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100 of 112 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 21, 2014
Bonus points for any who caught the Brian Regan reference in the title...

In the past five or so years, two previously dormant video game icons have made major comebacks, starring in some of the best 2-D platformers in decades. Of course, I'm referring to Donkey Kong and Rayman. Both characters offer games that are about as awesome as 2-D platformers get these days, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is yet another modern DK masterpiece to add to the list (Rayman Legends was also stellar). This game is simply stupendous, in so many ways. Not only is it filled with nostalgia for the DK of my childhood, but it also adds a ton of new ideas that are not only cool for DK, but for 2-D platformers in general. This game is a real treat. Once again, Retro Studios has nailed it, and this game actually soothes some of the sting I felt at learning they were not developing a new Metroid game (Not gonna lie, it still hurts a little). If you don't like somewhat longer, detailed reviews, then give this one a pass. You've been warned.

The story in DKCTF is very unique for the series. Once again, Retro has created an all-new villainous force for DK and co. to face called the "Snowmads," a ragtag army of arctic animals with a major Norse/viking theme. They rudely crash DK's birthday party with an invasion, driving all our favorite Kongs away from their home island while also redecorating it to suit their snowy tastes. Needless to say, they brought a polar vortex of their own, transforming DK's island paradise to a frigid arctic playground. Thus, DK and three of his closest companions begin a trek across several unique and totally different islands to take back his home. The premise is cool and all (Like that pun? No...? I'll see myself out...), but like all platformers, the story is there to introduce the platforming action and then take a step back to let the gameplay shine, and it does so well here.

The graphics in DKCTF are, putting it bluntly, drop-dead gorgeous. There's so much vibrant color and imagination in this game, it's fantastic! Because you'll be traveling across several different islands, you'll be treated to a huge variety in locales, all of which look awesome. From DK's frozen island, to an island filled with flaming boars, massive mountain crags, and Viking Owl villages, all in a beautiful autumn, to an island strewn with the wreckage of countless boats, planes, and ships (including Samus' starship cleverly hidden in the canopy in one level, which is awesome!), to a jungle during harvest time filled with jelly, rivers of juice, and other food items (Yummy), there's no shortage of interesting level themes. Remember the beautiful silhouette levels from DKCR? They return in full-force here, making some levels look like they'd belong in a sweet art house indie game. Lots of creativity in this game visually, you'll never be bored. Seriously people, this game is gorgeous, and it runs at a smooth 60 fps which is awesome. The new enemies are also really neat and full of character. While it's easy to miss the Kremlings, Retro has made up some equally charismatic and iconic villains to replace them, if you ask me. I love the Snowmads. Really, the charm in this game is everywhere. I love how Donkey will sit down and start playing a 3DSXL if left idle. I love the different personalities of the main characters. This game is full of charisma.

The sound design in the game is also fantastic. Lots of nostalgic sound effects return. I also really enjoy the voice actor's work on DK and the rest of the characters, even if it's all relegated to shouts, grunts, howls, etc. Best of all, this game sees the return of David Wise, the brilliant composer behind the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy's incredible music. Remember the unspeakably awesome atmosphere of songs like "Aquatic Ambiance" and "Stickerbrush Symphony?" This game has songs of that caliber (Both of those in addition to other fan favorites actually show up gloriously remixed, and the latter is evoked in the incredible "Alpine Incline"). Remember the bop-your-head-to-the-beat awesomeness of the original "DK Island Swing" or the dramatic epicness of "Flight of the Zinger?" Yep, that kind of greatness is here too. I would start listing off awesome tracks from the game, but pretty much *every* single song is stellar. No joke. I love David Wise's music so much. He hit it out of the park with this one. Recruiting him was very smart on Retro's part. Thank goodness he agreed to come back to the series. As a matter of fact, I'd go as far as to say the soundtrack is a major, major selling point for this game. If they ever release this game's soundtrack, I WILL buy it immediately. I don't care if I have to import it from Japan, I *need* this game's soundtrack.

The gameplay in Tropical Freeze is, at its core, the same great formula introduced almost two decades ago, with even more of the refinement and freshness that DKCR introduced to the mix. You'll be enjoying a 2-D platformer with a tangible rhythmic quality to it that is very satisfying, with controls so tight you can bounce a quarter off the game and make change. Alongside Rayman's recent outings, you will not find a platformer with such great controls and unique, challenging level designs. You'll be collecting red balloons, banana coins, and literally hundreds upon hundreds of bananas. KONG levels and puzzle pieces are hidden cleverly in the levels. Mine carts return to turn you into a sweat-drenched, adrenaline-drained husk. Make no mistake, this game is ridiculously challenging, perhaps infuriatingly so for some gamers, which is something to keep in mind. DKCTF is a game that hearkens back to a time when dying in the same spot a couple dozen times in a row was due to a lack of player skill, not the game being "cheap" (so many games these days coddle gamers, it's nice to see old-school challenge in my opinion). Boss fights are a highlight as well. Most of them have multiple parts, each of which requires you to take a new and different approach. This makes boss fights super hard, but also very engaging and challenging, which I appreciate.

DKCTF also introduces quite a few new ideas to the DKC mix. For the first time since DKC3, DK and friends can swim. In my opinion, the controls in these segments are much better than they were in the old DKC games. Underwater levels in this game are actually awesome thanks to more than just the music this time. There's a lot more emphasis on 2.5-D in this game. During many barrel segments, the camera will change to a full-on 3-D view, which makes for some mind-bending challenge and exciting set-pieces. Even mine cart segments have some 3-Dish moments, which is awesome. The biggest change to the game is the introduction of two new characters. DK and Diddy return and play exactly as they did in DKCR. New to the game are *drumroll* DIXIE KONG, who plays similarly to Diddy but has a double jump of sorts that gives you some extra distance and height. Totally new to the series is CRANKY KONG (He hasn't been the star of a game canonically in a loooong while), who essentially uses his cane in true DuckTales pogo fashion. Cranky's style is particularly unique, and so fun to use. While player-one can only ever play as DK, each of the three supporting characters add really fun and unique benefits to your move-set. All the characters are fun to play, whether DK for player one or the other three for player two, and the increased variety is really nice for people who love co-op gaming like my wife and I do. Overall, there's a lot of new ideas in this game, too many to count here. Suffice it to say, this is a major step forward for the DKC series, and most definitely not a rehash.

Let's face facts, this game rules for the most part, but there are some subjective aspects that some may not like. These should be pointed out for the sake of objectivity. Like I said earlier, this game is ridiculously hard, especially after you get past the first couple islands (and even those can be challenging!). This game will not coddle you. No, this game will kick your @$$ six ways to Sunday, and that will undoubtedly turn some gamers off. As much as I love co-op, you have to be so in tune with your partner to succeed, and the slightest mistake will ruin everything. My wife loves playing DKC with me. For us as a couple, DKCR and now this game have been majorly bonding at the best of times, and end-of-the-world fight inducing at the worst of times (I'm only partially kidding, lol). All I'm saying is the punishing difficulty and co-op don't always mix too well. Also, when playing co-op, they did not make a way for player-2 to quickly switch characters or drop in/out. You have to pause the menu, select the drop out option, then reconnect to pick a new character. That's a major pain. Perhaps worst of all, or least worst of all depending on your opinion, they did nothing to utilize the Wii-U's features in any meaningful way. Don't expect any interesting implementation of the touch screen, gyroscope, etc. The gamepad's screen isn't even on if you select to play off of the T.V, in fact. Rather than a Wii-U showpiece, this is just an awesome traditional hardcore DK experience that happens to be exclusive to the Wii-U, which I'm perfectly happy with. Focusing on the core experience in development is always better, I say

I don't know how Retro does it, but every game they make is just pure gold. They must employ Midas or something. I've played for many hours by now, solo and with my wife, have reached several islands, conquered several bosses, and I'm really thinking that this is the best Donkey Kong game I've ever played. I'm not just blowing smoke or using hyperbole. This game is just pure, refined 2-D platforming gold, and I absolutely love it. DKCTF makes DKCR look like an extended demo in comparison, and I LOVE DKCR, so that really is a testament to the greatness of Retro's work on Tropical Freeze. I love this game, and if you are a fan of old-school gaming challenge, platformers, Donkey Kong, Nintendo, or just awesome games in general regardless of genre, then get this game immediately. Buy it, prepare an epic trek across several islands, and save your precious home and banana hoard from the Snowmads!
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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2014
Console not selling well? Phooey. With games like this, Ya gotta wonder why. This is why people support Nintendo. I saw one random negative review on the web that made me laugh. Make no mistake, Donkey Kong is a fantastic video game and one of the most amazing platformers you'll ever play. Don't let the characters of this game fool you, this game gets extremely challenging later on and will challenge the most veteran gamers out there. It's easily got one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard, probably as good if not better than 3D world. Has full ProU controller support and you can play with a friend locally. This one will keep you busy till Mario Kart comes out. Don't delay, there is a reason this game is getting perfect reviews from customers. ***** My seal of approval! Get it!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2014
I loved the original Donkey Kong Country titles. The first game in the series was actually the first game I ever owned, while the second game in the series is one of my favorite games of all time. I loved the visuals, the soundtracks, and the satisfaction of getting through a challenging level. Returns was good as well, but not as memorable for me on a personal level.

Somehow, I wasn't expecting the world of Tropical Freeze. I was a bit disappointed when Retro Studios revealed it as their Wii U title and kind of bitter that this meant no Metroid Prime for at least another three or four years. I considered not pre-ordering the title, but had to cave when I learned David Wise was composing the soundtrack. I then figured that the game would be well-designed and lovely to listen to, but unexciting otherwise.

I'm happy to say that I was wrong; the game is a masterpiece. The soundtrack is even better than I expected and rivals Diddy Kong's Quest as the best in the series. The visuals are gorgeous and the level design is exceptional. The game is highly challenging and offers variety in both the platforming gameplay, and the epic boss fights. The controls will take some getting used to if you're used to New Mario or Rayman, but eventually become second-nature.

Retro has astounded me again. They've created the best game I've played since The Last of Us, and I can't wait to see what their next project is.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2014
I have been a fan of the DKC series since it started 20 years ago, and Tropical Freeze and yet another fun (and beautiful) entry in this series.

While DKC Returns for the Wii was good, this game is a couple steps better. The difficulty could get to some, but honestly it's part of what makes the game. You will probably lose a lot of lives, but it usually keeps you well stocked, and if you've ever played much platformers before (especially older ones), you should expect this kind of difficulty from time to time.

If you are one of the more skilled players (or are very patient), this game is rewarding. I will not go into spoilers, but don't give up! There are more difficult games than this out there!

The gameplay is about perfect. You also have many choices for a controller. My favorite by far is the Pro Controller using the D-pad, but the Gamepad plays the same. The variety of characters really adds to the game as well, giving you different ways to try to make it through levels, and giving you plenty of items to collect, and secrets to find. You could even choose to skip the extras and still have a good game to play. As a side note, the music is also fantastic in this. David Wise has done another great job with this game, and you even get to hear some remixes of songs from previous games (namely a few from my personal favorite, DKC2).

To finish this thing up, if you have a Wii U, are a DK fan, or like good platforming games, don't bother waiting any longer. I got this for $50 a few weeks ago, and have played almost every day since, and am just now getting close to completion.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
I was torn about getting this game. I have enjoyed the Wii U and its exclusives so far, but am not the type that enjoys games that are brutally difficult so I was wary of this. Frustrating is not fun...I've played a lot of games but am generally average in terms of skill level and I don't have a ton of patience. From all I had heard, I expected this game to be good but irritatingly hard.

It's not. Yes, it is difficult, and you will die a lot. But the game does a great job in tossing so many lives and items at you that it really doesn't matter. You never get game overs that cause you to restart a whole level or an entire world like you do in some of the Mario games. That's the kind of thing I just don't like or have time for. Here, checkpoints are fair and the game is so fun that I really didn't care about all the dying. Not only did I not care, but I tore through this game all the way to the end and now am having fun getting all the KONG letters and finding hidden levels. As an adult with responsibilities I hardly ever stick with a video game long enough to finish it, let alone go for extras.

I've played most of the big Wii U titles and there are some great games there. So given that and my tempered expectations I was kind of blindsided when this turned out to be possibly my favorite Wii U game of the bunch. It's beautiful, it's loads of fun, it's DK. Buy it without hesitation unless you are truly abysmal at video games.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2014
I'll start by saying I have played through and beaten the entire game.


1) LOOK and CONTROLS. It's everything you'd expect, very similar to Donkey Kong Country Returns but with better graphics. The controls are very responsive, game looks amazing, the levels are beautiful and challenging. Unlike the prior title, this one can be played with the pro controller and yes the gamepad as well. You get an astounding 4 control options: wii remote only, wii remote + nunchuck, pro controller or gamepad.

2) DIFFICULTY. Yes, this game is extremely difficult but that's why I love it! I was so dissapointed in Super Mario U because I snoozed through the whole game. But not the case here. Games are getting much too easy these days, and I was afraid this game would follow this trend. I am extremely relieved it hasn't. It's not quite as hard as Donkey Kong Country Returns, but it is still very challenging.

I would not recommend this game for children, they will find it too difficult. Go with Super Mario U or Super Luigi U instead. But if you are looking for a challenging visual treat, this is it.


1) UNBALANCED SECONDARY CHARACTERS. A big complaint with the game is that Dixie Kong is overpowered. While playing through the game, you get the choice of playing with Diddy, Dixie or Cranky in addition to Donkey Kong. Cranky is sometimes useful as he can attack underwater and jump through spikes, but Diddy is useless since his jetpack will let you float, but Dixie's hair will let you both float AND fly upwards. This makes Diddy obselete since there is nothing he does that Dixie doesn't do better. There is no point in him being in the game. How the game designers missed this obvious flaw boggles my mind. This wouldn't be an issue if you didn't get to choose which companion to use, but you almost always do get a choice and it's a shame there is no real reason to play with any of them but Dixie.

2) TOO SIMILAR TO PRIOR TITLES. The game is beautiful, but there is little to differentiate it from prior titles. There are no major changes, no new major obstacles or puzzles, nothing significantly new whatsoever other than the graphics. I would have liked to see some kind of major change. Perhaps a new puzzle, new companion, new map layout, new level type, ect. But nope we don't get any of that. This game is basically exactly the same as Donkey Kong Country Returns, mostly platforming with some rocket barrel, mine cart and underwater stages thrown in.

3) TOO SHORT. Nintendo continues to cut corners with its first party releases. All of it's games are getting shorter. Super Mario U, Pikmin 3 and now this title. Tropical Freeze has only 6 worlds + 1 unlockable world. The previous title Donkey Kong Country Returns had 8 worlds + 1 unlockable world. This was incredibly disappointing for me, I was expecting 8 worlds and after I beat the 6th world boss my reaction was "THAT'S IT?!?!?". I was really looking forward to 2 more worlds of increased challenge.

4) NO GAMEPAD INTEGRATION. When playing the game, the gamepad screen is black. Other than off TV play, the gamepad is completely ignored in this game. It's a wonder why Nintendo made the gamepad the defining feature of its system if it didn't plan to utilize it in its major releases.

Overall a great game, but too too safe and too short an offering to earn a 5 star rating from me. The quality of the levels and gameplay is outstanding regardless of the fallbacks I've mentioned.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2014
Love this game! We play every evening! Each level is more challenging than the last! Love the Donkey Kong games.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2014
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the latest installment in the Donkey Kong Country series, and the first on Wii U. It provides a fun, challenging experience that is sure to please fans of the series and platformers in general.

Let's look at the basic gameplay. Tropical Freeze plays very much the same as previous games in the series. In single player, you play as Donkey Kong moving through a side-scrolling 2.5D environment to reach the goal of each level, with secret KONG letters and Puzzle Pieces hidden within, which I'll discuss in more detail later. Throughout the levels, you will come across Kong barrels. By breaking one of these barrels, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, or Cranky Kong will join Donkey and provide support with their own special abilities. Diddy can hover through the air with his jetpack. Dixie can provide an upward boost with a helicopter motion with her ponytail. Cranky can bounce on his cane to reach higher areas, and bounce off of spikes and spiked enemies DK could not normally jump on. As you progress through the game, you'll eventually decide which Kong is your favorite, and generally stick with that one. The gameplay is easy to pick up, but hard to master. This being said, I was mildly disappointed that you can't play as the other Kongs on their own in single player.

Part of what makes a platformer great is its level design. Tropical Freeze does not disappoint in this category. The level designs are fun, unique, and memorable, but also very challenging. You'll be going between standard jungles, underwater mazes, a fruit factory, a burning forest, an icy mountain, dancing trees, a dust storm, and everything in between that you can think of, and probably a lot that you can't think of. And challenge? This is possibly one of the most challenging games on Wii U. You're going to lose a lot of lives in this game. But the levels are fun and unique enough so that, even if you die repeatedly, you'll enjoy going back and retrying until you beat the level. Some are harder than others, some are easier than others, but this game is pretty hard when speaking on a universal average scale. The difficulty may turn away some players, but for most, I think they'll be satisfied that they won't just be effortlessly breezing through the game. I certainly was.

Another shining point of this game is the boss battles. Challenging. Unique. Fun. Not reused at different points through the game. Every boss has a unique way of fighting them, and they all have a unique environment they're set in. And none are just bigger versions of the same enemy you've already fought. The boss battles go through phases where they will shift in their play style and sometimes even their environment, the kinds of changes you normally will not see in this type of platformer, but instead you'd see in games like The Legend of Zelda. You have to adapt quickly to these changes, or you will find yourself losing a life very quickly. The boss battles keep you on edge, test your endurance, utilize various mechanics of the game, and even when you die, you will still want to come back and face them. You will not be breezing through any of these. I died at least a few times on every boss battle, but defeating the boss was very satisfying.

The replay value of this game is immense, and it's worth playing. As stated before, the level designs are some of the best. And you won't mind in the least replaying levels to achieve 100%. First off, the most rewarding part of the replay value is the symbolic KONG letters. Collect all of these in a world, and you'll unlock a bonus level. Beat all these bonus levels, and... well I won't spoil that. But thereafter, there's incentive to play all the levels yet again. Another hidden collectible in the levels is the Puzzle Pieces. Collect all of these in a level, and you'll unlock one of a gallery of pictures. The Puzzle Pieces are more for serious completionists, and some are hidden particularly well, so finding them all is a real challenge. Last is the Time Attack mode. Through completing levels particularly fast, you will earn medals. Not only that, but you can also have your times posted on online leaderboards, turning an otherwise-mostly single player experience into a competitive experience for those who like that sort of thing. To complete all of this replay value, you'll be playing for a long time beyond the fairly short main story.

Well-designed, memorable levels, challenging difficulty, unique boss battles, and great replay value come together to form what is my favorite game in the main Donkey Kong Country series. I highly recommend this game to any Wii U owner or fan of the Donkey Kong Country series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2014
As a diehard fan of the Donkey Kong Country series, I can say that Tropical Freeze is at least on par with Donkey Kong Country 2, if not better.

The Good:
-THE SOUNDTRACK is simply phenomenal. David Wise is back in true form after his absence from Donkey Kong Country Returns. From upbeat beach tunes to foreboding depths, each song is unique, catchy, and superbly syncopated with the gameplay. One particular level early-on has the sounds shifting from brass to strings depending on if you're floating through the air, and enemies in the background blow giant horns along with the music. It's not often I can say I replay levels for the music. This is one of those time.
-The gameplay: hard and satisfying, just like old times. A few welcome changes such as a wider field of view eliminate some of the guesswork jumps had in the original Country series. Unlike its predecessor, Tropical Freeze allows you to pick between analogue and motion controls, a welcome change for the more hardcore fans interested in speed running and time trials (which are still devilishly tricky to master). Some think that the momentum is a little unforgiving, but I'm a fan of having to commit to your jumps. None of the game is "easy," but the last few levels and Hard Mode will definitely leave you wanting for lives.
-The level design and graphics: gorgeous and well-animated. Movement feels fluid, you can even observe the dynamic fur on DK and his friends moving. The backgrounds and vistas are full of jokes and references to past games. It's a shame that there are so many collapsing platforms, because I almost want to take my time and absorb all of the beautiful details.
-The bosses: with the exception of the last boss who is a bit of a let-down compared to the giant Tiki overlord from Returns, the bosses in this game will test your ability to adapt. With a bit of mastery, every boss can be killed rather quickly. But you will get killed several times before that point. No 3-hit bosses here, each one has several stages and unique attacks of varying fairness. Nobody said it would be easy.

The bad:
While nothing is particularly 'bad', there are a few things that may irritate some people.
Loading times- reminiscent of the PS1 era. The initial loading time makes you wonder if the game has froze, while the level-to-level loading times are a bit more manageable. I guess it's the trade-off for fluidity and high-fidelity graphics. Luckily, there are no loading times when you die, and time-trials are no longer plagued by having to listen to the same bass riff each time you wish to restart.
Difficulty- I love hard games. Some people don't. If you are afraid of hard games, you might want to stay away. The game is rather generous with lives, however, so don't be dissuaded if you're timid but a fan of platformers. Co-op with someone less-than-average might also prove a lesson in futility, as a lot of jumps require near-perfect coordination.
Gamepad use- While you can switch between gamepad display and tv display at the menu selection, there is no quick way to switch other than quitting out. This is good for preserving gamepad battery but bad for convenience. I almost want to complain that the game itself doesn't utilize the gamepad function, but I'm glad Retro stuck to their guns and made an honest-to-goodness new-yet-oldschool platformer.

Other thoughts:
While each world has more levels, there are less worlds overall. I liked the level variety of Returns, but I did like the numerous ideas per vista of Tropical Freeze.

Hard mode will leave you groveling on the floor. Trying to get shiny gold medals on every level will only lead to massive headache. But you will enjoy every second of it...if you dare. You have been warned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2014
As with all Donkey Kong games, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze provides a very fun and and challenging experience. I think it's games like these that make the 2D platforming genre so hard to pass up, even so many years after most games have moved to 3D.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how fantastic this game looks in HD and with various 3D pieces to this platforming puzzle. Really, it blew me away initially. This game looks amazing.

Overall, DKC fans will be surprised to find there's only 6 worlds as opposed to the usual 8, but they have jam packed the 6 worlds with so many levels you just can't be upset. The level design in this game is so nostalgic but Retro still somehow made nearly every level feel 100% original, so I tip my hat to them.

The new game mechanics, great level design, additions of Dixie and Cranky Kong, and the amazing HD graphics make this one hard to pass up. Just be warned, this game is harder than your average platformer! You will lose many, many lives. I consider myself a platforming veteran, but this game still wasn't easy. The challenge gives you an extra sense of satisfaction.
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