DONKEY KONG COUNTRY: TROPICAL FREEZE
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on May 10, 2018
Ah, life on a tropical island... things just don't get any better than this! The sun, the beach, the snowflakes, the nice... blistering cold...? wait... what?! What happened to our beautiful island? It's all covered in snow and ice! Right! Who's responsible for this... this... this Tropical Freeze?!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls; Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is back! And this time, it's on the Nintendo Switch. Originally released for the Wii U in February of 2014, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze takes the player to the beautiful Donkey Kong island, where Donkey Kong is having a birthday party. All his friends are there: Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong. The Kong bunch is having a truly lovely day in paradise.
But, all of a sudden, icy Snowmad ships come sailing up to the island, spreading cold and ice in their wake. The Snowmad leader blows a giant winter horn and releases an Ice Dragon upon Donkey Kong Island. The dragon releases gale-force winds that blow Donkey Kong and his friends high into the sky and out of sight. The ship of the Snowmad leader then takes to the sky and sets down on top of Donkey Kong island. Will our Kong friends be able to return home and defeat the nefarious Snowmad leader, reclaiming their island in the process? Well, there's only one way to find out, now is there?
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a side-scrolling action platform game in which you take control of the mighty Donkey Kong. You will have to traverse a number of danger-filled islands before facing off against the evil Snowmad leader. Luckily, Donkey Kong does not have to do this all by his lonesome; his friends are here to help! Whenever you find a wriggling barrel with the abbreviation of one of your friends' names on the side, you can pick it up and throw it. When the barrel breaks, that friend will enter the game as your companion and you can take advantage of their special abilities.
So, what can these three friends do, exactly? Well, Diddy Kong can use his rocket powered jetpack to hover for a short while, enabling you to cross larger gaps with ease. Dixie Kong can spin her ponytail like the blades of a helicopter to help you soar even higher than before and then descend slowly towards the ground. Crancky Kong can use his cane like a pogo stick, so you can "land" safely on thorny patches or other impaling instruments. Just think of it as the cane Scrooge McDuck used in the old Ducktales games. Cranky can also defeat enemies this way, which Donkey Kong could never defeat on his own. While playing together with one of these characters, a meter slowly fills up. This meter, when full, enables you to perform a special trick: the Kong-Pow. This attack automatically defeats all regular enemies that are on-screen and turns them into items. Which items these will be, depends on the character you're playing together with!
And, there's more! Especially for this Switch release, a fourth helper is introduced: Funky Kong! Now, Funky will not help you in the same way Diddy, Dixie and Cranky do, but introduces you to a easier game mode, in which he replaces Donkey Kong as the main character: the aptly named Funky Mode. In Funky Mode, players take control of Funky Kong, who can do the same stuff as Donkey Kong can, but with added extras. For instance, Funky can perform a double jump, hover in mid-air and even stand on thorny patches without getting hurt by using his surfboard. He also has a snorkel, which enables him to stay underwater indefinitely, and he has five hitpoints, which makes it easier to survive the many dangers you will face on your journey. Because of these extra abilities, Funky Kong does not need companions; he prefers to go at it alone! In Funky Mode, it is also possible to switch to Donkey Kong, in which case you can make use of your friends' help and each of the Kong clan has three hitpoints.
But wait, The fun doesn't stop there! Invite a friend over and pass them one of your joy-cons (or a second set of joy-cons if that's what you prefer) for a round of two player coop action. Player one will control either Donkey Kong or Funky Kong, while player two can choose between controlling Diddy, Dixie or Cranky Kong. Now you can go through the story together, which makes overcoming obstacles quite a bit easier. Gathering all the bananas before the timer reaches zero in the hidden bonus levels will also become somewhat easier in this mode, because you now have two characters moving separately from one another. I must say that this is a truly awesome mode! I mean, double the Kong, double the fun, right?
Of course, on islands of this size, there is usually enough to explore, discover and collect, and Tropical Freeze is no exception to this rule! Bananas, balloons, puzzle pieces, coins and the well-known KONG letters are scattered across the levels for you to find. You can use the coins you've collected to buy useful items at Funky Kong's store, giving you an edge in certain situations. Red balloons are used to resurrect Donkey Kong at the last checkpoint when he falls into a pit or runs out of hearts because of enemy attacks. Collectables can get you into hidden levels if you find all of them, as well as unlock certain bonuses.
The game consists of six islands in total, the last being Donkey Kong island. Each island is comprised of a certain amount of challenging levels, culminating in a boss fight. And please trust when I say this; there's no two ways about it, everything about Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze looks really, really awesome! The game takes full advantage of the Switch's graphics upgrade to the Wii U, giving the game a much more crisp appearance. Especially the characters look quite a lot better than they did on the Wii U, and the environments seem to pop just that bit more than before! Tropical Freeze was never a shabby looking game, but on the Switch everything just looks more polished than it used to.
So, with the added extras and the upgraded graphics, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is truly a game that is worth your time and money! If you've already played Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on the Wii U, this is an excellent opportunity to update your game collection and play it on the Switch and take full advantage of the newly added Funky Kong mode. If you haven't played Tropical Freeze before, do yourself a favor, go out and get your hands on this game and get ready for some cool, cool, monkey business!