Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
DKC-TF Boxart.jpg
Developer(s) Retro Studios
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platforms Wii U
Release date: Japan February 13, 2014
USA February 21, 2014[1]
Europe February 21, 2014[2]
Australia February 22, 2014[3]
Genre Platformer
Ratings
Modes Single player, Multiplayer

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a 2.5D platforming game for the Wii U. It is the fifth installment of the Donkey Kong Country series, and the sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii. It is also the second game in the series to be developed by Retro Studios, the first to be released on the Wii U, the third to feature Dixie Kong, and the second to not feature the Kremlings.

Plot[edit]

DKCTF story1.png

At Donkey Kong's Treehouse, the Kong family are celebrating Donkey Kong's birthday with a banana-themed cake. While the four are celebrating, one of the balloons detatches from the exterior of the house and drifts out towards the ocean where a fleet of ships, sailed by vikings called the Snomads, are stationed. On the fleet, a Tuck spies on the Kongs, as it locates their house and warns their mysterious leader. More tucks appear, giving the leader, Lord Frederick, a large misty horn. By blowing it, he sends out an intense, cold wind, along with an icy dragon.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the camera briefly focuses on Diddy Kong, who is blowing a kazoo, before focusing on Donkey Kong, about to blow out his candle, when a snowflake suddenly appears and extinguishes it for him. Enraged, DK and the others look outside, to see the icy bird as it freezes everything it flies over. The strong wind it produces blows the Kongs all the way to the Lost Mangroves, dropping them into a plane-wreckage that's sitting in a tree, (while the bird continues to turn Donkey Kong Island into an icy paradise). After traversing this unfamiliar location, plus four other islands, (with each island being its own world with a unique theme), the Kongs make it back to the island, and must get their home (as well as their Banana Hoard) back by beating the evil conquerors.

Upon traversing the many regions of DK Island once more, DK and co. enter the newly-created base on top, entering a large room where Lord Frederick is sitting on this throne as many Tucks blow horns. The angered gorilla jumps down onto the icy floor, his fist making it crack. After revealing his true appearance, Frederick jumps down onto the ice sheet, causing it to shatter completely. Fortunately, the trio land down on some footing inside the Volcano, (where the lava is still intact). After a final showdown, Frederick is blown out of Donkey Kong Island and into the sea, where his girth causes the entire fleet of ships to get destroyed. The four Kongs rejoice as Donkey Kong catches the large saxophone-like log and uses it to restore Donkey Kong Island to its normal state. Afterwards, DK, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky are seen on DK's porch, (playing Frederick's horn, a set of bongos, a guitar, and a bass respectively) before the credits roll.

In an epilogue cutscene that occurs after the credits, the Kongs come across a wrapped present on their front lawn, which they open. Inside the box is a small relic that serves as the final key to unlocking Secret Seclusion.

Gameplay[edit]

NOTE: This game can be played with either the Wii U Gamepad, the Wii U Pro-Controller, or the Wii Remote (alone, or with the Nunchuk). The former controller supports Off-TV play, and the latter two are the only ones that require the usage of motion controls.

The overall gameplay of Tropical Freeze is largely the same as that of Donkey Kong Country Returns, though with its share of noteworthy differences. Unlike before, the player can now choose between multiple Kongs to partner up with or play as, (the latter ability only applying to Player Two) each with their own abilities that can help them complete levels. Due to this, partner barrels now rotate and switch icons, signifying which Kong will appear if broken, requiring good timing if the player is looking for a specific one. Replacing the locked paths on the world maps, players can now find secret exits hidden within the levels, which unlock hidden stages and mitigate the need to buy Map Keys. In a similar fashion to Donkey Kong 64, these secret exits, along with a number of collectibles such as Puzzle Pieces and Bonus Rooms often require the usage of a specific partner, (such as using Dixie Kong to swim against a strong current, or using Cranky Kong to bounce over a patch of spikes).

New mechanics include the "Pluck" move (replacing the Blow) which allows the player to lift roots from the ground to move obstacles, find secrets, or even manipulate the environment to a significant degree. Underwater levels and swimming make their return in this game, though this time players have an air-gauge, and must grab bubbles to stay alive. During swimming sections, the player can now perform a spiral attack in the water in order to attack enemies and get a speed boost, (marking the first time where an Animal Buddy is not needed to do so). Another new move is the Kong Pow, which enables players to initiate a powerful attack that - with the press of a button dependent on the player's controller choice - kills all on-screen enemies and turns them all into useful items depending on the partner-character being used. If the move is used in the returning Two-player mode, then both players must press their respective buttons at the same time. Finally, the game also incorporates a dynamic camera, which not only provides new camera-angles to add depth and difficulty to the game, but also leads to some hints of 3D gameplay in certain stages, (such as hopping between parallel rails in a certain Minecart level). Alongside the new features, many mechanics are brought back from Returns, including Rocket Barrels, Rambi, Silhouette Levels, Minecarts, and access to an in-game store: Funky's Fly 'n' Buy, (replacing Cranky Kong's Shop from the previous game).

The overall difficulty of the game has been increased from that of DKCR, (especially during the Key Temples and boss battles), with many stages requiring more precision, strategy and timing, as well as other gameplay changes, such as the aforementioned camera system, a bigger emphasis on larger and/or trickier enemies within the levels, and the nerfing of certain moves, (i.e. Diddy's Peanut Popgun). To compensate for this, the "New Mode" from Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D has been partially brought back. Despite the game no longer offering the Kongs three hearts instead of two, and there being no way to select one's preferred difficulty within the game itself, most of the shop items that were exclusive to the easy mode are now available to purchase at any time. For players who are looking for an even greater challenge, a new Hard Mode is introduced, where the player cannot utilize partner-characters or items, and only has one heart.

Characters[edit]

Kongs[edit]

  • Donkey Kong: DK controls exactly as he did in Donkey Kong Country Returns, though he can now swim, (a gameplay mechanic that has been absent since Donkey Kong 64) though unlike before, he can utilize an underwater spiral attack to take out enemies, even without an Animal Buddy or partner. He can no longer blow, as that move was replaced with the Pluck. He is the only character whom other Kongs can mount on. Unique to DK is his strength. While the other characters will move slower while carrying objects, Donkey will still maintain his typical running speed. He can also pluck roots from the ground much more quickly than anyone else.
  • Diddy Kong: Like DK, fan-favorite Diddy's moveset is relatively untouched from the previous game, though he can now swim, but can no longer blow. He can hover briefly with his Barrel Jet, and use his Peanut Popguns to stun enemies, (though he can no longer kill them, and enemies stay stunned for a far shorter amount of time), and utilize the Popgun Pound. Unlike the other partners, Diddy is the only character who can use their gun on the ground. He can "carry" DK, by using his Barrel Jet while partnered with him. The Barrel Jet in of itself has also gained a new ability: shooting Diddy forwards while underwater in quick, but uncontrollable bursts. If the Kong Pow is initiated while Diddy is present, all on-screen enemies will turn into Red Balloons.
  • Dixie Kong: Dixie Kong makes her return as a playable character, after 18 years of her playable roles being relegated to spin-offs. She an spin her ponytail to stay airborne for longer, though unlike DKC2, she now gains additional altitude when doing this. DK can use this ability too if he has her on his back. Dixie now has a Gumball Popgun that behaves exactly like Diddy's Peanut Popgun. Besides a double-jump, Dixie's ponytail has also gotten more uses. She can whack it on the ground to perform her own version of the Ground Pound, and spin it while grounded to defeat foes in her path, as a replacement for DK's Barrel Roll, or Diddy's Cartwheel. When underwater, Dixie's ponytail can be used like a propeller, allowing her to swim faster and even swim through strong currents. Compared to Diddy's underwater ability, this move allows more control over its direction, and can be held infinitely. If the Kong Pow is initiated while Dixie is present, all on-screen enemies will turn into Golden Hearts.
  • Cranky Kong: In this game, Cranky Kong makes his first playable appearance as his old self in any non-spinoff game. His version of the Ground Pound involves whacking the ground with his walking stick. The walking stick is also used as a pogo stick, allowing him to jump higher, damage spiky enemies, (as well as take down large enemies in fewer hits) and hop across dangerous solid terrain safely, (all of these abilities can be used by DK if the two are partnered up). He also has a new Denture Popgun used to stun foes in the same vein as the guns of other characters. He is the only partner-character who can do the Barrel Roll. While underwater, Cranky can also use his cane to attack enemies underwater, (including spiked ones, which are immune to the spiral attack), and when the Kong Pow is initiated with him present, all on-screen enemies will turn into Banana Coins.
  • Funky Kong: A non-playable character who operates the game's item shop.

Enemies[edit]

Snomads[edit]

Other foes[edit]

Levels and Worlds[edit]

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze features six islands, including the frozen DK Island. Each island serves as a single world, consisting of 6-8 levels, (with at least two of them being optional), a Key Temple, an item shop, and a boss fight. Due to having fewer worlds than DKCR, the individual levels are considerably longer than those of the previous game to compensate. Additionally, some of the levels even have multiple ways to complete them, which unlock secret levels. Each level contains a set of 4 K-O-N-G Letters, and a set of 5-9 Puzzle Pieces. Collecting all the KONG letters in a single world unlocks that world's Key Temple, which must be completed in order to collect a relic, (replacing the previous game's Rare Orbs). Collecting the relic from every island unlocks access to a short bonus world. Collecting all the Puzzle Pieces in a single level unlocks concept artwork for the player to view at their leisure, and collecting all pieces in a single world will unlock a diorama based on that world (much like in the previous game). Additionally, collecting every puzzle piece throughout the game leads to 100% completion. In addition to collecting everything in the levels, the Time Attack mode from the last game returns too, and like before, saves the player's best record and medal and marks each level with it. Though unlike before, players can now choose which partners to use during this mode, and share their records online via leaderboards.

World 1: Lost Mangroves[edit]

The first island in the game is a wreckage-filled mangrove forest situated on a beach. The island itself is rather easy and introduces the Kongs to most of the game's mechanics, including the first Minecart and Silhouette stages. The boss is Pompy, the Presumptuous.

World 2: Autumn Heights[edit]

The second island of the game resembles a national park, with a Bavarian-style feel. The island primarily consists of forests and mountains, though it does have its share of cave levels, and abandoned buildings such as sawmills, bell-towers, and even an abandoned hut that could've housed a wood-sculptor and possibly a cheese-maker as well. The boss is Skowl, the Startling.

World 3: Bright Savannah[edit]

The third island takes place on grassy, African-style plains full of wildlife and swaying trees. Despite its desolate, savannah-like appearance however, there happen to be rocky cliffs, a bramble pit, and a lagoon on this island, with the latter containing carnivorous shark-like creatures and a fishery which is run by the Snomads. In this world, the player will encounter many dangers that are commonly found in similar environments, such as brush-fires, dust storms, tornadoes, and even falling durians. Though there is an unlockable Rocket Barrel level in Autumn Heights, this world is technically the one where players are introduced to this mechanic, as it is the first world in the game to have one on its main path. The boss is Ba-Boom, the Boisterous.

World 4: Sea Breeze Cove[edit]

The fourth island in the game could technically be considered a group of islands, due to its abundance of underwater levels, (including the boss fight). Despite this, some of the levels involve on-shore platforming. This world is full of dangerous denizens of the deep, as well as plenty of ruins, both sunken and floating. The boss is Fugu, the Frightening.

World 5: Juicy Jungle[edit]

The game's fifth island may look like a jungle, but pretty soon, the Kongs will find themselves avoiding dangerous machinery, slipping and sliding on popsicles, swimming in juice, and even bouncing on jello as they traverse through the Snomad-run fruit processing plant that is built within it. The boss is Bashmaster, the Unbreakable.

World 6: Donkey Kong Island[edit]

The Kong family's homeland, which has been frozen over by the Snowmads, who have conquered the entire place and even gotten ahold of DK's Banana Hoard. Each level in this world represents one of the eight worlds from the previous game, complete with familiar set-pieces and aesthetics, and an even bigger challenge, due to the ice all over the place that leads to slippery surfaces and unstable platforms. The boss is Lord Frederick, the Snomad King.

Bonus World (World 7): Secret Seclusion[edit]

Like the previous game, a bonus world is present, this time in the form of some floating ruins off to the east of DK Island. This world is short, but challenging, and requires the player to collect the relics from each of the previous worlds, which combine with the piece that is rewarded by simply beating the game to activate a monkey statue. Beating all three levels unlocks the game's Hard Mode, replacing the Mirror Mode from Returns. In addition to nabbing all the collectibles in every level, and performing a Time Attack on all of them, the player must complete each level on Hard Mode in order to complete the game 200%.

Items[edit]

New items[edit]

  • Unnamed roots sticking up from the ground, which can be pulled to alter the environment
  • Unnamed scuba-diving helmets that release Air Bubbles
  • Golden Hearts

Returning Items[edit]

Barrels[edit]

Animal Buddies[edit]

Development and release[edit]

The game was first announced during Nintendo's Nintendo Direct presentation at E3 2013, where it was revealed that Kensuke Tanabe was the main director of the game. It was also he who was responsible for the inclusion of the new "Pluck" move, which was inspired by the mechanics of Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA). The game was announced to be released in November of that same year, before being pushed back to December 6th in order to be released in time for the holiday season. Finally, during the October 2013 Nintendo Direct, Satoru Iwata announced that Tropical Freeze would be delayed to February 2014 in order to optimize the gaming experience, but the specific date would not be revealed until December 7th at the VGX Awards. The game was eventually released on February 13th in Japan, on the 21st in North America and Europe, and on the 22nd in Australia.

The game's soundtrack was produced by returning composer David Wise (who had previously worked on the soundtrack for the previous DKC games except for Returns), with some help from Daisuke Matsuoka, Minako Hamano, Shinji Ushiroda, and Riyu Tamura. The team was supervised by Kenji Yamamoto, who had provided the soundtrack for Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Reception[edit]

The game received mostly positive reviews from critics. It has an aggregate score of 84.46% on GameRankings[4] and 83/100 on Metacritic.[5]

Destructoid gave the game a perfect 10/10, saying "with the addition of control options to the already proven formula, Retro Studios' rendition of Donkey Kong is pretty much flawless."[6] GamesRadar gave the game 4 out of 5 stars, praising its presentation and challenge whilst criticising the co-operative multiplayer.[7] Game Informer gave it a 9.25/10, praising the levels by saying "I’d rather have a slightly smaller collection of Retro Studios’ best levels than one bloated up with lesser-quality stages in order to hit an arbitrary number. That finely cultivated assortment is exactly what you get with Tropical Freeze in regards of the game having fewer levels than Returns.[8] GameTrailers gave the game a 9.1/10, praising its improvements to gameplay and features.[9] IGN gave the game a 9/10, praising the game's challenge, level design, and boss battles.[10] Gamnesia's Colin McIsaac chose Tropical Freeze as a Game of the Year, calling it "a masterpiece of mechanics and level design" and citing the level Grassland Groove as "an empowering sensory experience, and perhaps even the greatest platforming level made to date."[11]

In a slightly more negative review, GameSpot gave the game a 6/10, saying that interesting boss battles and vehicle segments didn't make up for clunky, repetitive level design and poor implementation of new mechanics.[12] GamesTM, who gave it a 7/10, found the game to be as difficult as its predecessors, citing the enemy and obstacle placements, and that the bosses "assault you with at least half a dozen different attacks and absorb many more of yours before they accept defeat."[13]

Sales[edit]

During its first eight days of release in North America, Tropical Freeze sold an estimated 130,000 units.[14]

Tropical Freeze would also be among the numerous titles that would slowly improve the sales of the Wii U, (alongside other titles such as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Mario Kart 8) which was selling worse than expected at the time. In February 2014, Nintendo revealed that the Wii U had improved about 180% in year-over-year sales in the United States due to the game's launch, and how many units it had sold by that time.[15]

Update history[edit]

On April 3, 2014, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze received an update. Originally, a glitch would rarely occur where the player would not be able to access 3-4: Scorch 'N' Torch after completing 3-3: Frantic Fields. This update corrects this glitch, and it will be downloaded to the Wii U as long as an Internet connection is available. As a result of this update, the text "Ver. 1.1.0" now appears on the bottom-left corner of the loading screen.[16]

Trivia[edit]

  • In Mangrove Cove, the first level of the game, the player can go inside the damaged airplane-cockpit after knocking it out of a tree. Here, they can find TVs that can be turned on and display the game's title screen. A Red Balloon can also be found in here. This is a throwback to the previous DKC game.
  • The game's title is possibly a pun on the phrase "Tropical Breeze".
  • Unlike Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, Dixie Kong carries items with her hands instead of her ponytail.
  • Dixie Kong's Gumball Popgun alludes to her idle pose in the second and third Donkey Kong Country games, where she would blow bubblegum.
  • During the in-game cutscenes, the character animations depend on which character(s) are being used (e.g. Dixie slowing her fall with her ponytail and Cranky rolling a few times before falling, as opposed to Diddy simply crashing into the ground).
  • This is the first Donkey Kong Country series game since Donkey Kong Country 3 to feature elaborate names for the worlds.
  • This game currently has the most playable characters of any DKC game, having four as opposed to the two of all four predecessors.
  • The game features a variety of idle animations depending on the character combination in use, featuring a larger variety than all four predecessors:
    • Donkey Kong alone: Briefly scratches his armpit after a short time. If the player waits a little longer, he will look around and start playing a blue Nintendo 3DS XL, playing either Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 (as himself), Animal Crossing: New Leaf, or even Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.
    • Diddy Kong alone: Diddy's animations are all in a random order. He might remove his cap and sing dramatically, or stretch while making one of three different yawning noises.
    • Dixie Kong alone: Dixie's animations are all in a random order. She will either do a handstand, (using one of three different voice clips each time), or play air-guitar as a reference to DKC2.
    • Cranky Kong alone: Cranky only has one animation. He will stand in place, using his cane to dig in his ear briefly.
    • DK and Diddy: Diddy will help Donkey check to see if the coast is clear, and then sit on his back, constantly switching which of his shoulders to grip as he watches him play.
    • DK and Dixie: Dixie will help Donkey look around just like Diddy. When he starts playing the 3DS, Dixie will start grooming DK.
    • DK and Cranky: Unlike the other partners, Cranky does not help DK check if the coast is clear. As Donkey Kong plays his 3DS, Cranky will show disinterest in watching and read a newspaper instead.

Gallery[edit]

For the game's gallery, see Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze/gallery.

References[edit]

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8khWAH13fg&t=5m50s
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnBM6dDIQnc&t=689
  3. http://web.archive.org/web/20140217064100/http://www.nintendo.com.au/index.php?action=news&nid=3032
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  16. http://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5511/p/431

External links[edit]