Review: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Boxart
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Retro Studios and Nintendo brings gamers looking for a challenge another installment in the Donkey Kong Country with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze . In this sequel to the 2010 Wii game Donkey Kong Country Returns the Kongs must fight a gang of Viking-themed animals called the Snowmads after their leader freezes their home island and the five surrounding ones. Much like the previous games in the franchise the gameplay involves the player jumping on enemies and throwing objects to defeat them. Classic Donkey Kong elements such as mine cart rides and hidden collectables are also scattered throughout the game’s levels. This is also the first Donkey Kong Country game to be released and high definition, and it shows: all of the Kongs look stunning while keeping their classic, animated look. However, high definition is not the only new addition to the game. There are a few other new things, including a new character to play as.

One of the first noticeable additions to the game is a new playable character: Cranky Kong. While he had been in the previous games as a non-playable character, and possibly the original protagonist in Nintendo’s arcade game Donkey Kong , this is the first time players have been able to control him directly. In the single-player mode players control Donkey Kong while the other characters ride on DK’s back and provide DK with some extra moves. Diddy uses his jet-barrel backpack to give DK an extra boost when trying to cover large gaps, Dixie uses her ponytail as a propeller and gives DK’s jumps and extra boost and a slower landing, and Cranky uses his cane to bounce DK and himself off areas that would normally harm them.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Cranky Screenshot
Anyone else reminded of Lusipurr when they see Cranky Kong?

These are not the only special abilities that each character lends to DK. Filling the game’s Kong-POW meter by collecting 100 bananas uses a special ability that defeats all enemies on the current screen and gives the player some extra collectables based on which character is riding DK at the time. Diddy turns the enemies into balloons giving the player extra lives, Dixie’s gives DK a gold heart that gives DK an extra hit point against enemies, and Cranky turns enemies into Banana Coins used to purchase extra abilities and power-ups from the in-game shops. All of these extras come in handy greatly, as the game can get very difficult at times.

One cannot help but wonder how much balloon rubber is sacrificed in every play-through of this game. As DK and his friends usually only have two life-hearts each it is very, very easy to die in this game. This combined with spiked walls and floors, mobile carnivorous plants hanging from the ceilings, and changing environments based off the player’s actions make the game fun, but challenging. However, when one does complete a particularly difficult section it is very rewarding and a good motivation to continue on in the game. The addition of a cap of 99 lives adds to the difficulty, but players will use so many of these lives this eventually does not even matter. The difficulty may initially quell some potential players, but once the player gets used to the controls and timing of each character’s moves they are sure to enjoy the game. The developers also removed the Super Guide feature of the previous game in the series, which allowed players to essentially follow an in-game guide on how the complete a level after failing a few times in a row. It has been replaced by an expanded power-up shop run by series regular Funky Kong.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Daisy Screenshot
Yo wuddup, gurl!

For those looking for a new, challenging game for their Wii U, this is a perfect choice. Especially those who are fans of the older Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo. Casual and younger players may be turned off by how difficult the game can be at times, but the abundance of extra lives and coins to purchase extras and power-ups with will help those having difficulties finish each level. The new playable character and return of some old favorites will definitely peek the interest of fans of the previous games in the franchise. Overall, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a great choice for anyone looking for a new game to play on their Wii U.


  1. I am in no way related to Cranky Kong.

    I know that these are solid games, but I don’t see that they are better in any way that the original SNES release of DK Country.

    You say that they are good for fans of the original SNES games, but my question is: are they better? Is there *really* a reason to play these, instead?

  2. Lusipurr, that’s a good question and I’m not really sure if I have an answer to it. Maybe just the fact that you can use any of the other Kongs instead of being limited to strictly one of them would be good motivation?

  3. @Lusipurr: Hasn’t that been the problem with Nintendo’s Wii U efforts all along? They keep trying to recreate the magic of the SNES but the results, while good games, have a “been-there-done-that” feeling to them.

    Maybe this is the real reason that they release shitty games on the Virtual Console more often than not, they don’t want people to catch on that they are just re-releasing SNES classics. That being said, I still plan to buy Tropical Freeze.

  4. Using old franchises is fine, but you do need to at least put an original spin on them.

  5. It feels like if the Rayman series hadn’t returned in such visually-appealing, creative, and challenging form, there would be more of a place for Donkey Kong, but as it stands, I think its thunder has been effectively stolen.

  6. That ‘Eye of the Tiger’ level is legitimately amazing!

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