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10 Best ‘Donkey Kong’ Games Ever

Here we have a list of the 10 best Donkey Kong games that were ever shot out of a barrel and into a console sitting below your TV.

In 1981, an arcade cabinet changed the face of video games by introducing not just one, but two of the most beloved characters of all time. Donkey Kong not only gave us that Italian plumber who keeps loosing his girlfriend, but a rascally gorilla with a penchant for wooden barrels.

As a side-scrolling platformer, little can compete with the dynasty of Donkey Kong. Even when it dallies away from its usual formula, you can always count on Donkey, Diddy, and King K. Rool to provide you with some hours of fun.

Check out our list of the 10 best Donkey Kong games of all time.

10. Donkey Konga

Embracing the success of the rhythm game genre, Donkey Konga had players poundings, stamping, and clapping their way through songs with their friends. The concept was simple and the execution was quite similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but it was undeniably fun when playing with a crowd of people. It was always fun to watch one of your friends miss a beat and try frantically to clap their way back into contention for the high score.

9. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Even though Donkey Kong games have been known to experiment with gameplay, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is by far the strangest departure from normal. Utilizing the Konga peripheral for the Gamecube, this game mashed together the rhythm gameplay from Donkey Konga and the side-scrolling action of Donkey Kong Country. What we got was an exhausting, but satisfying adventure through music and DK’s jungle.

8. Donkey Kong Jr.

For this next outing, the roles of hero and villain have been switched. Mario, now actually called Mario, has captured Donkey Kong, and it’s up to DK Jr. to break his father out of the clutches of the evil plumber. It seems like Donkey has spent more time imprisoned throughout the games bearing his name than actually playing a part. Anyway, the concept of the original Donkey Kong game was reversed and it was time for the monkey to take on the human to save a loved one.

7. Donkey Kong Land

It may be surprising to find a port of a similar game featured on the same list, but bear with us. When Donkey Kong Land came out, it pushed the boundaries of what could be done on a handheld system. It successfully transferred the home console experience to the palm of your hand, and for that it lands a spot on our list. Now, the ability to have an adventure with Donkey and Diddy fit into your pocket which makes this one of the best Donkey Kong games ever.

6. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

Even thought the scenario is similar, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble introduced us to a new member of the family as well as a new way to get around. Kiddy Kong was recruited to help Dixie save Donkey and Diddy who were kidnapped. Shunning the mostly linear progression of levels from past games, DKC 3 featured a hovercraft to get around the overworld which allowed for some more exploration and numerous ways to complete the game.

5. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Hot on the heels of Donkey Kong Country’s success, DKC2: Diddy’s Kong Quest recaptured the fire of the original and catapulted into a must have for SNES. Donkey Kong had been captured by the evil crocodile King K. Rool and it was up to Diddy and Dixie to save him. The excitement and challenge grew as Diddy and Dixie climb the mountain up to King K. Rool’s lair an square off in a final battle to save their friend.

4. Donkey Kong 64

The next Donkey Kong game borrowed heavily from Mario 64. Donkey Kong 64 was developed by the legendary Rare right in the middle of their heyday, and the results were nothing less than spectacular. It literally gave the Donkey Kong adventure a whole new dimension. The levels were massive and the ability to play as almost any character kept the gameplay fresh and enjoyable. It was so satisfying to strap on a barrel jetpack and take out some baddies with a coconut pistol.

3. Diddy Kong Racing

An N64 classic for its endlessly inventive gameplay and addictive fusion of story and racing, Diddy Kong Racing showed everyone that even though Donkey Kong was an established franchise, it was willing to take some outrageous risks. As part of the pair of games that ruled N64 racing, Diddy Kong stands out because of its open world hub design and the sheer amount of fun to be had. It turned the typical racing game on its head and kept us coming back for more.

2. Donkey Kong Country

As the best video game franchises always do, Donkey Kong games have evolved. Shrugging off what gave it its former glory, Donkey Kong Country was a brand new game that added a whole new dimension to the characters and the gameplay itself. The platforming was fast and the controls were tight. We were introduced to a plethora of new baddies and Donkey’s little nephew Diddy Kong. This is the game that really made Donkey Kong what he is today instead of just leaving him as a footnote in the illustrious career of a certain plumber.

1. Donkey Kong

It is the one and only, original arcade classic that still keeps gamers chasing that high score. All you needed to do was help Jumpman (Mario wasn’t called Mario at the time) to the top of the level to confront the giant ape in a necktie and save the princess. It was simple, addictive, and fun. You won’t find a Donkey Kong cabinet in any arcade that is covered in the dust of disuse. Playing Donkey Kong in an arcade is a gamer right of passage that won’t soon fall by the wayside. Easily the best Donkey Kong game ever.

NEXT: The 100 Greatest Video Games Ever

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