Why Is Donkey Kong Still Stuck With Re-Releases Only, Nintendo?

A decade has passed, how much longer will Nintendo keep feeding us ports?

Story Highlights

  • Nintendo Direct announced a Donkey Game, and it’s yet another re-release for the Switch.
  • After Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in 2014, the series hasn’t received a new game.
  • All of Nintendo’s franchises have periodically got new entries, why can’t the same happen for DK?

When I say Nintendo, what is the first game that comes to your mind? Mario? The Legend of Zelda? It has to be Mario, right? The company’s poster boy and probably the first most successful game it developed, has to be Mario. What if I tell you there was another way before Mario began?

That’s right. As impossible as it is to believe, it’s the truth. Nintendo’s debut into mainstream video games, and the product that brought it enough popularity to pursue the matter further is not Mario, it’s Donkey Kong. Yet it’s DK that has gone the most neglected when it comes to new games.

YouTube video

How Long Has It Been Since The Last Donkey Kong?

You know Donkey Kong as the new side-scrolling 3D action platformer it is now, I know Donkey Kong as the “When will this barrel barrage stop and let me climb to the next level?” We’re not the same.

Jokes aside, Donkey Kong began as early as 1981, so you can understand just how different the landscape was back then. Its humble beginnings lie in the original arcade game where you had to avoid an endless barrage of barrels rolling down, while climbing a 4-level area, one level at a time. Climbing up while dodging the barrels to reach the large Gorilla at the end, was the gist of it.

The very first, The original! The arcade game! After that many amazing DK games came, which one is your favorite? Long live Donkey Kong!
byu/RafaRafa78 inretrogaming

Sounds simple and unengaging? That’s because you never got to play the original in the era it was meant for. The game was one of the most unique and peculiar arcade games back then, enough to gather a cult following, and two sequels. Plus, the commonplace main character they selected for the first game became the Italian Plumber the world is crazy for today. You heard me right, Mario owes its entire existence to the original DK.

After its extremely successful arcade beginnings, the series jumped to consoles and got a fancy but entertaining makeover. With the “Country” series, Donkey Kong became the side-scrolling 3D platformer masterpiece you know and love today. Moreover, its popularity led to multiple spinoffs including Kart racers, fighters, movie adaptations, and even educational games. It’s nothing less than a worldwide sensation.

Donkey Kong: Country forever changed the landscape | Source: Nintendo
Donkey Kong: Country forever changed the landscape | Source: Nintendo

What does this tell you? It paints a picture of just how big a deal Donkey Kong is in recent times. Then let me ask you this. Why is it that close to a decade has passed, yet a new DK is nowhere to be seen?

Why is Nintendo still ignoring Donkey Kong?
byu/LukeTaliyahMain innintendo

All We’re Getting Is Full-Price Ports And Remasters

I think I’ve provided enough evidence to support my point that Donkey Kong is just as massive as Nintendo’s other franchises. Now, let’s look at how it fares when it comes to new games.

Donkey Kong has received more ports, remakes, and remasters in its entire lifetime than it did new games. The original two games were ported to the NES, Donkey Kong Country was ported to Game Boy systems, Diddy Kong Racing was brought back for the DS, Donkey Kong Country Returns was ported to the 3DS, you get the idea. And this hasn’t ceased in the Nintendo Switch era, either.

Fun fact – with Tropical Freeze getting a Switch release, every single DKC game has now gotten a handheld port
byu/Bleus4 innintendo

Mario vs. Donkey Kong, the GBA game was remade for the Switch, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was “enhanced” for the new console, and now Donkey Kong Country Returns HD is the latest addition to this lineup, courtesy of the recent Nintendo Direct. Oh, and you guessed it, these are all full-price re-releases, just as Nintendo likes it.

If you think I have a problem with ports and remasters, that’s not the case. Preserving games has always been my motto, but what bothers me is how Nintendo charges an absurd amount of money for these re-releases and the fact that they can never substitute a brand-new entry, especially one that’s long overdue.

Looking at the comments online, it seems like this is the general consensus.
byu/ilovewater100 incasualnintendo

It’s Time For A New Donkey Kong

If Nintendo continued to regularly produce new DK games alongside these ports once in a while, you would’ve seen me on the celebrating side, not the criticizing one (except the pricing issue, I’ll always criticize that). But when all we’re getting are old games with a little polish to maintain the facade and the false pretense of “Look, it’s your favorite Gorilla,” I’m bound to be upset.

When will Donkey Kong get a new game? | Source: Nintendo
When will Donkey Kong get a new game? | Source: Nintendo

The last entry was Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and that’s a 2014 game. A decade has passed with nothing original to show for.

Unless 2024 bears fruit, the Nintendo Switch will be the first Nintendo home console to never produce an original new Donkey Kong game.
byu/drybones2015 indonkeykong

In comparison, take a look at Nintendo’s other franchises like Mario and Zelda. They’ve also received ports and remakes, yes, but the endless supply of new entries and original adventures hasn’t ceased for them, has it? This same Nintendo Direct had a port of a Mario spin-off game, but it also had two new games and a brand-new Zelda. Why can’t the same happen for Donkey Kong?

Don’t you think enough is enough, Nintendo? In the last 5-7 years, Crash Bandicoot gets a new game, Spyro gets a remaster, Mega Man gets a new game, Mario and Kirby get new games, Pacman World gets remastered, but no Donkey Kong outside of the Tropical Freeze remaster?????
byu/redfan2009 indonkeykong

All I ask Nintendo is to consider a new entry for the legendary series now. While we appreciate the revivals, there’s no way they can compete with an original game. It’s been a decade, time to consider this.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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