Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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Donkey Kong Country:
Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Packaging artwork released for all territories
Developer(s) Retro Studios
Monster Games
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Ryan Harris
Vince Joly
Producer(s) Kensuke Tanabe[1]
Composer(s) David Wise[2][3]
Daisuke Matsuoka
Minako Hamano
Shinji Ushiroda
Series Donkey Kong Country,
Donkey Kong
Platform(s) Wii U
  • JP: February 14, 2014
  • NA: February 21, 2014
  • EU: February 21, 2014
  • AU: February 22, 2014
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a 2014 side-scrolling platformer video game developed by Retro Studios, with assistance from Monster Games, and published by Nintendo for the Wii U. Originally slated to be released in November 2013, it was delayed until December, then again until February 2014. The fifth installment in the main Donkey Kong Country series, and the first in high-definition, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the direct sequel to the 2010 Wii game, Donkey Kong Country Returns.


Player one controls Donkey Kong, assisted by Diddy Kong, in a standard level

The game continues on from the side-scrolling platform gameplay of the Donkey Kong Country series and sees Donkey Kong and his friends travelling through six different islands in order to defeat the Snowmads. Controls are similar to the previous game, with the addition of being able to pluck items from the ground and pick up and throw stunned enemies, and various controllers can be used with customizable controls.[4][5] Like the previous game, players primarily control Donkey Kong who is assisted by a companion, who either provide additional abilities to Donkey Kong, or can be controlled individually by a second player. Along with Diddy Kong, who returns with his barrel jetpack for crossing large gaps, two additional characters are added; Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong. Dixie has the ability to spin her ponytail into a propeller and slowly descend through the air, with an initial boost in height at the start, allowing her and Donkey Kong to fly up out-of-reach platforms or items. Cranky, in a similar mechanic to the DuckTales video game, can use his cane to bounce on dangerous surfaces such as spiky thorns and reach higher areas and defeat certain enemies the other Kongs cannot.[6] Filling up a 'Kong-POW' meter allows Donkey Kong and his partner to perform a special move which defeats all on-screen enemies and converts them into items depending on the partner.[7]

The Super Guide from the previous game is absent and is replaced by an expanded shop, run by Funky Kong, offering various support items such as temporary invincibility. Like the previous game, each level contains various Kong letters and puzzle pieces, some of which require specific partners to reach, which unlock various bonuses and hidden levels. The Time Attack mode also returns, now featuring online leaderboards, allowing players to view video replays of the top ranked players.


The story begins at Donkey Kong's hut, where the Kongs are celebrating his birthday. Suddenly, one of the balloons flies off the Kong house and over the sea, where Snowmad ships are stationed. Far away from the island, a Pointy Tuck watches over them, locating the Kong house and relaying info to their leader, shrouded in a dark silhouette. Upon the leader nodding their approval, the Pointy Tucks bring him a horn which he blows, creating a large amount of wind, as well as an ice dragon.

Just as he is about to blow the candle out of the fire, Donkey Kong notices a mysterious snowflake that appears and puts out the candle on his birthday cake. He turns away with a frustrated look on his face as he hears an uproar, and he and the other Kongs exit the house. The ice dragon from earlier flies toward Donkey Kong Island, turning the sea under it to ice. The Kongs are then blown away from the island by the ice dragon's intense winds, landing on the Lost Mangroves island. Afterwards, a large ship stations itself where the Volcano from Donkey Kong Country Returns used to be, and the Snowmads seize Donkey Kong Island for their own, turning it into a frosty area with continuous snowfall. Donkey Kong and his friends Diddy, Dixie and Cranky use their powers to send the Snowmads home.

After traversing across 5 islands with each posing its own threats, the Kongs finally arrive at Donkey Kong Island under control of the Snowmads. The Kongs make their way through the frozen fortress until they encounter the leader of the Snowmads, Lord Fredrik, who challenges the Kongs to a final battle deep in the depths of the volcano. After a long battle, Donkey Kong delivers the final punch to Lord Fredrik, which sends him flying out through the roof of the Snowmad's ship, destroying it in the process. The Kongs wander out of the remains of the ship and look out from the mountainside to see the end of Lord Fredrik's fall. Lord Fredrik crashes into the remainder of the Snowmad ships out in the seas of the island, defeating the entire Snowmad clan and freeing the island from their control. Donkey Kong then notices the horn that was used to freeze their island fell out of Lord Fredrik's hands during his fall, which he catches and blows into, producing a breeze of flowers that carries the Kongs to the bottom of the island. The Kongs watch and rejoice as the breeze of the flowers flutter around the island, melting all of the ice and snow, turning Donkey Kong Island back to normal.


The game's story focuses on the Snowmads, a group of Viking-themed arctic animals such as walruses, owls and penguins that invade Donkey Kong Island,[8] forcing Donkey Kong to go against them with the help of his friends Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, and Cranky Kong. This is Dixie Kong's third appearance in the main series and the first since Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, released in 1996. This is also Cranky Kong's first appearance as a playable character in the series.[9]

Development and release[edit]

The game was first announced during Nintendo's E3 2013 Nintendo Direct presentation on June 11, 2013 and was produced by Kensuke Tanabe who, having previously worked on Super Mario Bros. 2, has incorporated some elements from that game.

In August 2013, Nintendo announced a planned North American release date of December 6, 2013, just in time for the holiday season. However, in October 2013, Nintendo pushed back the release date to February 21, 2014 citing the need for more time to optimize the game.[10] At the VGX Awards on December 7, 2013, the release date was confirmed for North America to be February 21, 2014.[11][12]

The soundtrack was primarily composed by David Wise, who previously contributed music for the original SNES Donkey Kong Country games. Additional music was provided by Daisuke Matsuoka, Minako Hamano, Shinji Ushiroda, and Riyu Tamura under the supervision of Kenji Yamamoto.

Its announcement was a surprise.[1] The development team designed the gameplay to be similar to that of previous series games, apart from a few new features. The addition of camera work was the team's biggest change. As the camera swings from a side- to behind-view, brings depth to obstacles in the characters' path, and also required more design to fill those new situations. Additionally, Tropical Freeze adds Dixie Kong as a partner character, with has a mid-air hover ability that affects how players access platforms. The developers also added "plucking" objects out of the ground, similar to the game mechanic in Super Mario Bros. 2, on which Tropical Freeze's producer had also worked. The Donkey Kong creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, influenced the game's "ground pound" design and gave other small tips but was otherwise not involved in its development, though he was protective over the series. Retro Studios had to prove their ability to handle the license, as Miyamoto said, "This is my baby. You'd better get it right."[1]


Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 83/100[13]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 10/10[14]
Eurogamer 7/10[15]
Game Informer 9.25/10[16]
GameSpot 6/10[17]
GamesRadar 4/5 stars[18]
GamesTM 7/10[19]
GameTrailers 9.1/10[20]
IGN 9/10[21]
Joystiq 4/5 stars[22]
Polygon 8.5/10[23]

Tropical Freeze received positive reviews from critics. It has an aggregate score of 83/100 on Metacritic.[13]

Destructoid gave the game a perfect 10 out of 10, saying "with the addition of control options to the already proven formula, Retro Studios' rendition of Donkey Kong is pretty much flawless."[14] GamesRadar gave the game 4 out of 5 stars, praising its presentation and challenge whilst criticising the co-operative multiplayer.[18] Game Informer gave it a 9.25 out of 10, praising the levels by saying "I’d rather have a slightly smaller collection of Retro Studios’ best levels than one bloated up with lesser-quality stages in order to hit an arbitrary number. That finely cultivated assortment is exactly what you get with Tropical Freeze," in regards to the game having fewer levels than Returns.[16] GameTrailers gave the game a 9.1 out of 10, praising enhancements made to the gameplay, and the "stellar" soundtrack.[20] IGN gave the game a 9 out of 10, praising the game's challenge, level design, and boss battles.[21] Gamnesia's Colin McIsaac chose Tropical Freeze as a Game of the Year, calling it "a masterpiece of mechanics and level design" and citing the level Grassland Groove as "an empowering sensory experience, and perhaps even the greatest platforming level made to date."[24] GameSpot, however, gave the game a 6 out of 10, saying that interesting boss battles and vehicle segments didn't make up for "clunky, repetitive level design" and poor implementation of new mechanics.[17] GamesTM, who gave it a 7 out of 10, found the game to be as difficult as its predecessors, citing the enemy and obstacle placements, and that the bosses "assault you with at least half a dozen different attacks and absorb many more of yours before they accept defeat."[19]


In Japan, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze sold over 70,000 copies during its first month of release.[25] During its first eight days of release in North America, the game sold an estimated 130,000 units.[26] This game, along with its predecessor, were added to the Nintendo Selects label on March 11, 2016 in North America.[27]


List of awards and nominations
Year Awards Category Result Ref.
2014 Destructoid's Best of 2014 Best Overall Game Nominated [28]
Best Game Mechanics Nominated [29]
GameSpot's Game of the Year Wii U Game of the Year Nominated [30]
GameTrailers's Best of 2014 Best Platformer Won [31]
Best Wii U Exclusive Nominated [32]
Game of the Year Nominated [33]
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) awards Original Light Mix Score, Franchise (David Wise) Nominated [34]
Game, Franchise Family Nominated
2015 IGN's Best of 2014 Best Platformer Nominated [35]
Best Wii U Game Nominated [36]


  1. ^ a b c Parish, Jeremy. "Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Full E3 Interview". USgamer. Archived from the original on December 17, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016. 
  2. ^ Reeves, Ben. "Nintendo Answers Our Burning Questions about Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze". Game Informer. Retrieved 12 September 2016. 
  3. ^ "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Credit Information - GameFAQs". GameFAQs. CBS Interactive. 
  4. ^ "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Impressions - Impressions". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  5. ^ Fahey, Mike. "The Furry New Donkey Kong Yanks A Gimmick From Super Mario Bros. 2". Kotaku. 
  6. ^ Schulenberg, Thomas. "Cranky Kong brandishes cane, joins Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze roster on February 21". Joystiq. 
  7. ^ Griffin McElroy (11 June 2013). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze rewards its most thorough players". Polygon. 
  8. ^ Andrew Goldfarb (11 June 2013). "E3 2013: Retro Developing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze". IGN. 
  9. ^ "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze isn't an ICEE flavor". Destructoid. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  10. ^ Sarkar, Samit. "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze delayed to February 2014". Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Eddie Makuch. "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze delayed". Retrieved 2013-10-01. 
  12. ^ MacDonald, Keza (1 October 2013). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Delayed". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Carter, Chris (February 17, 2014). "Review: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze". Destructoid. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  15. ^ Bramwell, Tom (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Vore, Bryan (2014-02-17). "This Icy Sequel Brings Plenty Of Fire - Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Wii U". Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  17. ^ a b Walton, Mark (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". GameSpot. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Sullivan, Lucas (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". GamesRadar. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". GamesTM. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Damiani, Michael (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". GameTrailers. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b Otero, Jose (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". IGN. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  22. ^ Kietzmann, Ludwig (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". Joystiq. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  23. ^ Riendeau, Danielle (February 17, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review". Polygon. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ McIsaac, Colin (January 19, 2015). "Gamnesia's Games of the Year". Gamnesia. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  25. ^ Romano, Sal (2014-03-19). "Media Create Sales: 3/10/14 – 3/16/14". Gematsu. Archived from the original on 2015-04-21. 
  26. ^ de Matos, Xav (March 13, 2014). "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze sales reach 130K in eight days". Joystiq. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Nintendo of America Officially Announces New Nintendo Select Titles". February 29, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  28. ^ Jonathan Holmes (December 21, 2014). "Destructoid's award for Overall Best Game of 2014". Destructoid. Retrieved December 24, 2014. 
  29. ^ Jonathan Holmes (December 19, 2014). "Destructoid's award for Best Game Mechanics of 2014". Destructoid. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Mario Kart 8 - Wii U Game of the Year". GameSpot. December 14, 2014. Archived from the original on December 14, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  31. ^ "GameTrailers Best of 2014 Awards - Best Platformer". GameTrailers. December 25, 2014. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  32. ^ "GameTrailers Best of 2014 Awards - Best Wii U Exclusive". GameTrailers. December 30, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  33. ^ "GameTrailers Best of 2014 Awards - Game Of The Year". GameTrailers. January 1, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  34. ^ "NAVGTR Awards (2014)". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. 
  35. ^ "Best Platformer". IGN. December 17, 2014. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Best Wii U Game". IGN. December 17, 2014. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014. 

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