Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

DK FEATURE

I hate the fact Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze exists because its very existence has {probably} delayed the release of one of Nintendo’s most killer franchises, the Metroid series. Arguably Ninty’s most acclaimed studio outside the company itself, Retro Studios has spent close to four years making 2D platforming games, a genre I consider to be little more than an advanced jumping simulator. It makes me go slightly bananas, occasionally resulting in me going full-ape and flinging poo around whatever room I happen to be in. That is not, however, a cryptic way of saying Tropical Freeze is crap, because that bloody gorilla has once again outclassed the king of platforming games himself, Mario, at least based off their most recent 2D adventures.

This particular adventure begins with the four Kongs (Donkey, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky) celebrating DK’s birthday on a beautiful tropical island. Unfortunately for this primal family the horizon has different plans for the day, a large fleet of Viking penguins called the Snomads are fast approaching their position. The leader of these nun-like birds, Lord Frederick (no doubt eager to claim this island as his own) sends forth a mighty ice-dragon to secure his prize. The Kongs, unable to resist the resulting ice wind , are swept off to the Lost Mangroves while their once sun-drenched island is covered in snow.

The game is set across six game worlds as the apes gradually descend on DK Island. The lands themselves are well designed, even if they do stick to the hackneyed jungle, mountain, desert and water-themed formula. The individual levels, however, are a mixed bag. Some, like those on rails, are oodles of challenging fun, while others feel uninspired and repetitive. One point had me frantically jumping over spiked penguins, fatal falls and avoiding lightning strikes as a giant tornado followed right behind. Unfortunately, my life was cut short by a flying cow – the story of my life. Next moment you’re tasked with run-of-the-mill jump obstacles like the game feels your efforts deserve a breather. It’s incredibly jarring. Still, the boss fights are a definite stand-out, pushing my thumb-stick skills to their limits with ingenious modes of attack and a punishing difficulty.

The game’s not short of a challenge either. I can’t say I encountered death as often as in Dark Souls 2, but there were many instances I had to rack my brain to ensure progress, lest I suffer the humiliation of the continue screen. Then, when the game is finally completed, there’s a slew of puzzle pieces to collect, unlocking bonus levels that’ll test your mettle. But you really haven’t tasted a Donkey Kong Returns game until you start tackling those speed runs (of the time trial type, not a physical test of your co-ordination while high). The levels have been specifically engineered to pop when you’re pursuing them at velocity, granting high-octane thrills most racing games struggle to hit.

DK 1 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

Unfortunately, Tropical Freeze also features some struggles of its own, preventing it from securing a place in the platforming hall of fame. As mentioned before the levels see major spikes and dips in quality, resulting in an inconsistent experience from start to finish. Art design, while solid, is far from an inspirational piece of work, and Dixie – as one of DK’s allies – is hands down the most useful support member in almost every scenario in-game, rendering Diddy and Cranky as pointless additions. But worst of all I couldn’t help but feel Retro have played this release a little too safe. Sure, it earns Nintendo’s reputable seal of quality, but it’s far from being a system seller, not unless you’re one of those weird Dutch kids with a worrisome obsession for next-gen dust collectors.

The end result is a game that will sit proudly in your Wii U disc tray, for a while, until mega-juggernauts Super Smash Bros. and Bayonetta 2 help end Nintendo’s release drought. Oh, and please start work on a new Metroid, Retro Studios, I’m begging you.

  • Wii U

The Verdict

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze may not be the most fantastic game ever released, but it features chimps - who in real life fling poo - which in my opinion is pretty damn cool, justifying a respectable eight out of ten.
8
Please consider disabling AdBlock for our site.

Who We Are

Dusty Cartridge aims to provide you with quality, original editorial content that drives conversation within the gaming community. So get reading!

Read more »