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A look back at all the bosses in Donkey Kong Country

A retrospective is defined as “directed to the past; contemplative of past situations, events, etc.” Here at Retbit, we embrace our nostalgia and harbor a passion for reflecting upon gaming experiences and situations which left an indelible mark on our lives. Whether a memorable boss, a catchy soundtrack or an inimitable occurrence, we invite you to slide on your rose-tinted glasses and take part in our Retbit Retrospective.


Last time around I looked at all the enemies which made up King K. Rool’s forces in Donkey Kong Country. This time I share my thoughts on all the Donkey Kong Country bosses, from Very Gnawty to King K. Rool himself.

Very Gnawty

Remember in the last installment of this Donkey Kong Country Retrospective when I said that “even as a 10-year-old kid I felt bad about stomping Gnawty’s head in? He’s just a poor, defenseless little beaver trying to build a dam for his bug-eyed beaver family on Kong Isle?”

You’d figure all that noise would get thrown out the window upon remembering Very Gnawty, a giant version of Gnawty that presides over a stolen portion of Donkey Kong’s precious banana hoard. Not really, though.

Very Gnawty does somewhat go out of his way to attack you, unlike regular Gnawty. Just not very well. Honestly, he just hops around, becoming only slightly more agitated with each successive time the Kongs jump on his head — an action which would likely make anyone angry.

But then again, aren’t you the one busting into Very Gnawty’s lair on the suspicion that he has your bananas? As it turns out, yes Very Gnawty has your precious, purloined banana hoard stockpiled in his lair — but take a quick look around: has he eaten any of the bananas, mishandled them out of spite or even bruised a single peel? Does it even look like he gives a twig-filled s— about Donkey Kong’s bananas? Nope.

Which leads me to believe he wasn’t the one who put your bananas there nor was he even the one who stole them. The whole thing is just a setup by King K. Rool and his Kremling goons with Very Gnawty as the fall beaver.

More proof: What does Very Gnawty do when you stomp viciously on his head? He just turns, looks at the camera and lets out a chuckle. Like, “Hey, these crazy apes are really something, ain’t they?”

So who is the real a—— in this situation? Donkey and Diddy Kong or Very Gnawty? I’m sure if Donkey and Diddy just asked politely, Very Gnawty might have even just given them their bananas back.

But no. Donkey and Diddy Kong just seem to have a propensity for abusing beavers.

Master Necky

Master Necky is a different story. A disembodied, ungainly looking vulture head who floats there spitting coconuts at you? That’s something you have to kill. And feel absolutely no remorse for doing so.

Queen B.

Do you know what the term for an intense fear of bees and wasps is? Apiphobia.

Funny that the word ape is almost the prefix for a term about fearing bees, right? Because Zingers and their boss iteration, Queen B. are some of the tougher enemies Donkey and Diddy Kong face in Donkey Kong Country.

Not only does Queen B. have spikes on her back which, like her Zinger drones, makes her impervious to Donkey and Diddy Kong’s jump attacks — she also has an enormous stinger with which she tries to skewer them.

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To beat Queen B. players have to throw barrels at her five times. For a short time after she’s hit by a barrel, Queen B. becomes enraged, turns from yellow to red and zips around the screen in an undulating pattern. During this phase, she’s invulnerable and players have to dodge her until it’s once again safe to toss a barrel her way.

Really Gnawty

I’ve pretty much run out of tongue-in-cheek ways to defend the beaver/Gnawty population of the Donkey Kong Island, so let’s just call this one like it is: a legitimate boss battle.

Compared to Very Gnawty and Gnawty, Really Gnawty has got some ups. He can jump faster, farther and higher than the previous beavers. Also, each time players land a jumping hit on his head, Really Gnawty will leap into the air and try to crush them on his way down; with each hit landed, Really Gnawty adds a corresponding leap.

Or maybe I should go with my gut feeling and stick to my original point of view: the beaver population of Donkey Kong Island is sick of having their numbers decimated by a duo of vengeful apes. They send out their champion, Really Gnawty, the strongest and most robust of their order. Donkey and Diddy, with their avarice for beaver blood, are more than happy to oblige the challenge.

So who’s with me? Shall we start the petition for a long overdue Gnawty’s Revenge video game or what?

Dumb Drum

Dumb Drum is a giant, robotic oil drum with a red-eyed skull and crossbones on its side that attacks players in two phases.

In the first phase, Dumb Drum levitates in the air and tries to crush players on the way down.

In the second, it releases a pair of enemies (Kritters, Slippas, Klaptraps, Klumps, and Armys, in that order) and continues in its attempts to crush you. To defeat Dumb Drum, Donkey and Diddy have to defeat all the enemies it releases.

Why this method defeats Dumb Drum is kind of unclear. Are we to believe that all the enemies housed inside of Dumb Drum were the ones operating it? Is Dumb Drum operated by some kind of hydraulic cylinder? Are there a bunch of mechanical levers and foot pedals on the inside of Dumb Drumb? If so, Kritters and Klumps would be the only ones capable of operating it; Slippas and Armys, though? They don’t even have opposable thumbs, Fokker.

Master Necky Sr.

In retrospect, and despite seeming like the contrary while playing the game for the first time, there really wasn’t much variety in the bosses of Donkey Kong Country. Not a knock on the game but for some reason I remember there being a more interesting variety of bosses than bigger, palette swaps of regular enemies from the game.

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Although, in Rare’s defense, they did make a self-aware, meta joke at their own expense: “It’s just like the old days, reusing the boss, changing it’s[sic] color, and pretending it is completely new.” — Cranky Kong

That being said, Master Necky Senior is Master Necky’s father, a lavender-colored palette swap of his son. Instead of just spitting out one coconut at the Kongs from his mouth, Senior is able to spit an increasing number of coconuts at them.

After defeating Master Necky Senior, the Kong’s last boss fight is with the main antagonist of the game…

King K. Rool

There’s a surprising amount of reptilian royalty in Nintendo platform games, isn’t there? King Koopa. Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2. And the main nemesis of Donkey Kong Country, King K. Rool. (OG Bowser and King K. Rool do look suspiciously alike.)

King K. Rool is a corpulent, anthropomorphic crocodile and ruler of the Kremlings. Designed by Rare artist Steve Mayles and his brother Gregg, lead designer Donkey Kong Country, K. Rool wears a gold crown atop his head, a red cape, gold wristbands, a gold belly plate and has scaly green (sometimes olive, like in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) skin.

Although I find the evil alignment of a character like Gnawty dubious, the Donkey Kong Country narrative and creators makes it pretty clear that King K. Rool is definitely malicious in every way towards the Kongs.

When asked why K. Rool stole Donkey Kong’s prized banana hoard, the catalyst for the events in Donkey Kong Country, Gregg Mayles explained that K. Rool wanted to starve the Kongs to death, which would “[enable] the crafty croc to occupy the gorilla’s cosy treehouse pad” (Rareware Scribes, 1999).

Mayles also explained the “K.” initial in King K. Rool didn’t really stand for anything. “It was just a way of making him seem more important, that he’d added it to inflate his ego… Maybe I should have spent a bit more than 5 minutes coming up with his slightly rubbish name.”

Mayles later admitted that K. Rool’s name when the Rare team was developing Donkey Kong Country was initially going to be Kommander K. Rool:



Players face K. Rool on his pirate ship, the Gangplank Galleon. His attacks include a shoulder charge, hurling his crown at the Kongs like a boomerang and dropping cannonballs from the air in a straight line after he’s hit four times.

Did you enjoy that Retbit Retrospective about all the Donkey Kong Country bosses? Which boss was your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

Written By

Ninja Gaiden was my rite of passage at an early age. After finally beating that game (and narrowly dodging carpal tunnel) I decided to write about my gaming exploits. These days I enjoy roguelikes and anything Pokemon but I'll always dust off Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country and StarFox 64 from time to time to bask in their glory.

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