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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Wii U

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Wii U

donkey kong country: tropical freeze box

Platform Name: Wii U

Developer: Retro Studios

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Genre: Platforming

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Reviewed by ChronoSloth

There has been much discussion about who is the bravest/coolest/strongest video game character since Mario and Sonic were ever introduced. The creation of games like Super Smash Bros. and PlayStation All-Stars are a direct result of these debates. Some of the arguments are fueled simply by favoritism, and then there are some with lists of reasons that one is logically greater than the other. Link may be the Hero of TimeMario may be the most recognized mascot in the history of the world, and Kratos may kill gods, but after playing through the devilishly difficult Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I can say without a doubt, Donkey Kong trounces them all.

donkey kong country: tropical freeze 3ds

When he’s not busy playing 3DS.

This game is hard. It’s not, “A few levels gave me some trouble,” hard. It’s, “If you have problems dealing with frustration, please set up a mound of pillows so you’ll have a safe area to throw your Gamepad,” hard. However, this is by no means a bad thing. The game supplies you with simple, tight controls (minus the frustrating motion controls from DKC:Returns), and tasks you with mastering your inputs, keeping your patience, and triumphing against some of the most clever, exciting, and challenging level design I’ve ever seen in a platformer. As to not completely alienate the non-hardcore crowd, power-ups and extra lives can be purchased from Funky Kong, and will make completing the game a bit easier. It’s clear though, that this game was made for people who cut their teeth on Donkey Kong Country for SNES. Though the game starts off fairly easy and increases the pain as it teaches, the end of every level will fill you with a sense of pride. Boss battles are extremely tough as well, and cap off each world nicely. The addition of mashing the triggers as many times as possible to pummel the boss after defeating them is therapeutic after dying 10+ times before victory. Defeating the final boss is one the proudest moments I’ve had playing video games.

donkey kong country: tropical freeze rhambi

Dixie, Rhambi, and Donkey display the three emotions you’ll feel playing Tropical Freeze. “Oh no!”, “OH NO!”, and “Yessss.”

Run, Rhambi, Run!

Run, Rhambi, Run!

Just as every game in the DKC series, secret areas return, but are not as varied as in past iterations. Instead of the secret area looking like the level you are playing, it’s always a golden ruin where you must collect all the bananas through platforming or using barrels. It’s quite fun, but I did long for the variety of challenges present in the original Donkey Kong Country, as well as the use of more animal friends than just Rhambi during levels. Winky the Frog has always been my favorite, with Expresso at a close second. Don’t get me wrong; using Rhambi is a blast. I just miss our other animal friends.

The character design in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze falls into a nice medium between gruff sounding Donkey Kong from the N64 and the creepily animated, singing, cartoon version. For the first time, Donkey Kong’s fur looks natural and flows with the wind. The classic goofiness and aloof nature when it comes to anything besides the fate of his bananas is still here, and makes for some hilarious cutscenes. Dixie and Cranky join Diddy and Donkey this time around, adding both two new ways to extend jumps in single-player, and two new characters for player 2 to select when playing with friends. Diddy Kong still uses his jetpack to add hang-time to your jumps,  Dixie Kong using her pony-tail spin to add a bit of extra height to your jump, and Cranky Kong’s cane allows you to jump on terrain that would normally harm you, and make your jumps higher and your landing more precise. Besides the changes to gameplay, these two characters add a lot of charm and personality. Every sidekick reacts differently in every boss intro, their voices are expressive, and they all have their own idle animations while on DK’s back. Having these returning members of the Kong family on this journey, along with the return of David Wise as composer, really makes Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze feel like a celebration of the franchise.

donkey kong country: tropical freeze intro

Celebration indeed.

It’s not just the character models that are beautiful, however. The levels are as nice to look at as they are fun to traverse. The background and foreground of every level is painstakingly detailed and full of life, as well as secrets. Nearly every piece of every level will react to you in some way. Even flora and fauna that serves no gameplay purpose will move and shake with the impact of your jumps or slams. Whether you’re racing through a burning forest, platforming through a tornado, riding a minecart through a saw-mill, bouncing through a jelly factory, or unfreezing Kong island, the levels never fail to impress in both their fun and their beauty. It’s a cliched thing to say, but I often died because I was taking in the sights. I died even more trying to take cool screenshots for Miiverse in the middle of the action.

donkey kong country: tropical freeze blast

Totally worth it!

donkey kong country: tropical freeze cave

Tropical Freeze’s music and lighting make for a very atmospheric experience.

I can only assume that Retro Studios and Nintendo knew that with such a difficult game, they’d once again need the help of David Wise’s wonderful music to calm  players down. It was the right choice. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has the most beautiful, catchy, memorable soundtrack of any game I’ve played in recent memory. There are remixes of fan favorites like Aquatic Ambience and Stickerbrush Symphony, as well as several new classics that borrow a few of the most memorable melodies from Donkey Kong history. I would pay $50 for the soundtrack alone, so the fact that the game is superb and also allows you to listen to a world’s music after completing all of its levels adds an incredible amount of value to the title in my eyes.

There is no reason that anyone with a Wii U shouldn’t own this game, unless they absolutely hate platformers. With incredibly rewarding gameplay, 6 worlds filled with creative, immersive levels and music, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of the best platformers I’ve ever played. The levels are fun enough to replay with no motivation, but with the large amount of collectables and secrets, 2-player mode, the ability to collect banana coins and spend them to unlock 3D models of the game’s characters, and a time attack mode that ranks you against other players and allows you to watch their replays for strategies gives you even more reason to experience Tropical Freeze over and over again. Buy this game, beat it, and tell your friends who brag about completing Dark Souls to hold onto their bananas. They haven’t seen anything.

donkey kong country silhouette

Grab that fruit, DK. You’ve earned it.


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Written by ChronoSloth


Video game reviewer with a specific love for the fourth and fifth generation of consoles. In an exclusive polygamist relationship with Nintendo and PlayStation. Fluent in Al Bhed and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 combo notation. Follow him on Instagram to see lots of pictures of video games.


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One Comment

  1. NerdBerry
    NerdBerry says:

    Wow this game looks beautiful! Incredible graphics! Gameplay looks fun too. A good throwback to the SNES Donkey Kong Country games!


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