Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Switch Review

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Nintendo Switch

With every Wii U game that comes to the Nintendo Switch, they feel more comfortable on the new console than the old one. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another example, and it shines brighter than ever on the portable hybrid.

Tropical Freeze sees the Kong family happily celebrating an anniversary, when the Snowmad ships abruptly end it and freeze on Kong Island. Donkey Kong, with the help of Diddy, Dixie and Cranky, must cross the neighboring islands and return.

The game looks great on the Nintendo Switch, especially in handheld mode. Slight improvements have been made to the game’s graphics and load times, with the latter allowing for a much smoother overall experience. I spend most of my time with the game playing in handheld mode, enjoying the more portable experience. The only issue I had with this was with levels, especially boss fights, zooming in on the camera. These levels made Donkey Kong tiny on the tablet screen, and while he was still playable, it became harder to see the action.

You’ve probably heard this somewhere before, but Tropical Freeze is a tough game. Not difficult in an unfair way, but absolutely difficult. The controls are superbly tight, letting you pull off jumps, barrel rolls, ducks and whatever else you need. The game constantly throws crazy platforming challenges at you that require good timing, however, there are often multiple ways to get through a situation. Most levels in the game have ways to solve its platforming challenges with just Donkey Kong himself, or if he has another Kong with him. The difficulty increases throughout the game, until the very end, but when you die it’s almost always your fault if you made a small mistake or didn’t have the right timing.

What amazes me about Tropical Freeze, even four years later, is the variety at all levels. Many levels have a gimmick, like being all about barrel shooting, or having you put out fires with water fruits as you go, or even changing the aesthetic to make everything a moving shadow. The amount of variety is absurd, and even until the end there are fun new challenges thrown at you. This is by far Tropical Freeze’s greatest strength, helping to push the game forward and always keeping you on your toes.

Tropical Freeze on Switch is virtually the same game except for a few improvements and one key difference, Funky Mode. As the name suggests, this mode lets you jump into the shoes of none other than the coolest Kong, Funky Kong himself. This is a brand new option when you start the game, and Funky comes with a number of boosts that make him more equipped to face the challenges of the game. He starts with five hearts instead of two, can float on his surfboard and do a double jump.

Playing as Funky makes Tropical Freeze much easier, although there is always a challenge. It’s not an invincible mode, so especially in later levels, you’ll still have a hard time overcoming the game’s challenges. However, the Funky mode helps make the game much more accessible, especially for those who aren’t maybe not so good at platform games. It’s a clever way to bring an easy mode to a game that’s known to be difficult, and Funky Kong is just a joy to play with.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was already a strong title on the Wii U, and the Switch version makes it even better. Those who may have been turned off by the difficulty before can now feel free to get started with Funky Mode, and the improved loading screens really do make a difference. It’s yet another strong tick on the growing list of titles the Switch owner must have.

Rating: 4.5/5 – Excellent


Advantages

  • Improved loading times allow for a faster and smoother experience.
  • Levels constantly throw fun new challenges at you.
  • Tight platform that gives you precise control.
  • Funky mode is a welcome and very fun addition.
  • Still a phenomenal soundtrack, and easily one of David Wise’s best.

The inconvenients

  • Apart from Funky mode, only the other improvements are technical.
  • In sections where the camera zooms out, playing in handheld mode can be more difficult.

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