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LTTP: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Logo

LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I started Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze over three months ago and I don’t know if I will ever finish it. With that in mind, I’ve reached the conclusion of the journey that began with Donkey Kong Country Returns. I realized I still don’t like Retro Studio’s take on Donkey Kong Country. It’s not because it’s poorly made or fundamentally broken.

I just don’t like it.

Many of the issues that I had with Donkey Kong Country Returns were applicable in Tropical Freeze. It still took a little too long to load after each death. The collectibles were still too prolific and having a dedicated grab button is still awkward to me.

The only technical issue I had with Tropical Freeze was the load times between levels. It’s significantly longer than the original game which is unusual for a Nintendo published title; they normally excel in that area. In that same vein, it’s also weird to see a Nintendo title not utilize the Wii U Gamepad’s screen aside from Off TV Play.

On the plus side, gesture controls were replaced with buttons which meant no more botched rolls or shake to smash actions. I was also pleased by the visual fidelity and silky smooth framerate. Tropical Freeze is truly a beautiful game and easily one of the best looking side scrolling platformers regardless of platform. I have high hopes for whatever Retro Studios is working on from a purely visual standpoint.

This is my nostalgia speaking but I found the music — while pleasant — was not upbeat enough for the onscreen action. In fact, this lead to a larger issue that I had with Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze: I found the game boring.

I felt there were too many “filler” levels and not enough variety within each world. Even individual levels felt a little long where they take a great idea and drag it out for a checkpoint too far. Don’t get me wrong, there were exhilarating moments and levels but those were infrequent or quickly diluted.

Cranky Kong and Dixie Kong join Diddy and Donkey in Tropical Freeze but since I was playing this game solo, my exposure to those guest stars was dependent on how long they stayed alive or whether or not they were available in the levels. I loved the ability to play as Diddy or Donkey Kong in Rare’s games because it added variety. In Retro Studio’s games, the side characters appear to be nothing more than power ups in solo mode.

I know I’m not being fair to Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — I’ve done nothing but bitch about how I disliked Retro Studio’s Donkey Kong Country games for petty things. I essentially dislike it for not being like the old games. If you don’t have nostalgic baggage like I do, it may be just fine for you. I’ve seen plenty of praise for the game and I wish I felt the same but I don’t. It’s just not for me.

Worth a Try

Ratings Guide

For more information on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, visit the official website.

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