Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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JaySevenZero
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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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The Baboon Baron
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Re: 416: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by The Baboon Baron »

DK Tropical Freeze, is one of those games like New Super Mario Bros that I want to use as an example. And by use as an example, I mean I want to go up to the owners of The Mega man, Contra, Castlevania and countless other Intellectual Property and bash them over the head with it whist screaming “THIS! THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!”

This is a fantastic game, inventive and whimsical in the way only Nintendo seem to be able to perfect, it joyfully looks to the past as much as it looks to the future, creating a mix of both platformer cliques and new and interesting interpretations.

It played well, looked amazing, and provided a glimmer of hope to the otherwise doomed Wii U. It was also really hard in places.. Capturing some of the platforming madness and the collect-a-thon vibes from the previous titles, 100 percenting Tropical Freeze is no small undertaking. I’m always pleasantly surprised when these more old-school style games prove to be difficult, and DK tropical Freeze does so masterfully.

It might not have defined a generation like some of the “country” games, but in my view Tropical Freeze is above “…returns” in the DK adventure catalogue. A really great game.

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Toon Scottoon
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Re: 416: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by Toon Scottoon »

It’s not a surprise that Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze begins with a birthday party; it is absolutely a celebration of the series, a whistle blowing, rocket lighting, hard charging, beat on the ground, Mardi Gras style romp where almost every part of the game looked, sounded, and felt the way I remember the original trilogy looking, sounding, and feeling back when I first experienced those games on the SNES.

Of course it’s not a perfect game. I found the boss encounters altogether too long, but who cares about a couple of tedious polar punching bags when you’ve got a stage like Grassland Groove, the parade stage that opens the Bright Savannah world, pulsing along with life and song and joy whenever you need it.

Three word review
The Series Ape-x

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NoMoreSpearows
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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (25.4.20) - 416: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by NoMoreSpearows »

I first played Tropical Freeze on June 15th, 2013, almost eight months before its release in the United States. Nintendo's strategy during E3 of that year was to have select Best Buys host events where the public could play one of four upcoming Wii U games, and I was fortunate enough to live about an hour's drive from one. While most were in line to play either Super Mario 3D World or Mario Kart 8, I knew what I had come for, and when it came time to finally play through the level that we now know as Mangrove Cove, the person I was playing with was quick to run to the right and proceed through the level.

I headed to the left, back into the crashed plane DK jumps out of in the introduction.

While I initially did this because I knew of the series history of hiding things immediately behind the player (sure enough, we were rewarded with an extra life), I was more intrigued by a stack of televisions found in the plane's remnants. As soon as my partner got the balloon and ran out, I excitedly asked if we could double back and I could check something. He begrudgingly did so, I shook my Wii Remote and Nunchuk...

And as DK pounded the ground, the stack of TVs came to life, all proudly showing the title screen for Donkey Kong Country Returns. Retro Studios had mastered the art of the running gag.

The rest of the experience was great as well (aside from our unfortunate game over; we were both a bit nervous playing in front of a crowd), but seeing that attention to detail not only maintained, but built upon from its predecessor, made me realize just how much care went into Tropical Freeze from the moment it begins all the way to the end. Simply masterful.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (25.4.20) - 416: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by BlueWeaselBreath »

I was a fan of the first two DKC games back in the day, but then hadn’t played any of them since then, having not owned another Nintendo home console until the Switch. Having heard great things about Tropical Freeze, I checked the Switch version out from GameFly and decided to give it a whirl.

I only had a few days to spend with the game before I would return it to get another game so, perhaps foolishly, I opted to use Funky Kong for the playthrough, thinking this would allow me to see as much of the game as quickly as possible. I was good enough at DKC back in the day to finish all 102.3% or whatever of the original (sidebar: it’s obnoxious when games do this—it was cute the first time, but it makes the percentage completely uninformative if you don’t know what the actual maximum is), but I thought maybe I had gotten rusty and would need “easy” mode.

I really enjoyed the game, feeling like it was the best realization of what the series had been striving for in previous iterations. Every stage had something new, so it didn’t get repetitive—new modes of transit, backgrounds, and set pieces.

I expected that using Funky would decrease my enjoyment of the game, and I accepted that in advance, but oddly I think he made the game harder in some places since he only goes solo. I tried and failed to beat the fish boss with Funky about fifteen times before switching to Donkey Kong and winning on my first attempt.

The visuals of the game and the addition of the supposedly easy mode with Funky made me think this game was going to be for kids or something, but it completely whipped my ass. I gave up after dying repeatedly on the extended rocket barrel level and sent it back, hoping I’d get to finish it one day. I could’ve finished it if I’d kept at it, and I definitely would try to rinse it if I bought it, but I didn’t feel invested enough to sink many more precious hours into at this stage of my life.

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Mr Ixolite
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Re: Our next podcast recording (25.4.20) - 416: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by Mr Ixolite »

Despite their meticulous design, I’ve never been able to fully embrace most of Marios’ 2D adventures. Because of the abstract, or at least somewhat minimalist visuals, the levels feel like platformer templates that have yet to have their unique theming added. And what themes there are are oft repeated – If you’ve seen one Mario desert you’ve basically seen them all.

I bring this up because in addition to its truly stellar design, Tropical Freeze, may be the uncrowned king of 2D platformers in terms of theming. Every platform, every hazard is given fresh and exciting context, without ever being bogged down by “realism”. The visual creativity is boundless; A jungle is not just a jungle, but an airplane graveyard or fruit harvesting plant. Even within a given level the game keeps surprising you; You might start out running past the occasional small twister on the savannah, and end up riding a rhino through a roaring tornado. Theres’ a Loony Tunes style cartoonish escalation at play, and at its best Tropical Freeze feels composed rather than designed. The creativity thankfully also extends to the enemies; it feels weird saying so, but fighting viking penguins shooting fish at you rather than weird limbless tiki-drums really does make a difference, at least to me.

And you can team up with Cranky Kong! I was unprepared for how invested I’d be in this, but as the game went on I would resolutely pick the old geezer from the DK barrels, and sigh with disappointment when I lost him. Not because of the loss of hit points, but because I’d recontextualized the game as a cross-generational bonding exercise, and wanted Cranky to be there for the triumphs of his grandson. Just goes to show what a bit of characterization can do.

My only major complaint is that the overworld music doesn’t adapt to the theming, which I thought was an absolutely brilliant touch in its predecessor. Otherwise, this is platforming heaven.

(EDIT: I realize now that this post is somewhat deriative of Mark Browns' Tropical Freeze video. Shared sensibilities or subconscious plagiarism? You decide)

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Re: Our next podcast recording (25.4.20) - 416: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Post by seansthomas »

I have to admit, when I saw the initial reveal for Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze my heart sank. It felt as if, among a certain circle of friends I had, it's unveiling knocked the stuffing out of any chance the Wii U had of being a success. I had enjoyed the final year or so of Wii releases but for many gamers, Nintendo had a job to do reengaging and exciting their core audience. So when this was revealed as an early release on the system alongside other first party game series we were still playing Wii iterations of, and with Donkey Kong Country Returns still very fresh in the mind, I don't think it's unfair to say it went down like a fart in a spacesuit. Sales figures had shown people liked the series, but the reveal felt like diminishing returns to me. Worse, when it also became apparent a few days later that the mighty Retro Studios were leading it, those in the know realised that meant that we were years from a new IP or Metroid Prime sequel, and the online backlash began.

I almost didn't play Tropical Freeze myself. Even as a gamer with only a Wii U to my name, and a fairly barren collection of new releases most months, on the face of the trailers this seemed to represent everything about Nintendo I had grown frustrated with such as playing it safe with core franchises, Directs dedicated to minor gameplay improvements and a nagging sense of deja vu. Eventually I bought it just before I boxed up my Wii U and loaned it to a friend. And thank God I did.

Because Tropical Freeze is an astounding game. I had come off a fairly dazzling run of playing New Super Mario Bros U, Shovel Knight, Super Guacamelee and Rayman Legends so I didn't know what to expect, and I had found the inertia and stop start nature of previous Donkey Kong games a bit leaden.

But I never found that here. The weight of the game's main characters felt great and the sense of gravity being your biggest threat to survival was exhilarating. I loved the levels that pushed you forward and kept you moving. I loved the levels where I felt like I was a passenger on a train out of control. I loved that on a first pass of a level, and often a third or fourth, those KONG letters seemed unreachable.

I swore at a few of the boss battle difficulty spikes, but equally I felt that same rush of beating them that games like Dark Souls and Zelda give me. I adored the incredible soundtrack. And I regularly felt like I wanted to replay levels to take in the sheer amount of visual detail.

The game has so much going on, but a special word has to go out to how the game tells a story through its level design. You can feel the landscape gradually turning from Tropical beach to arctic tundra as you progress. Whole levels build on themes in the previous one, such as the fruit processing plant that sees the fruit get picked, chopped, frozen and sold as you play through the world. The vibrant, detailed levels told a story themselves through the environment in a way that normally only large, open world games attempt.

There is a brilliant video here explaining much of this and how great the game mechanics are:

https://youtu.be/JqHcE6B4OP4

All in all, Tropical Freeze asks a lot of you but it's always fair and rewarding. And I'm so glad a new generation get to play it on Switch, with the ability to make progress a little easier if needs be.

For me, one of the best platform games that Nintendo have ever put out. And that's high praise indeed.

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