A Wii U classic comes to Nintendo Switch
Despite Wii U not exactly setting the sales charts on fire, it certainly had a phenomenal line-up of first-party games. One of the biggest stand-out titles was Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a follow-up to 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns. The game is getting a second chance at life thanks to Nintendo Switch, and that’s definitely a great thing. If you missed the first time, I highly suggest you check out this incredible platforming game!
A cold birthday
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze starts with a simple, yet effective introduction that sets the stage. While the Kong family is inside their hut celebrating a birthday, an invading army called the Snomads ruins the occasion. They do so by blowing a horn, which conjures an ice dragon that freezes over the Kong’s tropical island. It’s your job to stop them at all costs, and hopefully thaw the island!
Platforming at its best
As you can probably expect, Tropical Freeze is first and foremost a platform game. The story is secondary and serves only to propel us through the levels.
Faithful to its franchise, many levels in the game are very challenging, especially the further you get it. If you thought Tropical Freeze with its colorful graphics was only for younger players, think again. I spent many lives getting through some stages because they were so difficult.
Of course, making things a tad easier are mid-level checkpoints that are often godsends. They come in the form of cute pigs that wave a flag when you pass by, letting you know a checkpoint is reached. Then, if you die, you’ll revert back to the pig instead of starting all over again. But even with this help, Tropical Freeze poses an extremely tough challenge.
This stiff difficult extends to the boss fights as well, which often possess multiple forms or progressively stronger attacks. Just when you think to have beaten a boss, it evolves and changes attacks. Don’t be surprised if you have to repeatedly take on bosses to finally topple them. Once you do defeat them, it’s pretty satisfying!
Funky Kong makes life easier
To alleviate this harsh challenge somewhat, the Nintendo Switch version of Tropical Freeze includes a new Funky Kong mode. This lets you play as Funky (instead of Donkey Kong), who has three extra hearts, can double jump and float, and is immune to spikes. He’s also able breath underwater indefinitely, making underwater levels much easier.
While it may almost sound like a god mode, surprisingly the game can still be quite tough. Funky Kong simply makes the more frustrating levels a lot more bearable. Newcomers to Donkey Kong games will certainly appreciate this much easier mode.
Funky Kong also essentially replaces the support characters seen when playing as Donkey Kong. These include:
- Diddy Kong, who has a jetpack and enables you to jump/soar a bit higher.
- Dixie Kong, who uses her ponytail to slowly descend to the ground
- Cranky Kong, who uses his cane to bounce off spikes and reach higher ground
When you play as Donkey Kong you’ll still get help from these family members, although just temporarily. In a game this hard though, even a little bit of help goes a long way!
Super fun, despite the difficulty
I’ve mentioned several times about the game’s challenge, so did it affect the fun? Not at all! No level I found impossible, and every time I passed one it was very satisfying. The same goes for bosses, most of them I had to try several times but beating them was worth it.
In the event that you simply cannot beat a level, after dying a few times the game will let you simply bypass it. That means if there’s a particularly challenging level it won’t stop you from finishing the game. Great!
Co-op for more fun
Tropical Freeze includes a co-operative multiplayer mode for added fun. One player will play as Donkey Kong, while the other can choose between Diddy, Dixie or Cranky. Playing in co-op is naturally much more fun, even if the odd time having a friend can complicate things.
Mechanics and items known to regulars
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze features a lot of features we’ve seen before in past Donkey Kong games. For example, collecting 100 bananas gives you a free life, which takes the form of a red balloon. Additionally, you can collect the letters K-O-N-G and puzzles pieces in every level.
During the adventure you can also gets your hands on coins. These are very useful because they allow you to buy a lot of items at the local store. Extra lives can be purchased, but also balloons to swim longer in the water or to protect you from falls. As well, you can snag potions to extend your life, or add shield defense during the high-speed minecart levels. Items can really make a big difference for the ultra challenging levels, so it’s great to have them as an option.
Thanks to all of the above, Tropical Freeze has an excellent replay value. It’s fun to replay levels to try and grab those missing K-O-N-G letters or puzzle pieces, as examples.
Graphically, the game is very beautiful for a 2D platformer. Levels possess breathtaking scenery, and the 3D visual depth is superb. At times you may get shot to another plane, and the effect is excellent. On Nintendo Switch, you even get 1080p graphics when docked, a bump up from the 720p seen on Wii U. It’s great to finally get a Donkey Kong in true high definition!
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of the best platform games ever made. It really is that excellent. While difficult, the gme is super fun and satisfying to play through. That addition of Funk Kong mode makes this already fantastic game even better. A must-play for every Nintendo Switch owner!
+ Incredible 1080p graphics
+ Inspired platforming
+ Funky Kong mode is a great addition
+ Wonderful soundtrack
+ Lots of secret items to find
– Very challenging
– Few updates from the Wii U version
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5