Articles

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – REVIEW (Nintendo Switch)

December 13, 2019


Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is back
but this time on the Nintendo Switch and with an optional Funky twist. So here’s the deal Tropical Freeze is still
very much the same game it was back in 2014 on the Wii U. Which is to say, it’s freaking amazing. Look, I’m not going to beat around the banana
bunch here–this was, and continues to be, one of the best platformers ever made. I replayed the entire game in “Original”
mode for the purpose of this review and had just as much fun my second time through as
I did my first. I won’t go into all of it here–you can
watch my original review of the Wii U version for the full breakdown–but here’s a quick
recap. Tropical Freeze is simply a marvel of 2D platformer
game design–as if the entire history of the sidescrolling genre has been leading up to
this one moment. And that’s largely due to two things: Absolutely
amazing level design and fantastic controls. I’ve never played a side scrolling game
this creative while also playing this well. I said it before and I’ll say it again:
Retro somehow made swimming as a giant ape feel elegant What really makes Tropical Freeze stand out
is how intricate each and every level feels, consisting of myriad moving parks. Each level feels like a miniature trip to
Disneyland, with incredible detail befitting the world’s theme, while featuring a truly
wonderful kinetic energy, making, bringing the world alive in a way that even 2D Mario
can only dream of. Dancing trees swing platforms around. An octopus closes off paths while in pursuit. Even a saw blade carves a path of flying wood
in front of your very eyes. The amount of creativity is staggering–especially
when you consider that, for as truly crazy things can get, it still somehow feels incredibly
grounded. You won’t find any magical floating platforms
here. Everything has a reason for being where it
is and and acting the way it does–the shelves in the fruit factory spin around only as a
result of fruit rolling into them. Platforms drip slowly down honey waterfalls. And It’s this incredible devotion to thematic
consistency that elevates Tropical Freeze above its contemporaries–or is that Kongtempries? Even the floating platforms here are only
floating because you’re trapped inside a giant tornado–which is a visual splendor
in its own right. And speaking of visual splendor, the bright
colorful visuals are still a joy to behold–with the silhouette levels still being particularly
striking. Especially now that Tropical Freeze looks
ever so slightly better on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the upgrade to native 1080p when
docked from the originals 720p–it looks sharp and made me appreciate the finer details even
more. And of course, it’s impossible to talk about
Tropical Freeze without mentioning the absolutely brilliant soundtrack by original DKC composer,
David Wise. This is one of the finest collections of tracks
I’ve ever heard in a Nintendo game–with several actually getting me worked up a bit
emotionally–all over a giant ape who just wants to get home. The track for Seashore War is stilll haunting–and
conveys the true weight of the adventure that DK and crew have undertaken. But for as much praise as I have for the game,
I’m possibly even more annoyed now my second time through by the bonus rooms, which are
uninspired and incredibly repetitive. Although they layout does change–purportedly–they
all feel the same. And they bring the otherwise sublime action
to a grinding halt. Breaking up the level’s flow and interrupting
the generally fantastic music with…this. Gaah. It’s for these reasons that I still recommend
you skip them your first time through–especially because they thankfully only unlock small
bonuses like concept art. Oh, and the entire adventure is still tough
as nails–remember, this is the game that Nintendo even dedicated an entire trailer
to just how difficult it can be. And even though this was my 2nd time through,
there were parts where that I still lost a dozen or more lives–and yet, I never found
it unfair or frustrating. But then again, not everyone has 30 years
of platforming experience, and it’s perhaps for that very reason that Tropical Freeze
on Nintendo Switch introduces Funky Mode–which offers a much more accessible way of playing–in
fact, it’s now the default option! As you might expect, Funky Mode puts you in
control of Funky Kong who’s basically a God by Donkey Kong standards. He gets 5 hearts instead of the usual 4, can
double-jump, hover in the air, stand on spikes, and breath underwater! Seriously, why hasn’t this guy been the
main hero the entire time? On top of this, Funky mode also allows you
to use items mid-level–such as ones that rescue you from bottomless pits–as well as
saving any KONG letters you find, as you find them, meaning you don’t have to collect
them all in one go. It’s almost a little absurd just how strong
and agile Funky Kong is, allowing you to skip entire platforms or even sections of a level
that Donkey Kong would have had to traversed. But it’s for that exact reason that Funky
Kong definitely lives up to the “fun” part of his name–allowing you to play through
these levels relatively worry-free and in entirely new ways never envisioned by the
original developers–which is pretty cool–and I can imagine being particularly fun for speed
runs. But at the same time, you’re playing through
the game in a way not envisioned by the original creators. As I’ve already touched on, with the level
design in Tropical Freeze is second to none, tearing through them with near complete disregard
of the original intent almost feels a little insulting. So I still firmly believe Tropical Freeze
is best experienced as originally intended–with Donkey Kong in order to truly appreciate the
full effect of each level–at least for your first playthrough. Which is why it’s fantastic that that you
can still play as DK–along with his partners in Funky Mode–allowing you to ditch Funky’s
god-like powers, while still retaining the other benefits , like an extra heart and mid-level
item usage–essentially turning it into a glorified easy mode. This maintains the integrity of the original
level design, while making it far more accessible to different skill-ranges. Outside of Funky Mode though, not much else
has changed. Sure, the graphics are a little sharper, and
loading times have been significantly reduced–oh and DK dies have a cute new idle animation
where he plays Nintendo Switch–buuut that’s about it. Which raises the question: is it worth picking
up if you already own Tropical Freeze on Wii U. To which I would answer that, unless you found
the original just too dang difficult, I’d have a hard time recommending the game at
full price for returning players, as the content is otherwise identical to the Wii U version. So unless you really just really want to re-experience
it with slightly sharper graphics with Funky Kong, rest easy knowing that you’re not
missing anything significant by not buying it again. However, if you haven’t yet experienced
Tropical Freeze for the first time–then it is absolutely worth the price of admission. Tropical Freeze is a game I absolutely love,
and this is the definitive version–even if it’s just by a few of Funky’s hairs. Tropical Freeze isn’t just one of the finest
platforming experience on the Nintendo Switch–but ever. And with that, thanks for watching. And make sure to stay tuned to GameXplain
for more on DKC: Tropical Freeze and everything Nintendo Switch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *