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Games : Recommended
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Release Date: February 21st, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Overview -

Retro Studios, best known for the GameCube and Wii 'Metroid Prime' series, took on another Nintendo franchise back in 2010 with 'Donkey Kong Country Returns,' a triumphant and commercially successful revitalization of the energetic platforming series for the mega-popular Wii console. Unsurprisingly, Nintendo hopes to find similar success on the Wii U, teaming up again with Retro for 'Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.' At first glance the two titles appear extremely similar, but often it's the smaller details that mark a good sequel over an opportunistic one. 'Tropical Freeze' may very well be both, especially as the new game is the series' first entry in HD.

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
Release Date:
February 21st, 2014

Video Review


Say what you will about the Wii U, it's definitely more powerful than the Wii. No series offers a more direct comparison between the two consoles, except maybe 'New Super Mario Bros., and it makes me happy I bought the console. 'Tropical Freeze' is a finely detailed, richly realized game, with as much a concentration on exaggerated and lively animations as fulfilled environmental design. And that's in the spectrum of all games, not just the commonly basic 2D platformer genre. Deeply layered backgrounds often merge with parts of the level, connecting players with every element on screen consistently and successfully. It's basically begging for a 3DS remake for passive 3D's sake (which would help with the rare occasion in which I had trouble telling whether an object was actually in my way). I wouldn't go so far as to call it glorious or spellbinding, but there is an immense amount of character in almost every level.

The giant fruit factory and burning plains of a savannah mentioned before aren't just finely tuned platforming levels, they're little scenarios of visual experimentation too. Just about any level runs on its own theme, within the context of the world. You'll be amazed at how many ways Retro imagines the ice-themed levels of the final world.

Audio Review


Famed gaming composer David Wise returns to the series with great affect. He's put together a soundtrack that does the absolute best thing music is meant to do – enhance the experience, not just support it. Treacherous cliff-jumping levels are made into a trek of adventure and resilience over deep and grumbling drums. Deepwater dives become explorative as a curious piano riff plays in the background. And, of course, bongos and trumpets play you excitedly through your classic vine-swinging romp. Wise hasn't lost his touch, and the 'Donkey Kong' games are empirically better for it.

Even more, music often transitions mid-level, ramping up at particularly difficult moments or switching to a different tone as you enter a new environment, say by going underwater. It's this sense of deliberate design that will keep many players consciously appreciative of the music, which is a rare thing indeed.

Final Thoughts

More or less a collection of lengthy obstacle courses with a tendency to break apart and tumble around you and with you, 'Tropical Freeze' accomplishes much in the way of satisfaction and difficulty. Though more an expansion of old ideas than anything blatantly new, what small additions there are, from new sidekicks to subtle level twists, are undeniably positive ones. Accompanied by excellent visual and audio design, it's a successful sequel, bolstered especially by the Wii U's extra bit of power (think about it from Retro's perspective). The studio isn't making waves with this reboot series as they did with 'Metroid Prime,' but they have again delivered an ideal and genuinely exciting Donkey Kong experience.