Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze sets platforming standards high with a great polish. DK and Crew have to fight off yet another invasion of comically mutated animals to defend the many islands they protect.
“Donkey Kong would be Donkey Rich selling all of these Bananas!”
The King Kong of Platforming
A lot of mechanics make a return from previous instalments, such as DK’s rolling and ground pounding moves. Diddy, Dixie and Cranky Kong all return to help DK fend off this aforementioned invasion by breaking out of barrels scattered all over Tropical Freeze’s levels and world. Each character has their own abilities and skills which one won’t ruin for his readers, but they are well placed and can help out massively in a pinch.
In fact, the level designs in general are brilliant. Retro Studios have done an amazing job at making sure those tight jumps and enemy movements gel together to create a rewarding gaming experience. Levels turn multi-dimensional once again thanks to DK’s barrel cannons which shoot him all over the place. This is a brilliant mechanic for finding hidden areas or items; by simply adjusting the direction of the barrel when the game allows. However, Tropical Freeze can sometimes be daunting.
Time to Get Good, or get Funky
Difficulty levels can often spike or endure at a higher level which could put busier or less talented players off. Enter Funky Kong. The inclusion of Funky Kong makes Tropical Freeze much more accessible as well as playable for short bursts of play and casual players. Funky Kong has extra hearts, the ability to breathe underwater and more. He is the perfect character for younger and casual players to play as. He also has his own ‘Funky Mode’ which is perfect for players who want a ‘middle of the road’ experience. This modifies certain features for DK such as heart counts, enemies turning into items and the amount of items usable for a level etc.
The normal mode is fairly challenging but not impossible. Players may find boss battles taking a few lives to get through. One found it best practice to load up on life balloons whenever Funky Kong’s shop makes an appearance. Successful stage runs are dependent on well-timed moves and above all, patience. This writer found it very tempting to ‘Speed Run’ levels, but in order to achieve this kind of platforming zen it is important to know the levels you want to run. In other words, don’t run before you can walk.
“DK, now with ‘That Awkward Uncle’ mode”
DK and Friends in true HD
The presentation of the title overall has been brushed up from its Wii U outing. In docked mode players can expect a 1080p resolution with some updated textures that pop that little bit more. In handheld mode we see something similar to the Wii U release in native 720p.
Speaking realistically, the game pops in both modes. It is much better to see docked mode resolutions as an added bonus. Tropical Freeze on the move is a treat in itself. Cut scenes are also lovingly retendered with a subtle soft filter to add to the feeling of a purely innocent platforming bonanza. Bless DK, he just wants his bananas.
The soundtrack is a catchy and typically upbeat Nintendo platforming effort. Whilst one won’t be humming along on the train home, it does its purpose in providing environment specific sounds which keep players engaged. Sound effects also pack a punch. Given that players are predominantly controlling an over-sized ape sporting a tie, sound effects are very well balanced and exaggerated only when necessary. For example, the thuds that can be heard during DK’s ground slams can be felt through a TV in docked mode.
“Unfortunately, DK’s attempt at ‘Bullet Time’ fail”
Graphics and Presentation: 5
This reviewer could not spot any drops in frame rate and found this to be a very smooth experience. Retro Studios have done a brilliant job of porting this to the next generation Nintendo console. Whilst the Wii U is being robbed of its exclusive IP, that is now in the past. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze feels right at home on the Switch, and this writer would not have it any other way.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Nintendo Wii U
Release Date: 04/05/2018
Price: £49.99 (eShop)
Developer: Retro Studios
Review copy provided by publisher