Going ape with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Is this the era of Donkey Kong for Nintendo or what? Sure, Mario's getting plenty of attention with his own games, but as of late, the big "N" is bringing back the big ape's Donkey Kong Country franchise. Last month, we got a taste of handheld goodness with the tough yet thoroughly entertaining Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. And later this year, we'll get yet another adventure on the Wii U with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
This isn't just the same DKC adventure, though. This is an all-new game being put together by the folks at Retro Studios, who worked on the original Wii game and the 3DS port. In it, DK finds himself once again chasing down banana hoarders and other enemies, while calling upon his younger buddy Diddy Kong – and returning series favorite Dixie Kong – to lend a hand.
Like previous games, Donkey Kong can hop on enemies and roll through them with a somersault attack. But he can also use Dixie or Diddy to get an extra rocket boost, ideal for getting to out-of-reach treasures, such as collectible letters, banana coins and barrels that blast you off to bonus areas. From what we played, the gameplay feels just about right, and you can use either the GamePad or Wii remotes for two-player action. The game also supports off-TV play, though we didn't get to see that in action with the demo.
Seeing Donkey Kong Country in high-definition is a nice sight, even if the territory is a bit familiar. The new ice levels actually look quite impressive, and add an extra degree of challenge as you slip and slide across platforms, trying to avoid falling into the bottomless pits scattered about. The animations are cute, and the new dynamic camera, which swoops around levels as you travel through them, is a neat idea, though some are bound to find it distracting.
The sound is about on par with what you'd expect from Donkey Kong. There's plenty of monkey chatter between him and his friends, and the music has that perfect tropical groove to it, with familiar tones taken from the original Donkey Kong Country theme. It's too bad we didn't get the chance to hear Cranky Kong complain, though. Maybe next time.
One huge addition this time around is the ability to have two players take part. You can work together using Wii remotes, teaming up to solve puzzles or collecting bananas that you might have missed the first time around. It's a bit chaotic, but certainly good fun if you have the right partner to watch your back. This is also a good chance to play along with your kids, while at the same time savoring the platforming joy you had with the original SNES or Wii game. Nothing like reliving the banana-grabbing past, eh?
Finally, the game is loaded with bonuses. You'll find countless hidden areas, hidden puzzle pieces, and so much more by digging into the game. We didn't even find half the stuff we wanted to in our time with the demo, but that's okay – we'll get back to digging soon enough.
Though Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze leans a bit on familiarity, it's bound to be a hit when it ships for the Wii U later this year. You'd be bananas not to give it a try.