One of the most annoying aspects of Donkey Kong Country Returns was that you had to waggle the controller to roll, but it is easily placed with a button on the Wii U GamePad this time around. You can technically play it with a Wii Remote and Nunchuk and have to waggle it to do this, but it is nice to have the option not to with the GamePad or Pro Controller. Also on the controls, you get a little bit of customization between some of the moves you will use most often. As the game starts, it has Ground Pound and Roll Attack on the X/Y buttons while Grab and Throw are on the ZL/ZR buttons. You have the ability to switch this, which I highly recommend.
As previously mentioned, the opening cutscene looked beautiful and that continues into the game itself. With vibrant colors and art style, this is one of those games where you can just find yourself sitting there and watching the levels themselves before moving forward. The upgrade to HD greatly enhances Retro’s already charming designs, including both the characters and levels themselves.
One of my absolute favorite parts of Donkey Kong Country Returns were the silhouette levels, where almost the entire foreground is black, minus things like Donkey Kong’s red tie, while the background designed to stand out. Luckily, these silhouette levels make a return in Tropical Freeze, with levels like Amiss Abyss in the fourth world being standout thanks to being an underwater level. The gorgeous blue background meshes wonderfully with the Kong silhouettes, including Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong receiving a pink hat and white beard respectively.
Keeping up with the tradition of this series, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze features incredibly soothing and exquisite music. Similar to Super Mario 3D World, this game features a fantastic mix of both original and classic themes from past games in the series. While he was not a part of Returns, original series composer David Wise returns and you can easily tell the difference. Wise perfectly grasps the type of music that certain levels should have to where I cannot remember a single instance of music seeming out of place at all. This game is almost worth a purchase alone just to hear the newly orchestrated versions of classic songs like Aquatic Ambience.
One disappointing aspect of the game is the complete lack of use for the Wii U GamePad. Every big release for the Wii U so far has used it in some way, but the only use for it this time around is off-TV play. When playing the game on a TV, the GamePad screen is completely blank, which can be better for some that get annoyed by mirror play, like in the Super Mario games for Wii U. However, the GamePad could have been used in some way, perhaps to navigate your inventory or move yourself around the map.
Tropical Freeze is chock-full with collectibles in the form of KONG letters and puzzle pieces. This provides a good bit of replayability, along with the secret exits in each world. However, a good portion of the puzzle pieces are gotten through in-stage bonus games that get repetitive very fast. There are only a few different ones that you will be playing over and over again with no changes, unlike the original trilogy of games that had them designed based on each world as a rule.
As aforementioned, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a very difficult game. There may be some out there who have a problem with this, but I personally love my platformers to be difficult. Too many games, especially by Nintendo, have been made too easy in recent years with features like Super Guide, as seen in Donkey Kong Country Returns. In the old days of gaming, there was nothing like this available and that’s the way it should be. Tropical Freeze does a fantastic job of being extremely difficult at times, but not frustrating to the point where you want to throw your controller at the wall. Personally, I think it may have been made a little too easy due to the excess of extra lives in the game. There was hardly anytime after the first world or so where I did not have 90+ lives at all times.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is an incredibly enjoyable experience that I have been waiting to play ever since it was initially announced last year. The game takes many of the elements that we know and love from past entries in the franchise, including innovative level design, superb art style, and breathtaking music, while also adding some new elements to the mix such as the ability to switch between partners. If you have ever been a fan of any of the Donkey Kong Country games, or even platformers in general, this is one to certainly not miss, especially at only $49.99.
[Editor’s Note:Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was reviewed on the Wii U. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review,