Apr 3, 2014When Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze I was a bit disappointed that Retro Studios weren’t working on a different project. I knew that it would be a good game, but it would be more of the same. I was right. It’s a blast to play through Tropical Freeze but I can’t shake off the feeling of over-familiarity.
Let’s start with the best thing: the graphics. Sometimes it feels like the mainWhen Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze I was a bit disappointed that Retro Studios weren’t working on a different project. I knew that it would be a good game, but it would be more of the same. I was right. It’s a blast to play through Tropical Freeze but I can’t shake off the feeling of over-familiarity.
Let’s start with the best thing: the graphics. Sometimes it feels like the main reason of this game was to have Donkey Kong in HD, and it sure looks good. Country Returns I regard as a brilliant platformer, but because of the Wii’s graphical limitations, it didn’t look as good as it could have. Tropical Freeze looks excellent. It’s not the visual spectacle that Super Mario 3D World was- scenery and locations don’t have that same wow factor- but it still looks impeccable. All the enemies have great animations too, and Donkey Kong’s fur particularly is very detailed and realistic.
If it is true that the main justification for this sequel was the potential of HD, then Retro have succeeded. The game also has a powerful musical score alongside the graphics. In some ways, though, the game is a total letdown. At this time Nintendo should be showing off the potential of the Gamepad to benefit games, so it’s slightly worrying that they didn’t even consider using that second screen. It doesn’t even have the rarely used functionality found in 3D World. In fact, the screen goes black when playing. For that reason I played the game entirely with the pro controller.
The Gamepad doesn’t benefit the game at all, losing some potential to make levels more creative than they are, however the excellent design of each of the levels, requiring very precise jumps and movements to get through, is as great as it was before. Sadly levels aren’t as challenging as they were in Country Returns but they’re still designed with fantastic flow, with very well thought out ideas every time. They are also extremely dynamic, forcing you to stay on your toes. While it’s a lot of fun and quite challenging as well, there aren’t too many new ideas. Levels aren’t really that creative and some of the best ideas- such as silhouetting, cannon level and rocket barrel and mine cart levels, all appeared in Country Returns. Often the levels are made to constantly be falling apart, so that you have to keep moving, however this too is a great idea but recycled from this game’s predecessor. The 3D camera allows for some potential in perspectives and ideas, and some levels make excellent use of it, like a challenging rocket barrel level, but it just isn’t used enough through the game, featuring in only a handful of levels. The bosses are an excellent example of how the game excels, with amazing creative ideas. They also return to the punishing, brutal difficulty of Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Unlike Country Returns, which had eight worlds, Tropical Freeze has only six. This means it’s beatable- along with lower difficulty- in much less time. There are still the puzzle pieces and kong letters to collect in each level, which offers a lot of replay value, but the game could seriously do with more levels.
There’s one thing I’ve left to the end, and that’s the characters. Whereas in Country Returns you could only play as DK and Diddy, Dixie and Cranky are added to the list here. They each come with special abilities: Dixie can hover like Diddy and then boost upwards and Cranky can bounce on spikes. While this is a nice thing to include, the problem is there’s one outright winner you will use all the time- Dixie. Her superior powers render Diddy effectively pointless and though Cranky’s bouncing abilities are also useful if you want to get to higher places, Dixie, again, does the same job with her ability. Multiplayer functions incredibly well, which was a surprise. It can be quite chaotic, but that much was to be expected. The camera is (usually) perfect in multiplayer too. There’s no online though, which is disappointing.
Overall, Tropical Freeze is great fun to play, with some good ideas introduced. It does play it safe in the level design, which drags it down quite a bit, but there’s no denying it’s a sight seeing its environments rendered in full HD.… Expand
Feb 23, 2014"Sigh" Where to begin? I couldn't wait for this game to be released, I'm sure like many others. It looked amazing through the trailers. I went out and got the game on the release day, put it straight in and away it went. At first glance it really catches your attention, vibrant colors and unique level designs. The load times drag a little, but are ignorable. It starts off like majority of"Sigh" Where to begin? I couldn't wait for this game to be released, I'm sure like many others. It looked amazing through the trailers. I went out and got the game on the release day, put it straight in and away it went. At first glance it really catches your attention, vibrant colors and unique level designs. The load times drag a little, but are ignorable. It starts off like majority of platform games, slow and easy, but before you know you're right smack bang into some incredibly hard and frustrating levels. On first, right away one thing frustrates me and I'm sure many others, is the button/s for the role maneuver and the......we will call it the ground bash move, are exactly the same. Now that doesn't bother me.....that much, what bothers me is the X and Y buttons do exactly the same thing. Why couldn't they split the two moves up onto their own button? The point I'm getting at is, the roll maneuver can only be used when you are moving in either direction. It can't be used from a halt, and the ground bash can only be used at a complete stand still. This can be very frustrating when in the heat of the moment. Sometimes a quick roll is needed to get out of danger and sometimes a good ol ground bash is handy when trying to get an item or, when trying to reach the next part of the level. I can't explain how many times I have died from both of the moves. Trying to completely stop, to get an item or to advance in the level, and roll off the edge, or visa versa. Having to do a roll and end up ground bashing and get killed by a failing platform or other hazards. It may seem like petty complaints, but this was almost game ruining, for me anyway.
Another annoying thing about tropical freeze was the extremely repetitive gameplay. Sure, some new awesome things were added, and some old ones also, like, the mine-cart, the Rhino, a rocket that you ride and a snowball you get to control. These were all fun things, and I extremely enjoyed them, but, and it's a big but. This where tropical freeze really disappointed me. The game play felt very repetitive. Now, I don't know if it was because I found it extremely difficult, by island three you're finding yourself constantly dying, this may have been what made it feel very repetitious and tedious. The game it's self, would have been very short with out having to repeat a certain part as many as five or more times, Thus dragging it out and making the game feel a lot longer than it should have been. The enemies were fairly dull also, a lot of the levels felt draggy, and the levels that were actually enjoyable we're short and much easier.
Another thing I would like to mention, was the boss fights. Though they were actually quite fun, they quickly became like the rest of the levels. It felt like one of the brain training games from the DS. Memorization and more memorization, until you knew it so well, it would haunt your dreams. I don't think there was a boss fight where I didn't die at least once. It wasn't difficult, once you learnt their pattern it got easy, but until then you're in for a hell of a ride. Most bosses are long, and have no check point. So, if you die, back to the start for you. This got frustrating very quickly.
All in all, it wasn't the worse platforming game. It was entertaining in some aspects. The music like all donkey kong games, was up to standards. In the end I often thought, Am I just trying to finish this game to hear all the sound tracks? Because I sure as hell ain't enjoying the game all that much. The visuals were also stunning as usual. A lot were put into them, and I do thank the makers and the company for putting in a lot
I have been a huge DKC fan since the SNES, so be sure this isn't a biased review. To me it just didn't shine like I was hoping. All in all, it was a decent game and had some fun aspects, nothing mind blowing but plausible.....Just. I give it a 6.
Thanks for reading.… Expand
Feb 23, 2014I was really looking forward to this since I enjoyed playing its predecessor Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii a lot. The only thing really holding DKCR back was the gimmicky waggle controls, which are not present in this game so it had every chance to turn out an even better game. Sadly I feel that DKC:TF misses the mark a bit, and having finished it today I don't really feel like goingI was really looking forward to this since I enjoyed playing its predecessor Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii a lot. The only thing really holding DKCR back was the gimmicky waggle controls, which are not present in this game so it had every chance to turn out an even better game. Sadly I feel that DKC:TF misses the mark a bit, and having finished it today I don't really feel like going back and getting all the extras like I did right away for DKCR.
I think the level design leaves a lot to be desired, there is way too much trial-and-error which is the completely wrong way to go about difficulty in games. I find it curious since DKCR had very little of trial-and-error in it's design. It's virtually impossible to finish some levels on your first try since some obstacles seemingly appear right out of nowhere and there is not enough time for the player to react. The developers seem to have gone for a Super Meat Boy approach where extra lives are expendable, but I feel that doesn't suit this kind of game really, and neither the original DKC nor DKCR intend you to play the game like this. Additionally the controls take a while getting used to. Retro Studios have a track record for overcomplicating controls going back the Metroid Prime games, but there is no excuse for making them this complicated for a simple platformer. DKC had two action buttons and there was no need for more.
The boss battles are a bit tedious since they aren't really that hard but take a long time to finish because you can only damage the bosses for a short window of time, then their animation begins and you have to wait for a very long time to hit them again, turning these battles into kind of a drag, especially if you happen to die while in a boss battle.
On the plus side the graphics are absolutely stunning, but I understand why they pushed the release date back. The general approach to difficulty and level design in this game could've used even more work.… Expand
Mar 17, 2014A very pale comparison to its own predecessor of 2010, but still an okay game overall. DKCR was essentially a perfect game and a necessary one. Tropical Freeze doesn't really have much of a purpose. There is swimming, but it doesn't feel great. There's the same hard-as-nails game design, but it's made pointlessly frustrating by a less-than-responsive input. The controls in general feelA very pale comparison to its own predecessor of 2010, but still an okay game overall. DKCR was essentially a perfect game and a necessary one. Tropical Freeze doesn't really have much of a purpose. There is swimming, but it doesn't feel great. There's the same hard-as-nails game design, but it's made pointlessly frustrating by a less-than-responsive input. The controls in general feel laggy, perhaps as a result of the way the game is buffered on the Wii U, but I played the game side-by-side with DKCR and it was like night and day how much more responsive and tight DKCR was. That sluggishness in controls lead to countless deaths as a result of missing vine grabs even though I pressed the ZR button, rolls instead of ground-pounds and ground-pounds instead of rolls, and missed jumps galore. My girfriend also finished the game, and complained of the exact same problem. The level design also does not hold up. Levels are bizarrely long, like at least 3 times longer than they need to be on average. There is very little here that is both new and genuinely enhances the experience. The ice levels are okay, there are no new animals, Dixie is super-useful and Cranky is kind of neat in certain scenarios but you basically have to guess which side-kick will be most useful, and it often doesn't even matter, except when it does. The bosses are also way to long, tedious marathon battles divided into 3 phases each. The secret portal exits are often incredibly difficult to find and require playing a level over and over again, which due to the length of levels will drive you insane. The music is incredible, and the game looks great, and there are a few levels are genuinely fun, but it isn't until the second to last world that the game finally shows some of its strengths, and they quickly diminish back into the grind of trial-and-error that makes up most of the final world. The pacing of each level is exasperated even further by there being way, way, way too many bonus levels. There should never be any more than 1 of these per level, much less 3 as some of them do. If you are truly starved for something to play on the Wii U, wait until you can get it used or rent it. It's not even in the same ballpark as the previous game in every way except music.… Expand
Apr 3, 2015I've played this game a lot, and am enjoying it less every time I play it. Their idea of 'challenging' is deliberately killing DK in ways that nobody could possibly see coming over and over again. This means that all we do as the player is memorise their surprise death moves and avoid them, over and over again. If I think about tough platformers that I enjoy there are always theseI've played this game a lot, and am enjoying it less every time I play it. Their idea of 'challenging' is deliberately killing DK in ways that nobody could possibly see coming over and over again. This means that all we do as the player is memorise their surprise death moves and avoid them, over and over again. If I think about tough platformers that I enjoy there are always these impossible moments that I somehow got first time. These were the exceptions, but I kept on playing for those moments. This game isn't satisfyingly tough, it's just annoying. I cannot stand how heavy and unresponsive DK is and really I just wish I'd never bought this game. Not fun. Cannot recommend.… Expand
Awards & Rankings
Pelit (Finland)May 11, 2014The next generation of Donkey Kong is a solid platformer for the veterans. The difficulty level is straight from the nineties and the game doesn't give any slack. It's an thrilling adventure that frustrates at times, but on the other hand, it gives you a true sense of achievement. With these kind of games Nintendo will survive, no matter what the analysts say. [March 2014]
Hyper MagazineApr 9, 2014I hate Tropical Freeze, but I hate it for the right reasons. It's an invigorating hate: I really badly want to beat this game. And when I do, it will be oh so worth it. [May 2014, p.68]
LEVEL (Czech Republic)Apr 7, 2014Still very hard, still very enjoyable. A no-brainer for all the fans of the series but also for anyone with a Wii U. [Issue #239]