Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze preview: The Kong makes the jump to HD in brilliant fashion

Donkey Kong in HD is a beautiful thing. It's no secret that Nintendo has had a rocky road with the Wii U thus far, with some of the blame going to making games in HD, but if the games rolling out are going to have the graphical fidelity of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I'll give them a pass.

If you've played Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D on the Nintendo 3DS, then you know what to expect from Tropical Freeze. You're going to get some great dynamic 2.5D levels and the solid platforming that you've come to expect from the franchise. The HD visuals makes a huge difference, as developer Retro Studios has done a great job bringing this vibrant world to modern times. While the levels obviously stand out, the hair on Donkey Kong is also a huge improvement.

During my hands-on time with Tropical Freeze, I was able to play two levels. I started with the first level, where hordes of bad guy penguins were coming over on their Viking ships and storming the beaches. I didn't use the GamePad, and instead used a Wiimote and nunchuck. I was never crazy about have to do different motions while playing a game on the Wii, but it fits in perfectly with Donkey Kong. Swimming makes a return to the series, and there were several swimming portions to be found in the first level. You're able to attack underwater, but make sure that you keep an eye on your breathing bar and refill it by getting bubbles. After performing admirably on my first effort – but not getting all of the collectibles – the Nintendo representative upped the ante and had me try a later level.

Donkey Kong

It was a minecart level.

Timing jumps isn't exactly a strong suit of mine. I got no collectibles, settling for merely beating the level, which took me two tries. The minecart level was gorgeous. The music was perfectly in touch with what fans have come to expect from a Donkey Kong game. Additionally, there were some nice environmental effects and actions that took place while trying to avoid high-speed death.

Simply put, if you're a fan of platformers and Donkey Kong, you're going to love Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. It's the best looking Donkey Kong game to-date, as the HD graphics makes the environment come to life. It's more of what makes this franchise so great.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze releases on the Wii U in February 2014.

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. He likes talking sports, video games, movies, and the stupidity of celebrities. Email at