Grab your favourite tie and take off your clothes; it’s time to check out the best Donkey Kong games of all time.
Yes… now I read that line back above it does sound a little weird… but I’ve always wondered why DK wears a tie and no pants… especially in Tropical Freeze!
joking aside, DK’s games are some of my favourite of all time. All of his outings are filled with memorable characters, epic faces, and some of the best side characters in the world of gaming.
And mine carts… don’t forget the mine carts.
So which gorilla games are the best? Which monkey missions are the ones that get our blood pumping, and which amazing apes are joining DK on his quests.
Let’s find out, shall we?
Donkey Kong: Jungle Climber kickstarts this list of the best Donkey Kong games of all time!
Anyone fancy a vacation on Sun Sun Island, the location so nice they named it twice? True to form, Donkey gets distracted by a giant banana… he’s got a one track mind this kid.
Gameplay basically Involves DK climbing said mountain, pressing L and R to move his hands accordingly. Punch with A, pulling off all the classic moves we’ve come to know from the Smash Bros games.
The game itself is simple in construction and design, but it’s filled with exciting gameplay that never disappoints. It’s just puzzling enough without being too taxing but still enough to keep you coming back for more.
Donkey Kong Country fans used to seeing DK and Diddy working together can have the duo back in business once again too.
In a Banjo-Kazooie-esque move, players can work together to collect items and collectibles, throwing Diddy into the air to reach places DK can’t get.
Teamwork makes the giant banana dream work!
Donkey Kong Land III is up next, the GB version of Donkey Kong Country 3!
DK and Diddy have headed off to The Lost World after a radio contest piques their interest. Dixie is left looking after her cousin Kiddy and thinks she’s going to be the one to find the Lost world before the world-famous duo,
Cue King K.Rool capturing our monkey marvels, Dixie and Kiddy saving the day, and KONG letters to collect!
The story and the levels are pretty much the same as the SNES version, as are the features such as Dixie’s animal friends, with new faces such as Squitter the Spider arriving for a slice of the action.
Find bonus coins to complete the game 100%. There’s also a time attack mode for speeding through levels and trying to get a record run!
If you loved the SNES version (which you might well be seeing below), then get the handheld version and complete the set.
Clockwork Mario’s, mechanical monsters; it sounds like a Mario vs Donkey Kong title alright!
There’s a strong chance that you’re going to see the original Donkey Kong arcade game dropping into this list a little further down, and many consider this first Mario vs DK game to be it’s spiritual successor.
Listen, Donkey Kong might be a good guy these days, but he can slip back into a scheming super villain at will. The guys a great actor, and I secretly think he prefers being an antagonist rather than the hero.
Once a cheeky monkey, always a cheeky monkey…
When DK is unable to purchase a Mini Mario clockwork toy (assumedly because the vendor didn’t accept bananas as currency), he goes ape, quite literally.
Breaking into a Toad Factory, he steals a bunch of toys. It’s up to Mario to drag an ‘apeology’ out of him by completing puzzles and collecting keys.
These guys have more tiffs then I’ve had hot dinners!
If you still look at Mazza and wish he was called Jumpman, then this entry in our best Gameboy Advance games is sure to be right up your street.
To this day, I still can’t believe how much fun Donkey Konga was. Every console has a gimmick game, and this was the GameCube’s offering.
No, that’s unfair. What initially seemed to be a gimmick turned out to be one of the best beat games on the circuit.
Sure, holding a guitar is cool, but slapping a beat is so accessible to gamers of all ages and abilities that it appealed to a huge audience…
… and bongos are seriously cool
Picture the scene; it’s Saturday morning, and me and three of my mates are holding bongo controllers in my attic games room.
Yeah, if you’re reading this and never had a GameCube, people used to play in the same room rather than just online.
Just like Guitar Hero, players match on screen prompts by performing an action to the beat. Left, right, both bongos, or clap; that’s your main move set.
You’ll be rocking out to Queen and REM as well as classic Nintendo tunes in no time!
The original Donkey Kong arcade game takes the 11th spot in our list of the best Donkey Kong games of all time…
… told you it would be in here somewhere!
Rightfully topping our list of the best MAME games, this could possibly be the most recognisable arcade game alongside Pac-Man.
It’s more than just an amazing game; it’s a snapshot of the ’80s a slice of the golden age of gaming that we can play again and again…
… and the sign that told everyone Nintendo were pretty much the King Kongs of the gaming world.
This early platform game pretty much set the blueprint for every other platformer after it. It’s why its so important for programmes like MAME to keep these best arcade games alive!
This tense adventure sees Jumpman, aka Mario on a barrel-jumping adventure of epic proportions. He’s on a mission to save Pauline, who was initially just called Lady…
… Jumpman and Lady… what an exciting team.
This game also brought everyone’s favourite Smash brothers item, the K.O hammer, to the table for the very first time as well.
I know I prefer Donkey Kong as a good guy, but he’s still convincing as a baddie to this very day!
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars takes the 10th spot in this list of the best Donkey Kong games of all time!
This is one of the first cross platform downloadable games that arrived between the Wii U and the 3Ds. This 2D puzzler falls in line with the other Mario vs Donkey Kong titles and sees Mazza and DK getting at each others throats again.
The mini Mario’s are back, and players have to contend with spikes, escalators, canon heads, and loads of other weird and wonderful Mushroom Kingdom madness.
One of the best things about this game is the level editor where players can make levels and share them with other DK fans through. Plus, players can earn stars by playing other peoples levels and having their levels played.
This is the game that keeps on giving!
On the 3DS players use the touchscreen but there isn’t a 3D mode – that could get far too trippy!
9. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (2004)
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat takes the 9th spot in this list of the best Donkey Kong games of all time!
Those Donkey Konga bongos weren’t just useful for slapping out catchy rhythms; they also took DK through an epic side scrolling adventure.
This is a ‘score attack’ game, so it’s not just simply enough to get to the end of a level and give yourself a pat on the back.
Like a lot of the best PS1 games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, getting the biggest score through picking up collectibles on each level is the way to get ahead.
Collect beats and bananas while pulling off monkey-licious moves on enemies.
Hitting the left bongo sends DK left, right to the right, and both together to jump. Use a shockwave by clapping in front of the mic. It’s a clever and entertaining gimmick and one that gives my favourite GameCube peripheral an extra lease of life.
At least having a handheld version means that I can cry with frustration at home without anyone seeing me…
The player would take control of Mario (named on the original arcade game as ‘Jump Man’) who’s aim was to rescue Pauline from Mr Bad Donkey Kong. He’d throw barrels at you, making it hard to navigate up the level.
But once you did, you’d save the princess and become the hero, just the way Mario likes it.
You were greeted with different levels, different difficulties, and the ever so nostalgic theme tune!
A great game, and a great character that everyone loves to hate.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! marked Dixie Kong getting her very own adventure for the first time.
After her appearance in Donkey Kong Country 2 (another entry in our list of the best SNES games ever made), Dixie pretty much won the hearts and minds of gamers all over the globe. Now, along with her cousin Kiddy Kong, she’s out to stop King K.Rool!
In terms of gameplay and graphical style, DKC3 feels very similar to the first 2 games. That means Shigeru Miyamoto’s love-hate relationship with this pre-rendered graphics style isn’t going away anytime soon!
This time its Dixie and Kiddy that have to save Donkey and Diddy from K.Rool.
Swap between Kiddy and Dixie at will. Kiddy can skip over water, whereas Dixie has borrowed a move off Tails and can hover thanks to her ponytail.
Ride animals through levels once more, hanging onto Enguarde the Swordfish (still one of the best side character names in any game) and new faces such as Ellie the Elephant.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! is up next, the fourth game in the Mario vs DK series that feels very much like a spiritual successor to the original arcade game.
This game focuses on the Mini Marios to do your bidding.
Essentially, it’s a Mushroom Kingdom version of Lemmings, which can only ever be a good thing.
With 80 stages to play through and minis of all your favourite plumber pals to use, this is a cracking game that everyone should get their hands on.
The creation mode is class too, with players making their own levels just like in the Wii U offering up above.
The aim of the game is to manipulate the levels, not move the minis. Interact with the level around you to create safe passage for your mechanical minions, otherwise it’s game over!
I think it’s clear from this list that we all love Donkey Kong Country in all of its many different guises, though for some reason adding snow to this tropical paradise makes it even more exciting.
Donkey and Diddy have returned to our screens on a side-scrolling adventure alongside Dixie, Kranky and the gang, bashing through Kong Island on a hot adventure that’s sure to melt this tropical freeze before you know it.
And look, Shigeru, your pre-rendered graphics are no more!
This fifth outing in the DK Country world sees the Snowmads bringing an unwanted chill to his cosy island home.
Once again, it’s time to collect KONG letters, solve challenges, and find secrets hidden throughout each of the game’s stunning levels.
Play it on the Wii U or the Switch; either way, it’s an absolute classic that makes any day 10-times better.
Well, the two games pretty much have the same storyline and setting… so you could say that they are one and the same!
Remember I spoke about Dixie Kong earlier? Well, this was the first game that we saw her in and the first to see Donkey not holding the reigns.
In a similar like-minded way to Bowser continually capturing Princess Peach, King K.Rool has kidnapped Donkey AGAIN. Seriously, shouldn’t a King be ruling his own kingdom instead of terrorising monkeys all the time?
We know how Shigeru views these graphics, but I love this pre-rendered style. Dixie and Diddy are making a splash and showing that they don’t need to be chaperoned by an adult Kong to kick kremlin ass.
If you need any more convincing about this game, then here’s some stellar stats.
Donkey Kong Country 2 is the best selling game to not have originally come as part of a console bundle. It’s officially the sixth best-selling SNES game of all time too, with 52 levels to give gamers something to look forward to every week of the year.
If that’s not value for money, then I don’t know what is!
It would be stupid at this stage for me to explain the feel of a Donkey Kong Country game. Still, as with Tropical Freeze above, Shigeru Miyamoto finally ditched those pre-rendered vibes and brought in crisp visuals and rounded features that still look sick today!
DKCR is bursting with vine swinging, barrel blasting, rhino riding action from start to finish as our two favourite simian superstars reclaim their banana hoard once more.
Just look at those backgrounds now; there’s so much depth to each of the levels that they now have a Rayman-esque type vibe to them.
Grab the all-important KONG letters, ride mine carts; hell, it’s the Donkey Kong Country game we all deserve after waiting 14 years between this and the last one.
I’m surprised we didn’t go and a ransack Kong Island ourselves to be honest!
If you kind of switched off when the bongo bashing era came around, then this game will feel like a breath of fresh air while also comforting you like a nostalgic duvet
Here it is, folks, the legendary first Donkey Kong Country game to grace our screens.
No longer terrorising Mario, Jumpman… Plumber Lad or whatever you want to call him, Donkey embarked on a side-scrolling adventure to save his island from King K.Rool for the first time in 1994.
This game played a big part in my early gaming life. My cousin and I used to take it in turns to play this on his SNES, swapping the remote everytime one of us died…
… he always seemed to have the remote now, come to think of it.
When I first wrote about Donkey Kong Country I said that King K.Rool wasn’t as well known as Ganondorf or Bowser. Thanks to Super Smash Bros Ultimate and the Donkey Kong cartoon, however, I think I can now prove myself wrong.
He might be more popular these days, but his decision to steal bananas still doesn’t sit well with me. What does a talking crocodile need with bananas anyway? It just doesn’t make sense!
This fast paced, Rambi riding title is one of the greatest games of our freakin’ lives. If you’ve never played it before, then you’re in for a barrel of laughs… literally.
Donkey Kong 64 is the best Donkey Kong game of all time!
It just had to be, didn’t it, especially now Donkey is joined by some of the best gaming characters Rare have ever produced.
Even before you turn this game on, you know that it’s going to be a class act thanks to the Rare Ware badge on the front.
Shooting coconuts from DK’s Coconut Gun, walking around on Lanky’s hands, or spinning as Tiny Kong… this game never gets old.
This was also the first 3D adventure that Donkey had as well, and it came with the expansion pack to supercharge your N64 too.
This is without a doubt my favourite Donkey Kong game of all time and the worthy winner of our list!
Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.