Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, and more recently the 3DS, was a fantastic and truly unforgiving platformer with some fast-paced and dynamic gameplay. Tropical Freeze adapts this to Nintendo’s first HD console, with updated visuals and new cameras which follows Kong and friends around a 3D plane as they hop from barrel to barrel.
It’s a great looking game – you can even see Donkey Kong’s fur, which moves around as he swooshes through the levels, and there’s some brilliant dynamic camera work which really adds to the look and feel of the game; it feels like much more of a 3D world than a simple 2.5D platformer. It’s certainly a big step up from Returns and shows off what the Wii U can really do.
The gameplay feels much the same – there doesn’t seem to be that much new (it’s not broken, so why try to fix it?) but there will certainly be plenty to keep people happy. This includes some brilliance in the level design, which can be notoriously difficult at times, as Donkey Kong Country should be.
Diddy Kong returns once again, allowing for two player multiplayer and, although I never got a chance to see her first-hand, Dixie Kong is now a playable character, which takes away some of the difficulty by allowing players to gain some extra height at the peak of their jump.
The multiplayer is an absolute blast and undeniably how the game should be played. There are a lot of co-operative opportunities, with secret sections of levels and the new ability to pull certain levers and switches. At times the co-ordination can be off (and the odd ability for Donkey Kong to pick Diddy up often gets in the way) but the multiplayer is, for the most part, very streamlined.
I was smiling constantly in my time with the game and it feels like a real bonding tool as you help each other to defeat the enemies. As well as the normal levels I played, there was a boss stage which involved jumping on top of a seal-esque enemy as he slid around the environment. Good fun, though nothing spectacular.
The thing is – and I might seem like I’m going back on what I said earlier about not needing to fix it – there’s not actually that much to say about Tropical Freeze; there isn’t enough new here to write about. Yes, the camera’s more dynamic and the gameplay and visuals are certainly better, but is that enough?
It feels very much like the transition New Super Mario Bros. took from Wii to Wii U. There’s simply not enough innovation and it’s essentially more levels in high definition. Overall though, it feels like it’s a much better game than New Super Mario Bros. U, as it’s much more fast-paced and, more importantly, more fun. Although I’ve got about reservations about this one, I’m still wholly confident that it will be a hit.