Oh how we’ve been looking forward to Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Ever since we had our first look at Donkey Kong’s debut on the Wii U, we couldn’t want to get our hands on it, and fortunately it doesn’t disappoint.
One of my early fears was that the game would be simplified a bit too much, as there have been games that have gotten a little too easy to appeal to a younger crowd on the console. However, Tropical Freeze is no joke, and the difficulty level is certainly high. This platformer got me killed so many times that I actually had a laugh over it. This game is tough, plain and simple, and those that recall the SNES Donkey Kong Country games, will know what I’m talking about.
I also love that the stages are pretty varied in atmosphere, and in scale. You’ll come across jungles, islands, underwater areas and more, all with a high level of detail and presented in a way that everything feels alive. There’s just so much going on, not just on the forefront, but in the background that makes it feel like there’s a whole other world living and breathing at the same time. Characters themselves also look very good, as you can see how furry they are, right down to the littlest details on their facial expressions.
Another thing that I really liked, was the way how some levels switched from being two-dimensional to 3D. For instance, there’s one level where you’re on a mine cart, and as you’re riding alongside a gigantic tree, you suddenly start to spiral downward around the tree, and the perspective then changes to give you a sense of depth. Even something simpler like being fired from one barrel to the next, looked great, either due to a different perspective, or when you’d get shot into the background, which would then become the foreground. There was a lot of variety, both in the environments, and how the levels played out, which kept things fresh throughout the 13-hour or so game.
As you play through the game, you’ll have the ability to call on either Dixie, Diddy or Cranky Kong, each with their own specific abilities that certainly come in handy. Dixie has a helicopter spin, while Cranky could bounce higher with his cane, and Diddy of course, had his jet pack, which helped you hover for a short time. I personally liked using Dixie more often, since she made it easier to reach higher platforms.
Boss fights were also more lengthy and challenging than I expected, as was the case with a Viking themed seal who constantly tries to bowl you over, while also throwing enemies at you. While it initially seemed like an easy boss, he got increasingly difficult as I got closer to defeating him and also realized that this was taking quite a while. They all have specific patterns, and you can more or less figure it out by the second or third time you face any given boss, but it doesn’t make them any less difficult.
Multiplayer is also quite enjoyable but can also be quite the task, as you’ll need to be in sync with your partner in order to succeed. I would have liked to have had the ability though, to swap between Dixie, Cranky and Diddy, rather than get stuck with one for the entire time. You should also know that the game really doesn’t do anything special with the GamePad, outside of letting you play off-TV. If you’re using the TV itself to play, you’ll also notice right away that the GamePad’s screen turns off, which isn’t a big deal to me personally, as it conserves battery anyway.
Overall, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a fantastic game, and one of the toughest platformers you’ll play these days. The game looks great, plays great, and though multiplayer could use a little more TLC, ultimately this latest Donkey Kong title is very rewarding.
Final Review: 4.5 out of 5