Review by RageBot

Reviewed: 09/04/14

I've searched high and low for flaws. I've found none.

Donkey Kong, originally an enemy of Mario and a member of the ever-expanding Mario universe, is stuck knee-deep in his own problems since the early days of the Super Nintendo. He has his own nemesis, a ruthless crocodile known as King K. Rool, who leads a gang of pirates. He's been out of the woods in quite a while, until Retro Studios resurrected him for the Wii a few years ago, to face new enemies. Now, he returns once more, to face his most frigid foes ever, in one of the toughest platformers in quite a while.

To wrap up the unimportant as usual story, your enemies are seabound once again, but instead of local pirates, you're fighting vikings from the cold lands of Black Metal. In their attempt to conquer Donkey Kong Island, they use machines to turn the tropical climate Scandinavian, then hijack DK in a plane. However, our ever-awesome ape makes his escape, and now must fight across to world in order to return home.

The game to Returns is Super Mario Galaxy 2 to his predecessor: It takes the existing formula and expands it, improving it in every way possible. The first great improvements come from using the Wii U, as I personally dislike overusage of motion controls. Having the choice of two buttons for each function makes everything easier and more intuitive, and even rocket barrel stages become somewhat fun. Of course, there's also the advantage of being able to turn your controller into a handheld console if someone wants to watch TV.

There also new family members to choose from, all of them made appearance before in DKC 2 and 3. Their special moves are also not unfamiliar to Nintendo fans, as Dixie's ponytail spin moves very similarly to Yoshi's flutter jump, and Cranky's cane jump takes a page from Scrooge McDuck on his oh so memorable Ducktales adventures. Diddy is untouched, and is unfortunately somewhat inferior to his relatives. There's also a new party gauge, and once it fills up, you can press L and R to activate Kong POW! A super move that kills all enemies on screen and turns them into something useful. Diddy turns them into life balloons, Dixie into golden hearts that increase your max HP, and Cranky, quite lamely, turns them into coins. Meh.

You'll also need the old-new members to get to secret portals, that open two new levels in each of the six islands of the game. If you're lucky, sometimes all that you need in order to get to stage B is to complete stage A. However, this is quite rare. You'll often need Dixie to help you swim against a strong current, or Cranky to help you jump higher. Diddy is left in the dark again. The game can be a jerk about the secret portals, often putting one Kong barrel in the beginning of the stage and expecting you to make it to the portal without losing your buddy. However, you can buy items that make buddies respawn immediately after death.

While the game is more intuitive than the first reincarnation, it's also quite harder, one of the toughest platformers I've played in a while. Just getting some puzzle pieces can be hell, and getting all four letters in one go may seem impossible until you improve your skills some more. The special K stages are harder than ever, and the end stages can drain your lives like a vampire bat. Be prepared for a lot of frustration.

While I save the presentation for last, as usual, it's the game's highest point. I actually go as far as to say that this game has the best level design of all time. Things like running through a factory filled with all sorts of fruits and blades that process them, climbing on dancing giraffes, riding leaves that are blown by the wind of giant brass instruments, or riding an iceberg across a river of lava, will may your mouth hang wide open. Music is also spectacular, and range from successful remakes of the predecessor's strongest tracks, to acoustic tracks that deliver the atmosphere perfectly, to individual metal riffs for each boss. The first time, you'll think "Are those power chords I'm hearing?" Then you'll just start banging your heads while you beat the boss to the beat of the drums.

With perhaps the sole exception of unpolishing Diddy and rendering him near useless, this game is perfect. If you like challenge, you'll like this game. If you're into action of any kind, you'll like this game. If you're into quality games, you'll like this. Recommended for everyone who likes, well, any video game.

Final grade: 10.5/10

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (US, 02/21/14)

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