Review: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

DKC Info
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Donkey Kong is celebrating his birthday along with Diddy Kong and new additions Dixie Kong and Cranky kong when a snowflake enters and blows out the birthday candle. The camera pans to a group of animal Vikings sailing towards Donkey Kong island. The leader unleashes a strong icy wind that freezes the island over and blows the Kongs away. It is Donkey Kong and his crews quest to return the island to its original state. The story is told through a number of beautiful cut scenes. It’s just enough to give the game a purpose, story wise. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking though.

DKC Presentation
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is probably the best looking Nintendo game that I’ve ever played. Not only is the art style amazing, it has the graphical polish to back it up. Each of the 6 worlds are all extremely different in their appearance but all just as beautiful as the last. The cutscenes look absolutely incredible and I can’t help but wish that there were more of them. Dixie Kong in particular really put a smile on my face. Graphics have come a long way since she was last playable so it really made me step back and appreciate just how lucky we are.

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The soundtrack was created by David Wise. This was huge for me as I can still remember the tunes of the original Super Nintendo games despite not playing them for at least 5-10 years. The soundtrack in Tropical Freeze is on par with the original trilogy. The tracks are extremely catchy without becoming repetitive.

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Donkey Kong Country hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. The formula is still pretty simple. Go from level to level until you reach a boss which you must defeat in order to get to the next world. The formula works well, and the reason that it doesn’t become boring is because the games come at long time intervals. I can’t help but feel that the game lacks a little bit of charm and variation from the original SNES trilogy, however by no stretch of the imagination is this game anything short of spectacular.

Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong have made their much anticipated return to the series. Dixie Kong is able to assist Donkey by using her ponytail to give him a short burst of height and slowly propel to the floor. Cranky Kong has a cane which much resembles Scrooge McDuck’s. He is able to use it to get across spikes or bounce on enemies. Diddy Kong is back with his barrel jetpack. Adding these new characters to the mix really does keep the game from getting stale. Dixie Kong was by far my favourite as it really took me back to my younger days of playing through the original trilogies with my cousins.

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Tropical Freeze introduces the Kong-POW meter. This allows Donkey Kong and his partner to initiate a special move once the meter is full. Each duo has a different on-screen animation but all act the same way in killing all enemies on screen. I didn’t really find that it was all that useful, but it was still pretty great to have in times of panic.

The Super Guide from Donkey Kong Country Returns has been removed. Retro studios have opted to include an expanded shop which offers a bigger variety of items which can be used to make your playthrough a much more pleasant one. Kong letters and puzzle pieces are back but are much harder to collect due to the fact that some now require a specific partner in order to be able to reach them. Time Attack mode also makes a return and features online leaderboards. In addition, players can also view video replays of the top ranked players.

The amazing level and character design is what will keep you coming back. The variety of levels and enemies is almost unmatched from any previous Donkey Kong game. The game definitely gets a lot more difficult as you progress but you will find yourself becoming better equipped to take on harder platforming tasks with more practise. The boss levels are definitely the most frustrating in the game. They’re hard in the sense that there really isn’t any checkpoint. You might die only one jump away from killing the boss and you’ll be forced to start the level from scratch. The only reason that this works is that you only ever die from it being your fault. There are no cheap deaths, so it works.

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The inspired level designs and stiff platforming challenges help Tropical Freeze hit rewarding high points that feel great after you’ve conquered a tough area. Take my advice: Jumping into Tropical Freeze with a boastful attitude that you’ve done it all in 2D platformers can lead to disastrous results. DK and the rest of this furry cast handle much differently than Mario and company. These characters genuinely feel heavier, and that emphasis on weight and momentum affects how you jump. I liked the distinct feel, and how it distinguished Tropical Freeze from a lot of platformers in the genre.

Tropical Freeze does nothing with the GamePad and this is something that shocked me a little. When playing the game using the GamePad it literally stays blank. I would’ve loved to see Retro use it in a unique way, even if it wasn’t mandatory.