Instructions for performing the split-up glitch in Donkey Kong Country

[2022 note: This is a paper that I wrote for a technical writing class in college in 2012. It might also be interesting to other people as well, although there are probably better instructions elsewhere. I was reminded of it after seeing Tonkotsu's SGDQ reverse boss order run. Also the original title said "a glitch" instead of "the split-up glitch".]


Donkey Kong Country is a platform video game made by Rare for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). One of its main distinguishing features is how it handles its two playable characters. Donkey Kong is an ape who is larger and stronger; Diddy Kong is a monkey who is smaller and more agile. Normally the player can switch between the characters within a level; however, if one character gets hit by an enemy, that character runs away and the player must continue with the other character. The character can be recovered if the player finds and breaks open a barrel with the letters DK on it. Normally if the inactive character is available, he'll follow behind the main character but not interact with the level. However, a glitch can cause the game to treat both characters as if they were the active character to some extent.

A DK Barrel and a regular barrel

This set of instructions intends to explain how to perform this glitch. It is intended for people who are at least somewhat familiar with the game and have some interest in glitches. The glitch does not give any significant advantage in the game; it is mainly useful for entertainment.

[2022 note: I probably should have qualified this as "…any significant advantage that I know of". It looks like it can now be used in combination with other glitches to skip ahead in the game; I think this hadn't been discovered when I wrote this, but it's possible that I just wasn't aware of it. I still don't know how to use it to skip ahead. This page focuses on effects of the glitch that aren't useful for speedrunning or skipping ahead.]


These instructions assume that you have a way to play the game; this could be on the original console (system, controller, TV, and cartridge) or on the Wii's Virtual Console. Setting up the game is beyond the scope of this document.

I doubt this works on the Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance versions.


  1. If you haven't already, turn on the game and choose a save file. Starting a new file is not recommended; however, if you do, you will need to complete at least one level. If you have unsaved progress, it is recommended that you save.
  2. Make sure that you have plenty of lives. You will use up one just to perform the glitch, and it's easy to lose another when the glitch is in effect. Having more lives makes it easier if you want to perform the glitch multiple times.
  3. Enter a level that you've already completed that has a throwable DK barrel (i.e., one that doesn't break open as soon as you touch it).
  4. Make sure that you only have one monkey (playable character). The monkey that you have will end up being invincible to enemies, and the monkey that you don't have will be considered the active character for some things.
  5. Start to throw a DK barrel.
  6. While the barrel is in midair, after you've let go of Y but before it hits the ground, press Start (to pause the game) and then Select (to exit the level).
  7. Enter another level. It could be the same one or a different one, but it needs to have at least one enemy over a bottomless pit. "Mincer Madness" in "Chimp Caverns" has an enemy over a pit at the start, so it's a good level to use if you've gotten that far in the game.
  8. Get hit by an enemy while you're over a bottomless pit. Be careful—if you get hit when not over a bottomless pit, the game will freeze (see second image). If you open a DK barrel at this point, the game will return to normal. Falling down a pit neither causes the game to freeze nor cancels the glitch. If you've done this correctly, then the character will fall straight down and the death music will not play.
  9. Enter the level in which you want the glitch to happen.
  10. Play through the level until you want the glitch to happen. Be careful—you can still freeze the game by getting hit by an enemy over ground. If you want the glitch to happen late in the level, you should avoid DK barrels earlier in the level.
  11. Open a DK barrel in the level. If you've done everything correctly, the monkey will jump up and flash, as if you've gotten hurt. You can test if the glitch is in effect by pressing down; if it is, both monkeys will duck (see image). The one that came out of the DK barrel can collect items and get hurt by enemies. The other one can only collect bananas and is invincible to everything except bottomless pits.

Once the glitch is in effect, pressing a button on the controller will cause both monkeys to react as if they're active. For instance, Donkey and Diddy will move at different speeds. If Donkey and Diddy get too far apart, you can press Down and Y at the same time; this will cause Donkey to do a ground pound (which he does without moving) and will cause Diddy to do a cartwheel. You can also walk against a wall.

A major source of additional glitches once this is done involves the animal buddies. If you try to get both monkeys on an animal buddy, it will cause a clone of the animal to appear in a different color. Additional graphical glitches will happen as you move around the level, and it's possible to use this glitch to get animal buddies into different levels.

[2022 note: To get an animal buddy into a different level, you have to get both monkeys on an animal buddy and then drop one of them into a pit. I'm pretty sure it matters which one, but I don't remember which. Then enter a stage that normally has an animal buddy, or Reptile Rumble. On the version I had, this would always give you Rambi the Rhinoceros, but I think on some earlier versions it gives you whatever animal buddy you dropped into a pit.]

The game will return to normal if you exit the level in any way (win, lose a life, Start-Select) or if you enter a bonus level.


If the game freezes due to getting hit by an enemy, press Reset on your SNES. The game will not be damaged and no saved data will be lost.


Images from and (this may also be where I first learned about this)

[2022 note: Those videos are titled "DKC Best Glitch Ever Part 1" and "…Part 2", uploaded by tjp7154 on Jul 11, 2007. When I wrote this, I had already known about this glitch long enough to have forgotten when I learned it, and back then I didn't pay that much attention to who uploaded the various videos I watched.]