Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
|Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze|
|Platform(s)||Wii U, Nintendo Switch|
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a side-scrolling platformer video game developed by Retro Studios, with assistance from Monster Games, and published by Nintendo for the Wii U. The fifth installment in the Donkey Kong Country series, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the direct sequel to the 2010 Wii game Donkey Kong Country Returns, and was released in February 2014. An enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch was released in May 2018.
Donkey Kong and his family must venture across five islands to save their home, Donkey Kong Island, after it's frozen over by the villainous Snowmads—a group of arctic invaders from the northern seas. Like its predecessor, the game received mostly positive reviews. Praise was directed at the level design, gameplay, and soundtrack, although its high level of difficulty received more mixed opinions.
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 ten 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. 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 jet pack 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. 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.
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 Nintendo Switch version of the game features Funky Kong as a new playable character. In the optional easier Funky Mode, Funky Kong is playable with no possible companions, along with an option to switch between him and Donkey Kong. Unlike Donkey Kong in the game's normal mode, Funky Kong comes with five hit points instead of two, while he is also able to double-jump, hover in mid-air, stand on spikes and breathe underwater for an unlimited time. When DK is played, he can gain a companion and each Kong has three hit points.
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 land inside an aircraft where the player must use the Y and X buttons to ground pound, causing the plane to break in half.
After traversing across five 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 that 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. In a post credits scene, Donkey Kong discovers a box and opens it, unveiling a mysterious relic that unlocks the world Secret Seclusion.
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, 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.
Development and release
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. At the VGX Awards on December 7, 2013, the release date was confirmed for North America to be February 21, 2014.
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. The development team designed the gameplay to be similar to that of previous series games, apart from a few new features. Retro Studios president Michael Kelbaugh told Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé that production started on Tropical Freeze because the team "had a lot of gas left in the tank" after finishing Returns, wanting to include underwater levels and 3D camera work, and to use the Wii U hardware to do "a lot of really new cool tricks." The addition of camera work was the team's biggest change. The dynamic camera swings from a side to a fully 3D view, bringing depth to obstacles in the characters' path. Additionally, Tropical Freeze adds Dixie Kong as a partner character, who 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. Due to Donkey Kong series creator Shigeru Miyamoto being 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." Miyamoto influenced the game's "ground pound" design and gave other small tips, but was otherwise not involved in its development.
An enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch was released on May 4, 2018. It was developed once again by Retro Studios and includes support for new control schemes and Funky Kong as a playable character in an easier optional "Funky Mode."
Like its predecessor, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze received "generally favorable reviews" from critics.
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." GamesRadar gave the game 4 out of 5 stars, praising its presentation and challenge whilst criticising the co-operative multiplayer. 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 regard to the game having fewer levels than Returns. GameTrailers gave the game a 9.1 out of 10, praising enhancements made to the gameplay, and the "stellar" soundtrack. IGN gave the game a 9 out of 10, praising the game's challenge, level design, and boss battles. 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."
GameSpot, however, gave the game a 6 out of 10, saying that interesting boss battles and vehicle segments did not make up for "clunky, repetitive level design" and poor implementation of new mechanics. 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."
In their review of the Nintendo Switch version, GameSpot gave Tropical Freeze a more favorable assessment, awarding the game a 9 out of 10 and concluding: "If you missed out when the game first debuted back in 2014, give it a shot today. It easily stands the test of time." IGN stood by their 9 out of 10 score, remarking that "the addition of Funky Mode makes the game more accessible without reducing the formidable platforming difficulty to a walk in the park."
In Japan, the Wii U version of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze sold over 70,000 copies during its first month of release. During its first eight days of release in the United States, the game sold an estimated 130,000 units. This game, along with its predecessor, were added to the Nintendo Selects label on March 11, 2016 in North America.
In addition to reviewing better, the Nintendo Switch version of Tropical Freeze had stronger sales. In Japan alone, the game sold roughly 88,421 units in the first five days of release, more than doubling its debut on Wii U. As of March 2019, the game has sold 290,000 copies in Japan. By the end of March 2019, the title had sold over 2.25 million units on the Switch.
|2014||Golden Joystick Awards||Best Visual Design||Nominated|||
|NAVGTR Awards||Original Light Mix Score, Franchise (David Wise)||Nominated|||
|Game, Franchise Family||Nominated|
|2018||Golden Joystick Awards||Best Nintendo Game||Nominated|||
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