Games reviewed in 10 straight-to-the-point questions.
Game: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed) / WiiU
Time to beat: 10 hours for normal playthrough / 15-20 hours completionist
Q1: Who’s it for?
- Anybody who loves really polished and challenging platformers
- Gamers who played the original Donkey Kong Country series, as many call backs are peppered throughout the game: red ballons, bananas (yeah, who knew!), Diddy, Dixie and Cranky Kong, and some of the most memorable music tracks from the old games
- Gamers who like to play in short bursts. The difficulty in this game makes it hard to play for sittings longer than 30-45 minutes
Q2: What’s the learning curve like?
The game starts off very manageable, and takes the time to introduce gameplay elements as you progress through the levels. The control scheme doesn’t change through the game, so once you’ve learned the controls, there isn’t anything else new to learn.
On a personal level, I loved that the game was difficult. When I was a kid, I played the original Donkey Kong Country to death, to the point where I knew where every secret was and I would rarely die. I’d find myself wishing I could forget it to learn it again and be challenged by it again. This game gave me just that.
Q3: What’s the story like, and does it require any pre-existing knowledge?
Story is really bare bones, and definitely not the reason you’d play a DKC game anyway. You don’t need to have played the original games to understand what’s going on, but it really helps from a nostalgia point of view.
Q4: What are the controls like?
At first, they are similar to any platformer, in that you have a jump button, a run button, and you can use the joystick or d-pad to control your character. The challenge comes to getting used to the “weight” and “momentum” of the character, which is unique to this game.
At first you’ll start taking every jump with caution, but you’ll start rolling and doing air-jumps in no time
Q5: Does it have splitscreen?
Technically not splitcreen, but two players can play on the same system, each controlling one character. Player 1 will control Donkey Kong and Player 2 will chose between Diddy, Dixie and Crany. My personal favorite was Dixie thanks to her jump-boost ability.
Q6: How’s the online component?
Not applicable in this case.
Q7: How’s the presentation?
The game looks great both on handheld and on docked mode. Much like DKCR, the game is a 2.5D platformer, with gorgeous background, colorful character models and constant changes in perspective, really making you feel like you’re traveling through a three-dimensional world. Special mention goes to the mining-cart stages that change the perspective from perpendicular to sideways, adding a whole other level of difficulty to the game.
The music is amazing. It wouldn’t be a DKC game without stellar tracks. All the new songs are very unique and fit the gameplay perfectly, but for me, it was the old classic remixed tunes that really did it for me (check out our Instagram for one of the best music-related moments in this game).
Q8: What are similar games / alternatives you’d recommend?
Right off the bat, the Switch has stellar 2D platformers like Rayman: Legends, Super Meat Boy (same level of pull-your-hair-out difficulty), Dead Cells, Sonic Mania, Celeste and Hollow Knight (more metroid-vania).
For 3D platformers, Super Mario Odyssey is the best choice.
Q9: Anything you wish you knew before going in?
I had been warned about the difficulty level, having played Donkey Kong Country Returns, but it wasn’t until the last third of the game that I realized Dixie Kong has an ability to add extra hearts to both your characters by pressing L+R at the same time, which was a game changer (and, honestly, a little embarrassing that it took that long).
Q10: Should I buy it?
If you answered yes to any of the points in Q1, absolutely. If you happened to buy it on WiiU, the only difference you’ll find here is Funky Mode, which makes it waaay easier by using an OP Funky Kong. For me, that isn’t enough incentive if you managed to beat it when it originally came out, but you’ll at least be able to play the game on the go.
9 out of 10 bananas
I've been a gamer since the SNES days and Donkey Kong Country was the first game I ever owned.
I currently work as a management consultant, and my console of choice is the Nintendo Switch, which I carry with me during my travels.