ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Review: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Updated on May 29, 2014

Developer: Retro Studios - Publisher: Nintendo - Platform: Wii U - Release Date: February 21, 2014

Concept: Shake up Donkey Kong Country by adding vikings, a ton of snow, and three playable sidekicks

Graphics: From Dutch-inspired architecture to African plains to shipwrecks, this is the most diverse selection of locales yet and they're all positively gorgeous

Sound: Energetic jungle beats and pleasant melodies an enjoyable soundtrack makes

Playability: The GamePad or Pro Controller are the ways to go as both feel far more natural than the (still solid) Wiimote/nunchuck setup

Entertainment: While it's not saying much, the exciting additions and a deliciously challenging difficulty make DK: Tropical Freeze the best 2D platformer on the Wii U

Replay Value: High

Pure Joy, Purer Challenge

Considering that Donkey Kong Country Returns is in my top 5 platformers of the last generation, Tropical Freeze had a bar to reach with me that was as high as a jungle canopy. Instead of resting on their laurels, Retro upped the ante by introducing a striking new aesthetic and two new playable characters, Tropical Freeze manages to not only match the previous game’s quality, but surpass it.

Vikings have invaded DK Island, bringing with them a chilling winter storm that blankets the Kong’s jungle abode in chilly permafrost. Donkey and his pal Diddy recruit two friends in the fight: the returning Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong, who’s playable for the first time. All three primates bring a unique talent to the table. Like in DKC: Returns, Diddy’s jetpack let’s DK maintain a brief hover during jumps. Dixie whips her ponytail to provide what’s essentially a double-jump. Cranky channels a certain billionaire duck by jumping on his cane pogo style to safely cross spiked platforms. Special team moves can clear the screen of baddies which is a useful, if not forgettable, ability.

Choosing the right Kong is important and adds a very light element of strategy. I found Dixie to be the preferred simian for most situations as her added mid-air boost was a true lifesaver. As much as I love Cranky, he took a backseat to his younger cohorts most of the time. He’ll have to be dusted off to reach secrets surrounded by thorns, but when crossing them isn’t required, it’s generally easier to just avoid spikes altogether using Diddy or Dixie.

The Norse elements seemed like an odd addition at first, but they ended up adding a crisp breath of fresh air. Island huts and palm trees have been replaced by beautiful windmills and Dutch-style villages. Not everything has frozen over, though. There are interesting new jungles as well as a particularly awesome world inspired by the African Serengeti. New enemies such as patrolling penguins, grumpy owls, chubby hares, as well as the many world-unique foes have great designs that range from adorable to humorously goofy.

Tropical Freeze is filled with so many wonderful ideas and never stops introducing new, creative twists. Stages now have multiple exits that lead to hidden stages a la Super Mario World, providing another reason to replay zones in addition to collecting Kong letters and puzzle pieces. The stylish silhouette stages return with the most impressive being a late level that has players escaping a terrifying avalanche by platforming quickly on falling wreckage. It’s truly a sight to behold. One stage throws you inside of a giant woodwind instrument that propels players upward with each note. Another favorite is one of the uber-difficult rocket barrel rides that features penguin-controlled giant robot relentlessly pursuing you through a fruit processing factory.

Platforming is still satisfyingly tight with the GamePad and Pro Controller being the preferred input methods. The Wiimote/Nunchuck works well, but the shake controls aren't responsive enough for stages demanding lightning-quick reactions. New camera angles such as full 360 degree views of barrel launches and an almost isometric view during mine cart and rocket stages add a more dynamic look to the action.

Speaking of those the notorious mine cart stages, they have their own share of fantastic (and challenging) shake-ups. One of my favorites has DK riding on a log through a lakeside lumber mill that test players by having them carefully dive underwater to dodge obstacles and ends with escaping a giant buzz saw that carves up platforms as you go, forcing you to basically react on instinct. It's an absolute blast.

Underwater zones make a big comeback and thankfully swimming controls far better than in the SNES games. The rest of the game’s creativeness is present, with monstrous sea serpents and paths that can only be explored using certain characters. An especially intense level has players dodging the tentacles of a giant octopus the whole time. I only have one gripe: Where is Enguarde the Swordfish? He was a vital undersea ally in the old games so reintroducing him here seems like the perfect lay-up. With Rambi the Rhino being the only animal buddy (again), Enguarde would have been a welcome addition if nothing else for variety's sake.

DKC: Returns was known for its surprising difficulty and Tropical Freeze is just as unrelenting, if not more so. While it’s not too hard to quickly accumulate a ton of lives, you'll burn through them at nearly the same rate. This is doubly true for co-op, not only because you and your partner will require in-sync, platforming finesse, but failing a stage costs two lives instead of one. Boss fights are well-designed, brutal affairs that will put even the most skilled players to the test. Bosses take tons of hits to defeat and change up their assaults twice per battle, keeping you on edge the entire time. The arduous final boss fight is easily the hardest in the series’ history.

With constant droughts between quality Wii U titles, there’s little reason for owners not to have Tropical Freeze at the ready. The single-player is fantastic and co-op is equally enjoyable. The difficulty is tough but fair and the numerous secrets guarantee a lengthy shelf life. It's not the system seller the Wii U desperately needs, but Donkey Kong's frosty new outing provides owners with yet another bragging right for their beleaguered console.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Sean Valjean profile imageAUTHOR

      Marcus Stewart 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

      @Johne666 Thanks, though I can't take credit for my structure. I've borrowed it from Game Informer's review style because that's always been my favorite. I've been on Hubpages about 2 years now and have been reviewing games for about almost 4.

    • profile image

      Johne666 

      4 years ago

      Wow, marvelous blog structure! How long have you been running a blog dedfdkdgffce

    • profile image

      Johnf610 

      4 years ago

      Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog! ddcedbafeafd

    • SolveMyMaze profile image

      SolveMyMaze 

      4 years ago

      Smashing review. The original Donkey Kong Country Returns was one of the most difficult games I've played, so I'm glad that the difficulty level was adjusted.

      Those mine cart levels are still a pain right enough. I'm not ashamed to admit it either that the second boss took me more than a week to beat either.

      Or maybe I should be ashamed about that!

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 

      4 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      This is another title that makes me want Nintendo to stop making consoles so that they can put their games on others. DKC Tropical Freeze sounds amazing and proves platforming isn't dead, but I'm not willing to buy another console just to crack this game out for an hour. A shame because it's one I'd get right after reading this review if I owned a Wii U.

      Great review once again Sean Valjean! Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)