Review by Allidoisreview
A Huge Improvement Over Returns and An Excellent Platformer
Donkey Kong Country Returns was not a very good game. It had very little originality, poor level design relying on trial and error gameplay, and it was just an unimaginative game. It was still a fun game, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.
Tropical Freeze fixed these issues and is an absolute must-play, must-own for Wii U owners that enjoy platformers (you kind of have to if you own a Wii U right now ;) ).
Story - NA/10
It's a platformer, so the story isn't a very high priority, and I doubt anyone reading this is overly concerned with this aspect of the game. It's sufficient for the game and doesn't get in the way.
Graphics - 9/10
It's the first time we've seen Donkey Kong in HD, and it's breath-taking at times. The opening cut scene, for example, is incredible. The environments are much more varied and imaginative than in its predecessor as well. My complaint that Donkey Kong himself seems too small relative to the size of the screen still stands in this game, but that's some pretty bad nitpicking.
Sound - 8/10
Well, Returns maybe had one original track that I can think of. Considering one of the most memorable parts of the original trilogy (for me at least) was their absolutely amazing soundtracks, this was a huge disappointment.
Fortunately, in Tropical Freeze, they managed to bring David Wise in, who played a huge part in the original soundtracks, and this game actually has an original soundtrack. Honestly, I can't remember a single track from the game (it HAS been 3 months since I've played this), but I do remember there were a few that I thought were good. I have a strong feeling that this is one of those games you play a couple of times before you truly appreciate some of the things it has to offer, and the soundtrack would be one of these. The fact that they actually made the effort to bring in David Wise speaks volumes about the quality found in this game. They went the extra distance with this game, something that cannot be said about Returns.
Gameplay - 9/10
The level design in this game is much better than in Returns. The levels are actually fun to play and don't feel like a chore to complete, and they're varied. This game also has water levels, something that Returns was strangely missing, although I'm guessing most gamers would have been happier had they not been included. As much as I personally dislike them, it's nice to have the variation.
The worlds are theme based, more in tune with the original trilogy, and are very creative. This game feels to me like a homage to Donkey Kong Country 2, which I believe most fans agree was the pinnacle of the series.
While only Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong were playable characters in Returns, Dixie (yay!) and Kranky were added in Tropical Freeze. I use the term playable loosely, as you still only play as Donkey Kong, but these characters are obtained from the DK barrels as "power-ups" if you will. I'm only speaking for the single player campaign and cannot comment on whether or not they're all playable in two player mode. Diddy is the same as he was in Returns. Dixie uses her hair to help you spin along further much like in DKC 2+3, and in my opinion is the most useful in the game, although I'm probably just being a fan boy. Kranky uses his cane to help you do a kind of double bounce, with the second bounce being a super jump of sorts. Honestly, I didn't really find him overly useful beyond certain moments, but it is nice to have the variety.
The boss fights are epic but not hair-pulling difficult. Having been three months since I've played this, I still remember most of the bosses from this game, whereas I can't remember any from Returns. The bosses have several phases and usually need to be hit around 6(?) times to beat. The final boss was quite easy in my opinion, even compared to some of the other bosses in the game, which could be an issue to some.
I found the difficulty level to be just right. Returns forced you to replay levels because of moments that you couldn't possibly react to without knowing they were coming. I didn't really experience this in Tropical Freeze. People seem to talk about these games like they're the hardest platformers they've ever played, and I can't understand that. If you're at all comfortable with platforming games, this will be a fairly challenging experience that won't drive you crazy.
I have two issues with this game that need mentioning. First, controlling Donkey Kong underwater is really difficult for me for some reason. It just doesn't feel right. Considering you have to fight one of the bosses underwater, it's a bit frustrating, but fortunately the boss is a bit easier than the others. This could very well just be a personal issue, and you may not have any problems underwater. Either way, it's mildly annoying and not a huge deal. The other issue is the length of the game. While it's appropriate in regards to Returns and the original trilogy, it still needs to be mentioned that this game can be beaten comfortably in a few hours. However, this is if you blast through the game and don't try to do any additional content.
For example, there are secret exits littered throughout the game that open up new levels. You can also collect all of the K O N G letters (and those other things that were in Returns) in each level which I'm sure unlocks something and definitely adds a challenge to the game.
Overall - 36/40 - 9/10
I definitely disagree with the current top rated review stating that this is the pinnacle of platforming games. However, this is a great game that is certainly worth its price tag, and I absolutely recommend it to all Wii U owners that are a fan of platformers. This and Super Mario 3D World are the best platformers that have come out in the last two console generations in my opinion. Bold claims aside, play this!
Thanks for reading.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (US, 02/21/14)
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