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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch)

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 17 - 2018

Ook ook again!

While another port of a Wii U game may not be what Switch gamers are excited for from Nintendo, if any game is going to be ported, it may as well be the one with the giant ape. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze launched originally on the Wii U back in 2014, but now brings the precision platforming with Donkey Kong and all of his buddies to the Nintendo Switch, which obviously means platforming action on the bus. Good times!

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For those who didn’t partake in the Wii U simian jumping and rolling, Tropical Freeze is a platforming game that does almost everything that you would expect from a Nintendo series. Players take on the role of the mighty Donkey Kong as he, and his friends, make their way back to their island and kick out the Viking animal invaders. What this involves is simply moving from left to right, jumping from platform to platform or swinging on vines and the like. It is all fairly standard fare.

Tropical Freeze has a lot of nice touches. Donkey Kong himself only has the two hearts to start with so cannot take a lot of damage before having to restart. However, he is not alone in his quest, and by breaking barrels the player can add a companion to the game, effectively doubling the hearts and damage they can take. These companions – Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong – each bring with them their own special ability to help DK on his way. Diddy has a jet pack, while Dixie uses her hair to basically fly. Cranky, on the other hand, uses his walking stick like a pogo stick, able to bounce around all over the place.

The other bonus to having a companion is that a second player can take control of them in co-op play. This works great on the Switch, with multiple different control methods available depending on what equipment they have. The only problem with playing co-op is that Tropical Freeze can be quite a tricky game, so playing with someone else means relying on their skill as well as your own.

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The game can be quite testing, especially towards the final stages. Tropical Freeze requires much more precision than Nintendo’s other big platformer, and as such may come as a shock to parents who pick the colourful, cute looking game up for little Timmy or Lucy. It is not really a surprising game, in that it is rare that something happens that you are not expecting, but avoiding hazards, enemies, large drops and the like do make it incredibly tense to play. The boss battles are fairly standard and basically just involve spending time to learn the movements, but can still be difficult to get past.

Away from all the moments that the player will find themselves swearing at the Switch, there is a lot to enjoy in Tropical Freeze. Most gamers will remember the first time that they hopped onto an animal in a Donkey Kong game and that feeling of being out of control. Tropical Freeze has a few moments like that. And of course there is the mine cart to ride on, which is always great fun. The different level themes are nice too, ranging from jungle to tropical island, giving the player something to get excited about when they reach a new area. It is all quite lovely.

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But the real problem with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is that it is exactly as you would expect. The original developers didn’t really do anything new with the platforming genre, and obviously this Switch version is exactly the same, just four years later. It is all very solid, but there is nothing that really pops out as something the player hasn’t seen before.

The game looks really nice, as you would expect. The colours pop from both the big screen and when the Switch is in handheld mode, and everything runs nice and smooth. You can see that the visuals have been improved over the previous Wii U version, but only marginally as I can tell. It was a good looking game then, and it is now. The same can be said for the catchy soundtrack which will get into your head and embarrass you on the train. It is all beautifully polished.

But then it was on the Wii U. Sure, there are some performance improvements, but considering the price of Tropical Freeze on the Switch, I would have liked something extra, something added. The only real addition to the game is that now, at the very beginning, you can choose to play as Funky Kong, the shopkeeper. Funky Kong is far more capable than any of the other apes and has a raft of abilities, such as a double jump and glide, that will make the game that bit easier. Choosing Funky Kong is effectively putting the game in easy mode, and I suppose goes some way to solving the games high difficulty level. However, you can’t just switch to Funky Kong when you get stuck, but can only do it at the very beginning, which means even the easy parts of the game will become easier. It’s a nice addition that will help more players reach the end, and make the game more family friendly, but I would have liked more.

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was a brutally difficult game on the Wii U, but still great fun. On the Switch there is the option to make the game a little easier, but otherwise it is pretty much the same. The game feels warm and familiar, like wrapping yourself in a brown, furry blanket and sipping on coconut milk, but lacks the excitement of something new, even to those who never played it on the Wii U. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze may not be new, but it is still a solid and enjoyable platformer on the Switch, and worth adding to the library for new players.




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