It is my birthday, LusiPies! It is also my last day at my current – soon to be former – job. I also did not play a lot of video games over the past week, so this should be interesting.
Oh wait, I did play this. My girlfriend got Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze as a late birthday gift from her brother and we decided to give it a try. I have mixed feelings. The gameplay is very good. The physics are heavy, but consistent and challenging. Like any good platformer, it is satisfying to master, slowly teaching its gameplay and rewarding those who attempt more difficult and acrobatic moves. The boss battles are as exciting as the reviews imply, the levels are long and inventive, and the game looks great.
I admit that in a game like this, gameplay is most important, but Tropical Freeze is a great example of how presentation can be a major detriment to appreciating good gameplay. The music feels like an ill-informed attempt to recapture the great soundtrack from the SNES game, without understanding what sort of music actually fits well in a platformer. It is not all terrible, but I am often distracted by its overwhelming mediocre quality. Not noticing the music in a game is on the lowest end of acceptable, but Tropical Freeze often dips below that, and the game suffers for it. Game music is more important than just background noise, and should – in fact – be closely tied to the development process. In addition, Funky Kong is the worst. I do not mind annoying characters if they are done well and have personality (see: Tingle), but Funky Kong is not a character. He is paper thin and while it does not detract from gameplay, it works backwards away from the goal of making a game sink into player’s consciousness as a whole work. Super Mario 3D World is proof that this is important even for platformers.
Also, the game goes against the tide that excellent games like Game & Wario and Wind Waker HD took to properly introduce the relationship between the gamepad and the television. It is clunky and unintuitive to display the game on the gamepad, and it is not even possible during multiplayer. Speaking of multiplayer, while I love the challenge of finding and grabbing the collectables, it is annoying that some are only possible with certain companions, especially considering how the process of switching characters is – once again – clumsy and slow.
I am aware that this is not first party Nintendo, but these are surprising issues to see from Retro Studios, especially considering that the core gameplay and level design are both so strong. These are the sorts of issues that might appear minor, but I feel make a significant difference in the success of a title. They are the sorts of issues that hold people back from telling their friends about the game. A player might enjoy the game himself and appreciate its strengths, but will likely find himself not wanting to recommend the game for some reason that he cannot explain. He might place it on the difficulty, but I do not believe that would be honest of him.
Of course, that is wild conjecture, but what are birthdays for?
It Must Be Said
I am not sure if this is just a Pokémon X issue or something with the series in general, but my love for the series might finally be wavering. I am very curious to see how I feel about the Ruby remake. I feel like it will give me insight into if it is the new format or if it was Pokémon X itself or if it is just general series fatigue that makes me not really care that I never completed the most recent game. I am curious if my fellow LusiPocketMonsters feel the same.
This post was late and it is short, but I hope you can forgive me on my birthday. I do not want to be too presumptuous, but I expect that next week I will talk in length about the PlayStation Vita. What do you guys all feel about Donkey Kong and Pokémon?