'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze' Review: Proof That Wii U Ports Are Necessary

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of many games released for the Nintendo Wii U that were simply overlooked. Despite its charming and beautiful aesthetics and having crisp, platforming action, many gamers never picked it up, which is why Nintendo has brought it back for the Switch. While Nintendo has taken criticism for bulking up the Switch's library with Wii U ports, this approach has allowed great games from the previous generation (like Tropical Freeze) to have a second life.

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Nintendo

GAMEPLAY

Tropical Freeze delivers classic platforming that will be familiar to fans of the Donkey Kong Country series. Jump, roll, climb and ground pound your way through various levels as DK and the other members of the Kong family try to thwart a new threat that taken over the jungle (and all the bananas).

What makes Tropical Freeze enjoyable is its level design, which never feels repetitive. In the early stages, you'll have basic levels, where you simply hop on platforms and avoid enemies. But it's not long until you'll need to traverse breakable platforms, climb towering trees, swing on flaming vines, run from giant boulders, deep sea dive, ride coal mine carts and much more. Every time you enter a level, it's a treat to see what obstacles will be in your way.

Donkey Kong Country games are notorious for being more difficult than other Nintendo platformers and Tropical Freeze is no exception. It's not uncommon to lose five or more lives on a single level and while it can get frustrating at times, it never gets to the point of not being fun. It's a good challenge for gamers of all levels.

Playing solo, it was easy to collect 100 bananas to get another life, so I never felt close to getting a game over. However, playing co-op is a different story. Like the Super Mario Bros. platformers on the Wii U, you and your partner need to be on the same page when it comes to exploring or you'll lose lives faster. Despite that, co-op on Tropical Freeze is a ton of fun.

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Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch port offers the brand new Funky Mode where you play as Funky Kong and use his abilities to complete levels easily. This easy mode is perfect for young children and anyone looking for a more casual experience. Funky can surf over spikes and hover longer than any other Kong, which makes completing the game a lot simpler and faster.

The boss battles are a lot of fun, and like the various levels, learning and repetition is key. Each boss has specific quirks and tells that help players avoid attacks, but that doesn't make it any easier. Your accuracy in throwing barrels and enemies at the bosses are just as important as well-time jumps to avoid attacks. I did find it odd that the difficulty level of bosses seemed to fluctuate, instead of a steady increase over the course of the game. For example, the boss of the second world was more difficult than the third, but less so than the fourth. Perhaps it's just personal experience, but in any case, as you become more adept at controlling DK and his family it does become easier to deal with these baddies.

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Nintendo

PRESENTATION

The art and music in Tropical Freeze contribute a great deal to the overall enjoyment of the game. Each world in Tropical Freeze has a theme and the music and environments match it. Whether it's a world that's mostly underwater or one that is on fire, the presentation matches the mood of your surroundings, elevating the game to something truly special.

There are also these neat one-off levels, like the one where you're in a lush part of the jungle where light isn't available, so you're traveling through shadows. It's really amazing to experience.

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Nintendo

Playing Tropical Freeze on the various forms of the Switch is also enjoyable. The appeal of the Switch is the ability to play it in handheld mode wherever you are, and platformers like Tropical Freeze are perfect for this. While I personally enjoy playing with a pro controller to get more pinpoint jumps, I enjoyed playing it both on my couch and on my commute.

VERDICT

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was great on the Wii U and is just as much fun for the Nintendo Switch. The presentation and music elevates this game far above other platformers.

The difficulty is also great for all levels of gamer and the Funky Kong mode is a nice addition for younger players. I do wish the Switch version came with more new additions, though. It would have been great to get more levels or a minigame.

If you're looking for a great platformer for your Switch, you don't have to look any further. This is the reason why Nintendo is breathing new life into Wii U games; Tropical Freeze is something that would have been a shame to lose to that prior generation.

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