Developer(s) – Retro Studios, Monster Games & Nintendo SPD
Publisher – Nintendo
Director(s) – Ryan Harris & Vince Joly
Producer – Kensuke Tanabe
PEGI – 3
Following on from Nintendo’s previous success with the re-vamp of the Donkey Kong Country style of play in Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, Tropical Freeze takes the same classic formula and adds one or two extra into the mix, and frankly, it makes for a fairly entertaining game in my opinion. Whilst it has some different elements from other video games, effective use is made of them and it’s a joy to play.
Graphics – 8/10
It’s been some time since I’ve seen an FMV (Full Motion Video) cutscene in a licensed first-party Nintendo game, and the introductory FMV gives the game a pretty decent first impression; as does the first glimpse of the in-game visuals. The conceptual design of each of the six stages is particularly well done; indeed, a sure sign that passion went into it is that concept art for the game can be unlocked as an incentive for collecting every puzzle piece on a single level. The decent mixture of different environments, ranging from vast jungles to rainy and sunny beaches bring something entirely new to the table, whilst also featuring elements that hearken back to not only the original Donkey Kong Country, but also games such as Diddy Kong Racing, as in the level Irate Eight, there is a giant octopus, which looks very much like the octopus that has to be raced in the game to advance.
Gameplay – 8/10
In terms of map layout, Tropical Freeze bears a striking resemblance to New Super Mario Bros. U, but in terms of gameplay, it’s just as challenging; if not more so. Not only does this game present a good few stern challenges in its boss fights, but also in the completion of side quests, as it can sometimes be difficult to find every hidden item in each level, given how cleverly some of them are hidden. What I also like about the gameplay is the very decent amount of variety. Not only do classic elements return, such as the mountable rhino in the original Donkey Kong Country game, but there are also new gameplay elements to be experienced with the inclusion of the three supporting characters venturing alongside Donkey Kong; incidentally, they also hearken back to gameplay features of previous Nintendo games. Diddy Kong’s jetpack ability is very reminiscent of his role in Donkey Kong 64 as well as Peach’s role in Super Mario Bros. 2, Dixie Kong’s hovering ability is very similar to Yoshi’s hovering ability in the Yoshi’s Island series and Cranky Kong’s spring ability is Identical to Scrooge McDuck’s ability in the old Duck Tales Game Boy game.
Controls – 9/10
Unfortunately, I did find the game’s controls to be somewhat unresponsive at times. I experienced trouble trying to roll along the ground to dodge enemy attacks, as the game would sometimes interpret it as me trying to do the ground pound attack instead. But otherwise, there are no other outstanding issues with the controls.
Lifespan – 7/10
To get everything done in this time, it should take around 15 hours, which for a linear 2D side scroller is fair enough. Previous games in the genre tend to be much shorter than that, and it’s always good to see games like this being made to last as long as possible. It’s better to have an extraordinarily long linear 2D side scroller than a disappointingly short open-world 2D side scroller like Symphony of the Night. As I said last week, for how good that game played out, I was left wanting more.
Storyline – 7/10
From what I’ve seen of the seventh generation, Nintendo seems to be taking some of their longest-running franchises in new directions; particularly in terms of story. I’ve seen it in A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D World, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is no exception. Donkey Kong’s birthday celebration is cut short after his home island is frozen over by a new batch of enemies called the Snomads. Donkey, along with his friends Diddy and Dixie and hid grandfather Cranky embark on an adventure to retake their home island from the Snomads and their leader, Lord Frederick. It’s still pretty simplistic but different from the norm. It’s a positive change that presents a new story, new enemies, and an entirely new objective. Unlike previous entries, it doesn’t have Donkey Kong looking for his hoard of bananas and instead focuses on something entirely dissimilar.
Originality – 7/10
Although the overall premise of Tropical Freeze has been repeated many times over in video gaming, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has been given a fresh coat of paint with different gameplay elements and graphical concepts, which add a bit of flair and makes it stand out from most others.
Overall, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a game well worth playing through at least once. There are some very stern challenges to be overcome, and a fair amount of incentive to be had for playing the game to its fullest. Although there may not be enough on the Wii U in terms of quantity, Nintendo is very much still able to deliver quality.