Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for the purpose of this review.
The Nintendo Wii U may have been an utter failure but it was home to games that were pretty good. In 2014, Nintendo and Retro Studios released Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. The sequel to 2008’s Donkey Kong Country Returns, the game had a mixed reception. Not only that but it was hampered due to being on a console few people were interested in, as well as some controversy. In recent times, Nintendo has been on a roll releasing updated ports of Wii U titles in the hopes of garnering interest. It paid off with games like Bayonetta 1 & 2 as well as Pokken Tournament DX. Now another game joins the Switch library as Tropical Freeze makes a return. Will the addition of Funky Mode make the game any better than it already has?
Since the game is a port of a Wii U title, the plot hasn’t changed. On DK Island, Donkey Kong is celebrating his birthday with his family. Everything’s going well until the arrival of a threat that brings in the chill. The Snowmads arrive, driving the Kongs out of their home and turning the island into a winter wonderland. Far from their home, it’s up to DK and his family to travel from island to island in hopes of driving the Snowmad tribe away and restore their home. It’s a simple plot that serves to get the game going. Nothing special.
Gameplay in Tropical Freeze is similar to the Wii U version except with the Switch, you have access to three different control options: Switch Pro, Joycon Controller and individual Joycon. The controls are similar in all three so you don’t have to worry about any additional changes. It’s simple to the point where you can just pick up and play. Co-op is also in the game. The good news is that each player can use any of the following three control options to play. Way better than how it’s done on the Wii U in my opinion.
Funky Mode is this game’s exclusive mode. Since Tropical Freeze is a very hard and challenging game, Nintendo decides to ease up on the difficulty by having an entirely new mode. It’s similar to the 3DS port of DKC Returns where they added New Mode. Funky Mode adds a bunch of changes along with the addition of a new playable character: Funky Kong. Funky serves as a jump in for new and experienced players. He has so many abilities that he pretty much serves as an Easy Mode. From my experience, he’s really fun to use and helps alleviate some of the difficulty the game has. Funky Mode isn’t just limited to a new character. Similar to DKCR 3D’s New Mode, you can still play as DK and his family but they’ll not only have an extra heart but you get access to use items while in a level. For anyone who feels like the game is too difficult, consider this a needed reprieve. There is still the Original Mode for anyone that is interested in playing the original Tropical Freeze.
The game isn’t long, clocking in at about 6-8 hours if you just want to beat it, with a couple more hours thanks to Funky Mode. For those who want to beat it 100%, expect it to be longer by a few more hours. This also includes hard mode as well. The game offers a lot not only for single-player but for co-op as well.
Compared to the Wii U version, this is a step-up. The game goes from 720 to a solid 1080p at 60fps when docked. Its presentation is incredible. The visuals are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game. Retro Studios really took great care in keeping the game, as it should be without making sacrifices. The load times are faster too. On Wii U, it takes 20-30 seconds to load but on the Switch, it’s reduced to 8-10 seconds. It’s a big improvement. The music is still just as great to listen to. David Wise delivered on the soundtrack and he should be praised from now to the end of time.
But although there is much praise on the game, there are a few flaws. The game is still hard. Even if you are on Funky Mode, the game will push players to their limits. Not only that but Retro decided to give players a bit of leeway. Should you lose more than 9 lives, you have the option to move on to the next area. But there’s a catch: should you choose to move onto the next level, the level you exited counts as incomplete. It’s a risk/reward but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be included. It’s a simple nitpick… a minor one at best.
Tropical Freeze is still just as good as it was in the Wii U. The addition of Funky Mode adds something new to a familiar experience. Not only that but bringing the game up to 1080p gives it more clarity. Everything else is just as you remember but better. Despite the increased difficulty, the game is still fun whether by yourself or with a friend. For anyone who had played this, you will feel right at home but for those who didn’t, it’s a game you don’t want to miss out on. I guarantee it
I give Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze a solid 9 out of 10. It’s worth your money!