Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

“Kinetic” is the descriptor that most comes to mind for Retro Studios’ duology of Donkey Kong Country games. That everything in them is so full of motion is both their greatest strength and their greatest flaw; it makes their worlds come alive gloriously, but it also makes hitboxes impossible to discern. Tropical Freeze adds another major flaw: the sense of nostalgia is now a sense of déjà vu. Returns obviously leaned heavily on the original trilogy but still had its own identity. Tropical Freeze leans heavily on Returns but…has some neat twists on standard platforming level themes, I guess. It also adds two new Kong partners, but one’s ability is borrowed from DuckTales, and the other’s is so ridiculously useful that it trivializes all but the toughest obstacles.

It’s a testament to how phenomenal the designers and developers at Retro Studios are that they were able to take something so conceptually empty and still make it fun. The lavishly animated presentation can make jumping between five functionally identical platforms feel like five completely different tasks. Furthermore, the levels or sections thereof that aren’t broken by Dixie Kong (usually those involving vehicles) are immaculately constructed to test your mastery of their unique features. Conversely, the two-player co-op is so uncharacteristically unbalanced and ill-designed that it’s all but unplayable. Lastly, while the David Wise soundtrack is disappointingly overproduced, it’s still a Goddamn David Wise soundtrack.

6/10
6/10

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