Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a 2D platformer released for the Wii U in 2014 and the Switch in 2018. Released as the sequel to 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns, the game offered new characters and challenges from its predecssor. In addition to Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong now join up with DK for the adventure!
Tropical Freeze delivers beautiful animation and tons of creative levels. In addition, the soundtrack features music from David Wise, original composer of the DKC 1 and 2 on SNES. In addition to remixes of several classic tunes, Tropical Freeze offers many new, beautiful themes!
Check out our review as we detail the good and occasionally not-so-good parts of this title. Also keep in mind that we’ll be focusing mostly on the Switch version.
Donkey Kong, a beloved icon of gaming, has starred in many titles. His hallmark adventure, Donkey Kong Country for SNES, was one of the greatest games of all time. Its beautiful CGI renders were something never done before in gaming, while its soundtrack and captivating stages offered new concepts into a popular genre.
Tropical Freeze seeks to continue those traditions 20 years later. It features a challenging adventure for veteran players as well, as a new mode dedicated to more casual players of the series!
The story begins with the invasion of the Snowmads. These penguins, among other arctic creatures, seize DK Island and blast the Kongs far away from home. No longer are you seeking to retrieve the coveted Banana Horde back from invaders. Rather, you’ll join up with Donkey Kong and his friends and reclaim your island!
The storyline is told through cutscenes featured in the intro and ending of the game. These lively cutscenes will provide all the necessary scenes for the game’s storyline.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was the first HD title in the series. Originally boasting beautiful 720p visuals, the detail on the Kong’s fur looked more lively than ever before. In addition, the sunsets, the snow, and the animation quality was some of the best seen in a Nintendo game yet. On the Nintendo Switch version, however, the game’s visuals are upscaled to 1080p when docked, still running at 60 FPS.
Tropical Freeze returns series’ veteran composer, David Wise, to the series in over 15 years. He was originally the composer of Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. However, David Wise did not compose for the series until the GBA re-release of Donkey Kong Country 3.
His orchestrations range from catchy music, all fitting the themes of each world, into some seriously epic battle themes in the final world. I daresay it’s one of the best soundtracks in Nintendo history.
The game involves the traditional platforming formula of clearing stages. There are nearly 10 stages per world, to include the hidden stages and boss stages, totaling up to 63 stages overall. Each world has two hidden stages, which you’ll find via hidden paths similarly to Super Mario World.
As Donkey Kong, you can bounce on enemy’s heads, roll through them, stun them with your handslap, or throw barrels at them. In addition to Diddy Kong, you also get two new characters to buddy-up with!
Diddy Kong has jetpacks for hovering. Meanwhile Dixie Kong’s hair can give you a double-jump. Finally, Cranky Kong can cane-jump like a pogo stick, allowing you to bounce on spiked enemies. In addition, all three have different abilities when swimming underwater. Also, you can fill up a meter allowing you to use a special attack with both Kongs. Doing this will kill all enemies on screen, turning them into hearts as well.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze also offers 2-player co-op. One player can take full control of another Kong, granting them the ability to perform their jump specials separately from DK. In addition, they can also stick to DK’s back and fire off projectiles from their guns. Players can decide which method works best for them. It always helps when someone has your back!
Th level designs involve many different facets. For instance, swimming, which was omitted from DKC Returns, has made its own return. You now have the ability to attack enemies underwater. Other concepts include shooting through barrels, riding on Rambi the Rhino to crash through obstacles, and even cross entire gaps of hazards bouncing on flying enemies. You’ll also encounter a stage where everything is lit ablaze!
In addition to platform stages, you’ll also ride on rocket-barrels through the sky or on a mine-cart at high speeds. Unlike DKC Returns, you now have two hearts to protect your vehicle from damage, making it slightly more forgiving. You can also purchase items from Funky Kong, such as shields or balloons. In addition, Squawks also returns to aid the player. You can recruit him when going on a Jigsaw run.
While the main challenge of the game feels quite fair, getting the Jigsaws can feel occasionally unfair. Not only does Squawks sometimes miss them completely, but long stretches of stage can feature a Jigsaw far away from a checkpoint. Missing it will require the player to die to return to spend a minute to attempt the Jigsaw once more.
I think this could have been condensed better with their placement. But again, thankfully this is all for extra content and not so much the main game. If this is your first time playing, try starting the game as Funky Kong. But if you’re seeking a challenge, however, stick with DK and his crew.
There’s many kinds of enemies to deal with. Some penguins attack with flappers and wear helmets, while large walrus are armed with shields and spears. You’ll encounter owls you can bounce on as well as flaming owls that will spit fireballs at you. You’ll find many types of enemies, so be sure to change up your method of attack from time to time!
In addition to clearing the game, you can unlock a number of extras! Collecting all the Jigsaw pieces reveals new dioramas and concept art pieces. Collecting all the KONG letters rewards you with extra-challenging stages and even a hidden world. You can unlock a Time Attack Mode by clearing each stage once. Finally, players who clear the final hidden world can access a Hard Mode.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a challenging title that engages players seeking challenge and the best the 2D platforming genre has to offer. Players who enjoy co-op, unlocking extra content, and beautiful visuals and audio design will feel right at home with this game. For any fan of the Donkey Kong Country series, this is a treat for fans.
While the beloved animal buddies and Kremlings still have yet to return to the series, Tropical Freeze maintains the beloved Donkey Kong feeling with its strong visuals, soundtrack, and overall design. The only problems come from the occasional frustration you’ll deal with collecting Jigsaw pieces and beating those incredibly difficult K-stages.
For newcomers, you won’t find a better introduction to the series today. Veteran players will more than feel right at home with this title, as it’s easily one of the best in the DKC series. Be sure to try Funky Kong mode if you’d like to try something new and fun. For all players, add this title to your Switch library as soon as you can. It’s a polished, fun adventure that will warmly compliment your Switch collection. Tropical Freeze showcases the culmination of 37 years of Donkey Kong at his best!
Thank you for reading our Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review! Have you played the game on Wii U before or will this be an introduction to the game for you? Let us know in the comments below!