Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Nintendo will probably always have a reputation for making games which are more for kids than adults, despite having games like Bayonetta 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, specifically the master mode in the latter, in their roster. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another game which punches that idea in the face and giggles maniacally, because you can definitely giggle manically, in that punched face.
Of course with the addition of the Funkiest Kong, the aptly named Funky Kong, there is at least a comparatively easy mode. When compared to the unfunky mode the Funky mode gives you an extra jump, three extra hearts as standard, the ability to breathe underwater and a surfboard to stand on instead of getting impaled by many of the spiky surfaces. While this definitely does make things easier, the game will still not just roll over and allow you to scratch its belly, feed it a banana, high five it? Whatever the monkey equivalent of scratching a dogs belly is, it makes the game easier but there will still be plenty of challenges ahead, between the insane amount of secrets to find and the obnoxious enemies you will encounter, it is still immensely satisfying to make it through each level.
Going back to the secrets, the levels are covered in them like a Gorilla is covered in insects before a groom. Every nook and and cranny hides some kind of collectable or a hidden path, you can try as hard as you can to find everything in your first run through of a level and you will still find yourself wanting at the end screen, lamenting your inability to find the puzzle pieces and hidden exits. Even above this there are optional little mini-levels hidden away inside other levels to give you a chance to win some red balloons and banana coins to make your playthrough a little easier. All of this gives the game a lot of replay value and really challenges you to think creatively when looking for the areas that could hide one of the bits you are after.
Each level is filled with obstacles, hard as nails platforming and plenty of things to test your timing as well. While some levels may be filled with spikes to catch you if you fall, others will be filled with voids to punish you for slipping or sharks to punish you for jumping at the wrong time. Thankfully if you are playing as the man himself, you have a few helpers on hand to assist you through the challenges ahead, providing you can avoid getting hit too much. Dixie, Diddy and Cranky are all hanging around in barrels, just waiting to burst out and sit on Donkey's back. While there they can all help your jump in different ways, Dixie can help you jump higher, Diddy can help you hover and Cranky can pogo you up to avoid spiky traps.
The bosses all test your knowledge of the mechanics to the maximum, with more than one slip up usually being rewarded with the loss of your assist character and a much harder go of it from there on. Each boss plays differently and demands you learn their attacks and respond in kind, the only way to get through each one is with patience and skill, again Funky helps here but don't expect anything to be a walkover, because it just isn't going to happen.
Providing you can power through Tropical Freeze offers an immensely rewarding platformer that will consistently test your skill and insist that you play at your best. The addition of Funky Kong helps to make this game far more accessible to those who don't want the constant beating that the normal game dishes out, which is a wonderful addition and a very Nintendo way of giving people a chance to experience the game no matter what. The visuals and sound design are both fantastic and the game itself is a joy to play once you have settled into the rhythm that it requires, basically, you would have to be bananas to miss it.