Update: Highly-respected Donkey Kong fansite DK Vine has chimed in on our report, and adds the following information:
Development of the new Donkey Kong game purportedly began around 2017 or 2018, when Nintendo decided to bring Donkey Kong back internally for the first time since Nintendo EAD's Donkey Kong Jungle Beat... although Jungle Beat was more of a stopgap than a permanent status quo.
I've been led to believe that this is a new EPD team that has formed from other teams specifically for the purpose of creating Donkey Kong games.
And sorry to disappoint, but I have no info on the 2D/2.5D vs. 3D debate. Exactly what kind of game it is has never been shared with me, except that it's a platformer of some sort. I've speculated that the absence of information from my sources might indicate it's some sort of hybrid, not exactly Donkey Kong Country but not exactly a full 3D platformer either. But that's just a hypothesis, not an actual leak from my sources.
It probably won't have the Country branding, as outside of some retro-tinged arcade memorabilia, Donkey Kong Country IS the Donkey Kong brand now.
Original Story [Wed 12th May, 2021 11:30 BST]: Donkey Kong is one of Nintendo's oldest video game characters, and while the series has seen some massive releases over the years – Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong 64 being two notable examples – the franchise has remained pretty dormant since Tropical Freeze, which made its debut on the Wii U back in 2014 before being ported to Switch in 2018.
However, there are rumours that Nintendo is looking to resurrect the series by bringing it in-house, with development currently underway at Nintendo EPD, the team responsible for Super Mario Odyssey.
YouTuber LonelyGoomba has mentioned the rumour in passing on social media and other sources have also discussed it, but Nintendo Life can confirm that it has heard the same rumour from an independent (and very trusted) source, which would appear to lend this report some degree of legitimacy. However, our source claims that the game will be 2D (or 2.5D, if you prefer) and not 3D.
This rumour is also backed up by recent comments made by leaker Zippo:
It's the big ape's 40th anniversary, and while I'm not sure how Nintendo is celebrating the occasion, there is a new 2D DK game being developed by EPD Tokyo. Retro is obviously busy with other things, so Nintendo has taken it upon themselves to bring DK back in as internal series. Don't expect the "Country" moniker to return, as EPD Tokyo are not interested in making a sequel to games they didn't make. Diddy, Cranky and the Kremling Krew should all be returning in this installment. It sounds like this game is launching before the end of the year. An E3 announcement seems very likely.
Following the arcade and NES releases – as well as an excellent Game Boy outing – Donkey Kong was entrusted to UK studio Rare in the '90s, which produced three titles for the SNES. DKC outings were also released on both the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance. When Rare was purchased by Microsoft, Nintendo passed the property to Texas-based Retro Studios, which produced the Wii sequel Donkey Kong Country Returns and the aforementioned Tropical Freeze.
What do you make of this rumour? Do you think it's likely to be true? Would you like to see EPD tackle a new Donkey Kong, or would you rather Retro Studios do it? Let us know with a comment below.