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Donkey Kong 40th anniversary: 8 best games ranked

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Nintendo didn’t make much noise about it, but the Donkey Kong series celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021.

In honor of the great ape’s anniversary, here are the 8 best Donkey Kong games ever.

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8. Donkey Konga

Donkey Konga’s biggest problem is that its soundtrack isn’t stellar — which is admittedly a big deal for a music game. But the fun of pounding on its bongo controllers more than makes up for it, especially if you can convince a few friends to get drums of their own for multiplayer.

7. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat reaches Power Glove levels of peripheral-based bizarreness, using Donkey Konga’s bongo controllers to steer DK through platforming levels and boss battles. The Wii version adds more traditional controls, which sort of miss the point.

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

The Donkey Kong Country series was an SNES staple, but Diddy’s Kong Quest is the best of the bunch. Its two characters are a joy to control, and the game is packed with memorable (and extremely tough) levels.

5. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure

Mario + RabbidsDonkey Kong Adventure DLC does a great job translating DK’s moves into a turn-based tactics game. It’s a change of pace from other Donkey Kong games for sure, but one that feels more natural than you might expect.

4. Donkey Kong Country Returns

True to its name, Donkey Kong Returns feels like a natural continuation of the classic series, reinvented for 2010 audiences. It adds new characters, better level design, and less frustration than the originals.

3. Diddy Kong Racing

Diddy Kong Racing launched the same year as Mario Kart, and it actually does quite a lot better than its more fondly remembered competitor. With boss battles and distinct vehicles, it’s one of the best kart racers ever.

2. Donkey Kong (1994)

Though it doesn’t look like much, Donkey Kong was mind-blowing on the Game Boy. After a few familiar levels from the arcade game, it opens up into a massive, satisfying platforming masterpiece.

1. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Tropical Freeze picks up where Donkey Kong Country Returns left off, adding new abilities for its characters and further refining its level design. On top of all that, its soundtrack is unbelievably catchy.