Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze slipped under the Darth Vader (radar) when it was released on the Wii U in February 2014. The press didn’t get it: GameSpot hopelessly awarded it 6/10, and there were a few tentative 4/5s, which caused much consternation in the games community. Destructoid awarded it 10/10, thankfully, so common sense prevailed somewhere, as Retro Studios’ title is a sweeping masterpiece we tell you.
The Donkey Kong Country series was reborn on the Wii after a gap of over 10 years away. The SNES (DKC and DKC 2 are reviewed elsewhere on Professional Moron) games are considered classics, and there was a flawed N64 title in 1999. It wasn’t until the acclaimed DKC: Returns on the Wii that the series returned (the clue was in the title). Tropical Freeze built on this by taking things to a whole new level, delivering DKC on an absolutely epic scale. Here’s what you’re missing out on, fool!
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
British company Rare handled the previous batch of Donkey Kong games. Having worked closely together during the 1990s, Rare and Nintendo went their separate ways in 2002 and the series was sidelined, before returning with Retro Studios on the Wii in 2012.
For its second outing with a famous franchise, Retro Studios stepped things up big time. One vital factor is they brought back soundtrack genius David Wise (whose work peppers the DKC SNES trilogy like gold dust pepper), and reimaging the game on an epic scale. As a result, the best way to play this game is through the Wii U’s GamePad with your headphones plugged in.
My word, what an experience it is. It’s a classic 2D platformer where the goal is to traverse stages and get to the end of the level, but the new sense of scale helps take the series to a grander stage. Players find themselves deep in the depths of underwater caves, or high in the air on castle tops, and the imagination simply doesn’t let up. As this is accompanied by Wise’s music, the combination of atmospherics and gameplay makes for one of the best Next Generation games yet. No doubts.
The Wii U often gets criticised for being the graphically inferior Next Gen console, but it’s somewhat irrelevant when it’s been hurling out exclusives of this calibre. Tropical Freeze isn’t one of those games which will be forgotten about in a year – as with most of Nintendo’s games, it’s a title to cherish and come back to, and in 20 years folk will be looking back and remembering this one as a classic. Heck, they may even drop to their knees and weep!
The game is also incredibly tough. Proper old-school NES type difficulty. Don’t make the mistake it’s a “kid’s game” as it’s got colourful graphics – no child is making it far on this one. We feel many gamers often make the mistake Nintendo’s games are for a young audience due to the cartoony looks, which is a gross mistake of the highest order. Tropical Freeze is a hardcore gaming challenge and you’ll need skill, brains, and bravery (literally – it gets pretty scary) to take on what it throws at you. And, my word, some of the stages are quite the marvel. Such as…
This level is, quite simply, the game’s highlight. It’s like some sort of spiritual experience. First off there’s David Wise’s brilliant piece of music, but as the level reaches its conclusion Donkey Kong traverses mechanical objects whilst the plains of Africa (presumably) sweep off into the background as the sun sets.
For people who don’t understand video games, it’s moments like this which make them such an enjoyable experience. It’s at once peaceful, joyous, glorious, and mesmerising, and Mr. Wapojif defies anyone to play it and not drop to their knees and weep! Okay, perhaps not that far, but these elements to the game make Tropical Freeze pretty gosh darned wonderful.
Retro Studios is one developer which rarely gets the praise heaped on it it deserves. The American games developer, which operates solely for Nintendo as Rare once did, is already responsible for the landmark Metroid Prime Trilogy (effortlessly the best FPS games of the last 10 years), and now it’s done this. Yet it’s never in the news, it’s not on social media, and its website harks back to the 2005 era of the internet. Elusive? Yes.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a masterpiece and an extraordinarily immersive experience. It’s concerning such a large sect of the gaming press didn’t get it, but then platformers tend to be looked down upon by a lot of modern gamers. This outlook is thoroughly moronic, frankly, as platformers age particularly well, which is why the SNES remains the best console this Earth has ever seen.
Still, to end this rant, we’ll put this to you – if you like Donkeys and King Kong, this fantabulous fame will put a big old grin on your face, and also make you curse like a SOB. It could also make you drop to your knees and weep, but that’s up to your temperament. Ultimately, for this game we must thank Retro Studios for their genius. Hail!