User blog:TyrantRex/TyrantRex's thoughts on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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Note: This isn't a proper review, but rather my thoughts and opinions on the game!

I recommend listening to this while reading this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO1gOFL2fq8

Background

Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of my favorite Wii games ever. I had never played a Donkey Kong game until then so I was completely blown away by it, simply put, DKC Returns puts New Super Mario Bros. Wii to shame is is probably harder than Rayman 1. So when I found out there's a sequel I was very excited... until I remebered I don't have a Wii U, every time I looked at Tropical Freeze and how everyone says it's better than returns was pure torture.

Then Nintendo Direct announced Tropical Freeze is coming to Nintendo Switch, my reaction was an even bigger YEEEESSSS!!!! than everyone's reactions to Smash Bros. Ultimate. Now, 4 years late to the party, I finally got to check this one out.

The Game

So, the sequel to one of my favorite Wii games, what's it's like? Well... IT'S A MASTERPIECE! At least as far as 2D platformers go anyways. I'll just go straight to the point, this is arguably THE best 2D platformer I've ever played, not kidding here. Anything DKC Returns did well, Tropical Freeze does better while fixing almost every main issue Returns had.

Presentation - DKC Return's main goal was to feel like the old SNES Donkey Kong games which I never played, it does the job well but there's some lack in variety, every World has a theme but everything starts feeling familiar after a while. In Tropical Freeze the variety in themes is outstanding, because every World takes place on a different island which gives room for way more creativity in overall themes, like an airplane graveyard, or a savannah, or a fruit factory, nothing feels repetitive. Even the levels in each world feel different from each other, one level you're on a giant tornado, the next there's a forest on fire, the next you're flying on a barrel over the ocean, all while keeping the World's overall theme. The best by far is the final world, every level is a revisit to each main World of Returns but frozen over, it was an excellent touch. The only world that's kinda hit or miss is the fourth, which is a water world but it's the generic beach and deep ocean theme, come on you could've been more creative than that.

Level Design - This is more a general thing about Nintendo platformers which I saw on a few videos that I agreed with. Levels in Nintendo Platformers tend to only use one main gimmick, that the level repeats multiple times in different scenarios, it is an effective way to design levels but it does feel like you're just facing the same obstacle over and over. Tropical Freeze says screw that, every level has a main mechanic sure, but on top of that there are many different types of obstacles and gimmicks working together so that levels NEVER feel repetitive. Now Donkey Kong games are famous/infamous for being pretty freaking hard, and while Tropical Freeze is very challenging it's less punishing than Returns, it's hard but never unfair. I can only count a few times where I felt like I was cheated out of a death, the other 90-95% of the time I died it was my own fault. I like it when a game is hard but fair.

The most infamous parts of DKC Returns are the minecart and barrel blast levels because their insane difficulty, which mostly boil down to you only having one hit point. Those levels return and are just even more frantic and unpredictable as before but there's a huge difference, you have TWO hit points! That alone fixes every problem the vehicle levels had, add frequent health pickups and more checkpoints and the frustration of those levels is completely gone.

Music - I put the whole soundtrack on the recommended listen, enough said.

Powerups - Diddy Kong is the only powerup in DKC Returns, now Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong are powerups too. Dixie is a propeller for longer jumps and Cranky is a pogo stick ala Duck Tales. Most of the time you can choose which Kong you want as a power up, I often pick Dixie because she's a tad overpowered.

The antagonists - The antagonists in DKC Returns were a bunch of Tiki masks shaped as music instruments, that's boring. Here the antagonists are arctic animal vikings, mostly penguins. Their designs are much more creative and goofier, it's more fun to pummel those guys.

Bosses - I've never been a big fan of boss fights in platforming games, almost all of them are just "memorize attack pattern, hit them when vulnerable, rinse and repeat", some bosses don't even change their attacks at all, they're more trial and error than skill tests, sure some have a second phase but they just get more aggresive, they don't change their strategy. Now in fairness Tropical Freeze bosses do have attack paterns they're a lot less about raw trial-and-error, their patterns are less predictable and you can even damage most of them in the middle of an attack cycle, they also keep throwing new attacks and some curve balls as they take more damage. The only boss that was kinda dissapointing was, ironically, the final boss; he's just a fat Walrus with a meh design and the fight drags for longer than it should, compared all the other bosses, it was rather anti-climatic.

I could keep going one, but simply put, just like DKC Returns puts any New Super Mario. Bros to shame, Tropical Freee puts Returns to shame. This is easily on my top 5 favorite games ever now. Now... is it too much to ask for a third modern DKC?