Let's Get It On Like Donkey Kong
Nintendo brought back its popular Donkey Kong Country franchise for the Wii in 2010 with Donkey Kong Country Returns. It was so well received that the publisher ported it to 3DS in 2013. This year, Donkey Kong returns for another side-scrolling adventure, and this time, he brought the likes of Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong along for the ride.
Ice To See You
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze starts off with Donkey Kong and friends gathering around for his birthday, when suddenly, Vikings invade Donkey Kong Island and put an end to the festivities. The leader of the Viking group blows an icy wind across the island, and as you'd expect, it's up to Donkey Kong to return his home back to its tropical self by adventuring across six locations.
Donkey Kong Country is known for being a side-scrolling platform series that requires a bit more finesse than most Mario games. Jumping, running and collecting items and bananas all have some weight behind them, as Donkey Kong requires a bit more effort to move around than most Nintendo stars. The learning curve of navigating Donkey Kong around Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is quite steep, but the experience is much more rewarding once you get the hang of things.
We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends
Donkey Kong Country games have always shared the spotlight between Donkey Kong and his group of primate pals. In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Diddy Kong makes his triumphant return as a secondary character. But this time around, Dixie Kong, and for the first time in the franchise's history, Cranky Kong, made themselves available.
Each secondary character not only adds additional hearts to Donkey Kong's health meter, allowing him to take more damage, but they also help him make his way through each level with their unique abilities. Donkey Kong can float briefly by way of Diddy Kong's jetpack, gain an extra bit of height with Dixie Kong's ponytail and Cranky Kong can use his cane to help Donkey Kong bounce higher than he normally would. In addition to these new gameplay mechanics, Donkey Kong can perform a "Kong-Pow" with the secondary character that's currently in use in order to transform enemies on screen into helpful items such as a life balloon, gold hearts and banana coins.
Donkey Kong Country Returns was a good looking game in 2010 while running on the Wii, but Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze looks incredible on the Wii U in 1080p. Character models, environments and special effects shine, with each stage having its own signature appearance, thus giving the game a sense of real progression.
Not-So Simple Simian
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze brings back the multi-dimensional gameplay experience first introduced in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Donkey Kong will be able to travel between the foreground and background as well as bounce around the jungle at great distances, often with the help of his barrels. Barrels automatically shoot Donkey Kong across levels, or he'll be able to time his shots in order to retrieve collectibles sprinkled throughout each stage.
That said, the game may turn off some casual players, as the combination of Donkey Kong's heavier movements and tricky platforming will have you shaking your controller in frustration at times. Fortunately, Nintendo is generous with the amount of life balloons, though losing lives while attempting to complete a certain segment of a stage may drive you crazy.
That's not to say this game shouldn't be played by fans of side-scrolling platform games. As we said earlier, there's a learning curve to how Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze plays. Once you learn how to navigate through the game, the sense of accomplishment will be that much greater. On that note, long time DK fans should buy this entertaining sequel as soon as it debuts on the Wii U.
GAME's Verdict: 8.0/10
- Donkey Kong Country in 1080p. 'Nuff said.
- New secondary characters add unique ways for Donkey Kong to make his way through stages
- Tons of additional content to collect will have you attempting to master this difficult game
- Difficulty is high compared to most side-scrolling platformers
- Lack of Wii U GamePad specific mechanics
- Local multiplayer only