The Donkey Kong Country series has always stood out for its great platform quality, with a great balance between control, challenge, replay and attention to detail. All this was represented in DKC: Tropical Freeze, the last videogame of the license that comes to Nintendo Switch to surprise those who could not play it in their day.
It seems easy, but following the trail of Rare with the Donkey Kong Country saga is one of the most challenging challenges that can happen to any developer. When Retro Studios was asked to make a new DKC, almost 15 years after the last installment for Super Nintendo, it is possible to imagine the faces of those responsible: a mixture of surprise, excitement, but also responsibility to keep the bar high.
DKC Returns (Wii) was a great videogame, but DKC Tropical Freeze (Wii U) could be said to have even gone further, improving the pace and overall quality. The biggest conclusion about these games is that it not only managed to maintain the type but managed to adapt the platform logic of the nineties to modernity. This involved the commitment to high resolution and detail, but above all due to the variety of situations and a very tight difficulty.
Getting all this today is becoming less common. That is why the movement was considered unusual, even “retro” in some ways. The arrival of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze to Nintendo Switch is for all this great news, even though it includes so few novelties. It is a real jewel platformer, now at its peak thanks to a resolution that reaches 1080p and the addition of a new character ( Funky Kong ), which allows the entry of new players. It can be a reason to play it, but above all, it is the perfect excuse for you to discover this great video game if you have not done it yet.
The “master class” of Retro Studios
DKC: Tropical Freeze is the perfect example of how to design a good platform, the typical video game that would be taught in design classes. Its rhythm goes in crescendo, with a relaxed, brief beginning, to quickly move on to more serious things. We are therefore talking about a title that does not go with lukewarmness. Here we come to give everything, both in terms of reflexes and skill at the controls. To achieve this, the game relies heavily on jumping to the limit (the popular “timing”), generating situations as challenging as satisfactory.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the perfect example of how to design good platforms
There are two important nuclei for the success of Tropical Freeze. The first has to do with a variety of situations. Most of the game takes place on dry land, but there are also lianas, barrels and underwater parts. The game is an excellent combination of traditional elements of the DKC series and completely new ones. This is exemplified by the return of the levels in the wagon (simply apotheoses), but also in the incorporation of some very hard final heads of skinning. The combination of these elements results in a very tight difficulty, the second major pillar of the proposal.
As we mentioned in our analysis of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U, all this gives for 5-6 hours of play, but the replayability is very powerful. Getting everything 100%, with all the collectibles, is one of the most difficult things we have seen in recent years. Then there is the issue of controlling other characters (Diddy, Dixie or Cranky), which changes the perception of the difficulty, as well as the option to enjoy the title in cooperative for two players. For this purpose, Nintendo Switch is perfectly adapted to the situation, thanks to the two Joy-Con that it includes, although we strongly recommend the use of the Pro controller, which is still the best option of all.
It is an authentic delight, both in desktop mode and in portable mode
Focusing on the version for Switch, it must be said that the work is splendid. The resolution is increased to take it up to 1080p and load times are improved. They were not problematic aspects of Wii U, but the changes are appreciated. Visually it was a real gem in its day … and also now. These tweaks do nothing but put in relief a simply brutal artistic section, which makes use of an intoxicating chromatism and animations as soft as charismatic. It is an authentic delight, both in desktop mode and in portable mode.
Any differentiating element of this “port”? Probably, the Funky Kong mode. We are facing one of the most challenging videogames in the genre of platforms, so it has not been a bad idea to include this game option. Basically, he proposes to handle Funky, who besides having more life, also has an infinite capacity to stay in the water and, most importantly, make double jumps and float in the air thanks to its versatile surfboard. It is the perfect ally for the less skilled, or for those who want to break times. In fact, driving Funky is a great incentive to replay Tropical Freeze. It allows making plays of scandal, something that gives rise to surprising situations and tremendously satisfying.
Apart from this, we have to say that the news is very scarce. Nintendo relies heavily on the arrival of new players and leaves Wii U users who have already taken the title a bit apart. They would have appreciated more levels or some incentive that caught the attention of this audience. It has not been like that, but there is no doubt that, for everyone else, we are facing an essential launch, more if you ever met the SNES classics DKC or, at some point, you have considered yourself a lover of the platform genre.
No matter which console appears, DKC: Tropical Freeze is still one of the brightest platforms of recent years. On the occasion of his arrival at Nintendo Switch, we do not have great news. A new mode, indicated for less skilled users, as well as slight improvements in visual and performance issues. However, it is a real must for those who have not yet played, due to its incredible playable balance, challenge, and variety of situations.
- Mechanical platformer depurated, no frustrations, frankly fun.
- A curve of difficulty simply perfect.
- Good variety of situations, successful duration and powerful replay.
- The addition of Funky Kong facilitates the entry of more players.
- Artistically it is a delight, and now more at 1080p.
- Very little news with respect to the original Wii U video game.
- Again, a greater number of levels are missed.