'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze' Will Drive You Bananas... In A Good Way

February 24, 2014

The Donkey Kong Country games have been driving Nintendo fans mad since the early days of the Super Nintendo. Ever since the first time that the members of the Kong clan stepped outside of Mario's shadow, they have been starring in games that uphold the traditions of an old school platformer. While there was a bit of a break between 1996's Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! and 2010's Donkey Kong Country Returns, the series has retained a loyal fanbase that enjoys punishing platformers. Even though Rare, the developers of the original SNES games, is out of the picture, Retro Studios managed to recreate the same levels of frustration and satisfaction that have defined the DKC games in their two modern day releases, Returns and the recently released Tropical Freeze. This time around, Donkey Kong Island may be covered in snow, but Tropical Freeze breaks through the ice and features all of the stapes of a true Donkey Kong Country game. From mine carts to missed platforms, Tropical Freeze is a DKC game through and through.

Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo

Retro Studios has a unique relationship with Nintendo, being one of their very few non-Japanese development studios. Their partnership dates back to 2002 when Retro was given the opportunity to update the Metroid series for the Gamecube, and that's when the Metroid Prime franchise was born. Since then Retro has worked on and released all of the Metroid Prime games (including Hunters for the DS, and the Trilogy compilation), along with Mario Kart 7 and Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Isn't it always the darndest thing when Viking penguins interrupt your birthday party? Well, that's what happened to the Kong's at DK.'s birthday, and all the invading Snowmads brought for a gift was a blast of cold weather to the normally tropical climate. Now it's up to Donkey, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky to reclaim their island (and their bananas) from the frosty foes and bring peace back to their tranquil village.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze plays out exactly as you would expect a Donkey Kong Country game to: it's 2D sidescroller, where Donkey Kong and his friends must use their size and skills to their advantage, traversing a series of increasingly difficult platforming levels. Much like in the other games in the series, you need to run, jump, and smash your way through some gorgeous looking worlds, with all different kinds of traps, both above ground and underwater. For the most part, things haven’t changed from Donkey Kong Country Returns, except that Tropical Freeze brings a couple of extra playable characters along with it. Adding to the dynamic duo of Donkey and Diddy are Dixie and Cranky, and each character brings their own skills to the table. When playing single player, DK's family are there for assistance, but in co-op mode, player two can control any member of the Kong crew. Tropical Freeze also introduces the new Kong-Pow move that clears the screen, turning any enemies into extra life balloons. These additions are just enough to make this game feel different from its predecessors... in a good way.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a Wii U exclusive, and can only be found on Nintendo's latest hardware. This game is Donkey Kong's first adventure in HD, and he looks amazing, as there was clearly a huge amount of detail poured into the game - fro the backgrounds right down to the individual hairs in his fur. Outside of the HD graphics, Tropical Freeze doesn't really take advantage of the system's unique hardware, outside of offering the option of off-TV play.

Donkey Kong Country fans of all ages will soak up every second of Tropical Freeze, since it's everything they want in a game. The game looks and sounds great from beginning to end, the humor is on point, and the hard as nails platforming all help Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze live up to its namesake, and then some. Wii U owners who aren't afraid to really dig in to a challenge will be delighted to pick up Tropical Freeze, as its unrelenting difficulty often gives way to a true sense of self satisfaction. The game offers an extensive amount of replayability (all those puzzle pieces…), as well as some new leaderboard features that let players show off their platforming skills. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a welcome breath of fresh air for Wii U owners who may be looking hard for something new to play.