The Game Guy

DKBoxNintendo’s first-party developers seem to have one main goal: make old games feel like new again. Their latest entry, “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” builds on the side-scrolling gameplay of the “Donkey Kong Country” series of the SNES. Its visuals have received an upgrade with the Wii U hardware, but the game plays nearly identical to the Wii and 3DS’ “Donkey Kong Country Returns” from 2010.

 

In “Tropical Freeze,” Donkey Kong’s peaceful island is under attack by a clan of cold weather animals called the Snowmads. The Snowmads have launched an attack on Donkey Kong’s tropical island, covering it in cold, snowy weather. Not every level in “Tropical Freeze” is snow themed, however, which doesn’t seem to gel with the story.


“Donkey Kong Country” games have never been known to push the boundaries of video game narratives. They’ve always been about simple and challenging gameplay that puts fun factor above all else. “Tropical Freeze” continues that tradition.

 

The gameplay formula is largely untouched from “Donkey Kong Country Returns.” Donkey Kong jumps, rolls, and has a ground pound ability that can stun enemies. “Tropical Freeze” continues the style of two-dimensional side-scrolling in the series, but each level has bright 3D environments. Donkey Kong will occasionally be launched into the background or foreground, putting him on a new plane with new obstacles.

 

He starts out on his own but can find help from his friends if he finds them in barrels. Diddy Kong, Kranky Kong, and Dixie Kong are all waiting to lend a hand with their unique abilities. Diddy Kong allows Donkey to hover in mid-air thanks to his jump jets. Kranky allows the use of his cane, which can bounce over hazardous obstacles like spikes. Dixie gives Donkey some extra altitude while jumping thanks to her ponytail helicopter.

 

Donkey Kong’s cast of pals help significantly during the later, harder levels. The levels, along with the world bosses, get incredibly challenging. “Tropical Freeze” toes the line between satisfying and frustrating.

 

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Being a Wii U exclusive, the game could’ve benefited from features made possible with the second screen of the GamePad. Unfortunately, the second screen doesn’t do anything when playing on a TV. The GamePad’s screen turns off. The game can still be played on the GamePad when it’s selected as the main screen.

 

“Tropical Freeze” takes roughly five hours to complete, but there’s plenty more game to experience after the first completion. Collecting the “K,” “O,” “N,” and “G” letters unlocks bonus levels in each world. In addition to these bonus stages, each stage has puzzle pieces that can be collected to unlock concept art.

 

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The classic mine cart levels are back, as are the rocket barrel stages from “Donkey Kong Country Returns.” These fan favorites return, but the gameplay doesn’t deviate far from what was in that previous Wii U game. The game continues the fun from the previous games but doesn’t bring many new ideas.

 

“Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” is a top-tier offering for the Wii U, but it doesn’t break the mold the same way “Super Mario 3D World” did late last year. It’s a Wii U exclusive, but it fails to take advantage of the GamePad. This is a good game that missed opportunities to be great.

 

8 out of 10

 

 

Pros:

Retro Style
Challenging, yet satisfying gameplay

Cons:

Fails to take advantage of the GamePad
Feels too familiar to "Donkey Kong Country Returns" 

 

 Platform    Wii U 
 Release Date   2/21/14 
 Price   $49.99
 Rated  E for Everyone 

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Nintendo Direct 2-13-14 LiveBlog

Thursday, 13 February 2014 04:59 PM Written by

5:01 - Satoru Iwata is on camera for the first Nintendo Direct of 2014. 

5: 03 - The show kicks off by showing off a new trailer. The trailer shows off Little Mac from the "Punch Out" series. He's the new character in Super Smash Bros. He will be in both the 3DS and Wii U versions. 

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New 'Dying Light' trailer shows gameplay

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 12:10 PM Written by

“Dying Light,” the upcoming first-person survival game from Techland and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, received a new trailer today. This trailer entitled “Humanity” shows a glimpse into the decaying world overrun with zombies.

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Lightning ReturnsCover“Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13-3” is a hefty dose of video game from the length of the title to the actual game itself. It’s the third installment of the thirteenth game of the “Final Fantasy” series. While it does bring truly inspired combat to the RPG genre, the total package proves that quantity doesn’t always bring quality.

 

The fan favorite heroine Lightning returns to the series after being absent from the previous game. The world is mere days away from ending. God has entrusted the skills of Lightning to carry out a number of missions in order to save the world. Since the world is on the brink of destruction, “Lightning Returns” features a running clock that constantly inches the game closer to doomsday.

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“Strider,” the anticipated reboot from Double Helix Games, will release on February 18 for the PSN (PS4 and PS3), and February 19 on XBLA (Xbox One and Xbox 360) and PC. The $14.99 package will feature a main story and Challenge Modes.

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