There are many games out there that have a lengthy and detailed history, none quite like that of Donkey Kong however.
The legend started all the way back in 1981 when the character appeared on a Japanese arcade machine who’s closest competition was a game called ‘Jumpman’ which was later renamed – you guessed it, Mario. Then in 1994 a new breed of Donkey Kong was born on the SNES that being ‘Donkey Kong Country’ which is where this brief history lesson ends and begins with something equally as exciting and memorable....... Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you the latest instalment to a 20 year franchise ‘Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze’
Exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U, this incredibly adventurous and challenging platformer has left something for Wii U fans to be excited about. With two new characters who help with their very own abilities to fight through a gorgeous lush world that has been invaded by the evil ‘Snowmads’, In true Donkey Kong fashion it’s all about taking back your land and taking out anything in your path.
To start with let me just say this game looks stunning, in full HD – whether it’s on the TV or your gamepad, Tropical Freeze is the best looking game on the Wii U to date. What is also impressive is the detail that has gone in to Donkey Kong and his friends; from the wrinkles to the fur we are finally seeing the potential of Nintendo’s flagship console. The guys over at Retro Studios have paid close attention to the animations and characteristics of the enemies and added in different ways for them to react, this is certainly a welcomed upgrade from Donkey Kong Country: Returns and keeps the game fresh an sometimes a little unpredictable.
With the full weight of a 50 stone gorilla comes help from his chimps and chimpesses, we are treated to a host of characters that aid you through the lush forest to the icy frozen lakes. We are joined by Diddy, Dixie and Cranky – you can choose which one of these smaller family members you wish to carry on your back throughout different parts of the game, for example Diddy will be able to hover you over those treacherous gaps with his coconut jetpack, Dixie will use her helicopter like flutter to help you jump on to higher ledges or jump long distances, finally Cranky Kong will get his big walking stick out to help you across the perilous terrain. All of these abilities will save you from an untimely death or aid you in getting hidden secrets that are scattered throughout the game.
The entire world of Tropical Freeze is littered with hidden objects, art, character models, music and other collectibles to reward you for your hard work solving puzzles, beating a boss or something as simple as collecting all the bananas on the tree. The thing is it’s never always that simple, the usual thought process with these games can be “I wonder If I can jump over there” to which the answer can be one of two – you either make it and heap the rewards or die trying. The tough thing about collecting your way through the game is that if you miss something or failed to collect the recommended bananas or stars you can’t go back, the only way to do so is to off yourself and start from the beginning or finish the stage and start it again.
The six islands that you must go through to complete the game are all colourful and fun and all hold unique challenges, what I found with Tropical Freeze was the more I played it the better I got at finding the hidden paths together with some cool collectibles. The first stage is long but fun and a great introductory in to the world of Donkey Kong Country, there were times where I searched high and low, under every rock and above every tree and still I’d manage to miss the item or hidden object I was searching for. This is where the real gaming time and effort will come in, to go through all six islands it will take roughly 14 hours, but to collect everything in the game it could take months.
What really sets the game a part is the variety in level construction and how each stage is designed to be completely different from the last. I have raced through a dangerous savannah that has just been hit by a tornado, bounced on a hot air balloon in the Alps and swam away from a giant octopus – the difference in the way each level switches is credit to some great design from Retro Studios.
The Verdict –
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a barrel of good fun and will challenge the best of us, with a great level design and plenty of collectibles it’s a great reason to invest in a Wii U if you haven’t already. Tropical Freeze is arguably the best game on the Wii U at the moment, it’s no secret that Nintendo have hit a brick wall recently but with this addition Kong seems to be solely breaking that wall brick by brick.
By Simon Hill