Donkey Kong Country has always remained a cult classic platformer. The series was resurrected again with a new entry on the Nintendo 3DS and has since continued on with Tropical Freeze on the Nintendo Wii U. Even though the return of Donkey Kong Country was celebrated with much success, Tropical Freeze unfortunately became the casualty of the failure of Nintendo Wii U. Despite getting critical acclaim, the game regrettably didn’t manage to sell as well so it was finally the time to give it another chance with the success of Nintendo Switch.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is essentially the same game as its Wii U counterpart. It doesn’t offer any visual improvement however it does include a new type of gameplay mode featuring ‘Funky Kong’ that is basically equivalent to the Easy mode for most games. The original Tropical Freeze is also considered as a difficult platformer that often required precise jumps and skills in order to finish levels where you had limited chances. Funky mode is an attempt to reduce the difficulty of the game and make it more accessible to everyone, and honestly it is the best mode to play if you don’t have much experience with platformers.
The game begins as Donkey Kong along with his family is celebrating a birthday. They are greeted by the Snowmad ships who attack the Island and transform it into an icy destination, the aftermath also blows away Donkey Kong and his family away from the location. In your journey as Donkey Kong to reclaim your home, you will have to travel across 6 different Islands and fight the various bosses that are guarding it in order to finally restore everything to normal.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze works as a side-scrolling 2.5D platformer. The level design in the game is easily the best I have seen for a platformer. Each level is packed full of collectibles and well-hidden secrets that will keep you searching in every nook and cranny. It is incredibly satisfying to finish each level and get all collectibles without having to resort to a guide or outside help. Rare deserves special praise here because of the level design of the game, since not only is it fun to explore, it also presents a good amount of challenge for those who prefer it.
The general gameplay in Tropical Freeze is easy to grasp from the start. Depending on the mode that you have picked up, it is possible to play as either Donkey Kong or Funky Kong. In each level, you can find a barrel that will get you another companion. The classic Donkey Kong family makes its appearance here and you can team up with Cranky Kong, Dixie Kong or Diddy Kong. These character have their own abilities that come handy during exploring level and gaining access to some of the impossible to reach locations.
The jumping feels solid and the controls are great. You can pull out or grab objects to throw them, jump on enemies to damage them, smash ground or roll around to attack enemies or use a special move that damages all enemies. Your skills matter a lot in how you approach each level and while it is easy to rush through them, you will miss out on all the fun if you ignore the collectibles.
The game also offers co-op multiplayer so when you will get a companion, it is possible for the other player to control the character. The transition to the Nintendo Switch version means that you can do it with the use of JoyCon controller to play with a friend. The game works great in the co-op mode and the controls are all perfectly mapped out letting you play it smoothly without any major issues.
The visuals for the game remain the same and it looks great in portable mode. The docked mode version is actually an upgrade in term of resolution from the Wii U version and the best part of this new release is that the load times are now much shorter. The difference between the load times of the Wii u and Switch version is really massive. The game used to load between levels and even during the initial boot phase, and this has been reduced to a significant degree with the Switch version making it the definitive release.
The other new addition is the Funky Kong mode as I have explained above. This mode is basically for those who want to have an easier time going through the brutal difficulty of the game. Among the changes made for the Funky mode, you can either play as Funky Kong or the default Donkey Kong. Your companions get more health while items can cost less. If you are into collectibles, it is easier to find Kong letters in this mode since they remain saved even if you finish the level. This mode is just more forgiving with your mistakes so if are having issues with the normal difficulty, don’t forget to give this one a chance. Not to mention the fact that Funky Kong actually looks amazing in the game so it is not a bad tradeoff.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze offers a decent set of content with a good replay value. You can find collectibles and hidden paths in each level that range from letters spelling Kong’s name to coins and bananas. Some of them are really hidden well and will require you to play a level multiple times just to get their location. The world map is presented in the traditional Nintendo style where each Island will have its levels. There are also plenty of boss fights to compete and some of them are incredibly brutal so hopefully you are prepared for them.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review (Switch)
Game description: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a side-scrolling platformer video game developed by Retro Studios, with assistance from Monster Games, and published by Nintendo for the Wii U and Switch.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is easily a contender for the best platformer this generation. The performance improvements offered by the Nintendo Switch version make it the definitive way to experience the game.