. I'd probably say Donkey Kong Country is my favourite of all, especially since I never played the sequels. Mini Mayhem on DS is also a classic, while I'd rate Tropical Freeze next best. Perhaps I'd add Donkey Kong Jr on the Game & Watch in the top echelon, not to forget Donkey Kong itself on Game & Watch.
@JayJ I think DKTF is not so polarizing. It's often ranked as the best in the series and many people consider it to be the best 2d platformer of all time... I'm not sure about that because it wasn't quite original enough, but the game is extremely well-polished and did some great things like make a 2d game feel 3d and alive.. something probably no other 2d platformer has accomplished as well as DKTF.. along with having great level design.
Though there will be people that prefer the original trilogy for their own reasons. But those titles were limited by the technology of the time.
Wow, Donkey Kong Jet Race (or Barrel Blast) doesn't deserve last place. I mean, from a todays point of view, all the arcade and NES Donkey Kong games are objectively worse, especially Donkey Kong 3 and Donkey Kong Jr. Math.
Anyway my Top 8:
1. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
2. Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
3. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)
4. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES)
5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch / Wii U)
6. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (Gamecube)
7. Donkey Konga (Gamecube)
8. Donkey Konga 2 (Gamecube)
DKCR was just a disappointment. It didn't have the groundbreaking graphics or the outstanding soundtrack that you'd expect from a game that has "Donkey Kong Country" in its title. I'm glad that Tropical Freeze resolved all those major and some minor issues.
DK64 was another disappointment. It felt like another Banjo-Kazooie game, it even had Banjo-Kazooie-like music, but weirdly enough offered worse graphics than the 2 Banjo games and Conker's Bad Fur Day, even though it needed the Expansion Pak when the other, better-looking games didn't.
Donkey Konga 3 was another disappointment (because it was Japan only).
Also, where is Diddy Kong Racing?
I think the best DK game of all time is one that hasn't released yet. DK has primarily been a fairly standard 2D platformer for most of its life and hasn't really built on its gameplay at all, so there's a lot of room for improvement. A game that actually adds to the gameplay while still keeping it a retro arcade platformer would be better than all of these games combined.
I think this series would benefit from a 3D series of games that can get a little more experimental with the gameplay and then bring what works back to the 2D games later on. And no, not a collectathon like 64, exploration and collection doesn't really suit DK that well and doesn't really give it much of an identity over other platformers. I'm thinking more of a hybrid platformer/beat em up, something like God of War, Knack, etc. DK is a bruiser, so combat elements make perfect sense.
Great list but personally i think Jungle Climber is way too low on the list, it was a big improvement on King of Swing and should be higher than that at the very least, i feel like not many have played it so it's a bit of a hidden gem on the DS.
I haven’t played Tropical Freeze yet but, out of the ones I have played DKC2 is the best by miles. DKC2 has the best soundtrack in any video game ever. Now I gotta buy TF!!
DKC2 is the best game. DKCTF is great, but doesn't have the great feel the original trilogy had.
@TheWingedAvenger The graphics were ground breaking at the time.
As a Nintendo person, saying the graphics are bad hurting a game is silly, especially when you're essentially playing on last gen hardware.
1 tropical freeze
I'm not keen on the 'zany CGI movie' aesthetic of the new games.
The game is not as good as you incorrectly think it is. The game is not absolute trash either. It's just very average.
I'll share what are some good and bad points of Tropical Freeze.
1. The graphics. The game looks good and has a great aesthetic. Sure it's not cutting edge but it looks great.
2. The new type of enemines, ie the move away from kremlings works well. It's not great, just different so the change is welcome.
1. The Music. It sounds good but it doesn't fit aesthetically in with the theme of each stage.
2. Level design. For the most part the stages are designed very averagely. There is no unique gimmick to each stage to make them feel unique and all the special K stages all feel very similar as they use the same aesthetic.
3. Gameplay. DK along with all of his helper buddies are so hard to control. Trying to jump and move accurately which is required for many of the tougher platforming is just not possible without much frustration. This forced me to use Funky Kong for most of the game. I don't need the extra hearts or spike immunity I just need the double jump to get anywhere. His single jump is just as terrible as DK's one is.
4. The controls. Overall they work but some of the choices are really bad. Like requiring L or R held to hold on to a vine. Just not required and makes the overall game harder to play. Also it's not easy to run and not easy to manage the height of your jumps. This is evident on the mine cart as an example. It's hard to get the right hights you need for each jump.
I just play with Funky, avoid all the spikes and kill myself when I lose as many hearts as would be a death in the WiiU classic mode. So I make the game as hard as it was on WiiU but with a character that plays at least semi decently.
5. The bonus areas. There is just a few of them, they all have the same look and just repeat over and over. The SNES DKC2 and DKC3 had bonus stages, all unique and all specifically designed to fit the theme of the stage they were in. So well done there on the SNES. A shame Tropical Freeze did not do this better.
Also you can't re-try a bonus stage in a level without dying or exiting the level first. Something you could do in DKC 2 and 3 for most of the bonus stages.
6. Difficulty Curve. The SNES games gave you at most 2 hits at any one time then you're dead. They had frequent checkpoints so you could not brute force your way through any part of the game. You had to slowly get better and better at each section to make the next checkpoint barrel. Tropical Freeze also has checkpoints but they are not used at all well.
7. No world map to connect the smaller individual island maps.
8. Reused elements in the game. For example, in the beehive stage, the bees just have grass for you to hold on to. There's no need to reuse the grass for this. It also breaks the aesthetic the stage is aiming to capture. Something like sticky bees wax or honey would have fit in way better. In a few other stages this occurs as well. The developers chose existing assets to get the job done, instead of making new assets to better fit the theme of a particular stage.
9. The special world in DKC Tropical Freeze has zero purpose for existing. Also the levels there don't fit what a DKC game should be. In DKC2 and DKC3, their special worlds really fit into the game and had a purpose (to help unlock the 2nd endings of each game)
There are more reasons why DKC Tropical Freeze is not a great game. It's average at best.
Saying DKC Tropical Freeze is the best Donkey Kong game is 100% factually incorrect. It seems like a few of you here and the Author of this article do not know why DLC Tropical Freeze is not a grrat game. Though it's not hard to work this out. A good couple of playthroughs of this and any of the other good DKC game (for a good comparison) would point this out.
As an aside, most people sat DKC2 is the best DKC game. I concur with this. However if you say a different DK game (Not Tropical Freeze obviously) is better and have a solid reason for that, that's cool, everyone has their own opinion.
However if the author of the article had titled this "my favourite DK games" then it would have been ok, as people often like inferior games more for a whole load of different reasons.
@OorWullie cool would love to have one of these
I think donkey konga should have got number 1 spot
@Petriebird (and @the8thark) I fully agree!
Even with the added buddies like Dixie in Tropical Freeze the controls still feel sluggish. Donkey Kong and Dixie feel like an extremely heavy duo with a very minor help by Dixie while in DKC 2 and DKC 3 Dixie on her own was able to do crazy things like Diddy is in spite of not being able to hover. The controls in the original DKC trilogy, in contrast to DKC Returns and Tropical Freeze, are absolutely perfect. Also, like you said, playing the SNES games is more enjoyable because you can focus on the level design easily. Donkey Kong Country 3 is underrated because the soundtrack wasn't composed by David Wise (until the GBA version) and Donkey Kong Country 2 is just perfect but it was a great third entry with different environments and new ideas for the level design.
The original DKC trilogy is, in my opinion, one of the finest things ever made in the video game history, games I replay and enjoy anytime. The only 2D platformer I think that is as good as the DKC trilogy is Super Mario World.
Tropical Freeze is quite average but with better visuals and music than DKC Returns. DKC Returns reminds me of Yoshi's Island DS, a serviceable sequel made by another developer that in reality was playing in another league completely.
@the8thark Granted I haven't really played TF, but from what I saw, the level gimmicks seemed to be fine, it's the gameplay that's lacking in uniqueness. The only thing it really did new was make Cranky (and later Funky in the Switch port) playable, everything else was just mechanics brought back from the original trilogy. The game just seems like a level pack sequel that felt like it could've been DLC of Returns, and this is kind of a larger issue with the DK series. Trying to pick a favorite DK game is like trying to pick a favorite NSMB game. You can technically do it, but the games are so similar gameplay wise and blend together to the point where they all feel like the same game. There's a reason why people got tired of NSMB and wanted something fresh out of Mario like Odyssey, and a lot of what was wrong with NSMB is also wrong with DK.
@BlueOcean Yeah the DKC trilogy really blew my mind growing up and still today are heaps of fun.
Thanks for your long and detailed reply. I also read your other comments on this list, regarding why people think "Tropical Freeze" is a great game, even the best in the series. And sorry, but claiming that these are "factually" "incorrect" is just so beginning of the internet. I thought we got over this in the past two decades.
I also read some other comments by you and you seem to have a very strong view that games can be differentialy rated between objectively good or bad and "Do I like it?".
One of the problems with this approach shows when you support this opinion with purely subjective arguments. So, you don't get the physics, the timing, the movement and the slightly more complex controls, which is fine in itself. But the latter is a perfect example of simply personal preference. You have to actually push a button, to grab a vine? How does that make the controls bad? To you, this may be an inconvenience and unusual. But to me, this adds a layer of interactivity and challenge to the game. It makes it more "realistic" and intense. So nobody is right, but it's far from "objectively" bad.
The movement is more heavy and momentum-based and therefore differs from the feel of many other platformers and the old "Country"-games. But that also doesn't make it "bad", since the game is precisely crafted around it's mechanics.
I NEVER had a problem with the timing or the movement and loved the overall feel of the game. I didn't even notice there could be a problem, because movement, controls and level design clicked so wonderfully together. I also have never been frustrated or just disencouraged by it's difficulty. So how can all this be objectively bad?
Some of your points are pretty nitpicky, too. You bring up the grass in the Beehive stage. I get your opinion regarding the aesthetics, although I don't share it. Also, you can explain this with the "legibility" of gameplay elements. The players should be able to recognize the surfaces they can hold on in an instant. Therefore they look very similar in each level. Following your reason, you could also say, that the barrels should look different in each location.
And then, there's the big one: the level design. "Average"? Sorry, man, but are you serious? You loose me, here. How someone can possibly think this, is beyond me and downright insulting against the developers. "Tropical Freeze" has some of the greatest level design in the history of the medium. Additionally I've seen no other platformer that captures the themes of it's worlds so brilliantly. The fifth world alone (the one with jungle and all the fruits and juice) is a freakin' masterpiece, in that regard. Also, what you say, that the levels have no unique gimmicks to them, is simply not true. Nearly every stage has that and even more. Mark Brown (Game Maker's Toolkit on YouTube) made a great video about this, that proves (!) you wrong.
When you think "Tropical Freeze" has average level design, then I really really want to know, which platformers have good to great level design in your opinion?
See, I don't want to change your totally alright opinion, if the game isn't for you, because that would be pointless and stupid. But you seem to take your solely subjective feelings about it's design as an objective truth. And telling people they simply don't get it's supposed averageness or are incorrect in finding "Tropical Freeze" remarkable is just so damn arrogant.
Tropical Freeze at #1 is debatable
It looks great, sounds great and is brilliant, but DKC2 is all that X2 and was achieved on the SNES.
IMHO Donkey Kong does not even scratch the SNES game style Era of DK 1 and 2.
Ok for the new games they are good games but the style is too.. cartoonistic and less atmospheric as it were the old ones.
hope if we see a new one there will. be more like Donkey Kong country 2
No “bottom of the barrel” in the first entry? Up and tossed on that banana peel, you lot.
@Migoshuro From the most I can gather about your personality from your writing, you probably don't need external validation to feel good about your opinions, but thought I would give you some anyway. Very nice response: in both manner and content.
I guess, we all enjoy a little validation of our opinion, maybe just to know that one is not the only insane person out there.
So, thank you!
(dislikes profanity in the feature (" DK64 was one hell of a value proposition back in 1999 and we think it probably deserves reevaluation after 20 years of bashing."))
Nintendo always surpasses their own classics, while other companies make great games, but then struggle to make a follow-up that comes close to the quality of that one, Nintendo keeps making great games, then years later, makes an even better sequel.
Tropical Freeze deserves the #1 spot.
@JuiceMan_V yeah but some of the levels feel repeated. Tropical freeze offers something new in variation in every level.
I really liked Donkey Kong 64. I'd love to play it again on Switch.
Your sarcasm is noted.
Secondly I just stated facts. You are trying to say things like bad gameplay can't exist, as it's always the player not being good at a game. Bad gameplay can exist and it needs to be pointed out.
To the rest of your comment, I'm not saying "the game is not for me". I am saying "the game is not very good". I clearly made that distinction. There are lots of games I don't like that are very good, just not my cup of tea.
However DKC - Tropical Freeze is not a good game. Honestly, if most of the issues with the game didn't exist I might actually like it as the core ideas around the game are sound, just so many issues with the game and zero proper polish really ruin the experience.
DKC-TF is a bad game. Whether I like the game or not, does not change this fact.
Actually agreed with some of this list until Donkey Kong 64 and Donkey Kong Country were relegated to page two. You literally have "Jungle Beat" ranked higher than Donkey Kong 64 and just below Donkey Kong Country. This is like ranking Link's Crossbow Training above Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker and just below Ocarina Of Time, with Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland on page one. "Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!"? I'm not huge on being "that guy" when it comes to ranked lists, obviously much of this is just someone's incredibly select opinion, but there is a distinct lack of common sense here. Donkey Kong Country was a revolutionary game for Nintendo in that it showed they were still able to take the industry by storm on dated or weaker hardware, it is the greatest non-Mario 2D platformer of all time. Donkey Kong 64 being a "bad game" is barely more than an internet meme opinion, it is an admittedly flawed but landmark quintessential 3D collect-a-thon game — the fact that the genre faded from popularity in the years following its release has more to do with the changing hardware at the time than it does with this particular title, which is bizarrely and unfairly associated with the genre's decline by people who don't know what they're talking about/YouTube content creators who just want your views. As good as the Retro titles are, they are soulless and corporate compared to the Rare originals.
TF is so overrated. And here I thought it was underrated until recently.
Original trilogy >>>
DKC returns just had one flaw: the motion control roll. It almost ruined the playability. Can't say which one is better, Tropical Freeze or DKC 2, but they're definitely on the right place up there.
As for DK 64; I think the game is suffering from Castlevania 64 syndrome. People think it's a bad game just because some people have spammed the opinion over the years.
DK64 is criminally underrated online. Loved that game as a kid. It does have its faults but it’s still a great game.
I see a lot of people saying that you should be able to tag in/out at will. Not sure about that change.
However, imagine if all the collectibles (ie: coloured bananas) were able to be collected by all kongs. Would be a better change for sure. And cut it to 250 bananas instead of 500 for each level if you’re going to do that, with 200 acquiring you the medal.
Imagine all 25 golden bananas could be picked up by any kong, you just have to work out which one it’s best suited for it. A golden banana could only be accessible via Tiny Kong shrinking special for example. It’s viewable for all Kongs but you’d have to work it out via seeing the tiny entrance.
The third change I’d make is different attributes for each Kong. Nothing major but something like...
So you could go around the level quickly with Tiny but be weary of only having 1 hit point or you could slowly going around smashing things up with Chunky, knowing you could take a few hits off enemies.
Imagine there is a quick, agile enemy with 5 hit points guarding a golden banana. Do you try and take it out with Chunky in one hit? Or do you use the quicker, agile Tiny to take him out, knowing that it would take 5 hits? That’s an extreme example. But the 5 kongs differing abilities could maybe have been used better. Missed opportunity. It’s still a good game for what it was though.
I had no idea they’d made so many of those Mario vs Donkey Kong games. I really wish they’d do another one like the GameBoy game. I remember they did start making one for the GBA years ago, it even had a Mario Maker mode, but when it finally released it had turned into the first vs Donkey Kong game.
Generally a fair list. DK64 could be SLIGHTLY higher. Also, Donkey Kong Country 2 must be good to break the universal "sequel curse".
No Donkey Konga 2?
Smh, Barrel Blast in last place? Shame on you Nintendo Life.
Few things first jungle climber is underrated( 100% nostalgia influences this) second we need returns proved to switch and third I don’t want a 3D dk
Definitely makes me happy to see Tropical Freeze at #1. Amazing game. In general, I'm a much bigger fan of Retro's duology than the SNES games. Particular DKC2, which I'll never understand the love for.
For me, Tropical Freeze, Returns, and DK94 and head-and-shoulders above other games in the series for me.
King K. Rool, still one of the best bad guys ever.
Wow, there's a metric ton of DK games huh?
Tropical Freeze was great, but DKC2 will always be my number one.
Really think Donkey Kong Country 2 should have been number one here. I'd also bump up the original DKC over the new Retro-made titles. Don't get me wrong, Returns and Tropical Freeze are fine games but those first two Country games had a much greater impact and I think will stand the test of time a little better.
(Edit: just realised this is an old article and that I'd already made this point in the comments! Some things don't change I guess)
My wife and I have been playing through the DKC games together, and we're currently on Tropical Freeze. If you want fantastic local co-op games that are challenging, I would highly recommend both Returns and Tropical Freeze.
The first three DKC games on the SNES are just super solid games, but the save system in DKC2 we found to be horrible. DKC3 fixed it pretty well, but Returns and Tropical Freeze definitely solved the save system issues imo.
I would say DKC2 has the best "final" boss battle in the main campaign, but DKC3 really changed things up with some different level designs along the way that we enjoyed.
My wife and I are playing the games in 2-player co-op, and Returns and Tropical Freeze are absolute insanity in some levels trying to stay alive. We finished Returns (again) last month, and it was our first time playing it again since the Wii days. We had forgotten a lot of the levels, but the gameplay was still super solid, and just a blast.
I'm really surprised Nintendo hasn't ported Returns to the Switch in HD, considering it's on the Nvidia Shield in China already and has been since 2019?
I think we're on World 5 or 6 now in Tropical Freeze, and I will say that I absolutely love the minecart levels and how they designed them in Tropical Freeze. I think it's the best DKC game for the minecart levels, and we're not even finished with the game yet.
Would definitely recommend Switch owners go back and play the DKC games on the Switch SNES online service for "free", if you skipped them back in the 90s.
I'm looking forward to the next DK game, whether it's a DKC continuation, or something new again like DK64 (which I never played, but do want to attempt one day).
Absolutely LOVED Donkey Konga. Had two sets of bongos, it was a lot of fun with others too.
Sadly lag makes it absolutely unplayable on modern tvs.
Also, I rather enjoyed DK64 when it came out even if it was a mass collect-a-thon!
Disagree for sure. I would rank them(the ones that matter) as follows:
1. diddy kong racing(don't @ me)
3.donkey kong '94
4. donkey kong arcade
5. tropical freeze
8. dkc returns
9.the game boy ones including land and mario v dk. all of them in one spot
10. donkey kong 3
11. donkey kong jr
Kiddy Kong forever.
"This Week in History for May 29-June 4" (article)
Quotations of certain parts of the article:
"The Week in History for May 29-June 4
Published 1:00 a.m. CT May 29, 2021"
1941: Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig died at age 37 of a degenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
1981: The Japanese video arcade game 'Donkey Kong' made its U.S. debut.
1990: Groton had a golf course for the first time in 48 years.
1997: Timothy McVeigh was convicted of murder and conspiracy in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
2012: Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison after a court convicted him on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that forced him from power."
@DreemWeever i wish they would just take the 'country' moniker off those two games tbh. they're fine and all, but they are missing a huge element that made the originals so special. in their defense, these games don't have the benefit of being something so new and unseen for their time. in the 90s, 3d animation was just breaking through the mainstream. the environments looked tangible and surreal, and the all characters felt like they existed in that world. the new ones look a little more overcrafted through a minions-esque cartoony filter. the platforming is fine, but definitely not better than the best 16-bit era platformers. the snappier controls from back then are very hard to replicate with 2.5d.
anyway that's my dk rant for the day.
Completely agree. DKC2 is the best platformer of all time, in my opinion
I love DKC2 on Switch cause I can cheese the more difficult levels. Save states and rewind make it much more enjoyable to me
Mario vs Donkey Kong (GBA) is really underrated. A real sequel (not with touch screen controls), with a level editor that you can share would destroy.
Nostalgia goggles on id deffo rate the DK country trio my favourites. Tropical freeze was really good but i found the levels too long and something was just missing for me. Still an ace game tho.
This list seems haphazardly put together, why is donkey kong land 3 & dkc3 so high
I absolutely agree that Dk 94 is one of the best games on the Game Boy. Absolutely fabulous. A deserved top spot for Tropical Freeze too.
"Disagree with our ranking of DK's games?"
Of course, I do, for Christ's sake!!!!
I wish Nintendo did now for some other of their old arcade games the same treatment they gave to GB Donkey Kong. Imagine a new Ice Climbers or Balloon Fight!
@Gavin Lane I think your choice to put Donkey Kong Country (SNES) lower than the titles:
is completely mental and a clear display of absolute ignorance to the genius that DKC SNES is. What you did is equivalent to putting Mario Bros. NES above Super Mario Bros. In a “Best Mario Games Of All Time” because the game is fun and it's a very good port.
Here’s why you should at least consider giving DKC way more credit than you did:
DKC was revolutionary in so many ways that it still baffles me today when I think about it. Rare invented a completely out of the box way to put extremely detailed graphics on a SNES, which made all Nintendo’s own titles look last-gen, it comes with an amazing soundtrack by legendary composer David Wise which has so much depth that tells a deeper DK story during gameplay and elevates the entire experience. Just listen to the soundtrack when starting the game, that in itself tells a meta story about reinventing Donkey Kong (when grandson DK kicks the original DK from the original game off the main stage listen to that transition). DKC is a game that puts soundtrack on the same level as it's gameplay, and by doing so they perfected rhythm-based platforming (check some speed runs to see it for yourself). It was the first game that successfully gave Donkey Kong his personality and his own world, without that plumber barging in to take away the spotlight from him.
So basically, this game reinvented the character Donkey Kong from being a King Kong caricature into a worthy personality. Nintendo didn’t even consider Donkey Kong to be worthy enough to do the game themselves. Exactly those games you placed above it were from the time when Nintendo treated Donkey Kong as a King Kong caricature that you barely could play as.
If you still disagree, please explain how exactly the titles Arcade Archives Donkey Kong (Switch eShop) and Donkey Kong (GB) trumps these points.
As a bonus for you: just listen to what David Wise composed and succesfully ported to the SNES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAm9fk39c50
Just by listening to the DKC soundtrack gives a way more intense and beautiful true DK experience than most gameplay experiences the older Nintendo-made DK games have to offer.
DKC the original, was the one that invigorated the character, gave RARE it's claim to fame and competed with the Genesis/Megadrive against Disney's Aladdin.
That alone makes that the best game imo.
DKC 2 is the better game overall, but Donkey Kong is missing as a playable char which makes it slightly only slightly less a Donkey Kong game to me.
Tropical freeze is like DKC for the Returns series but the original Returns did not have the same impact overall as DKC did.
DKC 3 is still a marvelous adventure and I have never played the GB/GBC/GBA versions.
Nor have I touched any of the rythm games liked what I played of mario vs donkey kong and the original Donkey kong on NES.
I just adore DKC, it is such an event in the 90's gaming scene the way people were talking about it, the promo VHS. the amazement of reviewers that this was possible on a SNES without extra chips.
And while the game is rather simple in it's level layout, gameplay and presentation it is still a game I dearly love.
DK '94 (aka Game Boy DK) is number 1 in my opinion. That game is a masterpiece.
DKC2 is tops for me.
However, the greatest level of all time is Mine. Cart. Carnage.
Donkey Kong Country 3 is criminally underrated. I love that game. The overworld and side missions and all the little secrets were so fun to uncover in that game. Did it top DKC2? No, but it’s different enough and unique enough to be something that should be remembered much more highly than it is.
For what it’s worth, I’d put DKC2 as the best in the series, with DKC1 and 3 being tied for second as they both excel for completely separate reasons. Tropical Freeze and Returns are a solid 4th and 5th place. They’re great platformers that just don’t have quite the same magic as the SNES games. The rest is the rest, outside the arcade games, which are all still pretty fun, but feel like they’re a different game universe, essentially.
DKC 2 is my favorite game of all time and even I can objectively say that Tropical Freeze is the better game. This is one of those rare instances where I’m able to move beyond my nostalgia-based bias for something I grew up with. That’s how awesome I am.
Deserved first place for Tropical Freeze. This is hands down one of the best 2D-platformers and in if played in co-op THE best platformer I have ever played. It is fun, intuitive, creative, visually striking, full of secrets, never boring and the difficulty, while quite tough at times, feels just right.
Any developer trying to make a sequel will have a hard time topping this one off. And I‘d like to think it‘s part of the reason why there hasn‘t been one yet.
I‘d recommend a video on game design by Mark Brown featuring the game. To me, Tropical Freeze is a piece of art.
I grew up with DKC2 and DKC3 GBA games not the SNES originals so my list may be slightly biased.
Rubbish ranking if Rare's Donkey Kong Country games are not on top because they have the best gameplay, visual art and music.
DKCTF is right where it should be.
Wow. I had no idea there were that many DK games.
Disagree with the top 3 spots. The original trilogy needs to take those spots. They're beautiful, have smooth controls, challenging, albeit a tad too sadistic at times, have wonderful music and very fun and memorable levels.
Retro's attempt lacks, due to clumsy controls, odd physics, no tag teaming, small sprites in a busy screen, and overall charm. If it ain't broke Retro, don't fix it.
DKC3 is my personal all time favorite.
@JayJ Yeah, I was expecting one of the Trilogy to make number 1.
@the8thark Excellent posts, and I agree completely
@PickledKong64 It's definitely harder than the original. I raged quit many times, but still enjoyed it. Either my reflexes were much better when I was younger or the original seems more of a joy ride than rogue-lite, or a combination of the two.
@DreemWeever Well said.
This is outrageous put DK64 #1!
The eternal question. Which is better dkc2 or dkctp... That savannah stage with the choir and the giraffes is still one of the most magical moments ever in gaming
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is the most fun I've had with a Donkey Kong game overall, but I do agree with #1 being Tropical Freeze. I should get around to playing more of the original trilogy. I've beaten the first game probably 3 times over while DKC2 and 3 have barely been touched.
Came to see if Tropical Freeze was #1. I can walk away satisfied.
My top 5 are
5th - Donkey Kong 94
4th - Donkey Kong - Arcade Archives (playing TATE mode on a big TV or projector is superb)
3rd - Diddy's Kong Quest
2nd - Donkey Kong Country
1st - Tropical Freeze
A fine enough list, my only quibble is that dkc and dkc3 should be in the top 5. These are always fun to read.
@Menardi YES, exactly!
Donkey Kong is my favorite fictional character, so I’m very happy you made this! Tropical Freeze at number 1 is well deserved too!
Also the Retro Studios games are overrated. They're the NSMB of DK, rehashy 2D platformers that recycle the same gameplay and do next to nothing new, feeling like generic level pack sequels. I feel like if there were 4 games of this there'd be a lot more complaints about wanting DK to do something new, that's about when people got tired of the NSMB style (NSMB, NSMBWii, NSMB2, NSMBU) and modern Kirby (RtDL, TD, PR, SA), but even two games into this style it still feels too samey and DK could use something fresh and original.
Not a bad list—except Donkey Kong Jr. is rated way too low imho.
I can never understand what you consider to make these lists, if nostalgia or gameplay cause there's no way the original donkey kong for arcades is better than DKC 3
I prefer DK Country Returns on 3DS to DK Tropical Freeze
Not a bad list, but I think Mario vs. Donkey Kong should be higher. The game is brilliant. Jungle Beat is probably fair at #7, but I think it’s still a woefully underrated game.
@JayJ I feel like DKCR:TF being #1 has been the consensus on most forums. Personally I like DKCR better.
@valharian Donkey Kong arcade is the category of classics that can never really be dated. It’s just pure gameplay loop. The Donkey Kong Country series on SNES has not aged as well. I never played 2 or 3 back in the day, and trying them now I think they’re not very fun at all. I enjoy DKC1 though, despite most people saying the sequels are better. I got that game the day it came out, so I have to imagine nostalgia is a big factor.
All this isn’t to say you’re wrong, but that I think the nostalgia argument can be made both ways here.
@Classic603 I just finished playing through DKC on the Switch's SNES service just a few hours ago, and it was my first time ever to use the rewind feature. I glitched in a weird spot in a level, and rewound so I wouldn't be stuck. It worked perfectly.
I had heard about it, but never used it. Still not sure how the save slots work, but know people like those as well.
We just played through the games as they were put on the service, and I guess as they were originally released.
Still solid games that I would highly recommend every platform fan play. I think we just got used to the "auto-save" type features in basically every game now, and we thought it was really weird to have to "pay" for saves in the game.
@WoomyNNYes Mario vs Donkey Kong series on DS, and everything after is a puzzle game. Try Mario Vs Donkey Kong on GBA. It’s a spiritual successor to Donkey Kong ‘94, and it’s great fun.
@Artula I love you’re write-up, but I think the same can be said for your lack of appreciation for the original arcade game.
DKC was a ground-breaking title, but it was hardly revolutionary. Not much else came out of the pre-rendered sprite trend that is worth talking about today, and gameplay wise it was obviously a stellar game at the time but was iterating on the most common genre for the last 10 years.
Donkey Kong literally launched one of the biggest revolutions in video games - the one this site is named after.
Donkey Kong ‘94 is also the hidden gem of the franchise and might be Nintendo’s boldest reimagining of a series without jumping to 3D.
@Ralizah I loved the “waggle” on DKCR too. I used the NES-style grip, and never had a miscued roll and beat the secret last level.
I never liked rolling with a button in DKCR:TF, and for whatever reason felt using the Wiimote was less accurate in that game.
@Crockin Yes! You’ve nailed the artistic and graphical differences perfectly. Thx 😊
My Top 5: Donkey Kong '94 is the best one, and the SNES DKC trilogy + Tropical Freeze come right after.
DKCR on Wii was a disappointment, audiovisually. Glad, they worked out all issues and released a fantastic sequel with Tropical Freeze.
Hey. My avatar isn’t represented!
Editor: a sentence from the gb version has slipped into the arcade version just above
I like jungle beat most btw, had bought the bongos on the cheap and then i heard of this game, imported it and had just so much fun.. redefined what you can do with a platformer for me..
Well page 1 is nothing but a huge pile of DKrap, not just the games but the order is total DKrap!
OK page 2 is better!
YES page 1 is spot on! Top 5 in 100% agreement!!
DKC2 is royalty in gaming, but I agree that tropical freeze is technically the best game. As a 2D platformer it is superbly designed. Top class platforming. I can't really argue with the placings here as a whole either. I particularly enjoyed DKCR on the 3DS as well with the extra content So many good games and good memories. It's great we have a brilliant Arcade Archives game on the Switch as well which makes this list.
Played the original Countries lately on my Super Nintendo and than on the Switch...
I am somehow failing very often on the Switch, it really seems that the little Lag that Emulators are causing has a impact on Games as these.
Also had that Issue on Contras.
To the Topic, my Favourite is the original DKC, i just love the Levels.
From the Bosses, i like those from DKC3 the most.
Bought now Donkey Kong Land and DKL3, will play through this Trilogy again.
But until now it seems as the third IS better as the first.
Just little Things made it more enjoyable.
Have to hunt down the second to give it a try.
"It's great we have a brilliant Archade Archives game on the Switch as well."
(wonders about this "game")
@Mario500 Arcade Archives Donkey Kong.
Not too bad of a ranking, but not how I would've ranked them. I feel I have to specifically point out that DK64 deserves a higher rank. Some of the titles you put above it completely baffles me. Good list nonetheless.
(YES, I know many don't like DK64, but these rankings are generally all opinionated to begin with)
I am very good at Donkey Kong(original) so I would have to stick with that. I have nostalgic memories of 64 because I got the green N64 bundled with it for Christmas in the late 90s
I believe DK Country 2 is FAR superior to Tropical Freeze. While TF was a lot of fun, it felt often frustrating and lacking the charm of the original two Country games. But well, opinions
2D Yooka Laylee has much better controls than Tropical Freeze. out of this list the DKC trilogy reigns supreme.
This is a bizarre list but I’m just glad to see Tropical Freeze on top and DK64 should be top 5
I didn't play the older games but i think players who enjoy the older games are just vastly different in what they expect out from a donkey kong game, and a lot of it just comes down to what they played as a child or before the other... Well, i haven't played the older ones so i cannot really say, but tropical freeze is my favorite and i cannot imagine that those old dkc games with clunkier controls and less crisp music can beat TF for me.
Tropical Freeze was definitely a solid game. I felt so bad for that Polar Bear boss!
Frankly, where you rank these games most likely depends on when in your life you played them. Not that the older games are bad, no way, they are excellent… but they are not untouchable either.
Trouble with lists like these, it’s almost impossible for an objectively accurate list.
However, I do believe a fair number do not know the difference between “favourite” and “best”.
Those are objectively different things.
@BrintaPap I love Brinta.
The original coin-op Donkey Kong is one of the most iconic games of all times. If you ever played it on its original form you'll know there's nothing compared to it. Arcade archives is ok
Time not being kind to the sprites of the original Donkey Kong Land?
Hey, I was playing that game on my original pea-soup Game Boy in 1996, and it was tough to qualify the game as "playable" even then!
Donkey Kong jungle beat on gamecube sucks. One of the worst gimmicks Nintendo has ever created. It should not even be on the list.
Yeesh those guys up there in 2020 are in for a shock
@Solaine if you haven't played them, then put a sock in it. The controls on the trilogy are tight and superb. The music is memorable and timeless.
@Tempestryke I listened to the music and loved it for the most part, but i don't know about the games... might be trying again once i am in the mood for it
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