Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Retro Studios Platform: Wii U
All he wanted was to enjoy a nice banana meal. Instead, Donkey Kong and the family Kong (Cranky, Diddy and Dixie) get blown away from their house in a subtropical paradise by a group of Snomads, and are forced to then fight to regain the island from the Viking animals in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
Traveling through a variety of platforming levels that range from jumping on leaves to running through a (very) dark forest to riding a mine cart through a saw mill while dodging obstacles, DK and his family members – which are all playable – face some of the most fun, yet challenging, levels in Donkey Kong Country history.
It will take a certain level of skill to the point that it won’t be a piece of cake to play through the game’s six worlds the first time around. When using only Donkey Kong, players only have two health hearts before “dying”, but you accumulate red life balloons so often that you end up with a stack of 20-30 lives quicker than you can imagine.
As mentioned earlier, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky all are available in this game, and each provide an ability that comes in handy at certain points of the game.
Diddy and his trusty jetpack provide a brief hover when in the air; Dixie uses her ponytail to do a “double jump” while in the air; Cranky uses his cane to do a high jump boost which helps grab high, hard-to-reach items.
Donkey and each of the supporting characters even have their own screen-clearing “Kong Pow” attack that turns all on-screen enemies into life balloons, bonus hearts or banana coins.
Of course, if you don’t want to do a lot of the work, there are ways to help get you through the game.
Don’t want to earn the life balloons? Want to easily find all of the puzzle pieces? Then Funky Kong’s shop is just for you. There you can use the banana coins you’ve earned throughout the game to buy extra lives, supporting characters, Squawks the Parrott who will lead you to puzzle pieces and collectible items among other things.
In terms of overall gameplay, Tropical Freeze feels like you are playing a mix of great games all rolled into one awesome adventure than just only seems to get better as you move through the worlds.
The game offers a local co-op mode that sounds appealing, and does come in handy often like during boss battles. That being said, there were times that the co-op became more of a hindrance than a benefit. It was just another challenge that this game threw at you.
Another thing that was a bit of an annoyance was the fact that player one always had to be Donkey Kong. When doing co-op, it was a simple exchanging of the controllers if you didn’t want to be DK, but it would’ve been nice to choose which of the four playable characters you wanted to be. Running through a level as Cranky and Diddy would’ve been fun, and helpful, at certain points of the game.
Still, despite the co-op hiccups there really isn’t much to complain with this game. Sure, an online co-op mode would’ve been a cool addition, but that’s getting too nit-picky for a system, and company, that has never really thrived in the online gameplay market.
From start to finish, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze takes players on a ride that provides some of the most satisfying gameplay that Nintendo has delivered in terms of a platform title in quite some time. And even after you complete the game the first time around, you’re likely to miss out on added bonuses (like puzzle pieces and secret levels) that will make you go back and replay every level in the game.
(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review.)